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'Responsiveness' of a piano?
#3046475 11/16/20 06:48 AM
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Hi all,

I have a year 2001 Seiler upright piano at home, at almost-new condition, recently been tuned by a technician and it sounds wonderful.
My issue with it is hard to explain, but I feel that it doesn't "do what I want it to do" sometimes, or in other words, not quite as responsive as I'd like to be.
I will try and give an example since I know the explanation above probably didn't help much.
Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata, 2ndmovement ends with a couple of chords that are played at the base octaves that are meant to be played Pianissimo.
But when I press down the keys at the speed that it requires to get that soft sound, not all the hammers end up hitting the strings. I realise Pianissimo requires correct technique of course, but I believe I have it.
My piano teacher has a Yamaha U2 upright which to my understanding is a good piano, but not considered to be as fine of a piano as the Seiler, and indeed it doesn't quite sing and isn't quite as rich sounding as my own piano, but the action on it always feels buttery smooth when I play on it. And I'm not talking about the weight of the action (heavy/light) action, in that regard my teachers piano and mine feel very similar.
But on the Yamaha I can much more easily get a sound out of every key that I press, whereas my own piano feels like it doesn't "want" to be played very softly (at the lower octaves) and it would rather be played at a louder volume, or it will refuse to make some notes sound.

Sorry for this bad explanation, but I don't know in what other words to put this.

Is there a technical explanation for this? Can something be done to make the piano more responsive? or are some pianos action just inherently different and cannot be easily modified to be more responsive?

Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046486 11/16/20 07:25 AM
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Absolutely there is something you can do. An acoustic piano’s action is made with organic parts, woods, leather, and felt. The wood moves a bit with age and the leathers and felt compress and wear.

There is a process called “regulation” that will compensate for any movement away from the manufacturer’s specs. and bring each key back to a consistent and responsive playability.

Call your piano tech. and have a chat about this.

Good luck,


Rich Galassini
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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046506 11/16/20 08:21 AM
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I also have a guitar, the sound they make is amazing. I usually record them as Mp3 files and use them for my devices.

Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
Reginald #3046516 11/16/20 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Reginald
I also have a guitar, the sound they make is amazing. I usually record them as Mp3 files and use them for my devices.


Sorry, I’m not understanding how this is related to regulating a piano


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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046522 11/16/20 08:50 AM
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This problem of having difficulty with pp playing has been discussed quite a bit on PW. I think there are three possible causes that are not mutually exclusive: insufficient technique of the pianist, regulation, and voicing(if a piano is overly bright it can be a harder to play pp). I know about all three of these causes from personal experience and solutions that helped. A very good tech can determine if regulation and/or voicing is part of the problem and a good teacher can help with your technique if that's part of the problem.

Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046527 11/16/20 09:01 AM
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I don’t know if the OP has had the Seiler upright since 2001? If so, it’s probably long overdue for a thorough regulation and voicing. Done by a competent piano technician, both those procedures work like magic to bring the responsiveness back to a 19 year old upright. Contact your piano technician and get the work scheduled. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make on your Seiler upright. Best Wishes!


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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
j&j #3046531 11/16/20 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by j&j
I don’t know if the OP has had the Seiler upright since 2001? If so, it’s probably long overdue for a thorough regulation and voicing. Done by a competent piano technician, both those procedures work like magic to bring the responsiveness back to a 19 year old upright. Contact your piano technician and get the work scheduled. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make on your Seiler upright. Best Wishes!

Yep. On point, j&j.


Rich Galassini
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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046536 11/16/20 09:30 AM
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Lift the lid and when slowly pressing a key check how far the hammer moves before the damper for that note starts to lift. It should lift at a distance halfway to the string. If it lifts too soon then you will experience a heavier touch and playing softly will be more difficult. Check this all along the notes.
If this is happening on all the notes then a technician can fix it in five minutes. If it is only affecting individual notes the technician has a special tool that reaches through the action and bends the wire that holds the damper felt of that particular note.

However as others have said after 19 years if the piano action has not been re-regulated then it will require a complete regulation procedure which will cost extra to a tuning. I have learned to do this myself but you need to do a lot of studying before making any adjustments and you would need to buy tools which will cost as much as paying a piano technician to do it.
Ian


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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046583 11/16/20 11:18 AM
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You need regulation, not cheap but you have to pay if you want to play.


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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046592 11/16/20 11:31 AM
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The piano may not need a major regulation. On my Mason & Hamlin BB my piano guy did a 10 minute procedure that reduced friction slightly(although he said the friction was within spec before doing the procedure). It made all the difference in the world in terms of controlling the key's descent for pp playing.

Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
pianoloverus #3046605 11/16/20 12:26 PM
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Pianoloverus- I’m just curious. Did your Mason & Hamlin go 9 years before it was regulated? In my very limited experience if a piano is regularly played it needs some voicing and regulation well before 9 years pass by to remain playable. Is that different than your experience? Or did I completely misunderstand your post? Apologies in advance if I did.


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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
j&j #3046662 11/16/20 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by j&j
Pianoloverus- I’m just curious. Did your Mason & Hamlin go 9 years before it was regulated? In my very limited experience if a piano is regularly played it needs some voicing and regulation well before 9 years pass by to remain playable. Is that different than your experience? Or did I completely misunderstand your post? Apologies in advance if I did.
My piano had pretty good dealer prep before I bought it. My tech has never done a full regulation of full voicing in the 15 years I've had it although he usually does touch up voicing and/or regulation when the piano is tuned. I've asked him many times if it needs voicing or regulation and he always gives me a pretty definitive "no". He is extremely well known and recognized nationally as a terrific tech and I trust his opinion. Perhaps my style of playing(mostly transcriptions of jazz ballads) or the amount of playing(maybe one hour on average) is one reason it doesn't need voicing or regulation.

I think my piano sounds and plays terrifically in its present state. It is light years beyond "playable".

Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
j&j #3046671 11/16/20 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by j&j
I don’t know if the OP has had the Seiler upright since 2001? If so, it’s probably long overdue for a thorough regulation and voicing. Done by a competent piano technician, both those procedures work like magic to bring the responsiveness back to a 19 year old upright. Contact your piano technician and get the work scheduled. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make on your Seiler upright. Best Wishes!

We don't have enough information to know if the piano is far enough out of regulation to need a thorough regulation. If it has been serviced regularly, and adjustments done for any minor issues that developed, I think it is unlikely to need a full, thorough regulation unless it was out of regulation in 2001.

I think the best course of action is for the OP to discuss the issue with his or her piano technician at the next servicing, and in the meantime try to get the best out of it in current state using piano technique.


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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046681 11/16/20 04:22 PM
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My tech did minor adjustments to the voicing and regulation during tuning sessions. I would make notes if I noticed more brightness or any other small issues I noticed while playing. My C3 was voiced three times and the regulation tweaked twice in 7 years. Your M&H speaks well for great factory and dealer prep. Thanks for the info.

Last edited by j&j; 11/16/20 04:26 PM.

J & J
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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046716 11/16/20 06:40 PM
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Quote
My tech did minor adjustments to the voicing and regulation during tuning sessions. I would make notes if I noticed more brightness or any other small issues I noticed while playing. My C3 was voiced three times and the regulation tweaked twice in 7 years.
That is customary service and is different from getting a thorough regulation and voicing of the entire instrument. If a M&H has a carbon fiber action, it may need less regulation touch-up.

The main regulation issues I have needed to be addressed when my piano has been serviced have been a damper or two going out of regulation and causing a buzz or ringing when re-engaging to stop string vibration.


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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046750 11/16/20 09:41 PM
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Looks like I didn't understand your question, very sorry about that. When you've finished fixing your keyboard, please send me a new piece of music so I can use them new ringtones, alarm tones or for my home devices.

Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046771 11/16/20 11:34 PM
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There are so many things to check for a soft control issue. I will give you just one that many techs and factories miss. The balance rail pin hole in the key can sometimes have an improper fit that only becomes a playing issue with soft playing.

Look for a slight binding in the key motion as it reaches full dip.


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Re: 'Responsiveness' of a piano?
GnGEmpire #3046808 11/17/20 06:09 AM
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Thanks for all the responses.
To answer those who asked, i have only owned the piano for a few months. For most of it's life it was barely used and served mostly as furniture, but a few months before I purchased it the owner had a tech perform a fair bit of work/regulation on it. Though I'm not sure exactly what was done


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