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Harpuia Offline OP
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I got my 1982 Steinway B delivered in the end of February. Its case is not perfect but not beat up either. However, it has warm and musical guts inside. I like the New York tone of it. So far I've been putting about 5 hours per week of practicing on it. I have the piano tuned once and it is holding the tune well.

Recently I've been thinking about doing more regulation and voicing of my piano. In a previous thread I mentioned that there was a tech proposing doing 2 weeks of Stanwood regulation on the action, which costs $2,500.

Seems like different people are having different opinions on action regulation on this forum. I saw Joseph Fleetwood started thread about how injury is related to poorly regulated actions. In the recent thread of "Debussy on Steinway O" I saw pianoloverus mentioned that 99% of pianists don't need this kind of precision touch regulation. While, some forum members like twocats said that they want their piano to be concert prepped. I'm trying to find what kind of regulation is good enough for me to not get injured, and enable me to express myself both musically and technically.

I always found it hard to describe my preference of the action. Actually, my preference will change depending on what pianos I've been playing, and what pieces I've been playing. I don't have much technical knowledge in terms of action regulation but I'm going to try my best to describe the action on my piano.

If I am going to rate piano action from 1-5, it will be like following (assuming a grand piano action):

1: Dramatically out of specification tolerance (down weight, up weight, friction, inertia, etc.). Almost plays like a digital piano, an organ, or anything other than a piano. These are usually used pianos that were neglected and went through extreme humility swing, or a reconditioned piano that were not done properly.

2: The average grand pianos you'll find in university practice room. These pianos are being played more than 8 hours a day and usually not maintained well. However, since it was played every day by advanced students it couldn't be too bad. It should play like a grand piano and usable.

3: The average grand pianos you'll find in university faculty teaching studio, or average piano teachers' living room. These pianos are played less than those in the practice room and are usually maintained more often.

4: The average brand new grand pianos you'll find in the showroom in the US, which includes Hailun, Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer, Fazioli, etc. These pianos are freshly out of factory and being regulated to the spec.

5: The pianos that have extra regulation time on them, like Steinway C&A pianos on the stage, good pianos in the recording studio, or a piano being regulated extensively using Stanwood Precision Touch regulation.

I would say the action on my piano is about at 3. The down weight is about 50g in the treble and 55g in the bass. I also heard that Steinway added more lead weights in the key stick from 1960-1984 so the keys have more inertia in them. It did feel a bit heavy especially when playing trills and repetitions in the bass.

Earlier on I feel that this piano has a smaller dynamic range than a good rebuilt Steinway B. I thought it was voicing but now I found that I can play the piano very soft and very loud in the slow passage, but it becomes harder in the fast passage. So it has to be the regulation. The hammer was recently replaced by the previous owner. The previous tech reshaped the hammer and said it could benefit from more reshaping. He said Steinway sent their hammers out of the factory oversized to expect technicians to reshape the hammer. I remembered what Ed McMorrow mentioned the relationship between hammer weight and fast pianissimo playing.

I'm not sure what I should do. I could play and enjoy the piano as is. Am I going to be injured? Can my practicing benefit from more regulation? I knew one concert pianist who said that they deliberately added lead weight to the keys to practice their technique and it helped. I really don't know if that is something I should do.

Last edited by Harpuia; 04/17/21 11:37 PM.

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Does it help to consult multiple techs and let them come onsite for an inspection? I know another tech in the area but I feel a bit awkward if I have them come but not have them do the work.


Piano: 1982 NY Steinway Model B, Yamaha AvantGrand N3X
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Do you have a good tech? I think start there, and tell them the issues that you're having (heavy trills and repetitions) and go from there. Regulation may help but it could also be wear in the action... at a certain point you just can't get around that. You need someone who has actually seen your piano to tell you what can or can't be done.

It's possible with the new action and hammers that I'm getting that a normal regulation would be pretty satisfactory, but I've been chasing the memory of the piano that got away so I want the concert prep and to hopefully (I'm not expecting it) have a similar experience again with my own piano. With the one that got away, it was like the instrument just disappeared under my fingers and the music was playing itself. Everything I wanted from the piano it just did it.

One of the top 3 pianos I've played was a Steinway B, a recital instrument in college. It was such a responsive, beautiful instrument. I think a highly regulated piano would definitely make your practice easier, and also easier to be musical. You don't have to fight to keep the tone balanced or even or deal with ghost notes when playing softly. For me, it definitely makes playing much more enjoyable and satisfying.

Last edited by twocats; 04/18/21 12:10 AM.

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Originally Posted by Harpuia
Does it help to consult multiple techs and let them come onsite for an inspection? I know another tech in the area but I feel a bit awkward if I have them come but not have them do the work.

My tech charges for his time, even just to come look!

If the other tech doesn't charge for a visit and you don't end up hiring them, you might offer to compensate them for their time.

Last edited by twocats; 04/18/21 12:11 AM.

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Thanks twocats for answering! Yeah I also feel like this is a question only a tech who sees the piano can answer. I do have a good tech and I'm going to call him when I get chance.



This video was sent by another PW member a while ago. It's the best video I've seen about action regulation from an experienced pianist's point of view. She really nailed it!

There was definitely something wrong with the Steinway in her video. My piano definitely plays better than that Steinway but I do feel some resistance and sluggishness compared to the Baldwin in that video. That's actually a Chinese made Baldwin!

She also made a good point that by having a well-regulated action you can pretty much use rotation more than fighting with your finger motion. She also said that too much finger motion may cause tendonitis in the joint. I once had some ache in the knuckle of my right pinky by playing a Bach fugue. I'm wondering if that has anything with the tension in my finger. I do want to avoid getting injured again!

Anyway I think the action in this Baldwin is very nice. I'm not sure if my piano could be regulated like that.

Last edited by Harpuia; 04/18/21 01:29 AM.

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That Steinway in the video is in awful shape! Definitely an extreme example to illustrate poor regulation. My piano is in decent regulation but I definitely feel a little sluggishness and sometimes I have to fight it to play evenly. Hoping the new action will fix everything!

Good luck! I'm sure your tech will be able to improve your piano. If you let him know your specific concerns he can focus his attention on addressing those.


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You should go for the regulation Alfred Brendel proposed after encountering pianos in poor shape at many venues.

In summary the keys should play evenly across the keyboard. The hammers should be voiced so adjacent keys give equal volume for equal finger speed.


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Originally Posted by Withindale
You should go for the regulation Alfred Brendel proposed after encountering pianos in poor shape at many venues.

In summary the keys should play evenly across the keyboard. The hammers should be voiced so adjacent keys give equal volume for equal finger speed.
Almost all pianos are set up so the downweight increases slightly as one moves toward the bass. Bass notes are also inherently much louder. What I think you probably meant is no note should stick out from its neighbors in terms of volume.

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Harpula, Many things in your posts on this thread don't make sense to me.

Why did your tech suggest a Stanwood regulation which is an extreme approach? He should be explaining exactly what he perceives any regulation problems to be and several ways to improve them. How could a tech do two weeks of work(80 hours) for only $2500? That's $30/hour. I think you should heed BDB's advice on another thread where he said that 90% of the regulation can be achieved with a relatively small amount of work.

I don't think you've made it clear what you don't like about the action. It's not enough to say trills in the bass are difficult because those would in generally be more difficult for everyone. You need to say a lot more about your playing level. Your problems with your piano could be, at least partly, problems with your own technique.

If you're only playing an hour per day I wouldn't be concerned with injury unless your piano's action is extremely heavy.

The most important thing IMO is to have a tech you trust to a very high level, have them evaluate your piano, and then explain what they think should be done so it's clear to you. If you have any doubts about what they suggest or if it's expensive, get a second opinion. Almost any tech will charge to evaluate your piano, although they might wave that fee if you have them do the action work.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Withindale
You should go for the regulation Alfred Brendel proposed after encountering pianos in poor shape at many venues. In summary the keys should play evenly across the keyboard. The hammers should be voiced so adjacent keys give equal volume for equal finger speed.
Almost all pianos are set up so the downweight increases slightly as one moves toward the bass. Bass notes are also inherently much louder. What I think you probably meant is no note should stick out from its neighbors in terms of volume.

Yes, of course, hammers are heavier and adjacent notes gradually louder as you go down the keyboard.

Now I have Brendel's "Coping with pianos" in front of me:
1) The piano should be dynamically even in all its registers and all levels of volume ...
2) The tone of the piano should be bright and radiant ...
3) The volume of the piano should range from a whisper to a roar ...
4) The sustaining pedal must dampen precisely ...
5) The tone of the soft pedal ... should retain sufficient lyrical roundness and plasticity of sound variation.


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I have two pianos in my living room, set up differently. One is bright and radiant. The other is deep and rich. People prefer deep and rich. Different circumstances may change that, but I believe that is usually the case for home pianos.


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I find the best results with these pianos is to lower the inertia as much as possible and then regulate and balance.

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If you get rid of the piano entirely, that will reduce the inertia as much as possible.


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Originally Posted by BDB
If you get rid of the piano entirely, that will reduce the inertia as much as possible.
Good point

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Unless you are using your Steinway for performances, I doubt it would need a concert level regulation.

I’d get some estimates from other techs. See what they think and advise.

Last edited by j&j; 04/18/21 02:15 PM.

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There are very few concerts that can afford "concert level regulation" if it is going to cost thousands of dollars.


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I have an all-original 1981 B in my office at the college that is the piano on which I teach lessons. My students play on a 2011 S&S A. The 81's action is not difficult to play from a fatigue point of view, but it has a ton of lead in the keys, an almost hilarious amount of inertia, and a key dip that's too deep (among many other problems that make it just a hateful piano upon which to work all day...I think it's a retired concert hall piano that later lived in the voice professor's studio, before it became the second piano in my office). That piano appears to have the NY action, though it is my understanding some pianos from this period had Renner actions which presented different challenges. Are the teflon bushings gone on your vintage?

If the rest of your B is in acceptably good condition, you have a variety of options available to you, indeed. I tend not to care so much what patented/licensed method or parts are being used, rather I care far more about the skills of the techs that are screwing on the parts and adjusting them...and ultimately the performance of the finished product. The best way to know whom to use would be to try similar pianos (1980s Steinway grands) where they've done comparable-scope action work recently and choose the one where you like the touch the best, assuming it fits your budget. Granted, this takes time and might not be so easy at this exact moment.

At different points in my career, I've played actions with the latest/greatest parts that performed poorly, actions subjected to a particular protocol that honestly didn't wow me (particularly for what it cost), and a rebuilt action via a rebuilder (considered on this forum to be above reproach) that was just lousy-- and obviously messed up. And I've also experienced the complete opposite scenario!


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Harpula, Many things in your posts on this thread don't make sense to me.

Why did your tech suggest a Stanwood regulation which is an extreme approach? He should be explaining exactly what he perceives any regulation problems to be and several ways to improve them. How could a tech do two weeks of work(80 hours) for only $2500? That's $30/hour. I think you should heed BDB's advice on another thread where he said that 90% of the regulation can be achieved with a relatively small amount of work.

I don't think you've made it clear what you don't like about the action. It's not enough to say trills in the bass are difficult because those would in generally be more difficult for everyone. You need to say a lot more about your playing level. Your problems with your piano could be, at least partly, problems with your own technique.

If you're only playing an hour per day I wouldn't be concerned with injury unless your piano's action is extremely heavy.

The most important thing IMO is to have a tech you trust to a very high level, have them evaluate your piano, and then explain what they think should be done so it's clear to you. If you have any doubts about what they suggest or if it's expensive, get a second opinion. Almost any tech will charge to evaluate your piano, although they might wave that fee if you have them do the action work.

I guess what he mentioned about 2 weeks of work is not full time. He may go out and tune other pianos in the day. I have to ask more details about it.

I may categorize myself as an advanced amateur. Definitely my playing technique could affect my ability to play the trills and repetitions. However, I'm hearing conflicting opinions on pianists adapting to actions. Some says that pianists need to adapt to whatever pianos are available to them. I'm definitely not that kind of pianists. When I was trying out pianos in the store, I need some time to adapt to the new actions. I missed notes when trying an unfamiliar piano. Some others say that it's beneficial to practice on a heavier action so you will perform better on a normal action. Still others say that it's best if you practice on the most responsive action and it helps you to express your music better, and utilize the whole body weight instead of excessive finger motions.

Glad to hear that my piano will not make me injured. Maybe I'm overthinking and should focus more on my playing technique.


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
I have an all-original 1981 B in my office at the college that is the piano on which I teach lessons. My students play on a 2011 S&S A. The 81's action is not difficult to play from a fatigue point of view, but it has a ton of lead in the keys, an almost hilarious amount of inertia, and a key dip that's too deep (among many other problems that make it just a hateful piano upon which to work all day...I think it's a retired concert hall piano that later lived in the voice professor's studio, before it became the second piano in my office). That piano appears to have the NY action, though it is my understanding some pianos from this period had Renner actions which presented different challenges. Are the teflon bushings gone on your vintage?

If the rest of your B is in acceptably good condition, you have a variety of options available to you, indeed. I tend not to care so much what patented/licensed method or parts are being used, rather I care far more about the skills of the techs that are screwing on the parts and adjusting them...and ultimately the performance of the finished product. The best way to know whom to use would be to try similar pianos (1980s Steinway grands) where they've done comparable-scope action work recently and choose the one where you like the touch the best, assuming it fits your budget. Granted, this takes time and might not be so easy at this exact moment.

At different points in my career, I've played actions with the latest/greatest parts that performed poorly, actions subjected to a particular protocol that honestly didn't wow me (particularly for what it cost), and a rebuilt action via a rebuilder (considered on this forum to be above reproach) that was just lousy-- and obviously messed up. And I've also experienced the complete opposite scenario!

My piano has the NY accelerated action. There is no Teflon bushing on the hammer shanks and flanges, but there is teflon on wippens and back actions. I think I will finally get used to the feel of this action. Thanks for the suggestion. It does sound like a tricky business to spend the money on the right thing. I've played the WNG action on the latest M&H grand. It feels so different that I really need to get used to it. But I believe I will get used to it if given a few days of practice on it. I like Kawai, Yamaha and Renner actions in the new pianos.


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Originally Posted by Withindale
You should go for the regulation Alfred Brendel proposed after encountering pianos in poor shape at many venues.

In summary the keys should play evenly across the keyboard. The hammers should be voiced so adjacent keys give equal volume for equal finger speed.

In case anyone thinks I was recommending a concert tuning, may I say I was not!

In "Coping with Pianos" Brendel commented, "Many pianos are like unmade beds". He asked, "Can one lay down some general guidelines for the evaluation of an instrument, which would be of assistance to most pianists in most situations?"

His first submission was, "The piano should be dynamically even in all its registers and all levels of volume. This evenness can only be achieved by careful regulation of the action, together with the technique of voicing." Later on he writes, "If one restricts oneself to the general aim of dynamic evenness then voicing becomes not so much a question of taste as one of skill".

This looks like sound advice to me.


Ian Russell
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