Adjusting the action on a grand piano can easily seem like a job best left to a professional. Generally, pianos will just need the "Regulation" (or "Let off") adjusted, which can be done by anybody comfortable with tinkering with mechanics. Learning about how grand piano action works and how to adjust it is a good idea for anybody who plays the piano. Even if you are not intending to adjust the action yourself, knowing the basics of the procedure can help you identify a bad technician when you see one.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Action screwdriver (optional)
Remove the front panel of the piano. This is the block of wood that runs horizontally across the bottom of the keys. It can usually be removed easily by pulling it upward. Use a knife as a lever if the panel is stiff. If you have trouble moving it, check to see whether there are screws holding it in place and, if so, unscrew them before removing it.
Remove the side blocks on either side of the keys. These are screwed in underneath the piano. Take the blocks out one at a time and put them to one side. The action mechanism will now be ready to be removed.
Pull the keyboard toward you. Be careful not to press any keys while you are doing this. If a hammer is raised when you pull the board forward, it can break off. Hold the keyboard at either end and pull it horizontally outward. Again, if you pull it upward, the hammers can catch on something and break. Place the keys and the action mechanism on a desk or work surface. Get two people to carry the keyboard if you're not comfortable.
Examine the mechanism. It can be hard to see, but when you press a key, the back half of the key should pivot upward, causing a jack arm to strike a button, sending the hammer upward to strike the string. The back portion of the mechanism is where the action takes place. Look for any hammers that aren't in line with the others. The hammers should be poking upward at the opposite side to the keys.
Adjust the action using an action screwdriver if you have one. It is just a long flathead screwdriver. The button that strikes the jack is usually controlled by a small screw located above it. (See Resources for a diagram.) Look into the mechanism from the key-end and try to locate this screw. Use a torch if you need a clearer look. Turn it clockwise to lower the position of the hammer. Depending on the piano, it may be better to use thin pliers to adjust this mechanism.
Fix the action on all keys that are too high or too low. The action affects the feel of the piano because it reflects how much you have to touch the key to produce a note, and it also determines whether you can perform fast trills when playing.
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