Tuning, voicing, regulation

The keys to piano care

As with any major investment, proper maintenance and management is key for prolonging the life of a piano.  Keeping your pianos healthy and happy is essential to have them in good working order for as long as possible. Without proper maintenance, pianos can age quickly and poorly, especially in environments of prolonged or heavy use, like a school.


There are three main parts to servicing a piano: tuning, voicing, and regulation.


Tuning is the adjustment of the musical interval between keys, by adjusting the tensions of the strings struck by them. Pianos go out of tune with time, use, and unstable humidity and temperature.

Because no two schools are the same, there’s no single recommended number of times to have your school’s pianos tuned, but as a guide, we recommend that home pianos be tuned twice per year, ideally in Autumn and Spring.


The hammers that strike a piano’s strings are covered in pads of (Australian and New Zealand, incidentally) wool, pressed and shaped in the factory such that they will leave a certain sonic impression, in their contact with the strings. Use and environment can compress or dessicate hammers, resulting in tones that can be brassy or shrill, or dull and lifeless.


We recommend voicing be at least considered once a year to ensure uniformity of tone across the keyboard, but voicing is largely a personal preference.


To regulate a piano is to service the mechanical parts, of which there are several thousand. In a regulation, hammer shanks are aligned, key dip is made consistent, screws are tightened, damper lift may be adjusted, keys levelled, string-to-hammer distance set and so on. Adjustments are made so that the touch and feel of the keys are indistinguishable across the keyboard.


As with tuning, how often you’ll need regulation will depend on how many students you have, how often and how well they’re playing, environmental and other factors. We generally recommend annual regulation.

And then there are the times you need help on short notice – the broken prop sticks and lost power cables, the spills and scratches that come with putting a piano in front of large quantities of children.

Kawai’s Education Direct network of experts can be your lifeline. We have experts across the industry and the country at our fingertips, from cartage to recording to pedagogy – and of course, to experts in tuning, voicing, and regulation. Kawai education clients enjoy not only flexible leasing and purchase options, but bespoke maintenance packages designed to balance your school’s technical, performance, and financial goals.

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