Piano Voicing

Posted on April 17th, 2017

Piano Voicing

Piano Voicing, This is the manipulation of the hammers to make the piano sound the way you like it. What kind of tone do you wish to have coming from your piano? Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder. Some wish for a power piano – strong and bright. Others want soft and felty. Personally, I look for versatility in a piano. I prefer pianos to be intimate and warm at softer dynamic levels and have a crossover where they can shift into more strident sounds when playing with force. Pianos that are icy cold or brittle at softer volumes I find somehow less satisfying and difficult to express emotionally. Conversely, playing powerful music with a dull thud also feels like it is somehow lacking?

Let’s be clear, however that piano voicing has limitations. I’ve often said that 50% of the tone of a piano is inherent to the instrument. It’s the wood, the soundboard, the bridges, it’s the design,  the scale, the placement and thickness of the soundboard, the amount of ribs, back posts, rim construction etc. But it’s the action how it translates our musical intention into sound – all of these elements make up the piano. These I would mainly consider non-negotiable. Yes you can start down the path of reconstructing parts but this is more major surgery. The other 50% can be altered somewhat depending on the quality of the piano and the results vary drastically. Piano hammers also have a shelf life as well. Really old and “dead” sounding hammers fibers, ones that are really grooved, hardened or lifeless sounding need replacement.

Needling of the hammers:

Most pianos with time and playing become more brittle and harsh. The majority of the requests for voicing involve making pianos softer with fuller body. When I was young, I sought the brassy power piano. As I age, I look for tonal color more akin to “autumn leaves” colorful, warm and beautiful. We get used to the piano we play and don’t consider that alterations could make the experience more enjoyable. With harsher tones, piano hammers can be “needled” in various locations to achieve those results.  A needling tool simply has needles that get inserted into the piano hammer. Since piano hammers consist of felt stretched and glued around a wooden hammer molding, the insertion of the needle “fluffs” hammer felt, making it not so compacted. In other areas of the hammer head, the needle acts to give greater body or sustain. Most piano technicians know how to needle to create the desired effect.

Chemical Solutions:

Solutions  for both hardening and softening also exist. A hardener coats the hammer and creates more brilliance in tone. Softeners penetrate and relax fibers and create softer sounds. While there are those who disagree with putting anything on the hammers, I believe that there is a place for more drastic alterations of hammers that have desirable end results. The danger is that solutions can be added to a hammer but cannot be extracted. I’ve actually played pianos rendered unplayable due to excessive chemical applications. The recourse really is only to change the hammers. But I’ve also played many pianos that have been strategically voiced with solutions for incredible results. The word here is caution and work with a piano technician you trust. Ideally, I like the felt of the hammer to speak. If you’re looking for a certain sound, sometimes changing the hammer is a better way than to try and artificially transform a piano into something it wasn’t intended to be.

Pianos are dynamic in nature. They are constantly changing. Voicing is not a do-once application but rather a process with time and maintenance. It involves keeping the piano at its best throughout its life-span. Have you lost the love of your piano? Sometimes pianos simply need to be voiced to bring it back to more of the sound when you first acquired it. You’ll be amazed at the results. Piano maintenance is so much more than tuning. Once you realize the possibilities, you’ll be amazed at how musical and beautiful your piano can be.

Note; There are many different qualities and prices of hammers. Abel and Renner are the best but also most expensive. Prices vary from $ 10 to $ 800 for a set, but the difference in sound is also huge, as you can imagine.

Piano Tuning Manila

Posted on April 1st, 2017

Piano Tuning Manila

Piano Tuning Manila, your piano is (or should be) an investment that appreciates in value over the years if treated well.  To ensure its performance over its lifetime, to preserve your instrument and to avoid costly repairs in the future, it is important to have your piano serviced regularly by a qualified professional.

Question: Does moving make my piano go out of tune? Answer: Absolutely not! This is a common mistake people make, a piano goes out of tune because of long term exposure to change in humidity.

Piano tuning is the act of making adjustments to the tensions of the strings of a piano to properly align the intervals between their tones so that the instrument is in tune. The meaning of the term in tune in the context of piano tuning is not simply a particular fixed set of pitches.

Prices of a piano tuning in Manila vary but are usually between P2000 for a tuner and P6000 for a good technician. Compare: you can pay P2000 when you bring in your car for an oil change only, or P6000 for an engine check and small adjustments so the engine performs without break downs in the next while. It’s your choice.

Remember: a tuner might not be a technician, these are two different people with different educations.

A tuner tunes, meaning he pulls the strings only, a technician also knows about the inside of the piano. Many people that call themselves technicians are not. Make sure you deal with a qualified piano tuner or technician, ask for their certification, not with someone that does not want to work for minimum wage and thinks this is a good way of making extra money. A grand piano tuning usualy cost a little more.

WARNING: If a non qualified tuner or technician touches a piano we sold, the warranty is immediately null and void. There are many unqualified technicians out there.


If the piano has been well maintained the basic rule-of-thumb is at least once a year. Twice a year would be better. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the piano going out of tune, even if it isn’t played very often. Consider that the piano is primarily made of wood, and that at it’s simplest level the sound is produced by striking the strings with a hammer (no, not a carpenters hammer, the felt covered hammer that moves toward the strings when you press the keys). Changes in humidity can cause the wood to swell (too much moisture) and shrink (too little moisture). The combination of swelling and shrinking goes a long way toward knocking the piano out of tune, and can cause other issues as well.

Changes in temperature can also effect the tuning stability, but generally not as much as the changes in humidity. In fact many of the high end piano manufacturers write into their warranties that you must maintain the humidity in the pianos environment within certain parameters (more on options for accomplishing this later) or you could void your warranty.

So CALL US  AT 02 801.3431 x 401 to service your instrument regularly, and pay attention if he/she recommends taking steps to balance the climate in and around the piano. The piano has thousands of finely regulated moving parts and yet is designed to support literally tons of tension from those roughly 230 strings. Take good care of it and you should experience many years of enjoyment.