West Side Piano
Emil Vajda, Pianist and Teacher
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Voicing Job, May 29, 2004

Voicing (or tone-regulating) is the art of making the tone of a piano consistent throughout all 88 keys. This is done by carefully adjusting every hammer on the piano. The piano hammers have felt heads, and the tone of the piano is affected by the softness or hardness of the felt. The shape of the hammer heads and their alignment with the strings is also very important.

A piano can have a brilliant tone or a mellow tone, and the tone can change over time. When the piano leaves the factory, the hammers are new and the felt heads are soft. This results in a softer, more mellow tone. After years of use, the felt on the hammers becomes more compressed and harder, which produces a more brilliant sound.

After many years of use, the hammers can develop deep grooves from constantly hitting the strings. This can result in a very harsh and unpleasant tone. The solution is to have the piano voiced again. The procedure is to shave each hammer carefully, which removes the grooves and restores soft felt to the end of the hammers. This is the job that Sam did for me.

Voicing

First Sam removes the keyboard and action...

Voicing

Next, he puts down some newspapers to catch the felt...

Voicing

Cutting the sandpaper...

Voicing

Preparing the sanding tool...

Voicing

Getting started...

Voicing

Sam shaves the hammers...

Voicing

Notice the grooves in the hammers...

Voicing

First Sam uses a coarse sandpaper...

Voicing

And then a finer one...

Voicing

Another view...

Voicing

And another...

Voicing

The grooves are gone!

Voicing

Just before the action went back in. Notice the damper mechanism in the back.

Voicing

Done! Ready to go back in! The final step was the tuning.