The “Action” is the mechanical link between your fingers and the strings. When you depress a key, a series of levers and springs go into motion which require precision accuracy in order to respond to the touch of the pianist.
The Grand Piano Action
The Upright Action
The piano action is made of wood, leather and felt all of which are effected by humidity changes, wear and age. There are many ways to handle a piano action. The original parts can be reconditioned or replaced, but on all actions regulation is essential for the piano to play properly.
The condition of the original parts are the determining factor in how much the restoration of this component will cost. If the parts can be properly regulated there is no need for replacement, but if the parts are so badly worn that they cannot be regulated, it is time for replacement.
Action work requires incredible precision, and the price reflects it. Let me tell you a little story…..
A customer called me in to do an estimate on their Steinway Grand Piano restoration. I quoted a fair price for the work, which included all New Action parts. The customer had some kind of preconceived notion of what the “price” should be and “Only wanted to spend” a certain amount. He called technicians until he found someone who would do it “on the cheap”, for the “right price”. The “technician” suggested to only replace the top half of the action… the Hammers, Shanks and Flanges. The problem was that the bottom half of the action called the “Whippens” absolutely needed replacement, but in order to stick to the preconceived “budget” left the old whippens on. Not only did the “technician” suggest leaving parts on the piano that were not workable, he also did a very poor job of putting the new parts on.
After months of trying to play a piano action that had parts poorly installed and therefore out of regulation, the customer sheepishly called me back in to “fix it”. The hammers chosen were the cheapest hammers available. They were the wrong size and weight, making the action play with all the finesse of an 18 wheel tractor trailer. The parts were so badly assembled that they could not be re-used, and the customer had to pay twice to get the job done correctly. Bummer.
But the story has a happy ending…..
We installed the correct parts in the correct way with the expertise needed to do the job correctly. The pianist and his family are now enjoying a beautiful piano that plays like a dream and reaping the amazing benefits of music in their home. I have been servicing and maintaining the piano ever since.
The moral of the story: He who demands cheap work will get exactly what he demands.