Chuck Littau, Kansas City Piano Tuner

Serving Greater Kansas City ~ Since 1984

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What Is Piano Voicing?

Adjusting Piano Tone

Voicing is the process of regulating and improving piano tone. As pianos age, the hammer felt becomes harder and worn, and the strings stretch and ride up on the bridge pins. The strings become wavy, distorted and produce less resonance. The piano’s sound also becomes brassy, uneven, overly bright and hard for the pianist to control – especially when trying to play softly. Even when a piano is in good tune, it can sound oddly inharmonic due to uneven voicing.

String Voicing ~ A Neglected Art

Technically, any adjustment that alters piano tone is voicing, such as brushing the hammers, stretching, straightening and seating the strings or needling the hammers. When discussing the topic of piano voicing, usually the dialogue is about adjusting the hammers. Though piano string voicing (straightening, stretching, leveling and seating, piano strings) is routine in piano factories, it is rare to find piano tuners in the field who practice this art. I am aware of only a handful of piano technicians ~ the best in the United States ~ who incorporate string voicing into their service.

Save money ~ Have your piano voiced

Some customers have purchased new pianos or expensive modifications to their pianos when a good voicing would have accomplished the same result. I include string adjustment in my piano voicing routine because it has an incredible affect on the resonance and clarity of piano tone.

String voicing restores the resonance and removes most of the waviness and distortion, and hammer voicing evens out the tone. It is remarkable how much the overall piano sound improves after voicing.

Piano voicing involves:

Voicing Piano Strings ~ Restoring the resonance and clean tone

(Can be performed on vertical pianos, but usually on grand pianos)
(Must be completed before tuning)

  • Stretching, straightening and seating the strings on the bridges
  • Leveling the strings near the agraffes and capo bar
Voicing Piano Hammers ~ Restoring the evenness of piano tone

(Preformed on either grand pianos or vertical pianos)
(Must be performed after tuning)

  • Softening overly bright hard hammers
  • Hardening excessively dull soft hammers
  • Brushing hammers
  • Needling to remove inconsistent and uneven tones

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Kansas City Piano Tuner