What is regulation?
Good Question... Piano regulation is a term used to define the measurements of distances in the piano action for proper performance and "feel' when playing. Each Piano action is made by a manufacturer to specific measurements so that when you play it, the piano responds quickly, evenly, and very deliberately. (in the theory anyhow) Some actions are better at the factory specs.....some not....and some are never better at all.
As pianos age, parts become worn or begin to fatigue under the weight of gravity and heavy use. This causes the action to perform poorly. Aside from the above-mentioned, changes in temperature and humidity also greatly affect the piano action. Spinet and small console pianos are notorious for sticking and moving sluggishly under repetitive humid conditions. My favorite is the basement Wurlitzer spinet. It is as if the dampness causes it to go from thousands of moving parts to about 3 or 4, depending on the day.
How Do I Know if my Piano needs Regulation Work?
Spinet and Console Piano
The most typical signs of spinet and console pianos needing regulation work include sticking keys and an uneven feel from one key to the next. Spinet and console Pianos, because of their smaller action, have less gravity in their favor so quickly succumb to poor performance due to the climate and environment.
Full-Size Upright Piano
At least in the Northeast, it seems that most Full-size upright pianos suffer from age issues in regard to regulation. Amazingly, because of their design, these pianos continue to play and play even when half of the moving parts are far beyond their service. It may be safe to say that most of the Full-size upright pianos were sold between 100 and 70 years ago, so age has taken its toll on these pianos. Most of them need a social security program as well as a piano tuner.
Typically a grand piano action has its worst enemy in gravity second to use. Because this action in relation to its hammer blow sits horizontally vs. the vertical orientation of upright, spinets, and console pianos, use combines with gravity to change the distances of the moving parts. All grand piano actions can be regulated back to original playability. Some of the more popular actions by Yamaha and Steinway, for example, can be completely replaced, which is sometimes an easier measure to take for pianos under constant use and in high-performance concert locations.
All regulation work is done on an estimate basis as there are too many variables and levels of completion to set standard pricing.