There are many events that take place every time a key is pressed. The key pivots on a fulcrum and the back rises. The capstan on the back end of the key pushes up on a whippen. The whippen pivots and moves a jack which in turn pushes the hammer. Then the hammer flies toward the strings. There are many other things that take place while the key and hammer returns to their resting positions. And don't forget about the dampers that stop the strings from ringing. This is a very simplified version of what takes place with every key stroke. You can see there are many things that can go wrong.
Every event that happens when you push down one key must match all the other keys. If not, some notes will be louder than others or play easier. Regulating is the art of adjusting all the parts to get your piano playing the best that it can.
It is very difficult for someone to learn to play the piano on a piano that is out of regulation. It often is the reason many people quit taking lessons, as the piano is just too frustrating to play. It is often the cause of a lack of joy and satisfaction in your piano. It is like driving a car that misses or the brakes don't work very well. Time for a tune up.
Most pianos in people's homes should be regulated every 10 years. If someone in the home is taking lessons and practicing 2 - 4 hours a day then every 5 years may be necessary. While spending all that money on lessons wouldn't you want a piano in good regulation on which to practice.
Next time you have your piano tuned, ask if it is time to have it regulated.
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