Jim Busby's Voicing Kit

Sponsored by Piano Technician Tutorials

By Jim Busby

Editor’s note:

Articles sponsored by Piano Technician Tutorials are small segments of the complete books available at pianotechniciantutorials.com. This article is taken from the book, Complete Piano Voicing, and contains only a list of materials you may use while voicing. For methods and uses of all the tools mentioned, we encourage everyone to buy the full ebook for a thorough and complete guide to voicing basics. 

A Word to the Wise Before You Buy

A good voicer (especially one who works with all makes of hammers) must excel at hammer shaping, string prepping, needling, juicing, and many other things. In this chapter we’ll list some tools and supplies used in voicing. Many imply “alternative voicing methods” that other technicians swear by and that we both have tried but may not currently use. To be clear, we like to be open-minded but have found what works best for us, and so must you.

Even though you may not use alternative techniques, you should not totally discount them. A “trick” that other technicians use with success may be the best solution to a problem. For instance, when a hammer is rock hard, conventional needling won’t work because needles will constantly break, and some hammers are so hard that it’s impossible to insert a needle! A small amount of steam or a softener may open up the felt enough to allow for needling.

In Chapter 10 we will look at these “alternate voicing techniques” and at many of the tools below, and their proper use. For now, please remember that all of what we list has been used for years by reputable technicians. There are tricks to using them, and any technique improperly used can fail. If we missed something, please email us so we can update this eBook and include your ideas.

Also, a word to the wise: please don’t go out and try to buy everything you see listed here! It takes years to acquire everything that you will eventually use in your career. You may not like nor need some of the things listed below, but the list should help you think through your options. Again, remember that a tool that one technician swears by may only be a piano torture device in another’s hands. Choose wisely!

Voicing Blocks:

  • Long block

  • Medium block

  • Small block

Hammer Shaping Tools:

  • Large sanding paddles for gang filing

  • Small sanding paddles for single hammer filing

  • Small sanding paddles for single strings

  • Large sanding strips

  • Medium sanding strips

  • Single hammer sanding strips

  • Single string sanding strips

  • Cloth to place under the hammers while filing

String Prepping Tools:

  • The “Moondog” stabilizer tool (developed by Roger Gable) available from Supply88

  • The “Davenport” tool

  • String lifting tools

  • Large screwdriver

  • Brass string seating rod

String Leveling Tools:

Needling Tools:

  • Single needler with large handle

  • Three needle tool with large handle

  • “Through-the-string” single needlers (Schaff, #897)

  • “Sugar coating” multiple needles

  • “Through the side” needling tool (Pianotek, #VT-1000, or at Piano Forte Supply)

  • Various sizes of needles


  • Hammer softeners

  • Acetone

  • Hammer hardeners

  • Lacquer and lacquer thinner

  • Keytop or plexiglass and acetone

  • Colloidal juice

  • Ballistol

  • Alcohol

  • Hairspray

  • V.S. Profelt

  • Fabric softener

  • Shellac

  • Sometimes only lacquer thinner is applied to remove some of the hardened lacquer

Jim's Voicing Kit

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