By Gregory Cheng, RPT
When I was a young technician, one of my first jobs was working in a shop rebuilding pianos and prepping floor pianos. I was fortunate to work with a lot of well-educated piano technicians and rebuilders. Early on, I was intimidated by the knowledge and experience these people had and felt I needed to catch up - and catch up fast. My mentor pointed me to a few books I should read, which then dropped me into a rabbit hole of books and cataloged knowledge that I didn’t think was even available.
Theoretical book knowledge will never replace hands-on physical experience. However, the insights you gain from book knowledge will give you a richer, deeper understanding of piano technology, and will increase your skillset, enhance your hands-on experience, and set you a level apart from most technicians with factual, sight-able knowledge.
For the purposes of this article, I have categorized books into a few different categories: General Knowledge Books and Specialized Books. General knowledge books are well-rounded books that cover a wide range of topics within the book. These items are not necessarily summarized but are brief in their description. The specialized books dive deep into specific areas.
Grand Regulation Touch and Tone
By Danny Boone
This was my very first book in piano technology, and I think it is one of the most underrated books sold by PTG. It covers more touch than tone. Boone covers the topic of grand regulation quite thoroughly, but in a compact format. He provides exercises in each chapter, suggests tools and equipment with instructions on how to make them, and offers reproducible checklists in the field.
I believe that there are steps in the learning process of understanding regulation. We are all forced to memorize multiplication tables in the third grade so that we can do math in our heads with readily available information. As musicians, we are forced to learn scales so that we can play passages without having to look at the beginning of the staff of music. However, memorizing scales and playing in certain keys aren’t exactly the same. The same goes for regulation. Doing all the steps may get you to a point, but to refine and bring the piano to its full potential is another subject altogether. Boone takes us on the first step of this principle and makes you think about each step.
Upright and Grand Piano Action Regulation
By Carl-Johan Forss
This is another collegiate book by Forss that dives deep into every aspect of regulation. The table of contents alone is four pages long. This is a one-stop, all-inclusive book on regulation complete with highly detailed diagrams, color photos, charts, and exercises. If you have a question about regulation, this book will answer it.
Step one in this book about regulation is an often overlooked aspect of piano care: cleaning. Forss covers cleaning, preliminary checking of action parts and structure, then dives into grand and upright regulation on all different types of action styles. Forss includes the key components not found in most regulation procedures: damper regulation, pedal regulation, and trap work regulation on both grand and upright pianos.
Piano Action Regulating
By Brian Capleton
I had the pleasure of working with Brian Capleton years ago at a Mid-Atlantic Regional Convention in 2007. At the time, he had just released his book, Theory and Practice of Piano Tuning. The opening statement in the book was that he was not going to use advanced math to explain tuning. He then proceeded to use pretty highend math to explain tuning. Piano Action Regulating is the direct opposite. Once you have memorized your "regulation multiplication tables" and have a full grasp of regulation, this book will take you one level higher.
In only 116 pages, Capleton is able to cover all types of grand and upright actions. His high level of thinking breaks down regulation into principles and uses pianistic tests to evaluate the regulation. I would highly recommend this book to experienced and student technicians because of Capleton’s different approach to understanding regulation.
Grand Regulation and Vertical Regulation
By LaRoy Edwards
LaRoy Edwards created Yamaha’s Little Red Schoolhouse training curriculum for technicians. Yamaha later gave that curriculum to the Piano Technicians Guild, and it has since been expanded and developed into a training class hosted by PTG. LaRoy Edwards is one of the most well-respected technicians and educators in the industry, and his effort in providing education through these resources is undeniable. I attended Yamaha’s Little Red Schoolhouse program and had the pleasure of working with LaRoy and Yoshi Suziki from Yamaha. The information provided in these books is first-rate and well laid out in a very clear, easy-to-read format. These are more designed for a classroom workbook but provide a concise point-and-shoot program for getting regulation done for the individual technician. Follow these steps and you will have a well-regulated piano.
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