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MMD > Archives > July 1996 > 1996.07.25 > 03Prev  Next

The Pratt-Reed Question
By Craig Brougher

John Tuttle obviously didn't understand my suggestion in regulating the Pratt-Reed, and after rereading it, neither did I. So let me rephrase it a little:

Everything about a piano or a player piano begins at the key. By that, I mean the performance of the piano action and its regulation. The player can only play as well as the action will allow. When someone who is unfamiliar with action regulation and yet who has a problem with player regulation tells me they have a problem with blocking and bobbling hammers when the player plays the piano, they are telling me that the regulation is "all over the place." When they say that "it plays fine by hand" they are telling me that they felt there was no need to regulate the action before sticking in the player. Either they tell me that the piano action is correctly regulated, first, or I will advise them to do that, since a pianist can compensate for all kinds of problems at the keyboard and poor regulation won't show up.

Once you have properly regulated the piano action, from the key dip through to the hammer, only then will you be ready for a decent performance with the player. Too often, regulators will give the key more dip than it's called for when they have bobbling notes, rather than going to the source of the problem. That is not going to prevent his player from bobbling notes, even after he regulates everything else!

So I repeat-- begin at the key. Everything regarding the action of the piano begins there. And if you cannot get the piano action to work well after the key dip is correct, then go after the real culprit. It could be a number of things. What you are talking abut here is a sort-of trapeze act in which everything has to be at the right place, at the precise time.

I also do not recommend changing the design of the player, like adding things that are unnecessary, to "work around" the problem. The quick fix John Tuttle describes will not, in a thousand years, solve the problem of bobbling notes, although it might help the ones which block their strings. Still, you cannot "regulate" it that way. So I would encourage Mr. Toto to "do it right the first time." Why spend all that energy, and when you're done, you still need a complete regulation?

Each player action has at least one overall adjustment, and individual note adjustments with which to regulate it to the piano. Use them. And if the regulating button stems want to break, heat them up first with a micro-torch or soldering iron-- not so that you are burning the wood, but that will break the rust freeze and let you adjust it.

Craig B.

(Message sent Thu 25 Jul 1996, 12:54:56 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Pratt-Reed, Question

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