How To Describe The Voice of Your Piano

How To Describe The Voice of Your Piano

Just like people, pianos have unique voices.

The grand piano in the lobby of a five-star hotel sounds a lot different than the piano that lived in the living room of your parents’ home. But what makes pianos sound different from one another?

A piano’s voice differs from whether it’s in tune. Tuning a piano involves adjusting the strings’ tension.

A piano’s unique voice comes from the sound that the hammers make when they hit the piano’s strings. The felt covering on these hammers can vary in hardness, density, surface area, and quality. All of these factors affect the sound of each note played, giving your piano its unique voice.

A piano’s tone can be shifted with a process called “piano voicing.” Experienced piano technicians usually do this in order to even out the tones of individual notes. Voicing the whole piano to make it have a different voice is possible, but it takes an experienced professional to do it well, and it takes a long time.

Want to describe your piano’s voice? Here are some words to do so.

Warm, Mellow

Warm-sounding pianos are well-balanced and appealing. Many technicians try to voice pianos to sound warm, as it works for most types of music. A warm sound is also generally appealing to listeners. 

Bright, Shrill

Bright voiced pianos have a higher sound, creating music that is lively, clear, and pleasant. This higher sound may sound shrill to some ears.


Pianos that are bass-heavy have a dark voice with a booming, rich sound. Too much bass can make a piano sound unbalanced, and this can sometimes be a sign of cheaply-made hammers.


Rich-sounding pianos have a lot of auditory interest. They have enhanced bass and treble tones, while still feeling balanced. A rich-sounding piano is more interesting to listen to, as it provides more complex tones.

Big, Powerful

Pianos with a “big” sound are usually found in concert halls and stages, where they can be heard and enjoyed by many. Pianos with a big voice have a lot of power and can easily fill a room.

Clear and Even

Clarity of piano sound generally comes from a well-made piano that’s been finely tuned. It’s hard to sustain perfect clarity and evenness in a piano, especially over time. New pianos are naturally more even, as the felt on the hammers has not been worn down yet.

So which sound is best?

A concert pianist may prefer a piano with a big, rich sound, while you might prefer the relaxing sound of a warm, mellow piano in your own home. While some pianos sound generally appealing to people, such as ones with a warm or rich sound, there is ultimately not a definitive “best sounding” piano out there. It’s all down to personal preference: beauty is in the ear of the listener!

What Is Piano Voicing?

What Is Piano Voicing?

When you begin to learn a new hobby, there are more aspects to learn than just the craft itself. Take, for instance, learning to play the piano. Not only do you have to learn the notes, scales, and finger placement, you also have to learn the buzzwords of the industry.

Like voicing.

Voicing refers to the changing tone of the instrument. Tone can be thought of as the brightness or mellowness of the sound. A note may be perfectly in tune, yet vibrating at a consistency that sounds harsh and bright. It can have a fullness to it that makes it seem like it hovers in the air, or it can have a flat, dullness to it that barely creates a presence.

There are three basic problems when it comes to tone:What Is Piano Voicing?

1. Select notes don’t seem to blend in with the others

2. Entire sections seem to be out of balance with each other – the bass may be bold while the treble is weak

3. The entire piano seems to be balanced, but the overall tone is too bright or mellow

These problems have nothing to do with tuning, and everything to do with voicing.

When you listen to music through a stereo system, you can control the sound in a variety of ways. The easiest is by turning the volume up or down depending on your preference. But with a sophisticated system, you have more controls than that. You can adjust the treble or bass to make the music sound richer and fuller. You can move the sound from one channel to another, creating surround sound. You are not changing the music; just the way you hear it.

The human ears are designed to pick up many different frequencies. Every frequency has its own volume and pattern. That’s why you can distinguish a friend’s voice calling to you across a crowded room, or why a mother can hear her infant cry in a room full of children.

If a piano is in tune and properly voiced, it will create a harmonious sound that is not only a joy to listen to, but also a joy to play. Imagine a beginning piano player sitting down and playing her first tune. She hears the melody, but knows the sound simply isn’t right. That’s where frustration can begin to set in.

Voicing is bringing every note into balance so that one note compliments the other as it is played. Instead of each note working individually, they work together to create one harmonious sound.

How is this accomplished?

Through proper tuning. The strings must be properly seated and firmly in place. Hammers must be in proper working condition and centered on their strings.

Think this is a job for just anyone? Think again. This is where the art of tuning comes into play. The art of listening and diagnosing the tonal weakness takes years of experience and a great deal of patience.

If its been a while since your piano was tuned, you may have noticed some issues with the tone. The voicing may be off. Which means its time to schedule tuning with a trained professional and bring it back into full working condition. Give us a call today; we can have your piano playing beautifully again in no time.