Vleugel mechaniek


It's a tricky subject with a large gray area. How does it come about anyway? What is intonation anyway? Described as briefly as possible: changing or influencing the tone and timbre. You can read more about what sounds a piano or grand piano can have in our blog about the sound of a piano.

Changing timbre and dynamics

Everything in a piano or grand piano contributes to the sound, even the cabinet! There is no intonation until everything is completely technically in order. This is because everything affects the sound. The instrument must play and be tuned optimally.  

When everything is in order, the technician starts the voicing. You can compare it a bit with making a movie. You first write a script, do the casting, find the right music, record everything and when everything is done: the editing. With the editing of the film you can determine what the film will eventually look like. 

Intonation is actually the editing of the sound, timbre and dynamics of the piano or grand piano!

Hamerkoppen schuren

How does a technician do the voicing?

Since intonation consists of several parts, here is a step-by-step explanation of what is involved in this process.  

Scheitelen (shjeitelen)

A obvious German word. This is an operation in which the technician ensures that the headstock sits squarely on the strings. Sometimes a hammer head hits the strings (excessively) skewed. This causes unwanted noises. An example: if you walk in a pair of shoes where your right shoe is three millimeters lower than your left shoe, you will notice this. 


After the shuffling, the technician will tune one more time. Then you get an exact picture of how the piano or grand piano sounds.

Intoneren van de hamerkoppen

Changing the tension of hammer heads

A hammer head is covered with felt which is glued under high tension. So there is a lot of tension on a hammer head, which greatly affects the dynamics, hardness and tone color of the tone. If the tension of a hammer head is very high, you get a bright or clear tone. With a lower tension you get a warm or shrouded tone.  

You adjust the tension by puncture the hammer heads with needles. This is a tricky and precise skill that not very many technicians possess. It requires a lot of patience, perseverance, good ears, accuracy and craftsmanship. A professionally trained craftsman/woman performs this work with great pleasure. Knowing what kind of results he or she can achieve.

Overleggen over de intonatie

Final voicing

The whole piano or grand piano should have the same hardness of tone. When that is equalized, you get a balanced sound picture. Often a technician will then meet with a customer to discuss how their piano or grand piano may sound. There will be puncturing, listening, scheitelen, tuning and puncturing again. This customization/editing ensures that the sound matches your musical preferences as much as possible.

Such a voicing job can sometimes take days. It just depends on how much the technician is allowed to do by the client to get the best result. This kind of intonation job is often done at pianists' homes or in concert halls. There is actually no point in performing such an intensive intonation job on a cheaper piano. The quality of a piano or grand piano plays an important role. A good quality instrument lends itself better to a nice intonation

Keep in mind that each piano or grand piano has a limited number of possibilities. It is not the case that we can completely change the sound of a grand piano. Yes, a lot can be done with the sound. But if you are looking for a totally different sound, then it might be better to look for another piano or grand piano.


That's what it ultimately comes down to. Everyone has his or her preference for a certain timbre. The music you like to play also partly determines the sound you are looking for.

Music and sound are not tangible. That makes it sometimes difficult to find what is right for you. But that also makes it fun! It is an adventure, an experience. You have a certain sound in mind - the sound of your parents' piano or perhaps the sound of that one concert you heard a few years ago. Together with the technician you will search for the sound and apply the right intonation to your instrument.

Have fun discovering!

Intoneren voor een pianist