Changes You Can Make Yourself Which Affect Your Piano's Tone


First a bit of the science of sound. A piano with a "bright" tone has many upper partials. A piano with a "subdued" tone lacks a large number of upper partials.

Hard surfaces reflect sound. Soft surfaces absorb it.

Where Your Piano is Placed

Where you place your piano influences how it sounds.

Hardwood or tile floors, high and hard ceilings, hard walls (windows, wood paneling, brick), non-upholstered furniture, and absence of people provide the most "live" of acoustical conditions. Conversely, a room with a plethora of soft surfaces, such as upholstered furniture, thick carpet and drapery, and people, has a more subdued acoustic condition.

If you want a bright, incisive sound, place your instrument in a room with a preponderance of hard surfaces.

If you prefer a more muffled tone, don't worry about hard surfaces. If necessary, add soft surfaces to help absorb the sound.

Particulars below.

For a Brighter Sound

There are some simple things you can do to improve the acoustics in your piano room.

Barring a subdued sound as the result of factory specs, here are some suggestions for making a muffled piano tone brighter:

For a More Subdued Sound

Some piano rooms are too live. The instrument's sound is strident or the reverberation is so long that notes seem to ring forever, causing a muddled result. If this is the case, add "dampening agents" to the room.

Here are ways to dampen the upper partials and absorb sound on a general basis:

copyright 1999-2006, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
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