The better the piano, the more voiceable its hammers and the more malleable its sound. Manufacturers have to make decisions about materials as they increase or decrease the quality of the product to meet various price points. The hammers in the least expensive models just won't produce the quality of sound heard from the more expensive instruments. This can make separating a piano's voicing issues from its tonal potential much more challenging for the consumer.
In addition, because tone depends not only on the quality and voicing of the hammers, but also on the other sound-producing parts of the instrument (such as the rim, soundboard, and bridges), one should have realistic expectations about smaller, less expensive pianos. No amount of voicing will make an entry-level grand sound like a 9' concert grand. And because hammers tend to revert to their originally designed tone, scaling deficiencies in older or smaller models that may have been hidden by careful voicing may return as harsh changes in tone when the voicing deteriorates, exposing awkward transitions in the scale.
Following purchase of a piano, it should be ready for touch-up voicing and regulating after having been played for 50 to 100 hours, depending on repertoire and on how much playing and touch-up it received in the store before purchase. After that, the tone and voicing will evolve throughout the life of the hammers.
Choose a technician experienced in voicing your particular brand, especially for performance-quality instruments. Many manufacturers have specific tonal goals for their instruments, and technicians who regularly work with those brands' hammers are more attuned to their expectations — and the expectations of the client who has chosen that brand based on its tone.
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