Q: How often should my piano be serviced? A: Piano strings are under a tremendous amount of tension which
needs to remain constant. If the tension fluctuates too greatly,
the stresses become unequal throughout the piano and can
cause costly damage. Also, a piano that falls below standard
pitch of A-440 will not have as bright of tone as one where the
strings are at the proper tension. To minimize damage to the
piano and to maximize the piano's tone quality, remember
to have your piano tuned twice each year for moderate use
and more frequently for heavy or professional use. If your
piano is used for performance or recording purposes, it is
common to have it tuned before each event.
Q: What time of year is best to have my piano tuned? A: When choosing a time of year to have your piano tuned, some
believe that fall and spring are the best times, being
right after major seasonal changes. True, that is when the
Relative Humidity is most ideal for a piano, at 43% or so.
However, January and July are the best times if you want the
longest period of time without major fluctuations, even though
the humidity during those times are not always ideal. If your
home or establishment maintains it's temperature and humidity
rather well, or if your piano has a Dampp Chaser or similar
humidity control system installed and functioning regularly, then
this is not as much of an issue. While there is never a "perfect"
time, it is always better to have it tuned than it is to wait and risk
forgetting. Pitch adjustments are costly and hard on the piano! I
would suggest that whatever time(s) you decide, that you stick
Q: Why does my piano need a pitch-raise/lowering
(sometimes called a pre-tensioning, pre-tuning, or pitch
adjustment)? A: Pianos were built to function at a certain tension and
altering that can cause damage. Also, if you try to play any
other instrument with the piano, you may not be able to
tune the instrument to the piano, or you may have to transpose
the instrumental music to be able to play in tune with the
piano. Ex: trumpet, clarinet, etc.
Pitch-Raising: If your piano has not been tuned for 2-5 years
or more, then there is a good chance that it has gone flat and will
likely take more than one tuning before it will hold a proper tune.
Over time, the tension on the piano causes much of the piano, if
not all, to go flat as the tension slowly loosens with each seasonal
change in humidity. It is not difficult to bring back up to proper
pitch, but the trick is getting it to stay. Pitch-lowering: The opposite of pitch-raising. This is needed
when the pitch of the piano is too high. This can happen when
there is very high humidity, usually in the summer months in some
With both procedures, by dramatically increasing the tension in a
short amount of time, the strings' tendency is to "fight" the new
tension. In doing so, they will go flat a fraction of what they were
just raised, or go sharp a fraction of what they were just lowered.
It also makes the piano quite unstable. Therefore, it can take
several tunings before the piano re-adjusts to the correct tension
enough to stay. Usually, this can be done in one extended
session for, but it often takes several more tunings before the
piano will remain stable.
Here's my policy on pitch-raises: - 8 cents flat/sharp (or less) overall - no pitch-adj. required
(tune only $110) (allow 1.5 - 2 hrs.) - 16-50 cents flat/sharp -
charged 1 pitch adj. ($40) + tune ($110) = $150 (50 cents = 1/2 a semi-tone...or 1/2 the distance between
two adjoining keys on the keyboard, C and C# for ex.)
(allow 2 - 3 hrs.) - 51-100 cents flat/sharp -
charged 2 pitch adj. ($80) + tune ($110) = $190 (100 cents = 1 full semi-tone...or the distance between
two adjoining keys on the keyboard, C and C# for ex.)
(allow 3 - 4 hrs.)
I will always notify you (and show you) when a pitch-adjustment
Q: What is Action Regulation and does my piano need it? A: "Action Regulation" simply refers to the adjustments that a
piano needs to make all the moving parts move the right way
and create the best musical tone possible. The piano is a very
simple, yet very technical instrument. From the key to the
hammer that strikes the strings, there are levers and such that
move in a very precise way to make the note play correctly. Each
note on a vertical upright has 25 or more adjustments that can be
made, and a grand has nearly 35. If any of these are incorrect, it
will affect how the instrument performs. See grand piano action in motion here. Note all the knobs, felt, wires, screws, etc. that
can be adjusted. There are also adjustments that can be made that
cannot be seen, such as under and inside the key, etc.
Q: How often does my piano need regulation? A: To maintain the right touch and prolong the life of the piano
action, it is recommended to have the piano action
regulated approximately every two years unless you have a
humidity control system installed on your piano. As the
piano is played and subjected to humidity changes, it
becomes necessary to adjust its many moving parts in order for it to respond correctly. If you notice…
- notes that seem to double bounce when you play them;
- sloppy keys that are extra loose and wiggle from side to
side, or are extra sluggish;
- notes that continue to ring when they should be quiet
Q: Will I always know when my piano needs repairs? A: Sometimes, but not always. The good news is that if you have
regular tunings, I can inspect the piano to be sure that
everything is working as it should be. This could prevent
costly repairs in the future.
Pianos are made from a variety of materials: wood, metal, felt,
plastic, and such. Although pianos are built to last, there will
come a time when these materials will break down, leaving you
with a sticky note, a broken string, broken pedal, broken
hammer, and the list goes on. It is inevitable that repairs will
need to be made. It is very important to have the repair made
as soon as possible. Continuing to use an instrument that has a broken part, or is
not "acting" just right, can lead to further damage if not
taken care of. Don't make things worse, get it repaired.
You (and your pocket book) will be glad you did. - Return to FAQs list
Q: Where can I purchase piano covers, piano lights, and
other accessories for my piano? A: I can provide many accessory items for your piano,
including such items as: piano covers, key cover locks,
humidity control systems, piano lights, piano benches, and
piano dollies for easy moving on stage or down school
hallways. Visit my accessories page and/or browse my amazon.com store. I also have a limited selection in my piano
supply catalog that I can show you when I visit.
OR, the following website has a wide selection of piano
accessories as well as musically printed cups, napkins, etc.
Visit now at www.pianoworld.com.
Q: Do you tune by ear or with an electronic tuning aid? A: Yes. Both actually. I use a SAT III (Sanderson Accutuner III) as
a reference in setting the temperment, to calculate a customized
stretch tuning for each piano's scale based on it's own
inharmonicity, and during pitchraising. I tune all unisons by ear
(which is roughly 2/3 of the piano), and on those notes tuned to
the SAT III, I still make all of the necessary "checks" or musical
"tests" that one would make when tuning aurally since what is
heard always "trumps" what is seen on a machine. Electronic
tuners nowdays are lightyears ahead of those of yester-year and
can make the tuner's job much easier, so long as they don't have
the final word, so to speak.
Q: What is my piano worth? A: Good question. Basically, your piano is worth what the
market will bear. Here is a website that might be helpful. http://www.pianoworld.com/value.htm While it doesn't give prices, it does give you an idea of what
might be involved in setting a price. It's always a good idea to to have your tuner/technician inspect your piano and let you
know the general condition of your piano as well as if there are
any concerns that need to be addressed before you sell, (or
what the new owner would need to address after purchase).
This will help both parties feel good about the sale. It's not a
good situation when a piano is purchased based on looks
and owner opinion, only to find that the piano is going to
need a substantial amount of work. One lady I know was
given an old upright piano, only to find after all the hassle of
moving it that it had a severely cracked pinblock and could not
be tuned. Her only consolation was that it was a gift and she
fortunately hadn't paid anything for it.
In my opinion, it would be very wise, and well worth the service
call, to have myself, or another qualified piano technician in your
area, inspect any used piano that you were planning on
purchasing....(or even receiving free of charge for that
matter)....so you know what you're getting
yourself into, including possible costs down the road. That
"free" piano could wind up costing you hundreds more than you
expected if you're not careful.
Q. How old is my piano and who made it? A. First look for the brand name, sometimes on the key cover, or
most likely inside the piano printed either on the upper lid
(that you set all your pictures and knick-knacks on), or
somewhere on the plate near the tuning pins. Secondly, while
you have the piano open, look for a serial number (typically a
5 or 6 digit number unless it's really, really, old). I've found
several pianos that don't have one that I could find, but
usually there will be one printed in plain view. You may need
a flashlight to read it though. Write this down and close up
the piano. Visit www.bluebookofpianos.com/ages/, find
your brand name, and then find the year in which your serial
number was made. There will also be a brief description
about the manufacturer. I can also give you most of this type
information free of charge when I come tune your piano if you
remind me. - Return to FAQs list
Q. What is the cost to have a piano tuned? A. Costs vary greatly from one part of the country to another,
and from city to rural areas. Generally you will find that on
the coasts, rates average from $100-$150 per tuning. In the
midwest, with a lower cost of living, the rates average
somewhere around $75-$125. Something to consider when
comparing rates is the distance a tuner must travel and what
they will charge for mileage. That can add considerably to
your cost, so be sure to ask before being caught off guard at
the end of a tuning with a larger bill than expected! You can view my rates here.
Q. What do I need to do to get ready for the tuner's visit? A. There are several things that you can do to prepare for my visit
that will be most helpful.
1) Remember to be home at the appointed time - If you are
unable to keep your tuning appointment for any reason, please
call me as soon as possible. I will do the same for you.
2) Please remove all items from off the top of the piano, ie: knicknacks, pictures, piano books, etc. I would rather you
handle them than me risk breaking them.
3) On vertical pianos, it is usually not necessary to move the piano out away from the wall.Tuning, and most inspections, are
performed from the front of the piano. If I need to move it, I will.
4) Provide a quiet, distraction free environment.TV, radios,
electric mixers, washing dishes, or kids playing in the front
room, can all be very distracting when I am concentrating on
listening to the slight changes in the piano's pitch and tone.
5) Please allow adequate time for me to do the job correctly. Some tunings take longer than others, and I always want to do
the best job for you, so it would be helpful to avoid planning
somewhere to be immediately after the tuning in case we go
longer than expected. I usually estimate 2 hrs. for a regular
tuning. If the piano needs a pitch raise (pre-tensioning),
then allow another hour or more for that. Don't forget that if we
find a repair or adjustment that needs to be made, that can add
time too. So...bottom line, do allow enough time for me to leave
your instrument in great shape without feeling rushed!
6) A piano bench would be nice!I say that in fun, but I have
showed up at homes only to find that there was no piano
bench. If you don't have a piano bench, an armless chair of
about 18"-19" will work.