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PIANO TUNING AND REPAIR

For Piano Tuning and/or repair in the San Jose please email 

Email: piano@pianoguru.com

 Tuning tips:  

How often should I have my piano tuned?  

Tuning frequency depends on a number of factors but piano manufacturers recommend tuning at least once a year.  Many pianists schedule tunings every 6 months.  Things to consider include how often it is played, local climate changes that affect the instrument (e.g. temperature and humidity changes), and the critical ear of the musician.

If it has been a long time since it was last tuned (e.g.  2 years) then  it  probably requires a  pitch raise.    This is a  procedure that uniformly raises the tension on the strings,  plate, and soundboard to aid in reaching a stabilized tuning.  A tuned piano has over 30,000 lbs of pressure  on the cast iron plate and soundboard that is a result of the 230 strings all pulling together at 100 to 180 lbs each.  When allowed to drop in pitch, the pressures become uneven  and a fine tuning is impossible unless the pressures are evened out first.   A pitch raise requires about  30 minutes extra before starting the fine tuning.  Even after pitch raising, the piano is somewhat unstable and needs another fine tuning within 6  months to  develop  smooth, clear tones.  

Also be aware that if a piano is allowed to significantly lower tension there is always  a chance that strings will break when increasing the tension, particulary on older pianos.  So, a regular tuning besides bringing the pleasure of beautiful tones is also a good preventative measure.

New pianos should be tuned 2 or more times in the first year to stabilize.  

If it doesn’t sound out of tune after 6  or 12 months, why must my piano be tuned?

 Even if not played,  strings will stretch and humidity and temperature changes will expand and contract the sound board, changing  the pitch.  It may be that the whole piano has slowly shifted down in pitch altogether, but sounds ok relative to itself.   As the strings stretch, the lowered  tension will distort  the plate and soundboard .  Retuning will bring them back into the proper place. 

If a piano is quite far out of tune you can usually tell by the  “rinky-tink” sound like an old time piano (the reason the pianos in the western movies sound like that is because they didn’t have many piano technicians so they all were out of tune).  Another way is to play notes an octave apart and listen for either smooth tones or vibrating tones.  The beating or vibration means the octaves are out of tune with each other.   Another clue is if notes have a slight echo or distant sound to them.

I frequently hear comments that the piano doesn’t sound out of tune to the parent but the children complain that it sounds different than the piano teacher’s.   This is a good indication that tuning is needed.  Children usually have excellent hearing and  can become discouraged with lessons when the piano is out of tune.

 

My friend is shopping for a piano, any suggestions?

First, I would get a good source of information at the library or book store.  An excellent book is “The Piano Book” by Larry Fine   This is  available from Amazon.com (use the links below if you like).

    <=== click and search on "The Piano Book"          =====> click here for other books,etc. 

Second, I  would have them call a professional piano technician to discuss their plans and to inspect any proposed piano. 

Other interesting books on pianos:

                     Pierce Piano Atlas (no picture)                          

   

What should I do if there is a problem with my piano?

If the piano is still under warrantee call a technician and he will get authorization for the work.  If not, don’t worry, most things such as sticking keys,  bobbling keys,  broken strings or broken parts are easily and quickly fixed.  Parts are readily available for virtually any piano and are modestly priced.

How can I make sure my piano doesn’t get too far out of tune?

 First – Plan a schedule of 6 month or yearly tunings after the piano becomes stabilized.

Second – If you would like to feel comfortable about ensuring proper care for your investment, purchase an inexpensive tuning meter (have your technician calibrate it against his tuning computer)and periodically sample the pitch. (check the “A” above middle C, and the “A” above that.  Schedule a tuning when either one differs more than about 6-8 cents from normal).  The piano can be out of tune within this criteria but this can be a useful way to track change of tension in the piano. The sheetmusic or keyboard links shown below has a large selection of tuning meters in all price ranges.

 

A piano is a lifetime investment that requires periodic servicing to ensure quality performance year after year.  It is much like a living plant.  Frequent attention and shaping will maintain character.  Left neglected, much time and effort is required to restore its natural beauty.

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