Caring for your piano

TUNING:

It is recommended the average piano be tuned once a year. Every six months is optimal. For teachers or professionals, two to four times a year.

Concert pianos are tuned before every performance. Pianos left without tuning for many years can be problematic !

The major cause of pianos going out of tune is primarily weather and humidity fluctuation. This is followed by frequent and especially, heavy playing.

If a piano has not been tuned in many years, it will likely require a pitch raise before a fine tuning can be done (this will accrue an additional charge). However, one can still derive hours of personal enjoyment playing on a piano even if necessary that it be tuned to a lower pitch.

Leaving a piano too long without tuning can cause false beats in the strings, is extra stressful for the piano when it is finally tuned and often leads to individual strings breaking whilst being tuned due to corrosion and kinks in the strings on the coils and bearing points.

Be kind to your piano and tune it regularly!

Some older pianos (pre 1920) were originally designed for a lower pitch than today and might not be tuneable to the modern pitch of A=440 cycles per second. 

Note: I no longer tune the old overdamper style pianos as they are unreliable. Below is an 'overdamper' piano on the left and a modern piano on the right. Open the top lid and you can see the felt hammers clearly on a modern piano, whereas they are hidden by a board running over the top on an overdamper.

It is advisable to engage a Piano Tuner/Technician registered with the Piano Technicians Guild. It is also helpful to search the worldwide web for additional information regarding piano tuning and servicing.

SERVICING:

There are several types of “servicing” a piano might require. Thousands of parts are inside your piano and they need to work together as a team to produce the proper touch and sound. Servicing can run the gamut from a few simple adjustments for repairing the odd sluggish note to rebuilding the piano completely. The most common items needing attention are:

  • Repairing broken or missing parts and sluggish keys.
  • Fixing squeeks, clacks, odd sounds and rubbing noises.
  • Action regulation (adjusting the piano’s action for the most precise and responsive ‘touch’ ). Pianos which are out of regulation can feel sluggish or heavy and are often difficult to play expressively or evenly.
  • The regulation of the moving parts should be checked every 5 to 10 years and adjusted as needed. This is a separate operation from the regular tuning, but is every bit as important for your piano’s performance!
  • Damper adjustment or damper felt replacement (dampers stop the sound after you play)
  • Hammer felt renewal, voicing or replacement (this enhances the tonal quality & sound)
  • Replacing the odd broken string
  • Recovering the odd keytop (Genuine ivory is no longer available) 

Unfortunately, due to stresses and strains to my knuckles and finger ligaments over the years, I am no longer able to perform complete restringing of pianos. However, I still specialize in the restoration/repair of actions, dampers and individual string replacement in addition to tuning.

Estimates of cost for tuning or repair are available at a reasonable charge ! If the work is carried out, then only the quote for the repair/tuning will be charged.

A higher fee will apply for estimates and tunings if further than 20km from Hastings or Napier.

Excellent information is also available from these websites:

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