Frequently Asked Questions
Why does a piano’s pitch change?
Piano strings change pitch for two primary reasons: the initial stretching of strings when the piano is new, and soundboard movement due to humidity variation. As the relative humidity goes up the soundboard swells stretching the strings to a higher pitch. During dry times, the soundboard flattens out lowering the tension on the strings and causing the pitch to drop. The drop in the dry season tends to exceed the rise during humid times so the net result is a drop in pitch each year that the piano is not serviced.
What is a pitch raise?
If a piano has gone without tuning for an extended time its pitch may have dropped far below A-440 (standard pitch). This means that each of its approximately 220 strings needs to be tightened considerably adding tremendous additional tension to the pianos structure. The problem is that as each string is tightened the additional load causes the pitch of previously adjusted strings to change. Thus it is impossible to make a substantial change in pitch and end up with a fine accurate tuning in one step. To remedy this, a process called a “pitch raise must first be done in which all the strings are raised slightly above their correct tension levels. Only then can the piano be accurately tuned. In other words an accurate tuning is only possible when all the strings are so close to their proper tension that only small further changes are needed during the fine tuning.
What is regulation and how does it affect my piano’s performance?
Regulation is the adjustment of the mechanical aspects of the piano to compensate for the effects of wear, the compacting and settling of cloth,felt,buckskin,as well as dimensional changes in wood and wool parts due to changes in humidity. While tuning corrects the pitch of your piano, it is only one component of a complete maintenance program. Regulation attends to the touch and uniform responsiveness of your piano’s action and insures the instrument is capable of producing a wide dynamic range. All of this is vital in creating a pleasurable playing experience.
How will I know if my piano needs regulating?
If your instrument displays a lack of sensitivity or a decreased dynamic range it’s a candidate for a regulation. If you notice that the keys are not level (some higher or lower then others) the touch is uneven or the keys are sticking the need for a regulation is indicated. No amount of practice can compensate for a poorly maintained piano action. Poor legato touch, chord playing where all notes of the chord don’t speak clearly, a gradual loss of subtlety in phrasing and an inability to execute quick passages or note repetitions evenly may be the fault of the piano – not the player!
What is voicing?
Voicing is the art of trying to achieve a consistent tonal quality throughout the entire keyboard with full dynamic response. Voicing can be very subjective. Some people like a bright piano and others prefer a more warm tone. The voicing process tries to achieve this. A properly regulated and fine-tuned piano is essential before any voicing can be attempted.
How long should I wait to tune after the piano has moved?
When you bring your piano into a new home either after a move or after just purchasing it you should wait about three weeks before tuning. This will give the piano time to acclimate and settle into its new environment allowing for a more stable tuning.
Why a purchase consultation?
A piano is an important purchase for most people. It is in your best interest to have it completely inspected before you buy it. Although it may look fine from the outside there may be trouble lurking inside. A qualified technician is able to spot things that might not seem so apparent to you the buyer.
The Craig’s List Piano
Craig’s List has become one of the most popular ways of buying and selling pianos these days. On the upper end of the price range you can find some very nice instruments. However, on the mid to low range you can have some issues. Most of these pianos have not been serviced in quite a while and perhaps even stored for a number of years in a less then desirable environment. Be prepared to have to pitch raise, tune, clean and take care of some minor repairs and regulation issues to bring this piano to an acceptable playing level. Most of this work can be accomplished in one service visit.
How much does a piano tuning cost?
It's very hard to give a precise quote on a piano servicing without knowing something about the piano first. Please feel free to call or e-mail me for a detailed quote on your piano. My clients have always commented to me on how affordable my rates are.