Tricks of the Trade Piano Tuning and Repair

 

 

Tricks of the Trade Piano Maintenance, Piano Tuning, Regulation, Cleaning, Voicing, Appraisals, Repairs, Consultations, Evaluations

Bruce Trummel  (800)524-5861  (916)989-9000  Email

Bruce Trummel, Piano Tuning and Maintenance

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


WHAT IS TUNING? top

Tuning, also referred to as "fine tuning," refers to finely adjusting the tension of all 200 plus strings so that each one sounds at its proper pitch. This allows the piano to sound its best regardless of which key signature you are playing in.

WHAT IS PITCH RAISING? top

Pitch raising refers to a major change in the overall pitch of a piano. It is sometimes referred to as "rough tuning". Your piano may need pitch raising in addition to a fine tuning if it has not been tuned regularly in the past. If pitch raising is needed, it is performed prior to the tuning.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TUNING AND PITCH RAISING? top

Tuning, or fine tuning, refers to small adjustments in the tension of each of the strings. Pitch raising refers to a large adjustment in the tension of each of the strings. If the overall pitch of the piano is too low, it may need pitch raising prior to the tuning, in order to achieve a solid tuning.

WHAT IS REGULATION? top

Regulation refers to the adjustment of the various action parts (keys, hammers, dampers, etc.) so that they work as intended, giving the pianist an even controlled touch throughout the keyboard. Proper regulation also extends the life of the instrument.

WHAT IS VOICING? top

Voicing refers to adjusting the hardness of the hammers to effect an even tone throughout the piano.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD A PIANO BE TUNED? top

There is no simple answer to this question, as each piano is unique and so is its environment. Generally speaking, pianos in the home should be tuned every 6 or 12 months. Pianos used professionally are generally tuned more often. If your child is taking piano lessons it is important that the piano be in good tune so that his or her learning is not impaired.

HOW SHOULD I CLEAN MY PIANO KEYS? top

Piano keys can be cleaned using a cotton cloth, such as an old tee shirt, slightly dampened with water. Use only a small amount of water. You do not want any water to run down the sides of the keys. Rub front to back, not side to side. If there is stubborn dirt, you can add some mild soap, such as Ivory soap. Avoid the use of any other cleaners or your keys may be damaged. Dry them with a dry cotton cloth. If your keys are badly worn, stained, or chipped, it is possible to have them recovered to look like new again.

CAN WHITE KEYTOPS BE REPLACED? top

Yes, they can be replaced if needed. If only one or two keytops are damaged it may be possible to replace just the damaged ones. If many keytops are chipped, stained, or cracked, a full set of new keytops will do wonders for the look of your piano.

CAN YOU HELP ME BUY A PIANO? top

Yes, consultation services are available to help determine what type of piano would be best for you, including helping you select a good new or used instrument. There are many different brands of pianos. Some are good. Others are best avoided. If you are thinking of buying a used piano, inspections are available to make sure you are getting a good one. Pianos do wear out, so you don't want to buy one that is going to need extensive (expensive) repairs.

HOW DO I CLEAN MY PIANO? top

You can dust the outside of the piano with a soft cloth or feather duster. If the outside needs polishing due to stubborn dirt or fingerprints, you need an appropriate polish for your piano.

You can clean the keys yourself. See HOW SHOULD I CLEAN MY PIANO KEYS? The rest of the piano, including the soundboard and action, will need periodic cleaning by an expert. Keeping your piano free of dust and dirt will help prevent problems and prolong the piano's life.

WHAT CAUSES KEYS TO STICK? top

Sticking keys, or keys that go down but don't come back up, or come back up slowly, can be caused by a number of different factors, including:

  • Foreign objects dropped in the piano (coins, pencils, etc.)
  • Dirt
  • Dampness
  • Factory defect
  • Worn, broken, or misaligned parts

WHAT CAUSES BUZZING IN PIANOS? top

Buzzing noises can be caused by a variety of problems including:

  • Foreign objects dropped into piano
  • Defective string or bridge
  • Defective soundboard
  • Hardened damper felt
  • Loose hinge, screw, or other part
  • Loose caster

Sometimes the buzzing may actually be caused by a nearby object, such as the glass in a picture frame.

WHAT TYPES OF PIANOS DO YOU SERVICE? top

Service is available for all styles of pianos — grands, uprights, consoles, and spinets — and all brands, including Baldwin, Steinway, Wurlitzer, Kimball, Sterling, Vose, Kawai, Yamaha, Young Chang, Kohler and Campbell, Schafer and Sons, Schimmel, Weber, Hamilton, Fischer, Conway, Cable, Brambach, and Aeolian just to name a few.

HOW DO I DETERMINE THE AGE OF MY PIANO? top

Most every piano is assigned a serial number when it is manufactured. The approximate age of most any piano can be determined if you supply the brand name and serial number.

I DON'T PLAY MY PIANO MUCH. DOES IT STILL NEED TUNING? top

It is best to tune your piano on a regular basis even if it is not played much. Pianos go out of tune, whether they are played or not. Generally speaking, the tension of the strings decreases as time goes by, due to stretching of the strings and daily fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Neglecting your piano may lead to tuning instability and/or expensive repairs later.

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