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Tuning, Repair & Regulation
Please call or email Kurt to schedule an appointment and for prices.
For the most stable tunings, most pianos require at least two tunings a year.
Some pianos are okay being tuned just once a year. A typical tuning takes about an hour.
Pianos that haven’t been tuned in years (or even decades – yes, I’ve run across many of them) are usually well below standard pitch. (The pitch of musical instruments has been standardized so that when multiple instruments are playing together, they sound good. That’s why bands and orchestras tune before a concert, so all the instruments will blend.)
Piano strings are like people – they just want to relax. So, if the strings haven’t been tuned in years, they have had a chance to relax and go flat. In such cases, the tuner (in consultation with the customer) has three choices:
1. Do a “pitch raise.” A pitch raise is a quick, rough tuning that brings all the strings a little bit above standard pitch. This can take 20 to 30 minutes. The tuner can then do a fine tuning, which takes about an hour. This will leave the customer with a more stable tuning, and the instrument will be back up to standard pitch. In some cases, another tuning should be done at three months to keep the strings up to pitch. After that, a six month routine can usually be started.
2. Due to the overall condition of the piano, the tuner may recommend bringing a very flat piano up to pitch gradually over the course of several tunings. This is done to avoid breaking strings (which tuners hate replacing because it is a real pain, and it’s expensive for the customer).
3. In cases where the customer doesn’t care if the piano is at standard pitch, the piano can simply be tuned to itself at the lower pitch. Sometimes it is necessary to do this, as when the bridges are severely cracked.
Repair usually means getting a sluggish key or two to stop being sluggish. There are a number of things that can cause a key (or many keys) to malfunction. The first step is to properly diagnose the problem. How many times have I pulled a pencil out of a piano and instantly restored three or four keys, to the delight of the customer? Other problems can be quite complicated and time consuming. And don’t even get me started on the pedals!
Regulation is the process of tweaking everything in the piano action that can be tweaked, and restoring the moving parts back to their original configuration. The whole point of regulating the action is to restore the sensitivity of the keyboard so that it plays virtually like when the piano was new; so that it responds quickly and accurately to the touch of the player. Any pianist, from the beginner to the seasoned professional, wants to play the piano, not fight it. A regulation can take one to two full days of work. It is a tedious, back breaking job, but it can add decades of playability to a piano. Cheaply made pianos do not deserve the time and expense of a regulation; better to put your money toward a better piano. But most well-made pianos, even those that are 80-years-old or more, are worth the investment.
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