Are All Piano Tuners The Same?

Are All Piano Tuners The Same?

The piano is a complex series of wood and metal, a refined piece of machinery that is crafted to perfection. With a peak underneath the lid, you’ll find hundreds of parts all lined up ready to do their job. But it’s a work of art to make sure each piece comes together in such a way as to produce a quality sound you can’t wait to hear over and over again.Are All Piano Tuners The Same?

Yes, there may be 88 keys laid out in front of you ready to pressed and put into action. But every time one is pressed down, many parts go into play. This means several hundred strings are pulled and pushed through a complex series of twists and turns to create the perfect sound you are looking for. And because they move with every push of the key, occasionally they don’t return to their original position.

It takes time. It’s a gradual process. You’ll never notice it after one touch of the key. But it’s there just the same. It’s like having to tune a guitar before you play a song. Or having to tune your car before you run it in a race.

Working parts have to be tuned over and over again to maintain precision.

And while many people can work on a piano, anyone can claim to know how to turn a wire and add weight to the hammers, there is a difference in the approach that they take.

Pianos have to be tuned on a regular basis, whether they are played daily or not. It’s not just playing that impacts a piano; it’s also its location, the climate, maintenance routines, and more.

It’s also the experience of the piano tuner. A great tuner understands all the nuances that go into play; they know the right questions to ask, and more importantly, understand what to look for in the piano before they begin.

Before you hire a piano tuner, ask a few questions to anyone vying for the job.

Where did you study and for how long? What are your qualifications?

How long have you been tuning pianos?

Where have you worked? What venues and what types of pianos?

Do you have recommendations?

You can always start by giving us a call. We have a list of select tuners we use regularly, ones we know will get the job done correctly every time.

Why I Love Vintage Pianos

Why I Love Vintage Pianos

As a piano dealer, I’m asked this question all the time. And every time I have to answer: It depends.

Of course, I love a new piano. Nothing is as striking as a newly built baby grand vying for center stage in clients home. Knowing it will create beautiful music for decades to come is part of what brought me to this industry in the first place.Why I Love Vintage Pianos

But there’s also something special about a vintage piano.

If you head back in time fifty, even a hundred years ago or more, pianos were built for a different way of life. Pianos weren’t merely pieces of furniture tucked away in a corner waiting for daily practice sessions. Pianos took priority in a household and became central to their way of life. It became the entertainment of the evening hours, something prized in the family estate. Without our modern day electronics and entertainments sources, people relied on their pianos for living a cultured and enjoyable lifestyle.

Pianos from the 1940s and before have one distinct difference over pianos built today: they were built completely by hand, with a great deal of care and craftsmanship going into each one. They weren’t built in assembly line fashion, pushing out as many as possible each day. Each one was designed with time-honored traditions that made it as unique as the person who crafted it.

That’s not to say pianos today are completely built by machine. In higher end manufacturers, pianos still are created using time-honored traditions. They still use some of the handcrafting workmanship to produce a top of the line instrument. However, there are certain parts of the piano action that are made by machine, that can be refined by using technology.

That technology is what gives today’s pianos crisp, clean sounds that are replicated from piano to piano. And with vintage, every sound is distinctive.

There’s something sentimental about looking at a hundred year old piano and wondering the life it’s had throughout the years. What home has it sat in? What music has it played? Has it been a part of history, playing for local dignitaries from time to time?

Yes, through restoration, a vintage piano can produce music you will be proud to have played in your home. It can provide you with years of enjoyment, many hours of relaxation.

Whether you have a piano you would like to have restored, or are in the market, we can help you with all your needs.

7 Things Piano Restoration Companies Look At

7 Things Piano Restoration Companies Look At

Pianos have a lot of moving parts. No matter if you play your piano every day, or if it sits quietly in the corner for weeks at a time, parts wear out. Strings lose their tightness; felts begin to wear down; wood can warp.7 Things Piano Restoration Companies Look At

Even with the best of care, pianos need regular maintenance to help them survive from year to year. And even with regular tunings, eventually, a piano needs even more work. That’s when restoration becomes necessary to keep your piano in good, working condition.

Yet handing over your piano to a restoration company isn’t as easy as it seems. There are a lot of companies that make promises, but who should you trust? Before you sign on the dotted line, there are some legitimate questions you should ask to determine if the rebuilder you choose is the right choice.

You would be surprised at the different levels of service offered by different restoration companies. Some collect a handful of pianos at a time, offering cut-rate pricing to get you in. Then when they have several in place, they ship them off to wholesale rebuilders who do a less than a quality job. Your family heirloom is now worth very little. The sound will be destroyed. The parts will be anything but quality. And there’s very little you can do.

Which is why it’s important to ask questions before the process begins.

1. How long have you been in business? Longevity provides you with assurances that the restoration company is a part of the community and cares about its reputation.

2. Where is the work performed? This will ensure quality workmanship.

3. Can we see work in progress? This will tell you if the company has something to hide.

4. Is the process documented? If you can see photos or have a running document of the process, you’re ensured quality work is being performed.

5. Who will be working on the restoration process? Quality work isn’t performed in assembly line manner.

6. What organizations are you a part of? The longer a restoration company is in business, the more they will be a part of the community.

7. Can you furnish references? A reputable dealer will never be afraid to pass along happy customers’ information.

Are you in the market for finding a reputable piano restoration company? What is your most important question?

Does A Cracked Soundboard Ruin A Piano?

Does A Cracked Soundboard Ruin A Piano?

One of the main pieces of a piano is the soundboard. The soundboard’s function is to take and repeat the vibrational movements of the strings, creating air sound waves that are vastly greater than could be produced by strings alone.Does A Cracked Soundboard Ruin A Piano?

The better the soundboard performs this function, the better the soundboard is. And the better the sound becomes.

More than two hundred strings are stretched at high tensions over wooden supports that are rigidly fastened to the surface of the soundboard. Every time a key is pressed, it sets in motion the strings, transmitting through the bridge to the soundboard, and reproduces the sound again and again across the surface. These tiny movements vibrate front to back. They are powerful waves which immediately register to anyone that is near.

This process continues again and again, faithfully, no matter how many strings are played at one time.

The strings create the sound; the soundboard amplifies it.

For this reason, a crack in the soundboard reduces the soundboard’s ability to amplify the vibrations of the strings only in relation to how much of the surface area the crack reduces the vibrating area of the board.

Soundboards vary in size depending on how large the piano is. They are contained in tight spaces, controlled by the many parts that make up the piano. Because the very nature of wood is to expand and contract as the environment changes, the wood changes all the time.

As long as the structure of the soundboard remains solid, with ribs and bridges adhering correctly to the surface of the soundboard, and all strings and other fasteners attached rigidly to the frame of the piano, cracks will have very little impact on the overall sound.

With proper maintenance and tuning, even a soundboard with cracks can be maintained for years.

Have additional questions? Just ask.

Piano Key Leveling

Piano Key Leveling

Have you ever started to play your piano, only to discover the keys feel a little off? As your fingers move from key to key, something appears to be not quite right.

What you may be feeling is a leveling issue.Piano Key Leveling

A properly regulated piano is one that has the keys perfectly level from one side of the keyboard to the other. When keys are correctly leveled, the pianist should find no noticeable difference in height as his or her fingers glide across the keytops. Also, no keys should stand out as being visibly higher or lower than the one next to it.

If the keys on your piano are not level, they need to be adjusted.

Keytops are leveled by the insertion of paper punchings of exact size between the wooden balance rail the keys rock on while being played, the felt balance rail punchings that cushion the keys.

Depending on the type of piano and the technician making the adjustments, one of several tools will be used to bring the keys up to level. Each note will be checked to determine how high or low it is compared to the desired height. Then punchings will be added or subtracted to bring it to a proper level.

After each addition, key height will be checked to determine if it’s at its proper height.

Sharp keys are leveled as well in a similar manner. Sharp keys, in general, are ½ inch higher than naturals. Fine paper punchings are used to ensure they are level from one end to another.

Think your keys may need leveling? Give us a call today.

Adjusting The Pedals During Piano Tuning

Adjusting The Pedals During Piano Tuning

In most cases, a piano tuner’s job entails bringing the notes back into tune by adjusting the strings. But in some cases, they may also find a pedal that isn’t doing its job. Pedals on both verticals and grand pianos occasionally stop working.Adjusting The Pedals During Piano Tuning

In many cases, it’s simply a matter of a pedal rod that has fallen out of place. By removing the kickboard on the front cabinet of a vertical piano just under the keyboard, you’ll find a vertical wood dowel or metal rod that connects to horizontal levers that extend up into the piano to a mechanism in the action. Stepping on the pedals causes the rod to move, activating the proper action mechanism inside the piano.

Since the rods are usually only inserted into the action levers with metal pins, it is very common for them to simply fall out of position, causing the pedal to stop working. The more you use a pedal, or if a piano has been moved, the greater the chance of having the pin fall out of place.

Pedal rods usually fall out of place when too much freeplay is in the movement. Freeplay means the pedal and the lever move too much before the vertical rod rises. If freeplay is enough, it can cause the rod to fall out of position, or simply not rise enough to allow the proper movement in the action.

Proper adjustment calls for freeplay of only about 1/16th or an inch. In other words, the vertical rod moves very little during the process. A professional tuner knows how to adjust the rod to the appropriate length. If you adjust it to remove all freeplay, it may jam against other action parts and leave the pedals in a position they shouldn’t be in. This can allow the dampers to stick, or to remain off the strings altogether, allowing notes to ring on and on.

Grand pianos usually have fewer problems with pedal adjustments than verticals. Grand pedal rods are encased in a wooden lyre and rarely fall out of position. However, adjustments are sometimes needed and are completed in much the same way as on a vertical.

Have a question about tuning your piano? Pedals need adjustment? Give us a call today.

Are Refurbished Pianos As Good As New?

Are Refurbished Pianos As Good As New?

So it’s time to bring a piano into your home. Where do you begin?

When you’ve decided you or your child will begin playing the piano, the first step is to find a piano to practice on regularly. And in most cases, the deciding factor comes down to cost, how much you can spend.Are Refurbished Pianos As Good As New?

After all, pianos can be very expensive, depending on the make and model you select. Which leaves many would-be piano owners searching out the best deals. It takes a lot of time to wade through your options.

There’s also a lot of risks.

Used pianos are marketed in a wide variety of ways. What does it all mean? Are there some you can trust more than others?

Remanufactured Pianos
Remanufactured pianos will ensure the piano is in new-like condition, both regarding appearance and performance. It will have new hammers, felts, strings, action parts, a new soundboard, and pinblock. In most cases it will also go through a refinishing process.

Rebuilt Pianos
If a piano is listed as rebuilt, it has gone through several changes, such as receiving new strings, a new soundboard, or a new pinblock. Most rebuilt pianos are also refinished too.

Reconditioned Pianos
A reconditioned piano usually signifies the piano has had strings and/or hammers replaced.

Restored Pianos
A restored piano is often a generic term used to describe a piano that has been remanufactured, rebuilt or refinished.

Refurbished Pianos
A refurbished piano typically takes it to the next level. Pianos that are refurbished will go through a lot of work, such as new strings, hammers, felts, pinblocks and soundboard. They may also be refinished in the process. At the completion, a refurbished piano will also be tuned and have regulation of the piano action.

If you are on a budget and wonder how you can purchase the best piano in your price range, looking at refurbished pianos may be your best alternative. Refurbished pianos have almost everything repaired or replaced within the parts. In most cases, they are as good as new. It is important that you thoroughly inspect the refurbished piano to make sure it meets your standards.

Look for a reputable dealer that can provide information about previous owners and its current condition.

Look for dealer’s warranties to protect you in the future.

Ask questions. This can ensure you are comfortable with your purchase.

Regulating Your Piano

Regulating Your Piano

A grand piano has about 14,000 parts in total. It includes as many as nine different types of wood, and the action contains many different types of leather and felt.Regulating Your Piano

In all, there are about 20 different things that can be adjusted on each key to make it play better. And if you play the piano, playing the best is something you strive for each time you play. You want the notes to sound perfect. You want perfect harmony when multiple notes are played at the same time. You want them to move with ease. You want to be able to create the right amount of power. These adjustments are called regulating the action, or regulating the piano.

Many pianos come from the factory in fairly well regulated. Others need service to bring them to optimal condition. And once a piano is in place, in an owner’s home, by the time its been played even a few years, it almost always needs regulation to bring it back to its prime.

Why does this happen?

Wood shrinks and swells with changes in the humidity (with nine different kinds of wood intact, they can each change at a different pace.) The keybed, the keyframe. The key height, the hammer height – all have changed based on the environment, how much the piano was played, maintenance, regular tuning sessions, etc.

And that’s just the wood. The felt and leather have all been used over and over again, worn and crushed under the pressure of each key being striked as music is created. Some parts may hold up while others fade away. Their relationship to one another changes from a variety of things.

Most modern day pianos are made in assembly line fashion. That means each piece of a piano is the same as the piece next to it. If a piano was made before the 1950s, most were handcrafted by hand, meaning each piece was created individually. Which also means less consistency from piano to piano. Parts are regulated down to a couple thousandths of an inch. The more consistency there is from key to key, the higher the level of performance when played.

If you’ve ever wished you could play better, wanted your piano to make a better sound, some of it could be your piano. If you’ve ever wanted to be able to play faster repetitions, or find finesse on slower features, it could be your piano.

That’s where regulation comes into play.

Is it time to regulate your piano?

Why Tuning Your Piano Is A Bad Idea

Why Tuning Your Piano Is A Bad Idea

Think you can tune your own piano? Think it must be an easy process? After all, you can find videos and Internet sites dedicated to helping you “do it yourself.” Why shouldn’t you give it a try?Why Tuning Your Piano Is A Bad Idea

While a five minute video may give you the impression tuning a piano is easy, it’s anything but. Professional piano tuners receive many, many hours of training. It requires years of practice to understand the nuances and perfect the skill. Even so, professionals can take an hour or two to bring a piano back into great working condition. And the longer it takes, the more exhausted your ears become trying to find precision in every note that is played.

If someone who is trained for it can become exhausted, how about someone who isn’t?

Each piano’s temperament is tuned in a slightly different manner depending on the piano. Each piano will have a different gage, different lengths of strings. And therefore the sound of one piano will not be replicated in other pianos. Today, professional tuners use sophisticated piano tuning software to calculate how to tune the temperament of each individual piano.

Each individual key is worked on one at a time, with the tuning pin and string set and secured in place. A tuner will move the pin only as much as necessary to get the pitch. Once its achieved, the pin is set into place. If not done right, one strike of the key and the note will pop back out of tune. This is called tuning stability. And it’s the last thing a professional tuner will do to make sure his work is stable.

If a string is adjusted too far, or if the string is old and severely out of tune, it can be prone to breaking. Replacement is also a skill that takes time and practice to build to proficiency. A professional tuner will have the appropriate tools and skills to replace piano wire, knowing that in some cases restringing with existing wire is sometimes best.

If you want enjoyment every time you play the piano, it’s best to tune your piano on a regular basis. If you are considering tuning your own piano, chances are it’s currently nowhere close to its optimal pitch. And to bring it back to proper pitch takes time, energy and knowledge. Skill that all great professional tuners have.

And why allow your piano to be anything but the best?

Restore Your Square Grand Piano

Restore Your Square Grand Piano

Nostalgia. Just one look at the antique sitting in your room can bring back long-ago, simpler times.

But this isn’t just an antique; it’s so much more.Restore Your Square Grand Piano

For nearly 150 years, square grand pianos were the piano of choice in both Europe and America. Yet today, very few people have even seen them.

Also referred to as a box grand, the square grand piano is an earlier form of piano that is built in a rectangular shaped cabinet. It sits squarely on four legs with its strings running left to right rather than front to back that had been common up until this point. They became very popular because of their smaller size and more stylish appearance.

By the late 1800s, the upright piano became more favorable, taking up even less floor space than the square grand. And by 1900, the last was produced here in the US, all but becoming obsolete.

Yet today, there’s a growing interest in the square grand piano. Collectors and musicians alike are beginning to appreciate and preserve these instruments, making them quite valuable.

If you find one in your grandmother’s back room, it may be time to bring it back to life and restore it to all of its glory.

Some piano tuners may tell you that a square piano in its original, unrestored condition can’t be tuned. In fact, they are correct. Square pianos built long ago used tuning pins shaped differently than modern tuning pins. And if the piano hasn’t been tuned in years, decades, the old strings, felt and leather tend to have deteriorated over time. There is an estimated pressure of 12 to 14 tons of tension on a piano when it is in tune. And when this tension is put back on these deteriorated parts, it simply can’t hold the tune properly.

A proper restoration will fix all of these components – tuning pins, felt, strings, leather – thus bringing the square grand piano back to life.

With a square grand piano, the pins are located in the back of the piano. Which means the piano tuner will have to lean over more during the tuning process to reach the parts and service them correctly. It’s a little more effort, but just as effective as tuning any other modern day piano. And it’s required to keep your square grand piano in good working condition.

Have a family heirloom you’d love to restore back to its original condition? Give us a call today.