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FAQ - frequently asked questions

How often should a piano be tuned?

tuning fork

A piano should be tuned at least once a year. This helps to maintain the piano at concert pitch (i.e. the standard tuning pitch) and enables the technician to pick up on any small adjustments or repairs that may be needed.

 

 

Why is it important that my piano is at concert pitch?

There are a number of reasons why a piano should be maintained at concert pitch. Firstly, a piano is designed to be tuned at concert pitch, and therefore is at its optimum tonally in this condition. Secondly, for children and learners it is important to listen to the instrument at concert pitch so that they develop a correct sense of pitch. Finally, it is necessary for the piano to be at concert pitch when playing with other instruments.

What is pitch-raising?

A piano that hasn’t been tuned for a number of years is likely to have dropped in pitch by a considerable amount, some by a semi-tone or more. For such a piano to be returned to concert pitch it is necessary to pitch-raise the instrument before tuning it. The extra tension that is added when a piano is pitch-raised makes the final tuning less stable than the tuning on a piano maintained at concert pitch. It is for this reason that it is recommended that a piano be tuned at least once a year.

What causes a piano to go out of tune?

The primary cause of pianos going out of tune is climate change, especially large changes in humidity. For this reason it is important that a piano be kept in a room without large temperature and humidity variations if at all possible. It is also necessary to have a piano tuned after it has been moved and settled into its new environment.

I have a few sticky keys, are these easy to fix?

Often a few sticky notes or notes not working can be fixed in a normal tuning visit. However, sometimes a few sticky notes can be a sign that there is a problem throughout the instrument that needs to be addressed. A job of this nature could require repair in the workshop.

What is regulation?

regulating

 

Each note in the piano comprises a number of moving parts, each of which can be adjusted to obtain the best tone, feel, accuracy and efficiency. The process of consistently carrying this out across the whole piano is known as regulation.

 

 

 

What is Concert Pitch or A440?

It is International standard pitch used by all modern pianos and orchestras. Concert Pitch means exactly the same thing. A440, the 5th ‘A’ up on your piano’s keyboard, ‘A above middle C’ should be tuned to vibrate at 440 hertz (cycles per second). Some old pianos won’t withstand the tension of Concert Pitch. Your ARPT tuner will tell you if your piano can’t be tuned to A440.

How will voicing change the tone of my piano?

Voicing is a procedure whereby a qualified piano technician adjusts a piano's tone or quality of sound. A skilled piano technician can voice a piano to change its tonal personality from mellow to bright or robust to delicate. The degree of change possible depends upon the piano's design and condition.

How does a technician voice a piano?

voicing

Voicing involves a series of steps that combine to improve the tonal qualities of a piano. The procedure may start with hammer shaping and alignment, followed by inserting needles into specific areas of the hammer to modify the tension. Occasionally, hammer hardening may be required if the tone is too soft or mellow. Once the overall tone is correct, individual notes are voiced to make the tone as even as possible from one note to the other.

How does humidity level affect my piano's tuning?

humidity

Swelling and shrinking of the piano's soundboard is the most noticeable effect of humidity change.

During periods of high relative humidity, the soundboard swells and increases the tension of the strings. As a result, the piano's pitch rises. Because this increase in tension is uneven across the soundboard, the bass and treble are affected differently and certain octaves are affected more than others.

During periods of low relative humidity the soundboard shrinks, decreasing pressure against the strings. The pitch drops, again unevenly across the keyboard. When relative humidity returns to its previous level, the average pitch of all the strings will return to normal, but the exact pitch of individual strings will be changed from their original settings. Thus, a piano only will stay in tune as long as the relative humidity level in the room remains constant.

What is an overdamper?

An overdamper is an old and outdated design of piano. Today most of the pianos of this style that we come across are no longer able to be tuned due to their age and deteriation. Also, normally these pianos have been left for sometime and therefore the pitch has dropped significantly, and due to the age and condition of the piano it is unable to be returned to concert pitch. An overdamper can easily be identified by opening the top lid and looking down inside the piano. If a wooden bar can be seen going from one side of the piano to the other, covering most of the moving parts and often with a step down in it towards the right then the piano IS an OVERDAMPER. Also if the front was off the piano it would look somewhat like a bird cage inside with long wires standing key side of all the moving parts.

How much is my piano worth?

This is something that can not be said unless a piano is assessed by a registered piano tuner as there are many factors such as age, brand, size, condition that affect this. Please contact your nearest tuner to arrange an assessment.