Piano Tuning

by Jason Davies on October 8, 2013

Imagine the sounds, the roar, the giant sound coming from the family piano. Every note in perfect tune and every single unison flawless.  Wait! most pianos never sound that way because owners do not invest time into their pianos.  A piano has roughly 230 strings and each one holds a great deal of tension, but here’s a little secret about pianos around Green Bay, WI.  Our weather causes wood to expand and contract and this means the piano in church, home, and school will waiver as the seasons change.  The other fact unknown to the masses is that piano wire will stretch – pretty crazy?  That means tons of tension is on the piano at all times which is effected by humidity, heat, and cold.

They just said, “Piano Guys just said it needs a good tuning.” – what is a good tuning? How can a person tell if their piano has a good tuning?  Pianos need to be in tune to tune them well. Just looking at a piano the wrong way can change the pitch. Yes, seriously – pianos drift out of tune pretty quickly depending on the climate. They also drift due to factors like cracks in the wood, bad pin-blocks, loose bridge pins and old strings.  Does your piano need a good tuning or perhaps a dose of reality? I’ll give you a hint, the piano needs help, they are investments and they will absolutely be the worst nightmare if they are not kept in good shape.

Piano sitting around for a year and nobody plays it right? A piano reacts to tension the same way a person does when asked, “can i have $200?” A little resistance there eh?  How about, “can I have $300?” Things start to feel uncomfortable at a certain point right?  How about, “Can I have $5.00,” that doesn’t sound too difficult does it?  Exactly right, pianos like to have small adjustments more frequently than large ones, this creates something called tuning stability.  In the technical world, we call it a “pitch raise.” A piano will accept little changes to the strings and hold them well, whereas a big change will cause things to go south quickly.  When I tune pianos for people that are really “out of tune.” it might take 4-5 visits just to get the piano back up to A=440 (the commonly accepted pitch for a piano. If you try put too much tension on a piano right away, you can crack wood, break piano strings. So, give me a call and let’s talk about the piano you have and see if I can help it.  Also note, some pianos might be too far gone to tune, and I won’t touch them. It will cost a bunch of money, it will make the ears hurt and perhaps a dog bark, just not good.

The Voice of the Piano

Pianos have a voice, this gives them individuality and nice sound.  Pianos also use ancient techniques to produce sound. Think about it, compressed felt banging against a steel wire at high speed.  Often, I get calls from people asking if I can tune a piano to make it sound better.  I like to ask them if they know what the term voicing means, and take the time to educate. Voicing is the process of hardening the felt in the piano hammer or softening it. Obviously, harder felt will make the piano sound louder (this tends to happen automatically from beating on the keys for years.) When this happens long enough tough, a piano will sound ugly, sick, and repulsive. I use specific voicing tools like this one  to soften the felt by using needles to increase the space between the felt fibers.  This helps the piano to sound better in most cases.  Sometimes, the hammers need shaping or more serious revisions due to rough playing, neglect, and abuse.  Yes, it will certainly cost extra too and is not considered part of a normal tuning. Remember this, a tuning is simply a person making the tension across all of the strings equal and at the proper tension. Voicing is giving the piano a voice and helping it to sound more beautiful and pleasant. The nicer the piano, the better the results, a $50 upright off Craigslist won’t sound much better tuned and voiced.

Anyway, piano needs help? Give me a call at 920.884.1195 and I will be glad to help out.


Piano Tuning: $225.00 (Tuning includes setting pitch to A440 and adjusting tension on tuning pins.  Piano must be at reasonable pitch to tune.)
Piano Pitch Raise: $100.00  (For Pianos that have not been tuned in the past year.)
Piano Pitch Raise at time of Tuning: $100.00 (This is done in conjunction with a tuning listed above.)
Hammer Voicing: $125.00/HR (Involves developing tone on piano hammers through the use of needling felt, aligning hammers to strings, filing felt where necessary.)
Action Regulation:  $135.00/HR (The action is the heart and soul of the piano.  For a piano to play or “feel right” this involves regulating many parts for proper feel, performance.)
Keys feel too heavy or too light?  – Consult with me directly for pricing.



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