All of our Piano services are provided by local Piano Technician, Andrew Gillispie, RPT (Registered Piano Technician) a graduate of the North Bennet Street School’s Piano Tuning and Restoration program in Boston, MA. Andrew is also a registered member of the Piano Technicians Guild.
Tuning a piano can take anywhere from forty minutes to two hours depending on the current condition of the tuning on the piano. Pianos that haven’t been tuned recently may be excessively flat or sharp and may require a pitch raise or lowering. A pitch raise is a shorter tuning pass that usually requires a little less time than a fine tuning.
Advanced Piano Tuning/Concert Tuning
There is an amount of preference that can be achieved in tuning. The highest and the lowest portions of the instrument can be made slightly sharper or lower depending on the preference of the pianist. This allows for the octaves of the treble to blend better with the tenor or the bass, or for the bass to blend better with the tenor or the treble. This is often called tuning stretch. Unfortunately, not all pianos can achieve this level of discretion. Smaller pianos tend to have fewer options.
The Temperament is the difference between the notes within an octave. There is the modern equal temperament that is most commonly used in piano tuning today. Then there are also many other styles of tuning, many older that involve fundamentally tuning the piano differently. Many of these temperaments have pure fifths or thirds instead of equally distributed beats within the octave. These temperaments, including historically accurate temperaments, are available upon request.
Voicing a piano allows you to make it brighter or mellower depending on the preference of the pianist. Adjustments made can clear up muddy sounding notes or to mellow out the harshness of a note. A piano should be in tune and all of its parts should be properly regulated before voicing is done. Voicing can take time because it involves preference voicing is more effective when the pianist is present.
There are many parts to a piano. Often and sticky key or misadjusted pedal can be fixed very quickly and requires no additional charge with a tuning. Many older pianos have weak springs that slow repetition or worn out felt and leather that throw the parts out of adjustment(regulation). Once a piano gets older than 25 years or so, in order for the piano to play properly, it is time to start looking at having more extensive work done.
If your piano lacks dynamic control or does not repeat well, regulation is likely the solution. Regulation is the process of adjusting the various parts in the piano so that they play the way they should. Pianos fall out of regulation over time, due to the wear and compression on the many felt and leather parts in the piano. There are several places in the piano that need to be adjusted. The process takes one to two days depending on the piano and the current condition of the regulation. Pianos older than fifteen years usually benefit from this process.
Piano Restoration is something that I genuinely enjoy doing. Many pianos made prior to 1930 were very well made and your family heirloom can play, sound, and look wonderful. Taking a older piano and completely restoring it so that it plays like new or better can take a few weeks to several months. Pianos need to be taken into our shop for restoration work. There are many steps to restoration. Many pianos do not require all of them.
Hammer replacement is one of the simplest and most beneficial steps in piano restoration. The felt of the hammer is worn down by the strings and causes an instrument to sound harsh and bright, if an instrument is less than fifty years old the hammers can often be reshaped and brought back to good sounding condition. Eventually, hammers wear to the point that they can not be reshaped, they will sound extremely woody in the treble and will not hit the string properly. Hammer replacement is a relatively simple process and can be done within a few weeks.
Damper Felt Replacement
The dampers in a piano keep the strings quiet when not being played. Old and worn out damper felt will allow strings to ring when not being played or be slow in shutting down the sound when a note is released. Damper felt replacement is a simple process that can be done in a few days. Dampers will need to be adjusted and regulated after replacement.
Replacing Action Felt
A piano consists of many moving wooden parts that are kept quiet and in place by many applications of felt and leather. Over time the felt and leather wears and eventually wears out entirely. the process of replacing the felt and leather in a piano can take several days. At times it can be cheaper to just replace the parts in an instrument instead of replacing the individual felt and leather.
Pianos have many springs in them that aid in repetition and help to keep notes functioning properly. Over time these springs weaken and eventually need to be replaced. Spring replacement is often done at the same time as replacing the action felt.
Pin Block Replacement
The pinblock holds the tuning pins and strings of a piano in place. If a piano isn’t staying in tune in specific areas or at all, the pinblock is likely cracked or the tuning pins are loose in the pinblock. Replacing a pinblock requires a piano to be restrung.
The bridges in pianos transmit the sound from the strings to the soundboard. Bridges often crack and cause notes in an instrument to sound out of tune or to not stay in tune entirely. Recapping the bridges involves replacing the top of the bridge and requires a piano to be restrung.
Pianos have about 230 steel strings in them, wrapped in copper in the Bass. Over time these strings can weaken or corrode. If a piano has strings that break frequently, if the piano is more than sixty years old and the bass sounds tubby and weak, it would benefit from restringing. Restringing, for a piano with these issues, will improve clarity and fullness of the sound of an instrument.
Soundboard Repair or Replacement
The soundboard is one of the largest parts of the instrument and transmits the piano’s sound. With age and humidity changes it can crack or lose its proper shape. When a soundboard is cracked the ribs (supports on the underside of the board) often separate from it causing buzzing sounds. Often the original soundboard can be repaired, sometimes the soundboard is so badly cracked or if the original shape is lost it should be replaced. This is an extremely extensive procedure and can take a great deal of time. This process requires the piano to be restrung.
As a piano ages and the finish gets older, scratches, dings, gouges, sun damage, and other unforeseen problems contribute to the loss of an instrument’s luster. Refinishing is an extensive process, that when done properly consists of removing the old finish entirely and carefully repairing all of the surface damage on an instrument before applying the new finish. The larger the piano the more costly and time consuming to refinish. At times older finishes can be reconditioned or repaired for significantly less cost.