Generations of Craftsmanship
I often say I was born under a piano. My great-grandfather was a hobbyist composer and professional pianist in the silent movies. As sound was introduced in film, he reinvented himself as a piano tuner taking up the trade I now enjoy. My father is also a piano in the UK and my brothers both tune. Pianos have been an inspiration in my life, and I am thankful for them as a pianist and as a technician — an interesting instrument from all angles.
I tune pianos in the greater Houston area from inside Beltway 8 to outside areas. For information contact me for a quote.
Work areas: Houston, 610 loop, Spring, Katy, Pearland, Sugar Land, etc.
This section will be updated through time. Here is the basic piano tuning technique divided into four sections.
Tools - to tune a piano you need several flat heads and Phillips screwdrivers a piano tuning lever (one inexpensive one can be found on Amazon for around $25), and wedges to isolate strings. As well as a tuning app such as n-track tuner, my preference app. No longer do many tuners use a tuning fork as the apps show you each note's pitch as supposed to just one note.
It is also required oil and a small brush to apply to pressure points where rust may have built up. This helps avoid breaking strings. That's it! More tools may be required for specific tasks: re-stringing, action adjustments, action parts (center pints, etc.), key repair, etc.
Once you have the basic tools/app, you can start working on tuning the piano.
Preparation - before you start to lubricate the strings on the pressure points, the pressure bar at the top, and bridge pins at the bottom. Get all your tools away from the keyboard. Place your tuning app someone visible and preferably a watch with seconds within sight.
NB - use the app as a guide. It will save you from going too far up/too far down and from breaking any strings.
Asses - Asses the pitch of the piano is above the pitch, not bellow. If it is below by only a few cents, say less than 12, you may tune the piano up beyond perfect pitch to roughly1/3rds the amount it was flat. Beware if the piano is lower than 12 cents flat you will have to pitch raise (see pitch-raise), do not raise it 2/3 above.
Tuning the temperament - This is the key, take your time as it sets up your tuning for success.While tuning the temperament you will be listening for thirds, slightly flat fifths, perfect octaves and increase in gradients of thirds There are multiple ways to tune a piano but this is the way I was taught and has worked for me. Here is simple information to get you started:
Work around the circle of fifths. Start on either middle C or the C above (whichever is sharper), and tune the three strings to the same pitch. Then tune G, the fifth, to be beating almost one bpm (beat per minute) flat to C. Use your watch for this. Then tune the octave G-G perfect, G to D and so on until you reach a fifth of E - B. Now you can reference the third G-B as well as E-B and make sure that the beats sound roughly 7.78 per second, as well as E-B sounding correct. Now you can reference thirds as well as 5ths and 8vs as you finish the clock-work of the temperament.
Once in tune with itself, the temperament is the template or 8vs/5ths and 4ths going up and down the rest of the piano. Here it is more simple (except for some trebles) with the bass erring perfect 8vs and going up with perfect 5ths and slightly sharp 8vs.
It takes a long time to tune well, so be patient. Most clients may be able to tidy up unisons without a tuner, but even then a tuner will be able to tell which string is at the pitch.
Pitch raising - Asses the pitch of the piano is above the pitch, not bellow. If it is below by only a few cents, say less than 12, you may tune the piano up beyond perfect pitch to roughly 2/3rds the amount it was flat. Beware if the piano is lower than 12 cents flat you will have to pitch raise (see pitch-raise), do not raise it 2/3 above.
Setting pins - This makes the job last. Especially important for being called back. Setting pins is a technique whereby you tune the string at a 2'oclock angle with smooth movement close to, just above, the desired pitch. You should hear vibrations. Then place the hammer at a 12'oclock angle and pull down on an upright / push down on a grand only slightly to release the tension on the string, which will stop it from pushing so much after tuning. This will leave the pin set at a place it will not easily be pulled from.
If done correctly I have seen a piano not tune for several years that on inspection was flat but each note even to the other — an example of equally set pins. The piano sounded fine years on!
For more information on tuning and piano servicing, I can recommend purchasing Arthur A. Reblitz Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding. For the Professional, Students, and hobbyist.
Pianos vary immensely; no two are alike; the information provided above is for educational purposes only. For a professional tuning, please call 832-993-1081.
I desire to serve the piano trade and consumer to the best of my ability in all areas of piano playing.
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MY NAME IS EVAN
I started appreciating piano tuning and repair when I was studying music at Oxford Brookes University, whilst working for the family business in the UK. Pianos are unique, yet they share common mechanical designs. With the correct knowledge and tools, you can start to get an understanding of how the piano was crafted. Which still surprises me and challenges me. Each piano is a unique piece of history, with its own story to tell of the nation, musical, and manufacturing culture of its time.