Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How Often Must Pianos Be Tuned?

Almost all manufacturers say that pianos should be tuned 2 times per year.

What about piano maintenance? A piano requires regular maintenance to perform optimally. Sadly, almost nobody follows up on a regular maintenance procedure.

When you buy a car, do you follow a maintenance procedure or do you just put gas in it? Believe it or not, that's all most people do until the car experiences horrendous mechanical problems.

The same is true of the piano. I get numerous calls from people who have had their pianos tuned once per year but complain about sticking notes, buzzing sounds, notes that have no sound, hammer voicing problems, "sharp sounding notes" (caused by worn out hammers), squeaking pedals, broken pedals, coins stuck between keys, pencils falling into the piano action, hammer alignment (hammers not centered on the strings), dampers not working, etc., etc.

Customers assume that "TUNING" is a cure-all for everything. Unfortunately, that's not the case. They assume that when the piano is tuned, the pedal will stop squeaking and the buzzing sounds will disappear. Please be aware that piano tuning is NOT A REGULATED FIELD of work. Anyone can purchase a tuning device, a tuning hammer with mutes and go out into the public and start work.

Customers are always concerned about "Moving the Piano". They will use that wording above all else when looking at piano maintenance. One customer might say: "I tuned the piano 20 years ago but then moved, then we moved again three more times so I didn't want to get it tuned until it stabilized.

What about the 20 years of no servicing?

Most customers are amazed when they see proper servicing of a piano, even though they have had the piano tuned many times in the past.

The response I get all the time: "Wow - was that ever educational! When can we set up the next appointment?"

http://www.paulbrown.org

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Piano Tuning Discounts

Many times, I get asked if I can give a discount on a piano I have never seen before. Let me give you some examples of piano tunings that I have given discounts on.
1. One customer informed me that they had the piano tuned within the last 2 years. When I got to the residence, I had trouble trying to get the keys to play - most of them were stuck. I removed some case parts so I could get a good look inside.
There were hundreds of dead cockroaches 'glued' to the keybed and in between the keys. After ONE HOUR of removing the dead insects and lubricating the action, I tuned the piano. *Remember, I gave a discount on this job and it should have cost much more than my normal fee. How the previous tuner was able to tune this piano is a complete mystery to me.
2. Another customer just wanted the piano tuned. When I removed the case parts and the keys, I noticed an old mouse nest in the middle of the keybed. I removed all the keys, vacuumed out the action and then tuned the piano much later than I originally intended.
3. A customer only wanted one wire replaced. Although the service call fee wouldn't cover me driving 30 miles away, I decided to go anyway. The client had already paid someone else to tune the piano (that tuner couldn't replace wires). Inspecting the piano before deciding to put on the wire, I told them that the piano had severe structural problems and that it needed to be repaired and shouldn't have been tuned in the first place!
Nine times out of ten, there's always about 1/2 hour of extra work to do. Sticking notes, hammers that are not hitting the strings, damping problems, squeaking pedals, squeaking benches, squeaking keys, buzzing sounds, loose screws, actions that are out of regulation etc, etc,.
Think if it this way. When you buy a car, do you just put gas in it and leave everything else alone or do you constantly have it looked after by a mechanic? A piano deserves exactly the same attention to function properly.
I generally give small discounts to customers whose pianos I HAVE TUNED PREVIOUSLY, if tuned again in the SAME YEAR.
To see how often your piano should be tuned, visit: http://www.ptg.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=29&MenuKey=Menu7.

http://www.paulbrown.org