© 2017 by Steve Haag

TUNING

To a piano technician "tuning" means a very specific operation in which the piano is brought into precise harmony with itself at a given pitch.  Since 1978 I've performed approximately 20,000 tunings.

 

For the first 20 years of my career, I tuned solely by ear using an electronic pitch instrument to set the first string.  I now have incorporated a state-of-the-art digital tuning device as an adjunct to my ears.  I believe that the combination of well-trained ears and sophisticated electronics results in the best tuning possible.


Piano manufacturers recommend tuning at least twice per year.  In the extremes of climate here in the Midwest, that is certainly a necessity for most pianos.  To tune twice a year, I recommend three to six weeks after the humidity around your piano reaches 42%, both spring and fall.  If you do not require tuning that often, I recommend once a year the same time of year.

If your piano has not been tuned for a number of years, it may have lost over-all tension on its strings.  Every year that goes by, because of temperature and humidity fluctuations, the piano drops in pitch.  Please understand that the conditions which cause a piano to go out of tune are in effect whether it is played or not.


When I find a piano that is more than eight cents flat, I will need to "raise the pitch" of all the strings so that they are close to the desired pitch before I can tune the piano.  There is a separate charge of $55 for this service.

REGULATION -- TOUCH

Action regulation is the term for adjusting the approximately 8,000 moving parts inside so that the piano plays properly. This is critical to what is referred to as touch. Touch is one of the factors that give the pianist the ability to sound unique. Some common symptoms of a piano action that needs regulation are: the piano is difficult to control in softer playing, notes are difficult to play repeatedly, a double-strike sound or blubbering hammer, uneven touch response from one note to another.

 

Pianos go out of regulation for various reasons: normal wear on parts, expansion and contraction of wooden parts, warpage, loss of strength in tiny steel springs, etc. The cost of regulating the action depends on the amount of use the piano has had and the condition of the hammers and other parts. Severely worn action components and hammers may require that the action mechanism go into the shop for reconditioning or even replacement of parts. But many pianos can be regulated right in your home in about a half to a full day.

VOICING -- TONE

Voicing the piano, or tone regulation, is the final artistic touch to an otherwise perfectly conditioned instrument. It is the process of improving the tone that is produced when the hammer hits the string.

 

Voicing involves softening or hardening the hammer's felt by various means. This allows the piano's full potential, the full range of tone colors it can produce, to be used and enjoyed. If your piano sounds brash or metallic, or if it lacks power or brilliance, an expert voicing job may correct the problem and give you an instrument capable of meeting your artistic needs.

 

Link About Voicing On PTG website (opens in new window)

HUMIDITY CONTROL

Extreme changes in humidity are responsible not only for fluctuations in tuning, but also for a great amount of structural and mechanical damage. You can counteract all of the negative effects of humidity by installing a climate control system right inside your piano, the Piano Life Saver System from Dampp-Chaser.

I have these systems available and would love to protect your piano by installing the appropriate system into it. I am constantly amazed at the number of people who invest a substantial amount of money in a piano, but hesitate to spend a relatively small amount on necessary humidity controls to protect it.

Click here to see Dampp-Chaser website (opens in new tab)

Click here to see my report on how humidity affects pianos