Q: How do I prepare for our upcoming appointment?
A: If I will be tuning for you make sure the time we scheduled will be quiet so that I can hear the piano. Remove all lamps, sheet music, and any other objects from the top of the piano and the music desk. I will send a text a few days before our scheduled time to confirm the appointment, please respond with a call or text to let me know we're on the same page as far as scheduling. If I don't hear back from you within 8 hours of our scheduled time or before then, I will assume the appointment is cancelled and we'll need to reschedule.
Q: Does my piano need a pitch raise?
A: Pianos are designed to have a certain amount of tension in the strings for everything to work optimally, and the way piano technicians ensure that amount of tension is by measuring and changing the pitch (measured in Hz) of the piano. Modern pianos are designed for tuning to A-440, an abbreviation meaning A4 (the middle A on the piano) = 440 Hz. Because of the huge amount of tension constantly applied to the piano, the entire thing shifts constantly as tension is equalized between the piano, causing strings to go out of tune. After making big changes to string tension, the strings will go out of tune faster than normal immediately after being stretched - this is why pitch raises are necessary; if I didn't do a pitch raise before fine tuning in some cases, the keys I tuned first would be out of tune by the time I finish tuning. A piano that is more than 15 cents off will need one pitch raise prior to fine tuning, one that is more than 75 cents off will need two pitch raises before fine tuning. Cents are another unit of measurement for pitch; 100 cents = one half-step or semitone (i.e. the distance between C and C#). Most pianos will need at least one pitch raise if they haven't been tuned in 2 years or more. For pianos that are more than 100 cents flat, we can discuss the option of tuning the piano relative to the A4 without doing pitch raises, as multiple large pitch raises are hard on an old piano and greatly increase the risk of breaking strings during tuning.
Q: How long does tuning take?
A: It varies from piano to piano, based on the tightness and feeling of the tuning pins. Some days I just tune a little slower than others. Generally you can expect a basic tuning to take an hour to an hour and a half, and a pitch raise adds about 30 minutes to my time.
Q: Why was the price estimate you gave me so vague?
A: Pianos are complex machines, and things go wrong all the time. Most of the time, the symptom that informs you something is wrong can be caused by a multitude of different underlying problems. In most cases, I'll be able to tell you whether I'll be spending a few minutes or a few hours fixing whatever is wrong once I've diagnosed the issue. However, there is always a possibility that I will find deeper issues once I start working, in which case I will consult with you to make the best decision possible for you and your piano.
Q: What is regulation?
A: Pianos have thousands of moving parts inside. These parts are made of wood, felt, metal, and sometimes plastic. Every time a key is pressed, felt compresses, wood, metal, and plastic warp and bend, screws try to wiggle themselves loose, and things move out of alignment over time. Regulation is the process of aligning all of these moving parts to function perfectly, as they were intended to. With average use, a piano will need regulation every 3-5 years or so. Pianos that are used in recording studios or music practice rooms tend to need regulation much more often.
Q: How often does my piano need to be tuned?
A: For most people, a tuning once a year will be enough. This ensures that the piano won't need a pitch raise, once it's been tuned every year for a few years it should only need basic tunings, as long as it gets tuned annually. For more experienced players or people whose piano gets used a lot, a tuning every 6 months may be preferred.
Q: Do you move pianos?
A: No, I don't move pianos. There are plenty of great piano moving companies in the area accessible with a quick google search.
Q: Will you drive further than 30 minutes for special cases?
A: Yes, sometimes when I have multiple clients in the same area I will drive up to 45 minutes that day for no additional charge. Otherwise, I charge a travel fee depending on how far away you are. I will consider making exceptions for large projects that will require many hours of work.
Q: How do you accept payment?
A: I take cash, check, or Venmo.
Q: Do you work on digital pianos and organs?
A: Not as of now, but it is something I am considering pursuing in the future.
Q: What is an electromechanical piano?
A: An electromechanical is the equivalent of an electric guitar, it is an acoustic instrument that is very quiet, and relies on amplification to produce its tone. See the about page for more information. I will work on electromechanical pianos, contact me about those if you are looking for repairs as they are all very different.
Q: Do I need to be home while you tune?
A: Kind of. I've had multiple clients give me the code to their door or otherwise arrange for me to tune the piano while nobody else is home and it's always worked out great, but I like to introduce myself to clients in person, and prefer to have you available in case I discover an issue that I didn't notice before that needs to be fixed. If I've started tuning and you need to leave for a moment and are able to return before I finish that shouldn't be an issue.
Q: What happens if I don't get my piano tuned or regulated?
A: Pianos hold their tune best when they have been in tune or close to it for a long time. Tuning your piano less frequently than it needs will inflict unnecessary stress on the piano as it will need a pitch raise every time it is tuned. Additionally, the tuning will not be nearly as stable as a piano that hasn't needed a pitch raise in decades. As far as regulation, the need for servicing every few years comes from deterioration of wood, felt, and metal parts as the piano is played. The complex mechanisms inside the piano are designed to work well for years under ideal conditions, but will start to fail more and more as they drift out of alignment. Parts that are out of alignment can put tension on other parts that isn't intended, and will lead to things breaking if not taken care of in time.
Q: How can I tell if a used piano is worth buying?
A: Unless you're buying from a music store, it can be tough to determine if a used piano is worth the money. Many pianos have issues that will require hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix, so getting a free piano off KSL isn't always cheaper than buying a new one from a store. While there are a few things you can check for yourself, there is no replacement for a piano technician. I offer condition reports for $79, which include a detailed estimate of repair cost. Scroll to the bottom of the Services page for more details.
Q: How long should I wait to tune my piano after moving it?
A: Pianos go the most out of tune within the first few weeks of being moved, as they are adjusting to their new home. I recommend waiting 4 weeks after moving for the first tuning for optimal tuning stability.