Tuning & Repairing
Pianos sound best when tuned to the international standard pitch A-440. Maintaining that standard ensures your piano's power and tonal range will be at their best and will match the pitch of other instruments.
Eben Loewenthal Tunes By Ear
Aural tuning, as it is called, is and age-old art which uses the ear’s natural capacity to gauge the interference between two closely related sounds. This concrete information is weighed against the tuner’s musical sense. Tuning the piano is not a simple matter of finding the “right” note, because the exact pitches which will work best vary from piano to piano. They are also, to some extent, a matter of personal taste. Whether or not an electronic tuning aid is used, the ear is the final judge. However your piano is tuned, it should sound good to you, and it’s a good idea to find a tuner who can please your own musical taste.
Two main factors degrade a piano's pitch. First, new piano strings always stretch and settle during the first few years. New wood also settles at this time. Secondly, and most commonly, climate change causes pitch change. Because a piano's soundboard is made of wood, it reacts regularly to climate changes. When humid, it expands. When dry, it contracts. The result? An out-of-tune piano.
Save Time and Money
Keeping your piano regularly tuned to the A-440 pitch will save you time and money in the long run. If you haven't had your piano tuned in years, it may require pitch raising or lowering. These processes take longer to correct the pitch due to the severity of the problem. Regular tuning helps avoid these more serious problems.
Repairs and Reconditioning
Some repairs are so minor they can be done as part of a piano tuning. In other cases, parts may have to be replaced. Repair costs are determined by the part needing replacement plus the time and skill involved to fix it.
There are also times when your piano needs reconditioning. This means your technician will clean, repair, and adjust the instrument for peak performance. This service is reserved for pianos with only moderate wear or those pianos that only require average performance.
You can count on Eben as an experienced Piano Technician to handle any type of repair.
Your piano's performance is directly related to how well all the parts work together. The three major systems within a piano are comprised of over 9000 parts, all of which must work flawlessly together in order to respond to a pianist's playing. These parts include pieces of cloth, felt, and buckskin, as well as wool, wood, and metal. Regulating adjusts all these parts to critical tolerances so they work in concert for the pianist.
Wear and tear from playing, climactic changes, age, and the condition of the piano all contribute to the need to have your piano regulated. Once regulated, your piano will respond evenly across the whole keyboard, allowing for the playing of rapid passages and repeated notes evenly, and better control during loud and soft playing.
Do All Pianos Need Regulation?
Upright and grand pianos need periodic regulation. New pianos may require it in the first year due to settling and the compacting of parts.
Voicing is the adjustment of a piano's tone, or quality of sound. A piano's sound can range in quality from dull to brassy, from a well-rounded warm tone to very bright. Voicing can be performed to improve the tone of new pianos, as well as restore the sound of an old or deteriorated piano.
Does Your Piano Need Voicing?
To help you decide if your piano needs voicing, consider these points:
- Does your piano sound like it did when you purchased it?
- Does the tone vary dramatically from note to note?
- Can you achieve a range of tone at different volumes?
The best way to decide is to first have your piano tuned and if needed, regulated. Then play a variety of music styles on it. If you're still not happy with the sound, consult with Eben who can advise you further.
Humidity directly affects your piano's performance because it is made primarily of wood. These wood parts swell and shrink in response to seasonal and even daily changes in humidity. Extreme changes in humidity may cause wood to crack and glue joints to fail over time.
Strive to keep the humidity level around your piano as constant as possible. Doing so will help your piano stay in tune longer, and help prevent longer term damage such as soundboard cracks, loose tuning pins, and glue joint failures.
Here are some tips to minimize humidity problems:
- Position your piano away from heating/cooling vents, stoves, doors, and windows.
- Keep your piano out of direct sunlight.
- Position your piano against an interior wall if the house isn't well insulated.
- During dry seasons, use a humidifier to moisturize the air around the piano.
- During humid seasons, use a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of humidity.
Ideally, you can have a humidity control system installed in your piano itself. This system keeps your piano at the ideal level of 42% RH. The system is installed out of sight and is easy to maintain.
Humidity control does not eliminate the need for regular piano maintenance, but it will allow for more stable tunings. This way, your piano stays closer to the optimum A-440 pitch level throughout the year.
Like everything else in your home, your piano requires periodic cleaning. Eben can advise you how to care for the outer wood finish and monitor the need for cleaning inside the piano.
The single most important thing you can do to keep your piano clean and operating well is to keep all food and drinks away from it.