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Technical Information

Member of the Piano Tuners Association


TUNING

The first point of note is that most modern pianos have 88 notes and far more strings than most other stringed instruments; the violin has 4, the guitar has 6. Because of this huge number of strings (around 250) and the enormous tension they create your piano needs to be regularly tuned and regulated by a skilled professional.

Where does one start? Well the first task is to “set the pitch”, by this I refer to “Standard or Concert pitch”. To ditch the techno jargon this means that we tune middle C so that its strings vibrate at 261.63 herts or beats per second.

Very often one comes across pianos which have not been regularly tuned so they will take longer to set at the correct pitch. A supplementary charge of £15 will be levied because of the extra time needed to do this.

picture of upgright piano single key action

Tuning Steps

a) After setting C we then tune the “temperament” i.e. all the notes above and below C to make a chromatic scale (every black and white note) from G below to F# above
b) Then tune octaves, C to C, C# to C#, above and below, all the time checking with different notes so that it all sounds good
During b) above one must go back regularly to check that the first notes tuned have not moved out of tune.
The final test is the tuner’s reward for all their hard work, to play a piece which uses the full range of notes and shows off the newly tuned instrument.


ACTION REGULATION

This will not affect the sound but rather the way the piano responds to the player. As a piano ages and parts wear, small adjustments will need to be made to take up slack (lost motion), to make sure no parts are rubbing together and keys are correctly aligned and spaced from each other. As well as tightening up there may be the need to loosen things which are rubbing or sticking.

picture of grand piano single key action

TONING

This refers to the treating of the hammer felts so that, when played, the piano produces the right sort of tone, the term usually refers to a range from mellow to bright. This may involve stabbing the felts with needles to soften the tone so that it resembles a 1930s Bluthner or applying a hardening resinous solution (dope) to give a brighter sound as with many Yamaha or Kawai pianos.

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