With training from New York and Florida, professional piano tuner Justin Bird has tuned pianos for clients such as Opera Omaha, Vincennes University, and Primary Sound Studios. Now situated in Auckland, NZ, he combines the accuracy of electronic strobe tuning with tuning by ear, which results in better sounding instruments by accommodating any natural pitch inconsistencies and flaws.
Action Disassembly Fee for repairs: $20
Middle - Upper String Replacement: $30
Cleaning and Polishing: Uprights $30, Grands $60
Hammer Reshaping: $80 (1 hr)
How often should a piano be tuned?
At least once a year for most pianos. If the seasonal changes and fluctuating humidity are affecting tuning stability, or the piano is old and has loose tuning pins, every 6 months might be necessary. A piano will generally need tuning after it has been moved, although it is a good idea to let a piano settle for a couple of weeks after shifting before being tuned. For pianos used as furniture once every year or two should suffice to maintain the design tension on the instrument. Pianos in schools, churches, institutions, and performance halls may need to be tuned quarterly or monthly. Pianos for concert use are normally tuned before each performance.
What is a pitch raise?
A piano drops in pitch over the years due to seasonal humidity variation, string stretching and playing. A piano which is allowed to go untuned for a long time will be more expensive to bring back up to pitch because of the time involved and the initial tuning will be unstable. A pitch raise is a preliminary piano tuning performed prior to a regular tuning, and it increases the overall tension on your piano’s structure back to it's originally designed weight. A pitch correction can be one of the most ‘painful’ experiences a piano can go through during its lifetime. There are over 200 strings in your piano that must be adjusted and tightened, which increases pressure on the soundboard, bridges, and plate. Each of these strings holds approximately 150-200 lbs. of tension, a combined total of 17-22 tons. There is also an inherent risk in breaking strings because there are four to five bearing points a piano string must pass over from beginning to end.
If your piano has not been tuned for several years and has fallen as low as a half step or a semi-tone flat, it will need a pitch raise, This can be tested yourself by isolating different strings from various keys around the center of the piano, and checking them with a tuning app or machine. Anything over 100 cents flat; for example a C reading as a B, or an A reading as an Ab, will require a pitch raise.
How can I ensure a stable, long lasting piano tuning?
The first easiest thing you can do, is to place your piano in a suitable area of your home - see below. By controlling changes and extremes in humidity your piano will hold a tune longer, and the instrument will last longer. Maintain as consistent a temperature in your home as possible, and don’t move your piano after it’s been tuned. A safe humidity range for a piano is around 30 – 50% and ideally 40-45%. For a church that is mostly unoccupied during the week, optimal temperature settings would be not lower than 50°F / 10°C in the winter, and not higher than 80°F / 26°C in the summer. The best control of humidity can be achieved by installing a humidity control system like Life Saver. Playing the piano is also a factor in how long a piano stays in tune. Hard and frequent playing eventually has an unsettling affect on tuning, and no playing at all can also be bad where strings begin settling, becoming riskier to tune later. Read more about the affects of changing humidity on a piano here.
Where is the best place to keep my piano?
- On an inside wall with 3-4 inches of space between the wall
- Away from windows and direct sunlight
- Away from heating and air conditioning vents
- A good distance from a fireplace, stove, or heater.
- Away from an outside door.
- Not on concrete slab or brick, unless placed on a rug.
- Not in a damp basement, screened porch, garden room or kitchen.
I've done everything above, but why do I still have problems with tuning stability?
After assessing climate and placement, then there are other issues that could be causing the tuning to go out. Each string is wound around a steel tuning pin which is driven into a hole in a plank of wood called the pin block. Over the years seasonal fluctuations in humidity may cause the pin block to loosen its grip on the tuning pins. Some remedies exist which may help correct this condition and provide some additional years of use, but controlling the humidity is the best way to prevent this problem from happening in the first place. Apart from the most common cause of a loose tuning pin, there are occasional problems related to string friction, false beats, and poor rendering at the capo and bridge. A registered technician is needed to help with these problems.
How old is my piano?
Dating your piano can often be done with a simple google search of the piano's brand name, along with the words "serial" "range" or "date". You will also need to find the serial number somewhere inside (or on some grands underneath) the piano. Some online resources like the piano Bluebook can be useful for this. More specialized brands might have their own website with serial ranges listed. Call me if you'd like me to look up some hard copy resources I have too.
My piano Has Just been Tuned but It still sounds out of tune?
By working with the hammers and strings the sound produced by your piano can be adjusted for tonal quality and evenness across the keyboard.
What area do you service?
I don't charge any travel fee for those living within the radius below. For clients outside the radius I charge a $20 travel fee.