With training from New York and Florida, and after tuning pianos for clients such as Opera Omaha, Vincennes University, and Primary Sound Studios, Justin Bird has been tuning pianos for over 10 years, and is 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.
Regular tuning sessions include complimentary regulation of the pedals, cleaning the key tops, tightening any screws, and light voicing. Service is provided to the complete Auckland area, and payments can be made online here or by clicking Pay Online.
Grand or Upright Piano Tuning Session: $120 (2 hours)
Pitch Raise (one semitone or more): $60 (1 hour)
Action Disassembly Fee for repairs: $20
Cleaning and Polishing: Uprights $30, Grands $60
Hammer Reshaping and Voicing: $80 (90 minutes)
Birdcage or Overdamper Pianos: $160 (3 hours)
Consultations and Appraisels: $30 (30 minutes)
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 shifting, although it is a good idea to let a piano settle for a couple of weeks after shifting before being tuned.
What is a pitch raise?
A pitch raise is a preliminary piano tuning performed prior to a regular tuning, and it changes the overall tension on your piano’s structure. 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 next FAQ. 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, don’t move your piano after it’s been tuned, and play your piano frequently.
A safe humidity range for a piano is around 30 – 50% (although some would say 35-45). 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.
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. 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.
What area do you service?
I don't charge any travel fee for those living within an hour drive, in the radius below. For clients further away I charge a $20 travel fee.