Scheduling a Tuning Appointment

Use the phone number or email address listed on the right to set up an appointment. I usually answer emails and phone messages on the same day, but in some cases I may not be able to respond until the following day. If your piano has been tuned recently and you don't have any additional concerns, I will schedule a 2-hour appointment. If your piano hasn't been serviced in a long time or if you have other specific requests that need attention, I may schedule a longer appointment and provide you with a rough price estimate. I will need to examine the piano during our appointment before I can provide a firm estimate.


How is a Piano Tuning Accomplished?

Anyone who has ever tuned a guitar, a violin, or any similar instrument knows that tuning is accomplished by turning a peg which tightens or loosens the string wrapped around it, thereby altering the pitch. Fundamentally, tuning a piano is no different except that there are over 200 strings, and the high tension on each string requires a thick steel pin tightly driven into a hard wooden block. The torque required to turn these pins calls for the use of a special tuning lever, and the sheer number of strings makes piano tuning a time-consuming endeavor. The tuning itself requires between 1 and 1 hours, unless the piano has not been tuned for a long time, in which case it may take the full 2 hours, or even longer in extreme cases.


My Tuning Method

I have been trained in aural tuning and have been tested on my ability to tune with only a tuning fork, mutes, and tuning hammer. However, the development of electronic tuning devices, or ETD's, has made tuning faster and consistently accurate. One way to utilize this advantage is to use any extra time left after tuning is completed for other necessary work, such as voicing, regulation, and repairs. This has been my approach. With frequently-tuned pianos, there is often time within the 2-hour appointment for non-tuning work. Although ETD's aren't perfect, they are one tool I can use to provide my clients with greater value. I use aural checks to make small adjustments necessary to compliment the ETD's computed tuning.


Recommended Tuning Frequency

Many parts of a piano are made of wood, which expands and contracts as it absorbs or releases moisture from the air. This physical movement can minutely affect the lengths of the piano strings, and this in turn affects the pitch of the strings. Thus, humidity changes are one of the most important factors causing a piano to go out of tune. Listen closely to your piano during the course of a cold snap, for example, and you may well hear the difference as the wood gives up its moisture to the warm, dry air in your living room. The following week, maybe the humidity will rise again, and your instrument's tuning may well return very closely to its previous condition.

Because such shifts are often seasonal, the optimum recommendation would be to tune your piano with each change of season. The problem with this is a matter of expense, so most of my regular customers tune approximately every 6 months or once per year. Even if your budget allows fewer tunings than this, just having your piano tuned on a regular interval is better for the instrument and the player than prolonged periods of neglect.


Placing Your Piano for Tuning Stability

The choice of your piano's location can help it sound better between tunings. Since changes in humidity are so destructive to a good tuning, try to place your instrument in the most humidity-stable environment possible. Furthermore, changes in temperature affect humidity, and have their own effect on tuning, so try to avoid places where the temperature changes by large amounts throughout the day. For example, keep your piano away from direct sunlight (it's also bad for the finish) and avoid putting it right next to or on top of a heating vent. Since bright, sunny living rooms are an appealing place to practice, it is hard to give up placing an instrument there. In such cases, blinds can prevent sun from shining directly on the piano.

In the days before efficient home insulation, outside walls may well have been cold to the touch, making them an unwise place to put a piano. Most houses today, however, are insulated well enough that placing your piano against an outside wall shouldn't be a problem unless a nearby window is letting in cold air or direct sunlight.


Humidity Control

You can greatly improve tuning stability by investing in some form of humidity control. If the size of the room is appropriate, a dehumidifier and humidifier can be used to control the humidity of the entire room. A more economical alternative is to install a Piano Life Saver System, manufactured by the Dampp-Chaser Corporation. For more information on these systems, visit their website at www.pianolifesaver.com.
 
Todd Loomis, RPT
(360) 631-9045
teloomis@hotmail.com



Servicing the greater Puget Sound area.

Copyright © 2011 Todd Loomis.