"A piano is one of the most complex and beautiful instruments ever made. I often tell customers to treat it like a living organism, as it responds well to frequent care, a stable environment, and lots of attention."
Pianos are a part of everyday life for technicians, but for most people they are a source of pride, amusement, confusion, and sometimes frustration! I've laid out some of the most common questions that I hear in the field, with their respective answers below. If you have any additional questions about your particular piano, or have interest in scheduling a service, please contact me at the top of the page.
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Q: "I just bought a new piano. How long should I wait to tune it?"
A: Pianos are primarily made of wood, and wood is very sensitive to temperature/humidity. Just like with hardwood flooring, you have to give the wood ample time to climatize to your home. Generally speaking, 1 month is the average recommended time a piano should be in its new environment before tuning. If you're a frequent player who just "can't wait" to have it tuned, at least give it 2 weeks!
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Q: "My piano hasn't been tuned in, I don't know HOW many years! What should I be expecting a service to cost?"
A: One of the most common scenario's in the piano business is a piano whose tuning has been ignored for years and years. First off, don't feel guilty. Well ok, feel a LITTLE guilty, but move on and get it fixed! As a general rule, the longer you wait, the worse it'll get. I normally tell people to expect a Pitchraise and a Basic Tuning at the minimum. The piano may or may not need some minor extra adjustments as well. $200 is the figure I use for this scenario. Often its less, occasionally its more, but this is a great all purpose estimate. *Be aware that with piano neglect or age, strings can become rusty or deteriorate. Occasional string breakage can occur.* Which brings me to my next question and answer......
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Q: "What is the proper etiquette when the tuner is here working?
A: This one will surely bring a smile to the face of technicians, while we think of all the times we’ve had to tune while customers do dishes one room away, or the maid vacuums in the same room as the piano, or contractors drill into floor joists directly below us. This can be summed up simply…once you hear us begin tuning, the quieter the better (within reason). This will allow us to fully get into “the zone”, which ends up getting you a better tuning overall.
Q: "I have an old piano that was passed down to me from my grandmother. She learned how to play on it, and so did my mother. Is it an antique? What is it worth?"
A: This scenario is very common, and many people have formed a strong mental bond with their piano. There's nothing wrong with this, and it happens to me personally with almost every car or motorcycle I buy. Unfortunately in MOST cases pianos that are 60+ years old are worth almost nothing, unless they happen to be an iconic brand, and very well cared for. Examples of this might be Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Shimmel etc. If it means a lot to you, thats what matters. Unless of course you're trying to sell it, in which case antique....usually just means old.