Everything you ever wanted to know about your piano but were afraid to ask
CAN I TUNE MY PIANO MYSELF?
I strongly recommend you do not attempt this. Most people who try to tune their piano end up having to call a professional to come fix their attempt, and have often put the piano so far out of tune they have to pay for more than just a standard tuning. Broken strings are common when trying to tune your piano yourself, and catastrophic failures like cracked plates are even possible. A professional piano technician has spent years learning how to tune a piano while minimizing any risk of damage to it. He can tune your piano in less than two hours. Why inflict the headache of spending a whole day trying to tune your piano when you could have somebody else do it for you, faster, more accurately, and with less risk?
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE MY PIANO TUNED?
Piano manufacturers recommend a piano be tuned at least every six months. Depending on the circumstances, a piano may need to be tuned more or less frequently than that. A piano that receives only light use and is in a house with a well-regulated climate may be able to go up to one year between tunings.
I NEVER PLAY MY PIANO. DO I STILL HAVE TO HAVE IT TUNED?
You should always have your piano tuned at least once a year or you risk it going extremely flat, diminishing its value and increasing the cost of putting it back in tune later.
I HAVEN'T HAD MY PIANO TUNED IN TEN YEARS--HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO HAVE IT TUNED?
Pianos that have not been tuned within the last several years usually require a procedure that technicians call a pitch raise. A pitch raise is a preliminary rough tuning to get the piano near standard pitch before a technician can proceed with the standard fine tuning. Depending on how badly out of tune your piano is, one or more pitch raises may be required. Please see the Piano Tuning page for information on pricing.
MY PIANO STILL SOUNDS LIKE IT IS IN TUNE EVEN THOUGH IT HASN'T BEEN TUNED IN TEN YEARS. WHY SHOULD I HAVE IT TUNED?
Even if your piano might still be in tune with itself (in all honestly, it's a lot more likely that you've gotten so used to an out-of-tune piano you can't remember what a in-tune piano sounds like), it almost certainly has fallen flat from concert pitch. Only once or twice have I encountered a piano that legitimately held its tuning for more than 18 months. Ten years is out of the question. Even if the tuning doesn't bother you, a technician does much more than just tune the piano during his visit. A good technician will inspect for other problems such as notes not playing properly, soundboard or bridge cracks beginning to form, and many other problems that are easy to repair if found early, but very difficult to repair if neglected and allowed to worsen.
THERE'S A FREE PIANO ON CRAIGSLIST. SHOULD I TAKE IT?
A free piano on Craigslist? Has Aunt Sue offered you her piano? Check out my blog post for a good discussion of this topic!
DO PIANOS HAVE TO GO ON AN INSIDE WALL?
The placement of your piano inside your house is only one of a number of factors involved in climate control. For a detailed explanation, please see the Climate Control page. I would add that the most important concern in piano placement is to keep it away from a source of strong air movements--heat vents, large drafty windows, etc.
CAN YOU WORK ON MY PLAYER PIANO?
I can tune most player pianos, and perform some maintenance tasks on the piano action, depending on how accessible it is. An extra fee is involved because of the necessity of working around the player system. If you are interested in having the player mechanism rebuilt to working condition, I can refer you to a technician who specializes in rebuilding player systems.
CAN YOU WORK ON MY ELECTRIC KEYBOARD?
As electric keyboards purchased in the early 2000s start to get old and break down, I am being asked this question more and more frequently. Electric keyboard repair is more properly the realm of a computer repair technician and/or electrician, depending on the problem. Most electric keyboards were not designed with ease of service in mind, and are very expensive to repair. This is one of the main reasons I strongly recommend that most people purchase a real piano instead of an electric keyboard.
MY PIANO WAS IN A FIRE/FLOOD. CAN YOU FIX IT?
Possibly. Fire and flood damaged pianos are risky to repair because damage to them may not be immediately evident, and could take up to several years to become noticeable enough to cause problems. For this reason, I usually recommend that you talk to your insurance company and attempt to get them to pay you the replacement value of the piano. This allows you to look around for replacements that you won't have to worry about. If the damaged piano carries emotional attachments that cannot be replaced, I can talk with you about what repairs and parts replacements will be necessary to ensure that the piano will continue to function correctly for the foreseeable future.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR BUYING A NEW PIANO?
Yes! With over ten years experience as a piano tuner and over five years experience selling new and used pianos, I have been able to evaluate a wide range of new instruments. I've written an explanation of what I look for in a new piano in this blog post.