There are several factors: most dramatic is humidity and temperature changes that affect the soundboard, causing it to expand and contract, altering the strings. Over time a piano's strings will continue to stretch. Moving the piano can “bump” strings slightly out of tune. Finally, frequent playing, especially aggressive playing can “settle” the string’s tension between bridge points if they haven’t been properly set.
The strings of a new piano will continue to stretch and settle during the piano’s first year or so, requiring several tunings the first two years (4 – 6 are recommended) to keep it in tune and up to pitch. Thereafter, a piano should be tuned at least yearly here in Utah where the humidity is fairly constant, or every 6 months in an environment with more extreme humidity or temperature fluctuation. Heavily used pianos will also increase the need for tunings. Strings will continue to stretch and alter even if the piano is not used, so regular piano tunings are still a must to keep a piano in optimum shape.
Cost for a Full Service Piano Tuning is $130 plus tax. This includes inspection and adjustments as well as minor repairs. A pitch raise, if necessary, is an additional $30. (If a piano hasn't been tuned for a few years it will usually have dropped in pitch. In this case it will need a pitch raise before it can be effectively tuned.) Other repairs (hammers, keys, pedals, etc.) are billed at $60 per hour. Major repairs, regulation, etc. will require a bid after seeing the piano.
Repairs are $60 per hour (if no tuning then minimum charge time of 1 hour) plus parts and tax.
Other services (prices listed don't include tax):
* Piano cleaning--Grand pianos $129, Upright pianos $89; A thorough and professional interior and exterior cleaning includes removing the action and completely cleaning the cavity, sound board and frame area, all action parts and keys. Recommended for quality pianos at least every five years!
* Inspection and informal appraisal $60 (usually done when evaluating a piano for purchase)
* Formal appraisal $120 (for inheritance, insurance, etc.)
(includes formal written evaluation & cost comparisons. Please note that piano values are more arbitrary than a used car. Call for more information)
*Call me for costs relating to keytop replacements, regulation, hammer replacements, voicing, complete string replacement, etc. These costs usually require a visual inspection as there can exist other hidden factors or needed repairs affecting their function.
Please note that travel outside of Davis county may require an additional mileage charge.
Seems like a no-brainer since strings out of tune can sound real sour. But in addition, a piano that is not tuned regularly and kept up to pitch will never give you the full tone and richness of sound for which it was designed. A piano is almost always slowly dropping in pitch which, if not corrected over time, can require even more maintenance and pitch raising.
Yes! Many people are unaware of this fact. With eighty-eight different keys the feel and sound of each note may become unbalanced and the touch may lose its maximum efficiency and sensitivity. Often, a pianist will complain of sluggish feeling keys, lack of response, a heavy touch, bobbling or double striking keys, and uneven sounding notes. This will happen to every piano over time without proper ongoing maintenance.
These are just a few of the common problems that I can remedy. Please feel free to visit with me about any other problems you may be experiencing with your piano!
MORE ABOUT REGULATION:
Okay, buckle up, I'm going to tell you about one of the most neglected maintenance issues, especially on home pianos!!!! REGULATION
Have you ever thought the following... "My piano doesn't feel as responsive as it used to" or Why is someone else's piano so much easier to play?" or "Why can't I play soft and sensitively on my piano like I can on some others I've played?" Or even "I wish I had a better piano". A regulation may make all the difference! All pianos need it periodically, but unfortunately most don't get it and are not playing up to their capability. A "tuning" only adjusts the strings and the pitch of the piano. A "regulation" adjusts the touch and the feel as you play.
Proper regulation of a piano is crucial. To put it simply, regulation is the adjustment of the mechanical aspects of the piano to compensate for the effects of wear, the compacting and settling of cloth, felt, and buckskin, as well as dimensional changes in wood and wool parts due to changes in humidity and environment.
The three systems involved in regulation are the action, the trapwork, and the damper system. The action is the mechanical part of the piano that transfers the motion of the fingers on the keys to the hammers that strike the strings. It is comprised of thousands of parts which require adjustment to critical tolerances to be able to respond to a pianist's every command. (Did you know that every note in a grand piano has more than 35 points of adjustment?). The trapwork is the assemblage of levers, dowels and springs that connects the pedals to the action affecting sustain and dynamics. The damper system is the mechanical part of the piano that stops the vibration of the string when you release the key and is controlled by the key and pedal systems.
I frequently encounter beautiful and quality pianos which are in excellent condition, but are in need of a regulation. Sometimes the owner will have sensed it, sometimes not. When they do it usually comes with a comment like "the keys don't feel as responsive as they used to or as other pianos I've played", or "when I play it feels kind of sluggish", or "I'm hearing extra noises in the piano". Proper regulation provides maximum sensitivity in how the piano feels as it's played. It is an investment of a few hundred dollars, depending on the piano, that is vital to keeping the piano at its best.
This quote is attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach: "“There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” Clever, but the piano really is designed to do a lot of the work for you so that you can play sensitively, uniformly, and dynamically... IF the piano is regulated correctly!
The exterior of any piano, the keys, and inside the cabinets of grands require regular cleaning that you can do. Clean your piano’s finishes and keys with a soft damp cloth (preferably a microfiber cloth). You can use a solution of 2 tablespoons white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm water, or a mild dish soap on particularly soiled areas. The inside area of a grand piano (above the strings) should be frequently vacuumed.
As a qualified technician I will clean inside and around the action and all of its parts, under and behind the strings, and many other areas that are not as easily accessed. After a good piano cleaning you will notice that your piano will look and feel and play and sound more like it did when it was brand new! Very old pianos may still have real ivory keytops (no longer used on newer pianos) which can stain or discolor and may require special treatment by a technician. Modern keys are made of a hard plastic that can be cleaned with a non-abrasive window or kitchen cleaner (such as Windex or Formula 409). For high gloss piano finishes I recommend a high gloss piano polish available at www.corycare.com.
Homes today are well insulated so the old taboo of pianos against an outside wall is no longer a concern. However, pianos should not be exposed to extreme temperature changes such as heat or air conditioning vents or long periods of direct sunlight. In areas with high or extreme changes in humidity a specially designed climate control system can be installed in your piano. Feel free to visit with me about this. An ideal range of temperature is between 65 to 72 degrees, and a constant humidity level of close to 42% percent is optimum. Pianos in homes with swamp coolers will often require special attention to humidity concerns.
Whether buying a new piano from a dealer or a used piano off of the want-ads, a newer piano can be an exciting and wonderful addition to your home or studio. Piano dealers in our area are trained and reputable and are almost always a safe bet for purchasing a piano. You may expect to pay slightly more than you would through the want-ads, but you should also be able to expect their professional services and care for your piano. Buying a piano from the want-ads can also find a great instrument, but there are things to beware of: