I OFFER THE FOLLOWING COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF SERVICES TO CARE FOR YOUR PIANO.
- All my tunings involve at least 2-3 complete tunings of your piano. Initial coarse and fine tunings are performed sequentially, i.e., back-to-back, with the piano being played in-between successive tunings. This procedure promotes a rapid redistribution in equilibrium string tension across the pianos’ cast iron plate, ensuring that the final, fine-tuning will be solid and stable.
- Most piano manufacturers recommend tuning a piano 2 to 4 times per year depending on seasonal variations. An annual tuning should be the minimum interval. A440 is the standard pitch, unless specifically requested otherwise.
- The predominant factors influencing tuning & pitch stability are ambient temperature and humidity. Humidity is the prime culprit - causing shrinking or swelling of wood components (bridge, sound board, structural supports) resulting in a change in tension and pitch.
- Pianos prefer a stable environment with a humidity of 25 – 30% RH and a temperature of 68 – 72F. Since this humidity level is difficult to achieve in Colorado, it is usually attained by the use of a home, room or instrument mounted humidifier.
PRECISION PIANO REGULATION:
- Regulation involves the proper setting, adjustment, and calibration of piano action component parts so that when a pianist plays (depresses) a particular key, its corresponding hammer will strike its unique set of strings in such a manner as to produce a tone quality ranging from ppp to FFF, depending upon the velocity of key stick movement.
- There are basically three major elements of a piano action: (1) the Key Stick which is essentially a lever arm; (2) the Whippen which contains a pivoting arm (jack) to engage the hammer knuckle and lift the hammer towards the strings; (3) the Hammer/flange/knuckle assembly which converts the key stick movement into angular hammer motion capable of striking the strings with enough force (hammer mass X velocity) to excite the strings and produce a tone quality transferred from the strings to the bridge and onto the sound board.
- The above three elements Key Stick, Whippen and Hammer , linked together, form a lever arm arrangement designed to convert a small displacement of the finger tip on the key (approx. .4 in.) into a large movement of hammer travel (approx 1.8 in.), enough to produce a wide range of dynamic sound. The mechanical advantage of the lever arm arrangement is referred to as the action ratio, i.e., the ratio of total hammer travel distance to the downward displacement (dip) of the key stick – commonly referred to as leverage.
- The essence of piano regulation is to make sure the action ratio is properly set per factory or optimum performance specifications for your particular instrument.
PRECISION TOUCH WEIGHT ANALYSIS & REGULATION:
- Pianists are often are called upon to practice or perform on instruments (sometimes their own) which differ quite widely in touch, feel , dynamic range, and responsiveness from key to key. Obviously, regulation of the action is a significant factor related to the tone and dynamic range of the instrument, and is a prerequisite step to touch-weight regulation. However there are certain mechanical ‘action build’ issues that regulation or voicing won’t change. Some pianists will comment that it takes an overwhelming amount of energy to play a certain instrument, or they can’t get any dynamics out of the instrument, or that they tire very quickly when playing their instrument.
- Pianists generally do not realize that even the most prestigious piano manufacturers do not perform touch weight analysis/regulation on the actions that go into factory built pianos. This is left to the after-market service industry – i.e., a piano technician such as myself, who has acquired specific training, expertise, and have the necessary tools and equipment to perform intricate touch weight regulation.
- The proper balance weight of the three major elements of the piano action (key stick, whippen and hammer) and the minimization of dynamic friction in pivot points, felt bushings and action centers is essential to providing an action that has consistent touch and feel across all keys in the keyboard. Besides tonal quality, this evenness of touch and response from key to key is what pianists appreciate in an instrument that has been touch-weight regulated.
PRECISION HAMMER VOICING:
- Often pianists will ask me to explain the differences between the regulation and voicing of a piano. These are important questions to address and understand since they will ultimately affect the overall performance of the piano in terms of tonal quality, evenness and controllable dynamic range.
- Normally, voicing is performed on individual hammers by changing the density, resiliency and hardness of the hammer felt. Voicing is only performed after the piano action has been carefully regulated or verified to be in proper regulation, and the piano has been fine-tuned. (i.e., verifying proper hammer blow distance to key-dip depression, proper jack to knuckle placement, hammer let-off, optimum repetition lever spring adjustment, correct back-checking, hammer drop and damper engagement – quite a mouth full). Also in some cases, touch-weight regulation is required.
- Once the piano has undergone fine regulation, one can be reasonably confident that playing individual keys with equal blows will deliver uniform fairly uniform hammer velocities. Provided that the hammers are uniformly dense and resilient, this should in-turn should yield fairly consistent tonal quality and dynamic range, assuming the piano is in tune. However, in practice, technicians seldom find pianos that have hammers that are uniformly resilient.
- So the voicing or tone regulation of the piano is the fine adjustment of the hammer head felt shoulder, crown and strike point surfaces in order to slightly modify the density or hardness of the hammer and its resilient characteristics as it impacts and excites piano strings.
PROFESSIONAL REPAIR & CLEANING:
- I provide professional, guaranteed repair work for sticking keys, key-top damage or replacement, action repairs, pedal, lyre, trap-works repairs.
- I perform professional hammer repair, replacement or resurfacing.
- I perform professional damper/assembly repair and/or replacement.
- I perform quality bridge, sound board and pin block repairs.
- I recommend replacing loose tuning pins with over-size pins, or rebuilding pin block holes.
- I do piano string repairs or restringing for both bass and treble using the finest quality – Mapes Gold Standard piano wire.
- In dry, dusty climates, abrasive dust particles find their way into the piano cabinet and reside within hammer, key, damper and action center felts. Unless the dust is removed it will increase friction and adversely impact piano performance. I perform custom, professional cleaning of the piano action, sound-board and interior cabinet.
STATE of the ART ~ HUMIDITY MEASUREMENT, MONITORING & CONTROL:
- For the past 30 years, I have offered an environmental measurement and evaluation service where I use a digital Temp/RH% data logger to continuously measure temp/humidity every 15 minutes over a period of 4-8 wks. Once I have collected the data, I plot and analyze it to identify key variables and determine whether the local ambient temperature & humidity will provide a stable tuning environment for your piano.
- I would recommend locating your piano on an interior wall away from direct sunlight or UV exposure. I would also recommend setting your home or room humidifier to between 25 – 30% RH. It is very difficult to achieve a higher setting level than 30% RH in our dry climate. If you are unable to maintain a 30% RH level in the room where your piano is located, I would recommend either a local room humidifier or an in-piano mounted humidifier.
BUYING/SELLING & PIANO APPRAISALS:
- I am interested in purchasing older 6′ grand pianos, Typically BALDWINS, MASON-HAMLIN, CHICKERING, or STEINWAYS. I also try to link piano BUYERS & SELLERS together via email adverts or messages to local piano teachers and musicians.
- I perform written, documented piano appraisals.
- If you are interested in selling a piano, I offer a service where I will evaluate, tune, clean, photograph and essentially bring the instrument to sell-able condition. I do this for a nominal fee typically ranging between $150 – $250.