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Thomson Lawrie Piano Technician - Complete Piano Service since 1979

Call or Text 905-945-9455 

Over 39 years experience with Yamaha, Kawai, Baldwin, Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Petrof, Samick, Young Chang, Heintzman, Mason & Risch and many more.....

Piano Tuning

I am available by phone, Monday through Friday 9am to 6pm to book your piano tuning appointment.

To book your piano tuning appointment
call or text - (905) 945-9455

Or...

Send me an email - info@pianotech.ca

NEIGHBOR DISCOUNT - Book an appointment with a neighbor on the same day and you both get a 10% dicount!

 

Serving - Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby,
St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie, Beamsville, Jordan, Vineland & Smithville.

Piano Tuning – What is it? What's involved?

Like all stringed instruments pianos need to be tuned. However, unlike a guitar or violin which is tuned almost every time they are played, a piano has been engineered to stay in tune far longer periods of time. The heavy wooden back posts and cast iron frame keep a piano's pitch from wandering as much as other instruments. The tuning pins that hold piano string's at pitch are very tight and require a specialized tool to adjust them and requires that a professional with special training to preform the fine adjustments required for fine tuning. Despite a piano's heavy construction and tight tuning pins the time inevitably arises where a piano will need to be tuned.

Piano tuning usually takes from an hour to an hour and a half, although at times that can stretch out to as much as two hours with pianos that have been neglected and left without tuning for a number of years. There are approximately 230 strings in an average piano and the tuner will have to adjust every one of them. Most pianos will require that each string be tuned twice during a tuning session. As the piano adjusts to new string tension from the first time through, each string may need a second or third fine adjustment to correct that for that movement. If a piano has been left for a number of years since the last tuning it may be necessary to take extra time to raise the pitch to concert pitch which may in turn involve an small additional charge for the extra time involved. It may also take a second tuning to get a piano to hold a stable tuning once the pitch has been raised.

 

How often should I get my piano tuned?

Although one tuning a year will maintain a piano at concert pitch, most pianos will require two tunings in a year if it is being played buy a musician with a discerning ear or if the piano is being used for lessons where training a student's ear is a serious consideration. Pianos that are left for years in between tunings can actually contribute to “reverse ear training” where a student's ear is trained to accept an out of tune instrument as correct. Regular tuning for a piano student's piano is the equivalent of sharpening a hockey player or figure skater's skates.

Why do pianos go out of tune?

There are some old pianos that go out of tune because the tuning pins that hold the strings have become loose which can allow them to slip or creep flat over time but most piano go out because of seasonal humidity changes. Even if a piano isn't being played much, it will go out of tune as the wood in the sound board and bridges swell and shrink with the humidity swings from summer dampness to winter dryness and back again. Controlling the humidity in the room where your piano is placed extends the length of time required between tunings. Humidity control combined with a regular tuning schedule ensures that you get the most out of your piano.


Aural Tuning Verses Electronics

I have been tuning pianos for the last 39 years. I was trained to tune by ear. I still prefer aural tuning since it is the human ear that will be the final judge when the tuning is complete. Piano technicians applying for membership in the Piano Technicians Guild can achieve Registered Technician status using an electronic aid but they also have to receive a passing grade on their tuning test without it.

After 28 years of tuning entirely by ear, I finally gave in and added an electronic tuning device to my tool kit several years ago. The early versions of electronic tuning, available when I first entered the trade had quite a bad reputations among musicians and piano teachers. I, like most piano technicians back then, didn't want to have that bad reputation rub off onto me. However as technology advaced, electronic tuning devices evolved into digital devices which can be very useful even for tech's that tune by ear. At this point, I still consider my tuning to be aural tuning. I use a tuning aid to get each piano close before going back over the piano for the final tuning and checks. Still, I haven't found a tuning device that will consistently tune pianos as a well as a trained piano technician can achieve by ear. Even a few tweaks here and there can make a world of difference to the final tuning. Electronic tuning aid or not, it is always the individual technician that is responsible for the end result.


This of course raises the question, if aural tuning is so good why do anything else? The advantage is that electronic tuning devices are much better than the human ear when it comes to the rough tuning involved in rescuing neglected pianos. If a piano drops in pitch from years of not being serviced then the tuner will have to pull the strings above pitch so they will end up at concert pitch once the piano adjusts to the new tension. Once a piano is at concert pitch the tuner can begin their fine tuning. Electronic tuning devices are programmed to calculate how much "over pull" is necessary to have the pitch of each string settle down to concert pitch. A technician tuning by ear can do the same thing but it is much harder to guess how much to compensate when working solely by ear. Using software will save the technician from fatiguing their ear on rough tuning, leaving them fresh for the fine tuning that follows. It's much easier to do good fine tuning on a piano that is already quite close to where it needs to be and software is great at getting to that point.

When a piano is in tune each note should sound clean and clear without any noticeable "twang". The twang is produced when the two or three strings that make up a single note are out of phase with each other. The string that is tuned slightly higher than another vibrates faster and the sound wave produced by it will eventually "catch up" causing a wave or beating sound. This is the sound that piano tuners are trained to listen for and work with.

Every make and model of piano will have different gauges and length of strings used throughout to create the same notes as in other pianos. The unique gauge and length of strings used in each piano design is known as scaling. It is the differences in scaling from one piano to another that will determine how that piano should be tuned. A tuner that is trained to tune by ear will automatically make adjustment for the differences in scaling of each piano as they work.

There are a number of electronic tuning aids that are available for piano technicians. Some of these can produce excellent results in the hands of a skilled tuner. In my experience the best results are produced by tuners that have been trained as aural tuners and use the electronic tuner as just another tool. But beware, one tuner may be using the latest digital technology and another may be using 1960's technology. You as a customer may only know the difference when the job is complete!

 

Serving - Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby,
St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie, Beamsville, Jordan, Vineland & Smithville.

 

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