Monthly Archives: July 2021

Re-stringing a piano

A frequently asked question by many of my clients during a piano tuning is “will my piano ever need new strings?”

If a string snaps during the tuning process a small charge is made for a new string around £20 for a new string if it’s in the bass (a bit less if in the tenor or treble section) and £20 labour to fit the string. Putting a new string on takes me about 20 minutes. I would say a string breaks in about one in every hundred jobs so it’s not uncommon, but not something to be unduly concerned about.

If a string is missing from a piano it isn’t ideal, but one string missing isn’t going to effect the overall tension enough to cause problems. It can take between a week and a month for a bass string to be remade and sent back to me. If it’s in the very low end of the piano then the note won’t strike as the hammers for those keys only strike one string each. The upper bass the note will sound slightly weaker as the hammer will hit one string instead of two.

In the middle and treble sections things get a little more complicated and regular piano wire is used up here. Some of them are connected to the hitch pins with a coil at the other side of the string. Most of them wrap around the hitch pin meaning that if a string snaps in this section the hammer effectively hits two strings or one string depending on which string has snapped.

Re-stringing a whole piano is expensive (£2000+), but if it was part of a restoration process for an old but high-end piano, it might be worth it if done in conjunction with the replacement of a dried-out wrest plank and loose, rusted wrest pins. As a general rule, most pianos on the market would not benefit enough from such a process to be worth such an expenditure. I have found that many of the pianos I’ve encountered while piano tuning in West Yorkshire have some rusty strings and while this will negatively effect the tone, there are other much worse factors in tonal degradation. Rusty strings can also be cleaned on request, though again, much care has to be taken with health and safety plus the fragility of certain strings.

New strings do have an impact on the sound of a piano but there are so many other factors that contribute to good tone. And do you know what the most important one is? You guessed it: having your piano tuned and serviced regularly. Please get in touch with the Leeds piano tuner today to book your piano tuning: 0754 266 7040

Venturing into the world of piano sales

While not a natural salesman, I’ve been inclined to help a few clients with piano sales in the past as a quid pro quo, hoping they recommend me for Leeds and West Yorkshire piano tuning business. If you have anything you’d like to sell, please call me on 07542667040 or drop me an email to discuss (photographs are always appreciated). I can use my contacts in the piano trade to help with the sale, but I would charge a commission fee (usually 20%).

When it comes to piano selling, I normally class a piano into one of three categories:

  • Budget pianos: pianos worth £0 – £500. Pianos without the best components or craftmanship, but which are in satisfactory condition and could be suitable for a beginner or someone wishing to renew their piano playing after years. Piano tuning and light voicing can help improve the tone immeasurably as many of them have been neglected for years. Most spinets and console pianos fall into this category, as do all straight-strung and pretty much all overdamped pianos in 2021.
  • Intermediate pianos: pianos worth £500 – £2000: the majority of people would do well to invest in a piano in this category. A modern piano that is in excellent condition, well-regulated (or capable of being well-regulated) with good tone and no serious flaws. A second hand Challen, Fazer, medium-quality Yamaha (usually smaller-sized), or higher-end Bentley would be an example of this. After their first piano tuning most people are delighted with how good they sound.
  • Professional-level pianos: pianos worth at least £2000: very high order pianos that could easily take a player to grade 8, diploma and beyond. Top quality components help these pianos stay in tune for a long time and they usually need little in the way of repairs or regulation once in your home. The quality of the mechanism is one of the biggest advantages, as you’ll be able to play more dynamically (there’ll be a bigger difference between loud and soft playing, rather than “note on, note off”). Schimmels, Bluthners, Faziolis, higher-end Yamahas and Kawais would be examples of this.

There’ll certainly be some overlap in these categories, but as a general rule I’ve found they hold true. For example, some pianos being sold for £2500 might be considered intermediate by concert pianists, yet something in that price range will be incredibly sturdy and durable, will have a pleasing tone with good dynamic range and responsiveness. Many pianos in the budget price range aren’t worth buying, yet some are very respectable and could be appreciated and well-loved by an accomplished musician for their charm and vintage character. Each has to be looked at on a case to case basis, but as a general rule I have no problem categorising pianos this way when giving advice on what to buy. I usually suggest setting yourself a budget and considering what you want from a piano – after that it’s all a matter of personal preference: some prefer bright-sounding pianos for example, others like a warm tone; some prefer high gloss finish while others like the look of natural wood.

I’m happy to help with piano evaluation and inspection, but keep in mind I charge £25 for such a service (I have travel time and fuel costs to consider). For such a small price it would be worth having a piano looked at. Otherwise, I can give a rough idea from photographs sent over if something is worth pursuing (avoid all straight-strung pianos like the plague, they are usually untune-able!)

Another revamp in order?

I’m desperately trying to revamp this website to make it appear more contemporary and mobile-friendly, but it’s difficult to do without affecting certain algorithms that determine it’s visibility. Apologies to anyone struggling with the layout, it’s legible but it could be more professional-looking. I’ve tried my best.

Overall I wish I’d made it less about myself and more about piano tuning, but I like to stress that I’m a musician and how that makes me respectful to each piano. I have a high standard to what I want from a piano, and I make sure I leave the customer with a piano that I would be happy to play myself.

I’m offering some earlier hours now to offset the loss of revenue due to Covid-19. I used to keep earlier times for professional venues, but I’m happy to tune pianos at homes at 9 AM now. I’ve realised how convenient it is: once the piano tuning is done it gives the customer the rest of the day free. It doesn’t matter where you are: Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Harrogate, York – I’m piano tuning in all those towns and any nearby area.

I’m very motivated right now. I hope to see my Leeds piano tuning business back to pre-Covid levels, but that’s a while away yet!

What’s going on with me?

What’s going on with me, the Leeds piano tuner? Outside of lots and lots of West Yorkshire piano tuning (lots in Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Harrogate) I’m also doing analogue recording as a hobby. I don’t charge anything for this.

I own two reel to reel machines (a Fostex B 16-track and a Fost R 8-track) and a Tascam 8-track midistudio (cassette recorder). I also own a set of professional-level microphones, some mixing hardware (external mic preamps & EQ, 2 compressors/limiters,  and a valve-based compressor/saturator), mic stands and leads, and a passion and enthusiasm for music that’s almost unparalleled. If someone wants me to do some recording for fun, I never charge anything for it and I never say no.

Now piano tuning? That’s another matter. That’s my bread and butter and main source of income. My prices in that regards are very reasonable compared to most others in the UK, where the average is between £60 and £90 depends on location – much more expensive in the south East.. This blog should be focused on piano tuning really. I never turn down piano tuning work and am available twenty-four-seven, tuning hammer in hand.