Category Archives: Diary

Weekend Piano Tuning now available

Every piano tuner wants to be firing on all cylinders right now and fitting too many jobs in a single day can occasionally hinder this! For that reason I am now trying to spread my working hours across the week by adding a few weekend jobs to the list. If you’re looking for a piano tuner in the Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield areas, may I suggest a weekend booking? Depending on your schedule, it might be a quicker way to book my piano tuning services at short notice. Booking something a few weeks in advance can be helpful for me, but the customer is always right.

I will try to update my Leeds and Bradford piano tuning availability page as often as I can, but – on a personal note – I’m very rarely home at the moment. Outside of my long working hours, I’m usually visiting family or going for solitary walks in the countryside.

Bookings in the Christmas to New Year Period

Things are getting a bit sluggish after the pre-Christmas rush – piano tuning bookings are thin on the ground next week. If you’d like to get your piano tuned this coming week (beginning Monday the 28th), get yourself booked in ASAP.

The most convenient day is currently Tuesday the 29th in the afternoon or evening, but I’m planning to work Tuesday to Friday. I haven’t posted any 2021 dates to my Leeds Piano Tuner availability page just yet, but they’re due to be added shortly. This is because I’d like to be working more next week – a booking is a booking however, and I’m more than happy to work around anyone’s schedule. Let me know when is most convenient once you’ve enquired.

I hope you’ve all had a merry Christmas, and here’s to a brighter 2021

2021 Plans for piano tuning in Leeds

Come 2021 there will be a slight change in schedule. I’m currently applying for part time retail work in Leeds to supplement my income earned from piano tuning. Piano tuning will be kept as a part time job, with my hours being reduced to 25 a week. I expect to be piano tuning in Leeds and Bradford three days a week (most likely Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), with my part time job on the weekend, and Mondays and Fridays being for my regular piano tuning customers in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Don’t get me wrong: I will still tune pianos in Bradford and Leeds on a regular basis. It has taken years of toil to become a master of my craft and it would be a shame to waste a hard-earned skill. Unfortunately many of my customers are in the vulnerable category and are understandably cautious about allowing people into their homes for the foreseeable future. The coronavirus vaccine will help, but I’m still expecting a difficult year. For this reason piano tuning is not viable as a full time job – it will have to be part time.

With all this being said, I will still strive to be the best piano tuner I can and to deliver a first rate service to my Leeds and Bradford customers. I didn’t become a piano tuner for money – I like giving the customer a good deal and for them to be happy with how their beloved piano sounds and plays. One of the few positives about the drop in my workload is that I can make more time and do all the work I need on a given day – rather than charging the customer extra for a second visit.

If you want to know more, please drop me a line.

Further Covid-19 Precautions

The Leeds Piano Tuner is having face masks made to carry in his Piano Tuner’s case. If you would like him to wear one, please ask him during  the booking process. His other precautions include rigorously washing his hands and using anti-bacterial hand-wash after before and after each piano tuning and following social distancing guidelines. It would seem many of the general public have gotten used to the pandemic and forgetting its dangers, but the Leeds Piano Tuner will not. If you could wipe down your pianos keys before the piano tuning visit, that would also be appreciated.

– Piano Tuner Leeds

Business as usual for the Leeds Piano Tuner

With the coronavirus becoming an ever-greater concern for businesses, I’m determined to carry on working my usual hours as long as people need me. My immune system has been strengthened fighting the many viruses that dwell in overdamped pianos.

In the past week two customers have cancelled due to flu which is completely understandable. However, right now might be the easiest time to hire the piano tuner at short-notice as many people seem to be putting such jobs on hold. It’s certainly been a slow week for me.

On an unrelated note, I’d like to offer a sincere apology to anyone in Leeds or Bradford who has been looking for a piano tuner over the last few months. I’m currently without broadband and I haven’t been able to update my piano tuner’s availability page as regularly as I’d like to. This may have mislead some people who didn’t realise it was  outdated.  I’ll try to keep on top of it in future. I still have enough data on my mobile to check my emails every day for any Leeds piano tuning requests.

Outside of my piano tuning work, I’ve been producing a huge amount of my own music recently in my home studio. Here’s an uplifting power pop song I recorded over the weekend, with heavy influence from the great Bill Stevenson (in the drum tracks at least). This is the antithesis of the music I usually write, but I do love this genre:

The Leeds Piano Tuner Resettles

The Leeds piano tuner would like to explain his absence. Over the Christmas break he has relocated to his home to town Sheffield to be nearer relatives – THIS WILL NOT affect his working hours or the possible range of his clientele. He will still be piano tuning in Leeds and Bradford at least four days a week. Traveling long distances is part of his job! In this day and age, a piano tuner seeking to earn a living has to be prepared to travel.

He is currently without internet access except for some monthly data on his iPhone, which allows him to respond to queries. For that reason, this blog will be updated sporadically for the foreseeable future. He has received some emails from other piano tuners who have found some of the posts on this blog informative, which has encouraged him to continue in some form, but until he has a modem and an internet connection, there won’t be as many posts.

 

The Piano Tuner’s Library

What does the Leeds and Bradford Piano Tuner do in his time off? Tonight I’ll spend the evening engrossed in study. I always learn something new about pianos every time I pick up one of these fascinating books – there’s always something that didn’t register on the first, second or third readings. The above image shows only half of my collection, there is another box with other engaging reads such as Five London Piano Makers (a charming history of five well-known piano firms: Brinsmead, Challen, Collard, Danemann and Welmar), the definitive Piano Servicing, Tuning and Rebuilding by Arthur Reblitz (every piano tuner must own this book), the PTA’s Handbook of Piano Regulation, and several of Brian Capleton’s concise studies of piano tuning and regulation (which are interesting from a more scientific perspective, particularly if you’re interested in the physics behind beats, harmonic overtones, etc). The Reblitz book actually stays with me in the car at all times, so that if I arrive early to a Bradford or Leeds piano tuning, I can dip in and read it for ten or fifteen minutes to pass some time. Even after working in the piano trade for several years, one can always pick up some second-hand knowledge from these books which helps one repair or restore pianos more efficiently.

 

If you’re a trainee piano tuner (hopefully not a Bradford or Leeds Piano Tuner! I don’t need more competition) who has found this blog post via a search engine I’d start with the Reblitz book and then move on to the Carl-Johan Forss books. Obviously they won’t substitute first-hand experience, but they’ll be an excellent way to supplement a part time piano tuning course. If you’re computer-savvy there are lots of other options online, but I’d be more skeptical about things you read pertaining to piano tuning and repairs on the internet. At least on a piano tuner’s forum other technicians can dispute any misleading information until you’re aware of the general consensus. I have found the advice forum on piano-tuners.org and the piano tuner-technician’s forum at Pianoworld to be useful in this way.

The tools of the trade

The Leeds piano tuner must always have the right equipment at hand to perform each job. When I first began piano tuning in Leeds, my tool kit was much lighter than it is today. Many rudimentary jobs can be performed with a piano tuning lever, a paps-wedge, a pair of plyers, a set of screwdrivers, some oil, some glue – and, of a course, a decent pair of ears and the sufficient know-how. If you’re considering following in the footsteps of the Leeds piano tuner and becoming a piano technician yourself, there are many things you’ll have to buy to be fully equipped for the job. I recommend starting with the basics and building up your kit as you progress. Once you’ve bought a tuning fork, a lever and a paps wedge, you could start building up your ‘piano repair’ kit with the following items…

 

An assortment of balance and front-rail washers for levelling the keys (this will ensure optimal touch across the piano):

 

A selection of different felts. Hugely important for replacing worn out felts after finishing the piano tuning. A piano with worn felts inside the action will not be regulated as well as it should be:

 

 

 

The number one most frequently-encountered mishap on a piano is sticking keys! A new piano tuning client will often sound worried on the phone, because some of the keys on their piano are sticking down i.e. they won’t return after playing. In actuality, this is one of the easiest things to fix. It can usually be remedied by lubricating the key bushings with PTFE (teflon) powder and adjusting the keyslip:

Another lubricant I keep with me is Protek CLP. I use a syringe to cleanly lubricate the centre pins in the hammer, jack and whippen flanges. If the note is still sluggish I will replace the offending centre pin with one of a narrower diameter (with a difference of 0.25 mm). Alternatively, if the key is wobbling or mis-striking due to a loose centre pin, I replace it with a thicker centre pin. Simple:

Regulating the set-off buttons so that the hammer is released from the action at the right distance from the strings (3 mm is the standard) is an important part of regulation. Badly regulated set-offs makes the piano ‘feel’ horrible. This set-off regulating tool will come in handy for fixing this:

Once the hammer blow distance and set-off has been regulated, it’s time to turn to the dampers. If the dampers lift from the strings too late or too early (for optimal heaviness of touch it should be when the hammer is half way towards the strings), you’ll need to reach for a damper regulator:

A set of Hexacore bass strings are supremely useful. While it’s better for the unison to have a bass string hand-wound to exact size, if a monochord breaks at the bottom of the piano, one of these Hexacore strings could save the Leeds and Bradford piano tuning customer a bit of money as it can be carried out on the day as the piano tuning:

Various glues are needed (I carry PVC-E, super glue, wood glue and hide glue – different glues for different needs), but the most commonly used is wood glue. In older pianos the wood is extremely brittle and you’ll often find parts broken inside – be they flanges, hammer shanks or even part of key:

A bottle of pin-tite comes in handy when you find many loose tuning pins on a 70+ year old piano… which is often the case. The tightness of the wrest pins plays a hugely important role in tuning stability. If it’s a higher-quality upright or grand piano you’d be better off replacing the wrest pin with one of a slightly larger diameter as pin-tite can be a pain to clean up in the long run:

If you’re booked in for a piano tuning at a Leeds or Bradford school, you’ll need a set of keys. School pianos are often locked and the staff rarely know where the keys are! I found this out the hard way (although in some cases you can remove the lid by unscrewing it from the back):

Finally, an appropriate file for hammer voicing certainly won’t go amiss! It’s astonishing how many piano tuners and technicians ignore this aspect of the job, as many pianos benefit tonally from voicing/toning just as much as they do from tuning (though tuning does improve the tone as well). Basic voicing skills should be learned as quickly as possible:

 

There are many hundreds of things that can go wrong with a piano and this blog only covers a fraction of them. That said, if you’re just starting out as a piano tuner, the aforementioned tools/equipment will go a long way!

– Richard Lidster, Piano Tuner Leeds.

 

All work and no play for the Leeds Piano Tuner

What a change of fortune – he’s had so many requests that the piano tuner is almost fully booked. Almost.

If anyone urgently needs the Leeds and Bradford piano tuner, he’ll be available across West Yorkshire on Sunday from 2 PM. Please bear in mind that he also has an extensive customer list in Sheffield and South Yorkshire so isn’t available every day for piano tuning in Leeds. If you’d like to contact him, it would be more convinient to arrange something for the week beginning April the 15th.

In the meantime, keep on practicing your scales and try to keep a Handel on it.

– Piano Tuner Leeds.