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
It seems like next week will be very slow. It’s a good time to get in touch with me about a piano tuning in Leeds, Bradford or Wakefield (I work in all West Yorkshire). I’m piano tuning in Sheffield on March the 8th all day (regular customers), but other days I’ll be ready and willing.
My current rate is £50 for a piano tuning. If the piano is flat of concert pitch (more than 7 cents on average) an optional piano raising service is offered for another £20. It’s entirely dependent on what the pianist needs from the piano and the piano tuning. Concert pitch (A440) is the pitch standard at which modern music is played to, but there are lower, historical pitch standards that work better for pre-1930s pianos (A432, A435). I’m open and transparent about the options before each piano tuning is carried out.
Minor repairs and regulation can be performed on the day for no extra charge. More extensive repairs/restoration depends on the price of the parts and the amount of labour it entails. I didn’t become a piano tuner to make the maximum profit, I like to give people an excellent deal and to help people.
At present I do not have the workspace for restoration jobs involving the cabinet, such as polishing/refinishing and have not performed such tasks since my training (2011 – 2014). My forte is in the piano tuning and in repairing and regulating the mechanism and the keys, much more than the aesthetics (although I do have a complete piano cleaning kit). If you’re looking for a refinishing service, many of my customers have an stellar experiences with this company.
As New Years Eve approaches, many people are planning a party for family and friends. Don’t let them use your piano as a resting place for drinks and nibbles. I was chatting to a piano tuning customer in Alwoodley, Leeds earlier today who told me a dreadful tale of how he once spilt can of coke all down the interior of his 1929 Steinway upright. The hammers, jacks, flanges, wippens, centre pins and dampers were drenched! He immediately phoned the piano tuner who came round and told him off. When someone spills a drink inside a piano the damage is often irreversible, so prevention is better than cure. Your Bradford and Leeds piano tuner will have the appropriate cleaning tools to clean the piano action and reduce the damage, although some regulation work will probably be needed if sticky liquids have come into contact with the centre pins. Whatever you do, be careful!
Often when on my travels in Leeds and beyond, I regularly see pianos in desperate need of cleaning. Most customers never see the interior of their piano, but have to live daily with the sight of the keys and case, and when the case gradually loses its shine or the keys become yellow or grimy, the owner will be discouraged from playing as often as they should. For the piano to work at its best, it’s important that the action and the keys are cleaned to a high standard (and kept that way!). Although I primarily work as a piano tuner and technician, I offer various add-on services outside of my regular piano tuning, repair and regulation work – one of which is cleaning, for which I charge an extra £25. This is purely an optional extra which I will often recommend (politely) to clients who are looking to get their piano tuned and regulated to the highest possible standard.
In my piano tuner’s tool kit I keep some cleaning materials: a bottle of Key-Brite Key Cleaner, a 100ml bottle of high gloss piano polish, and a set of cleaner and polish cloths. These are primarily used to keep the exterior of my client’s pianos looking brand new!
For the piano’s action I target each area with a different cleaning product. If I’m contacted before the piano tuning about cleaning, I will bring my own hoover which has enough power to remove the overwhelming majority of dust out of the interior of the piano. For the soundboard, bridge, frame, pin block, hammer shanks, hammer butts, dampers, flanges and key tail, I will use both a duster and a variety of very soft cloths with different textures.
For the white piano keys I use a solution of vinegar and water or lemon oil. If your piano has ivory keys then different cleaning products will be needed. Ivory is essentially dental bone and using vinegar or lemon oil will wear it down over time. I recommend a damp cloth (dampened with water or milk) followed by a dry cloth, rubbing vertically to prevent excess dirt and debris falling down the sides of the keys.
– Richard Lidster, Piano Tuner Leeds.