Q: To Leeds Piano Tuner. When you say minor piano repairs what distinguishes this from major repairs?
A: When I say I carry out minor repairs and regulation for free after the piano tuning, I am referring to the standard maintenance that must be carried out to keep the piano playing at it’s best. Pianos are subject to changes in humidity which inevitably takes its toll on the action parts (particularly felts and wooden parts) over the years. If the parts become too worn or too swollen (with excess humidity) they have to be replaced – that would constitute a major repair job as I’d often have to order in new action parts. However, it’s often a matter of re-adjusting parts of the action to restore it to it’s past condition.
A quick, minor repair job could be anything from lubricing the key bushing with teflon power (allowing for smoother playing), as shown here:
To replacing one or two bridle tapes that have disintigrated or snapped (replacing every tape on the piano would fall under a major repair job):
Or regulating the capstan screw to stop hammer warbling (not an offical term):
One of the most common job of all is realigning any hammers that have come lose and re-tightening the flange screws or replacing lose centre pins:
Re-positioning the back checks so that the hammers check at an equal distance (another big problem that adds to unevenness of touch across many pianos):
And of course, making sure the pedals are as responsive as they can be is always a priority for the customer (sometimes by oiling, sometimes by regulating and sometimes by re-fitting the lift rod):
All highly technical. You could say some of them fall under the category of ‘piano regulation’ but I see repairs and regulation as one and the same. It’s a matter reversing atrophy. If a piano has been neglected for a number of years I focus on piano tuning first and foremost as there will be a lot more work in that regard. Then on the next visit I focus on jobs that could be considered secondary, but that will greatly improve the touch and sound of the piano, such as voicing, regulating the touch and cleaning out dirt and debris that’s clogging the action.
If you are unsure about the work your piano needs, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer any questions. Sending pictures of your Leeds piano (particularly close ups of the action, the wrestplank and the strings) will give me a good indication of the amount of work your piano will need and whether or not it’s worth paying for extensive repairs (if needed) or whether you might want to invest in a newer piano. The majority of the time a first piano tuning visit costing £45 will go a long way in bringing your piano back to life.
Some good news for the clients whose pianos can’t be tuned to concert pitch (usually due to age and their poor condition) and had to be tuned thirty cents flat; I have left your piano with special healing powers! If you ask Winfried Otto Schumann that is who believed music played at A432 was more in tune with nature (see this article at attunedvibrations).
The gist of the article is that the fundamental resonant frequency of the universe is 8hz, a pitch inaudible to the human ear but is the frequency of much electromagnetic activity on our planet. If a piano’s bass section had more octaves and I were to tune the whole piano starting from an extremely low note which resonated at 8hz, we’d find the A above middle C to be 432hz rather than 440hz (440hz being the agreed upon standard since the early twentieth century), which interacts more harmoniously with the natural world, creating soothing effect on the human mind and body.
Historically the agreed pitch standard of Orchestras has tended to be lower than A440, with the tendency being for the pitch standard to rise over time with efforts to produce brighter and more brilliant sounding music. It was only in the early twentieth century that musicologists decided upon the A440, much to the dismay of singers who found this higher pitch standard vocally straining and other critics.
Perhaps the opponents of A440 were right all along? Speaking from personal experience I’ve found many pianos I’ve tuned sound better at A432 or A435 – although these tend to be pianos from a different era. Modern uprights clearly lose character when they’re too flat of A440.
Should I change my name from Piano Tuner Leeds to Piano Tuner Harrogate? I’ve had many requests today for piano tuning in Harrogate, so there seems to be a gap in the market over there. I’ll be spending a full day piano tuning in Harrogate on Friday, before driving to Bradford on Saturday for another day’s piano tuning in that town. If you know anyone in Harrogate who is in need of a piano tuning service, please pass on my contact details and help me get some more work, I’d love to build up a bigger client base in that area.
In related news, I’ve just received a piano tuning lever in the post today. It’s a wonderful Fujan lever with a handle made from carbon rather than wood, nylon or plastic. I have to say, this is the best purchase I have made in my five years working in the piano trade. I used it on a client’s Kawai K-15E in Leeds today and oh my word – you can feel everything. It’s so light in my hand that I honestly feel the wrest pin more than the lever, thus making those tiny movements of the wrest pins so much quicker and easier. The sound and feel of the wrest pin being set is actually pleasurable now rather than challenging. I was skeptical at first, since I every time I have ‘upgraded’ levers in the past I have been somewhat disappointed, but several american piano tuners were raving about them on a popular Facebook group, so I thought I’d see what the fuss is about. I’d add a bit of advice to aspiring piano tuner-technicians: buy yourself a high-quality carbon Fujan lever as soon as you can. You will not regret it.
Areas covered in my £45 opening offer (if you live outside this area it will be an extra £5 to cover fuel):