Category Archives: Piano Tuner Leeds

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

Covid-19 Precautions

The Leeds piano tuner is still taking on clients. Although it is difficult to maintain a steady workflow during the pandemic, he will still be working one or two days a week. Staying safe is a top priority right now and at the first sign of symptoms he will cancel all bookings and self-isolate. If you are booking a piano tuning,  he kindly asks the following from you:

 

  • Please maintain social distancing during the booking
  • Please allow the Leeds piano tuner to wash his hands before and after the tuning.
  • Wiping the keys with a damp cloth followed by a dry cloth would also be appreciated

Please be aware you may have to wait at least 6 – 7 days for your piano tuning booking as he tends to only work on Thursdays and Fridays at present (until his workflow returns to normal). He looks forward to hearing from you.

 

– 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 This may have mislead some people who didn’t realise it was  outdated.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.

 

Broken hammer cords?

Today I received a polite message sent to me via Piano Tuner Leeds, asking about a full replacement of broken hammer flange cords on a second hand Yamaha U1. Needless to say, this will have to be discussed with the customer before pricing is decided upon. If you ever find yourself in his situation, it is highly advised that every cord is replaced. As with many broken action parts (particularly springs, tapes and cords), the breakage of one is a sign that others will soon follow. However, I always keep some spare rolls of cords in the car for emergency repairs. At a piano tuning visit to Headingley, Leeds I was urged to make a ten minute fix at the end of the booking, as is usually the case. In this instance, only one cord on the piano had broken – much to my relief.

Another job that occasionally comes up is the replacement of bad hammer butt felts and catcher leather on upright pianos. This is particularly important on older uprights, as the material tends to harden creating annoying clicks across the piano. As with many piano tuning and repair tasks, if only one or two need to replaced it can be completed for free after your tuning. I did not start a career in piano tuning to squeeze every penny out of the customer, but I do have bills to pay. That said, I want all my piano tuning clients to feel like they’ve been given a good deal as well as a first class service.

– Richard, Piano Tuner Leeds.

A question for the Leeds Piano Tuner. What is meant by minor piano repairs?

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 richard@pianotunerleeds.co.uk 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.

The healing power of A432

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.

You decide:

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.

What is a Pitch Raise? Does Your Piano Need a Pitch Raise?

An excellent video, succinctly describing the pitch raise:

If you are a new client, don’t be scared if you are told your piano needs a pitch raise. Often when I see a new piano tuning client in Leeds or Bradford the piano will be far from A440 – particularly if the piano has not been tuned in many years. My philosophy is that any piano that can be brought up to concert pitch should be brought up to concert pitch as it will not only allow you to play ensemble but will greatly improve its tonal quality. On pianos unable to withstand a huge raise in pitch (many pre-1950s are in this camp), there is the cheaper option of ‘tuning the piano to itself’ – the piano will sound much, much better even with this type of tuning, but if the piano was constructed to be tuned to A440 then its tone will be at its best once it is tuned to that pitch.

For a pitch raise I have to make two seperate visits, two weeks apart. For the first tuning I do a overpull, raising the bass section slightly sharp (between 1 – 3 cents) and the middle and treble sections further sharp (usually 8 – 15 cents depending on how flat the piano was). A pitch raise always involves at least two tunings – an overpull tuning and a fine tuning. Some piano tuners do both on the same day, but I and many others have found better results if you space the two over a couple of weeks. This makes no difference to the pricing either, as a pitch raise generally costs an extra 50% of a standard piano tuning.

My pricing for a pitch raise:

  • Vist number one, overpull: £45
  • Visit number two, fine tuning: £20

 

I hope this clears things up. For further questions call me on 07542667040 or email me at richard@pianotunerleeds.co.uk