Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I’ve been searching for a piano tuner in Leeds, is there a chance you could tune my piano at short notice?

A: Please check my availability page. My quickest response was twenty minutes when the Sheffield Lyceum theatre rang me! They needed a piano tuning for that nights performance of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I will always try my best to fit my appointments around the needs of my valued clients, which is why I offer evening and weekend appointments.

Q: Do you repair digital or electric pianos?

A: At present I do not as fixing digital pianos requires a different set of skills that I, as a piano tuner, currently specialise in. I’ve received three phone calls in the last week from people in Leeds asking this very question! I would not discount the idea of learning these skills at some point in the future, but at present I only work with acoustic pianos as that’s what I feel most comfortable with. If you contact the piano shop or seller you bought your electric piano from, they will be able to point you in the direction of a digital piano and keyboard repair specialist.

Q: Someone has offered me a free piano and I’m unsure whether it would be tuneable?

A: Don’t go to a lot of expense having a piano shifted until you can be sure that it can be tuned. I can make a house call to assess a second hand piano for just £25. Unless you know what you’re looking for it’s always better to consult a professional piano tuner & technician. Just be aware that a certain percentage of pianos in circulation are not worth the money and that it’s always better to buy a piano from a known source – recognisable brands such as Yamaha, Kawai, Kemble, Chappell, Danemann, Knight, Welmar, Steinway (of course) and Bechstein are generally – though not always – more reliable.

Q: My piano has some damaged keys; are they replaceable?

A: While sometimes finding the right colour match can be difficult, individual keys can always be replaced. Costs vary depending on the material (plastic, celluloid or imitation-ivory) – call me for a discussion and a quote.

Q: One of the keys on my piano is sticking – is there a way I can fix this myself?

A: This is a very common problem witnessed by every piano tuner/technician on an almost weekly basis, however it is unwise to tackle this yourself. You probably won’t have the tools or the expertise and could cause further damage. The most likely cause is that both the action bushings and/or key bushings have swollen during a particularly humid spell of weather – to fix this I will either compress them with a special tool and apply teflon powder or replace each action bushing by hand.

Q: My piano is in a very hot and damp room. Will this affect the tuning?

A: If the environment is too humid, action bushings can cease up causing sticking notes. This can be cured if it is not too advanced, and I would do this as part of a standard piano tuning.  If it is more pronounced, I will replace action and key bushings manually which can. Humid conditions also often cause the piano to go sharp tuning wise, due to the swelling of the plank – I commonly observe pianos have gone considerably sharp during the summer and flat during the winter season. As a general rule of thumb, a constant room temperature of 20 degrees celsius and a relative humidity of between 40 and 50% will keep your piano in the best possible condition all year round.

Q: My piano is in a very dry room. Will this affect the tuning?

A: A problem we have in the UK is during the Winter we rely heavily on central heating. This creates a very dry environment causing the plank to ‘relax’ and loosen it’s grip on the wrest pins that hold the strings. The result is that your piano may go out of tune, sometimes quite drastically if it’s a piano beyond a certain age. Of course, tuning can help here, but prevention is better than cure in this instance. I sell devices which control the humidity – these range in price but the most advanced will ‘sense’ when the air inside the piano is too damp or too dry and control humidity levels automatically – by sucking in moisture and dampening the air as the need may be.

Q: I’m about to move house, will I need the piano tuned afterwards?

A: Certain piano dealers will advise you to let the piano ‘settle’ for a few months. Personally I feel that two weeks is more than adequate, unless the piano has been moved between two vastly different room temperatures – in this case leave it two months.

Q: I’ve heard that piano strings can break during tuning – would this be expensive to remedy?

A: Annoyingly, this does happen in approximately one in every hundred piano tuning jobs through no fault of the piano tuner – even with the utmost care, a rusty or well-worn string may not take the increased tension. Strings in the middle and treble sections of the piano can be replaced on the day and will cost an extra £10 to fit. Bass strings are a little more difficult as they have to be custom made and specially ordered – I can give you a quote before fitting.

Q: Do you use an electronic tuner or do you tune the piano by ear?

A: I currently use an app on my phone called Tunelab which calculates a Railsback curve in accordance with the amount of inharmonicity present in each piano. However, I have found the calculation of the bass strings in Tunelab to be weak and relying solely on this app will only get you in the right ballpark – aural checks are a must when using piano tuning software. I feel using both an electronic tuner and my ears gives me the right balance between speed and accuracy.

– Richard Lidster, Piano Tuner Leeds.