This is the most common first step in putting your piano back on the road to recovery. No one likes to play on an out-of-tune piano; it is discouraging to novices, frustrating to professionals, and will rob you of the enjoyment of making music. A standard tuning will help put you back on track. What is a standard tuning? This means a tuning done on a piano which has been maintained in good order, fairly on pitch and tuned within the last six months to a year. If it has been over a year or two, we will likely have to consider a pitch raise. Read on!
This is a term used by piano technicians for a quick, relatively imprecise tuning meant to get the piano back in the “ball-park” of normal pitch level. When a piano has not been serviced for an extended period, it gets more out of tune with each change in season. At some point it is no longer possible to do a standard tuning and get a satisfactory result, so a pitch raise must be done to rebuild a solid foundation upon which to tune. To learn more about this procedure, click here.
These two terms are intimately related. Regulating a piano is putting the piano action mechanism in order, to ensure maximum performance. Voicing a piano also involves working with the action, especially the hammers, to enhance the piano’s “voice” and singing quality. Regulation has more to do with touch, or how the piano plays; voicing is concerned with the art of adjusting tone, or how the piano sounds. If one or both of these elements are out of balance, the piano will not function as it could and should.
Problems can arise with a piano for a number of reasons: sometimes accidents happen, or perhaps your piano is starting to show its age and some keys no longer work. It may be the case that minor repairs need to be effected before the piano can be tuned. It is difficult to give an exact rate before having examined the piano, as there are many general types of repairs that can be needed. Once again please note that I no longer offer any repairs beyond very basic “triage” type, where possible.
Are you thinking of buying or selling a piano, or do you just need to know what a piano is worth? This can be a tricky question as there are numerous variables. I can help in this process by looking at the piano and evaluating it from a subjective and technical point of view. This information can aid in avoiding pitfalls for both buyers and sellers, or for giving an indication of value (for insurance or replacement value purposes). It is worth mentioning that there is some good information already out there for the general public. The industry standard book for anyone interested in the piano is Larry Fine’s Piano Book. It is a great source of education about the piano, written in easy to understand language. And now, much of that information is available online (for free!) on the new site pianobuyer.com. Also pianopricepoint.com may be of interest to you. Please note that I do not offer legally official appraisals (i.e. you wish to donate your piano for an income tax deduction), as I am not a certified appraiser.
I get regular inquiries as to the value of the old family piano and what can be done with it. While the answer does vary somewhat depending on the instrument and condition, the most common pianos asked about are full-sized uprights made in Canada (and the USA) like Heintzman, Mason & Risch, Nordheimer, Willis, Weber and so on. These pianos were very well-made instruments, but many will be approaching or have achieved their centenary age. As a consequence, a piano of this description has often reached the end of its expected cycle of use. While it is certainly possible to rebuild any piano, the cost of doing so is prohibitively high in almost all cases. As to the resale value of these older pianos; they tend to be on the lower side, as a search on Kijiji can confirm. A general table on approximate used piano values (again taken from Fine’s Piano Book) can be found here. There are many thousands of these pianos out there; some of them are in good working order and serviceable. I maintain many such pianos with satisfactory results. For those that have developed serious issues, it is generally not feasible to invest money into trying to revive them. For your interest, I have a post about the legacy of the Canadian piano industry, found here on my blog
Humidity Control is of paramount importance in the long-term well-being of a piano. This can be a real challenge in the Atlantic climate! Whichever method you choose, from a space humidifier to a piano-specific humidity control system, the potential benefits to your piano are numerous, including improved tuning stability and less long-term wear and tear on the structural and mechanical components of your instrument.
The above services also apply to other stringed keyboard instruments, such as fortepianos, harpsichords, clavichords, and so on. I have experience working with several different types of these wonderful instruments. I am able to do tuning and maintenance and repairs on both historical instruments and modern reproductions. I can render special unequal (historical) temperaments, upon prior request. I can also advise on conservation of historical instruments.
Please note that all rates are subject to the application of HST, and that these rates and services may be subject to change without notice. Having said that, I always endeavor to discuss the piano’s needs with my clients, in order to advise on what work should (or should not) be undertaken. I adhere to the PTG Code of Ethics which promotes and requires the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and above all representation of the client’s best interests.