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Piano Tuning

A piano tuning to a piano technician is simply tuning all 220 tuning pins to eliminate the "sour" sounds in each note, to repair the relationship between the notes, and bring the piano up to pitch 440hz at A (note 49).   Repairs for sticking keys, rattly notes, broken hammers or strings, missing keytops, etc are considered separate from "tuning". 

$  95.00   Standard Piano Tuning - Repairs and Regulating Extra
$135.00   Piano Tuning with same visit Pitch Raise for over 8% flat  
                  (Tune all 220 tuning pins twice in the same visit)
$225.00   Piano Tuning with Pitches and 2nd visit for very flat pianos

$175.00   Tighten slightly loose tuning pins 88 note set

The pitch of a piano changes for a number of reasons.  It may go sharp when being moved from a dry climate to a more humid climate.  But because the strings are under tension, the piano most commonly goes flat. In Idaho we usually see pianos that are moved here go flat because of our dry climate.  The pitch of the strings will change because of movement of temperature and humidity. It will change because of string stretch especially in newer pianos.  It will change from use - vibration.  The pitch can change even during the middle of a piano tuning when someone opens a door or window to let in warm or cold air.

A piano that has not been tuned for a while will normally be too flat to hold the tuning when pulled up to proper pitch. The upper end of the piano will be more flat than the center of the piano.  When you move a note more than 8%, the tuning pins drift back back the way you moved it and since there are 3 strings on most notes, not all of the strings drift the same so the tuning goes sour very quickly. 

The "pitch raise" mentioned above is performed by more quickly tuning all 220 tuning pins up to proper pitch.  Then, in the same visit, we fine tune your piano to properly hold its tune at pitch by tuning all 220 tuning pins again.  You might be interested to know that if your piano was sharp by more than 8% of a note then we would be pulling the pitch downward with 2 tunings in the same visit because the woodgrain of the tuning pin block will pull the tuning pins a certain percentage back in the direction from which they have been pulled. 


Rebuilding and Repair Services

$(*Below)  Replace Ivory Key Pieces

$    50.00   Vacuum Out Upright Piano - takes less than 1 hour.
$  150.00    Standard Grand Piano Cleaning - I allow 2 hours or less for this service
                     (Note that I have spent days cleaning some stained and crusty grand pianos)

$    75.00   Replace Broken Hammer Shank (Dedicated Service Call - Add $40 for Spinets)
$    25.00   Replace Broken Hammer Shank (During Tuning Visit)
$    55.00    Replace Missing Hammer and Broken Hammer Shank (During Tuning Visit)
 

$  125.00   Cork Bridle Strap Replacement
$  125.00   Clip Bridle Strap Repalcement
$  350.00   Plain Bridle Strap Replacement (Glue Down)

$    50.00   Replace 1 Caster on Upright Piano (During tuning visit)
$  100.00   Replace 1 Caster on Upright Piano (Dedicated service call - add $30/extra caster)
$  175.00    Replace 4 Casters on Upright Piano - Rubber or Solid Brass Casters extra

$  350.00   Keytops Replacement of Whites - Plastic Tops with Fronts
$  250.00   Replace Spinet Plastic Elbows At Bottom Of Action
$   Quote    Replace Rubber Donuts Spinet Action Back End Of Keys


$    75.00   Replace 1 Broken Treble String (Dedicated service call - add $40 for spinets)
$    40.00   Replace 1 Broken Treble String (With Tuning Visit - add $40 for spinets)

$  125.00   Replace 1 Broken Bass String (Must be tuned 5 times - add $40/extra string)

$2500.00   New Strings Set Installed with New Tuning Pins
$4500.00   Player Piano Action Rebuilding - Estimated


Ivory Repairs*

I get calls every week from people who need ivory pieces replaced or repaired on their piano.  We have a box of old ivory heads and tails. I don't ship ivory.  We have no vertical front pieces. You may bring a sample from your piano to us and go through the box and find something that closely matches.  It isn't easy to find a match.  I will bring the box with me to help you fix your pianos' ivory if I know the need in advance of a scheduled tuning.

The ivory pieces on each piano are a different color, thickness, length, and width. Some ivory is very white with either very little grain or a lot of grain showing.  Some ivory is more yellow or more gray. The thickness of the ivory matters because the piece you are most commonly replacing would be the the "head" and it needs to be similar to the thickness of the "tail" (the narrow ivory piece between the black keys) or you will feel a lip.  The keytop won't feel smooth across the top.

I worked on 2 ivory pieces for 2 days on a piano for one lady to make them perfect.  She paid us $3500 to refinish the piano, find a bench that matches and refinish it the same color, refurbish the action, and make the ivory keys look new again. The 4 piano moves back and forth from her place to refinish shop and repair shop were included.  In this case there was one missing ivory head and one very broken ivory head.  You couldn't tell the difference between the repaired ivories and the original ivories when I was done but it took hours to accomplish.  On most ivory repairs you can definately tell the difference.  It is very difficult to match the original ivory.

The ivory keys on antique pianos were originally glued at the factory to the top of the key stick with a water based glue and a piece of white cotton cloth.  The white cotton gave the "see through" ivory a more white appearance.  The glue was in the cloth.  The cloth was moistened and placed between the keystick and ivory. Then after clamping for a day, the ivory was sanded top down to get head and tail to match at the joint, then shaped and polished.

The ivories that fall off of antique pianos do so mainly because they have been exposed to humidity.  Some come off because they were exposed to high temperatures. If you have the original ivory pieces then you can glue them back down using super glue. Remember to align the back end of the ivory head with the tail.  The C keys align differently than the G key, for example.  Make sure that everything dry fits nicely first, that the surfaces are clean, that you leave as much of the white cotton glue wafer cloth as possible, and that the ivory piece is straight before you press it down. Give it at least 10 minutes to cure in case it is not an instant fit.

If the white cotton glue wafer cloth is gone and you see bare wood, then you need to do something to whiten the wood.  We have glue wafers.  They are actually pretty difficult to use but I do have some.  We went to Sherwin Williams Paint Company and had them make a spray can for us filled with white Chem 400 which is like a Xylene or Lacquer and very thin and very durable. This type of paint doesn't peel up like latex paints and cures much more quickly.  I use this paint to spray the key stick in preparation for the ivory glueing.

The front lip of the ivories on some pianos gets chipped over the years for lots of reasons. On some pianos, every key is chipped beyond repair so we file the lips off of all keys and make a clean square front to the key.  On pianos with few chips or minor chipping, the chips can be filled with fingernail type acrylic repair material.  You would of course attempt to match the ivory color. This same repair can be made on plastic or acrylic keys but it may be more difficult because the plastics don't sand and buff as easily as ivory.  Like the example above, the care taken to make the ivory chip repair perfect may take days but can in some cases be accomplished.  The ivory chip repairs on most pianos will be somewhat noticeable but much better looking than the bad looking original chip.