Piano Tuning

Piano Tuning Pins: What Are They

If you want to purchase or already own an acoustic piano, you should know how it works. Otherwise, it becomes a bit more difficult to perform specific maintenance tasks or diagnose a potential problem. As one of your piano’s dominant parts, the tuning pins are crucial to ensuring this instrument produces the proper sound and performs in a high-quality manner. Read on for Piano Tuning Pins: What Are They, and learn how they affect the piano’s overall playability.

Identifying a Piano’s Tuning Pins

You must be able to recognize which specific parts are the actual tuning pins. Also referred to as wrest pins, these small, cylindrical items are made from steel and have a hole at their top where a string is secured. The very head of the pin is often rounded or squared off so that the tuning technician can properly turn them. Tuning pins rest within the piano’s tuning block—which is a long piece of wood that extends the full length of the keyboard.

The Function of Tuning Pins

The next step to understanding what piano tuning pins are is to learn how they work. Acoustic pianos generate their sounds by striking tightly wound strings with a series of hammers. Each hammer corresponds to a specific key, and each string is being held in place by a tuning pin. These pins tighten strings until they produce the note, and they maintain that tension so that you can replicate the same sound.

When To Replace Tuning Pins

Tuning pins can last a long time—depending on how well you care for your piano. However, they do loosen in the tuning block as the wood contracts and expands with temperature and humidity changes. When the pins loosen, so do the strings attached to them. This leads to them needing repair or replacement.

To learn more about tuning pins or other crucial piano components, reach out to Chicago Piano Tuners. Our piano tuning experts in Chicago know everything about the inner workings of an acoustic piano and would love the opportunity to help you. Feel free to give us a call for any of your piano maintenance needs.

Caleb CrockettPiano Tuning Pins: What Are They
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Why Your Piano Needs Tuning After a Move

Moving into a new home is stressful enough, and the last thing you want to worry about is the condition of your piano once you’ve finally started unpacking. However, whether we realize it or not, the process of relocating your instrument can have a large impact on its ability to retain sound. Therefore, it’s important that you have an understanding of why your piano needs tuning after a move and the factors that affect its playability.

Changes in Temperature

When your piano changes locations, it’s also often put through a change in temperature. This causes its wooden components to expand or contract, which changes the amount of tension in its strings. Though this stretching is rarely severe enough to damage the piano as a whole, it does result in the strings losing their tune.

Fluctuations in Humidity

Humidity also plays a key role in a piano’s ability to maintain its tune. As with temperature, increased moisture in the air makes the wood expand, putting extra strain on the position of the strings. The strings will stretch, and their sound will suffer, meaning it’s always a good idea to get your piano tuned if you’re moving to an area with higher humidity.

Stressful Transportation Conditions

Another reason why your piano needs tuning after a move is the stress it experiences while being transported to your new home. Though we hope that our precious instruments are treated with care on the road, it’s very likely that the driver will hit one or two bumps along the way. This rustling of components can cause damage to the piano’s strings or even bend a few tuning pins, which will throw the soundboard into disarray. So, you’ll need a professional to help get everything back in playing order after your piano arrives at its new home.

Assurance of Proper Reassembly

Ultimately, you may want to get your piano tuned after moving just so you can rest easy knowing everything is in its proper condition. As we previously stated, the transportation process exposes acoustic pianos to a series of different hazards. Therefore, it’s often in your best interest to get it checked out anyway. Even if you don’t notice any issues on the surface, it’s still possible that your piano could’ve sustained internal damage that will need to be addressed.

At Chicago Piano Tuners, we’re well-acquainted with the various conditions that cause acoustic pianos to fall out of tune. Because of this, we seek to not only provide affordable piano tuning services, but also the knowledge on how to keep them in peak performing condition. This way, you can rest assured that you will always have access to the resources to properly care for your instrument.

Caleb CrockettWhy Your Piano Needs Tuning After a Move
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Tips for Fixing Loose Tuning Pins

Your piano’s tuning pins are essential to keeping all its strings in proper alignment. As such, when some of them inevitably loosen over time, it can have a serious effect on the way your instrument plays. For this reason, it’s vital that you know how to identify when some of our pins are looser than others and can perform a few basic techniques to reattach them. These are a few tips for fixing loose tuning pins effectively.

Test the Resistance of Your Tuning Pins

Before you even begin the process of tightening your tuning pins, you must first pick out the ones that actually need maintenance. While the entire piano will experience the swelling and contracting that comes with exposure to certain weather changes, various parts of the instrument will do so differently. So, just because one or two pins are loose, it doesn’t mean that all the others are as well. To identify which pins you will need to fix, place the head of your tuning lever over the pin and note how much effort it takes to turn it. If it moves with very little force, it likely needs some additional attention.

Apply Only Thin Glue Products

Upon discovering which pins you will need to retighten, the next step is to pour a small amount of glue into the pin hole. This will return the opening to its proper size and create the right amount of seal against the pin. The important thing to remember about this step is to only use thin glue products. Using anything thicker can accidentally fill the hole entirely and dirty the surrounding pins.

Drive the Pin Further Into the Pin Block

If this still doesn’t reestablish the proper tension, another tip for fixing loose tuning pins is to push the pin further into its wooden base. Since you’ll be driving it down into new wood, this process will naturally create the seal you’re after and keep the pin and its string taut when struck. However, make sure you only hammer after placing the tuning lever head over the pin to protect it. Otherwise, you could risk damaging that pin to the point that you will need to replace it.

For more information on how to properly fix and maintain your piano’s tuning pins, reach out to our team at Chicago Piano Tuners. Our piano tuning company has over 18 years of experience restoring, tuning, and fixing pianos. This makes us confident that we can assess your specific issue and resolve it in a timely manner.

Caleb CrockettTips for Fixing Loose Tuning Pins
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Different Types of Piano Tuning Tools

Piano tuning is an intricate process that requires not just an experienced ear, but a capable hand as well. From adjusting hundreds of small screws and hammers to isolating sounds and pinpointing the source of a sour note, there’s no shortage of things to twist, turn, and move. However, what we don’t often think about are the tools that allow us to perform these tasks in the first place. After all, many of these components are far too small to adjust with your bare hands. These are some of the different types of piano tuning tools and what function each of them brings to the piano tuning process.

Tuning Lever

The piano tuning lever, otherwise known as a tuning hammer, is integral to the success of the tuning process. This is the tool that makes it possible for a professional to turn a piano’s tuning pins and either tighten or loosen the strings wrapped around them. It often consists of a long steel shaft and a sturdy handle that provides the right amount of torque. Tuning levers are also manufactured in a T-shape to assist in removing faulty pins when needed.

Mutes

Mutes are also incredibly important to piano tuning, as they allow the technician to freeze specific strings so they don’t produce any sound. This helps by allowing them to isolate certain tones and clarify how much that string needs to be adjusted. Mutes come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate several adjacent strings. Having a few different models on hand will ensure success.

Lever Tip Wrench

Another type of piano tuning tool to be aware of is the lever tip wrench. Since pianos use several different types of screws and pins, professionals need to switch out the heads of their tuning levers. Lever tip wrenches allow them to do just that. By inserting the wrench into the head and cranking it either clockwise or counterclockwise, they can loosen or tighten the tip.

Tuning Fork or Electric Tuner

Piano tuning professionals also often use either a manual tuning fork or an electrical tuner to test whether the pitch of the strings is correct. These devices are set to specific keys and designed to produce sounds mimicking the one the technician is trying to recreate. This lets them know whether the string is properly tuned or whether it needs further adjustment.

For more information about the piano tuning process, reach out to Chicago Piano Tuners. As experienced piano tuning technicians, we understand the inner workings of acoustic pianos and what’s required to keep them performing properly. We’re always equipped with the tools listed above and more in order to service the instrument you love.

Caleb CrockettDifferent Types of Piano Tuning Tools
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Understanding Pitch Raise in Piano Tuning

Upon first purchasing or restoring a piano, there’s a lot to do to ensure that it can both create and sustain the sounds you want. This process often includes extensive tuning to best stretch the internal strings and produce the necessary tunes. However, there’s actually a service that should be performed before tuning that can help your piano maintain its sound for much longer. So, for you to properly start up and care for your instrument in the future, it’s important that you have an understanding of pitch raise in piano tuning.

Defining a Pitch Raise

Every piano has what is known as its proper pitch. This is the ideal tension that the model’s internal components should rest at for it to produce the highest quality sound possible. As a piano sits idle or untouched after manufacturing, it can fall away from this ideal pitch and make it more difficult for the tuner to bring it back to the ideal placement. As such, pitch raising is a piano tuning session performed before the actual tuning process can begin. Its purpose is to change the overall tension in the instrument itself so that it can retain that tension for much longer.

What Happens During a Pitch Raise

It isn’t enough to know what pitch raising is. To truly understand pitch raise in piano tuning, you also need to know a bit of what the process entails. When beginning a pitch raising session, the technician will increase the overall tension on all 200 piano strings rather than the select few they typically would adjust during tuning. All strings need to be adjusted to distribute the newly applied tension and put less stress on the instrument as a whole. The amount of adjustment needed for each string will also depend on the model of the piano being worked on and its sound range. From here, the piano can be tuned with minor tweaks to a select few strings.

How Often Should a Piano Undergo a Pitch Raise

While pitch raising can be incredibly helpful in getting a piano back into peak performing condition, this process can be very harsh on its internal parts. The amount of strain that must be put on the strings to stretch them back into shape can also create more tension than the device can handle. This can result in more damage over the course of its life. Fortunately, you can maintain the results of pitch raise by practicing routine cleanings and overall upkeep. So, you should only need to put it through this process once every several years.

At Chicago Piano Tuners, we know that there’s more to a piano’s quality performance than the tuning process. Because of this, along with our quality piano tuning service, we also offer specialized pitch raising for newly manufactured or refurbished acoustic pianos. This way, we can ensure that not only are you getting the best possible sounds from your instrument but also that it lasts with routine maintenance.

Caleb CrockettUnderstanding Pitch Raise in Piano Tuning
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How Often You Should Have Your Piano Tuned

It’s common knowledge that no acoustic piano will be in proper playing condition unless you tune it first. However, for those new to the instrument, it can be difficult to gauge just how often this process needs to occur. For this reason, everyone who wishes to get into the art of piano playing should understand the intricate details of piano performance, maintenance, and general care. This is how often you should have your piano tuned and what it means for your instrument.

In the First Year

While it’s easy to assume that a newer piano would hold its tune longer than an old one, the opposite is actually true. Brand new strings are typically very stiff and are more likely to contract back into their original shape once stretched out. This is why it often takes several attempts to properly tune these strings. So, over the first year of its life, it’s not uncommon for you to tune your piano at least once every three months, if not more.

Long-Term Maintenance

Once you’ve owned your instrument for over a year, how often you should have your piano tuned will change, depending on the frequency at which it falls out of tune. Since your piano’s strings should properly hold their tune by this point, you will only need to adjust the strings if you notice a difference in the way they sound. As a general rule, if you play your piano regularly, you will need to tune it at least twice a year, though it could even be less often than this if you play sporadically. The more you play the piano, the faster it will fall out of tune and require maintenance.

On a large, heavy device like a piano, the tuning process can be a bit arduous and difficult for many owners to understand. This is why, at Chicago Piano Tuners, we’ve dedicated ourselves to help musicians like you keep your acoustic pianos in perfect performing condition. Our piano tuning services in Chicago put forth the effort to come directly to you and will cater each session to the specific needs of your instrument. This way, you can rest assured that your piano receives the best possible care.

Caleb CrockettHow Often You Should Have Your Piano Tuned
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Signs Your Piano is Out of Tune

When you’re an avid piano player, you become entuned to the instrument’s individual quirks and the unique feeling of playing it. However, as familiar are you are with your home piano, it can still be a bit difficult to identify when exactly it falls out of tune. Contrary to popular belief, you can still play the piano if it’s out of tune—even if it doesn’t sound as clear as it did before. Each tone played will still sound close to the original pitch, so unless you’re listening carefully, it might be easy to miss the change. If you want to ensure this instrument is always in peak condition, make sure you’re aware of the signs your piano is out of tune.

Individual Pitches Are Noticeably Sour

One of the most noteworthy indicators that your piano needs tuning is when individual notes begin to sound buzzy or sour. When an acoustic piano is properly tuned, each pitch should sound clear when played by itself. If it begins to sound muddled in any way, this is a sign that the corresponding string has stretched, and the sound it produces has changed.

Tone Harmony Is Off

You should also notice something is off if the overall piano harmony sounds different than before. In a tuned piano, the strings all vibrate at the same rate and mold together to produce a single note. But when some of the strings stretch or expand, the sound they make no longer fits with the ones played around it. This distorts the harmony, which you’re sure to notice in songs you know very well.

It’s Been Several Months Since the Last Tuning

Another telltale sign that your piano is out of tune is that there’s been an extended period between tuning appointments. Pianos are very sensitive to weather changes that occur over the passing months. In fact, they tend to fall out of tune quite easily when exposed to drastic climate, temperature, and pressure fluctuations. Because of this, they should be tuned often to maintain their sound. For brand new pianos, it’s recommended that you tune them about four times in their first year. After that, it should only need tuning every six months, unless it isn’t producing the sound quality you’re after.

At Chicago Piano Tuners, we dedicate ourselves to providing the highest quality maintenance and tuning services in the Chicagoland area. As a professional piano tuning company, we’ve serviced acoustic pianos for over 18 years. This experience has awarded us with a better understanding of this beautiful and complex instrument and how proper maintenance is key to preserving its lifespan.

Caleb CrockettSigns Your Piano is Out of Tune
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How to Take Care of Your Piano

Pianos are beautiful, strategically crafted instruments that leave us captivated by their harmonious sounds and enchanting musical capabilities. However, these wonderful devices can’t produce the sounds they do if they aren’t well-kept. In order for them to continue looking and performing well, their owners must practice the proper level of care and diligence. Therefore, if you wish to keep your own instrument sounding just as lovely as the day you bought it, make sure you know how to take care of your piano.

Store It In a Controlled Environment

Pianos are traditionally crafted from the finest maple or spruce wood fibers found in nature. These materials not only make the instrument look gorgeous in your home, but they also are partially responsible for quality sound production. As such, keeping these surfaces in good condition is key to your piano’s overall performance. Unfortunately, as strong and durable as wood is, it’s incredibly susceptible to the moisture in the air and the surrounding temperature. In fact, extreme fluctuations in either can cause the materials to expand, contract, and break as a result. Because of this, you should place this instrument in a room with low humidity levels and a regulated temperature.

Keep Up With Cleaning and Maintenance

Taking proper care of your piano also involves keeping up with its required cleaning and maintenance schedules. Cleaning should occur once a month if your instrument receives heavy use, and your piano should undergo standard maintenance every few months. When cleaning, gently dust the piano with a dry, soft cloth while giving extra attention to the strings and adjustment pins. To remove any grease stains or fingerprint smudges, a slightly dampened soft cloth works well on both the keys and body of the instrument. On the other hand, maintenance should consist of replacing any faulty parts or readjusting components that may have loosened with time. The need for piano maintenance may vary depending on the model you have and its age.

Get It Tuned Regularly

Finally, no piano can be at its best without getting properly tuned on a regular basis. As the strings stretch with use, they can change in tone and create entirely different sounds than what’s expected. This makes it impossible to play a piece to its fullest potential. For this reason, it’s recommended that you get your piano tuned by a quality piano tuning service at least twice a year. Doing so keeps the instrument’s sound from changing too drastically and hindering its presentation. You can also talk with your tuner about certain techniques for keeping your piano in tune and how they would best go about maintaining its condition.

Caleb CrockettHow to Take Care of Your Piano
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Understanding How Piano Tuning Works

If you currently or have ever owned a piano, you’re probably aware that the tuning process is one of the most important components of maintaining it. Not only does tuning your instrument keep it playing well, but it also helps to preserve its value and charm. However, having your piano tuned can be a tedious and complicated process for those who are unfamiliar with it. As such, piano owners must understand how piano tuning works to best appreciate how beautifully this device plays.

Defining the Tuning Process

The first step to understanding how piano tuning works is knowing what the process entails and what it means for your performances. Piano tuning is the act of adjusting the amount of tension placed on each string—therefore, changing their frequency of vibration when struck by a key. This frequency of vibration, otherwise known as the string’s pitch, produces a sound that should fall into harmony with the other strings around it. This is, ultimately, how pianos produce their melodious music.

How a Piano Is Tuned

When tuning piano strings, the first essential step is to become familiar with the pitches you want it to produce. When you know what the chord should sound like, you can continuously adjust the strings until you find a sound that matches. The string tension is honed by carefully turning the piano pins attached to them—loosening or tightening the string with each turn. Once the reference notes are in tune on each fourth of the keyboard, the tuner then repeats the process with the rest of the strings in between. This procedure requires someone who’s very skilled at identifying sounds and knows the deep complexities of music theory.

While the initial steps may not sound too difficult, piano tuning is an incredibly complicated process that requires the hand a professional piano tuning technician. For those who are not as experienced in the art, it’s very easy to accidentally over or under tighten strings, leading to damages that could cost hundreds to fix. It’s also important to note that, while pianos hold their tune for a while, they can fall out of tune in certain temperatures or levels of humidity. Because of this, piano owners should consider getting their instruments tuned at least twice a year.

Caleb CrockettUnderstanding How Piano Tuning Works
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Tips for Choosing a Piano

Making the decision to purchase a piano for your home does not happen overnight. It takes serious consideration and it’s a big commitment. Once you arrive at the decision, you find yourself with the task of choosing a piano that fits your needs and your home. If there’s one thing we know about at Chicago Piano Tuners, it is pianos and we want to help you make the best decision with these tips.

Understand the Options – Vertical or Grand?

There are four kinds of vertical pianos. Spinet pianos, are the lowest in price and height, standing at 35 to 39 inches. The console piano measures between 40 and 44 inches and a studio piano between 44 and 47 inches. The final vertical piano is the upright, the most traditional in appearance. The price and quality of sound vary for all vertical pianos, so do your research.

The grand piano is going to cost far more than a vertical. However, grand pianos come with those higher price tags for a reason. Grand pianos are not only beautiful to look at, they are incredible to listen to and play on. This is why concert pianists most often play on grand pianos.

In addition to the price tag, you will also want to consider the size of the grand piano. While many can span up to nine feet, these are most often used in concert halls. Grand pianos designed specifically for the home are just under five feet in width. Our friends have one in what would be their dining room and the melodic sounds of the piano echo through the house.

Evaluate Needs and Budget

When it comes to choosing a piano, it is important to understand why you’re purchasing one and how you, or your piano-playing family member or student, will use it. If the motivation is to enable a new learner, you may want to start smaller. If you are seriously interested in investing in a quality showpiece, and you have space, you may want to go grand!

In addition to defining your why is to consider the size of the space where the piano will be placed, the budget, and the reality of owning a piano. It’s a large instrument that takes practice to play and for too many owners, in our opinion, becomes a place to hang their coat or place their mail. Before making the commitment, evaluate your needs and budget. We wouldn’t want a good piano to go to waste!

Weigh the Pros and Cons When Choosing a Piano

Unless you have unlimited resources and space, you may not find a piano that meets all of your requirements, making it important to weigh the pros and cons.

Maybe the spinet fits into your price range, but you’d prefer something of higher quality sound. In this case, is it worth it to spend more to get what you want? Perhaps you want to invest in a beautiful grand piano, but you know it’s going to be a tight fit in the space you have in your home. Would you rather have the beautiful, timeless piano, or more room for living? That’s what you need to evaluate.

When choosing a piano, it comes down to what you want, what you can afford, and what fits the space you have. It’s not a quick decision. We’re here to help you and to tune that piano once it is properly moved to your Chicago home or school.

Caleb CrockettTips for Choosing a Piano
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Need to Move a Piano? Hire Professional Piano Movers.

Moving is a time of mixed emotions. It can be exciting, and also stressful. Moving some items is as easy as putting them in a labeled box, taping it up, and carrying it to the truck. Moving your piano, won’t be quite as easy. Pianos are heavy and contain hundreds of moving parts that can be easily damaged if not moved properly. To make moving day as stress-free as possible, the best option for securely moving your piano is to hire professional piano movers.

Professional piano movers have experience.

Whether you’ve hired movers or have asked friends to help, know that pianos need to be moved with extreme care. Don’t rely on yourself or basic home movers to move the piano. Ask if they have experience and then verify it. Dropping a piano can result in damages costing up to and more than $1,000. Professional piano movers know what it takes to safely move a piano, and most likely have done it many times before.

They know what to assemble and disassemble.

In addition to knowing how to move the piano, professional piano movers will also know how to or if they should disassemble or remove any pieces before transport. Pianos are made of hundreds of pieces and parts. Professional piano movers will know if there are pieces they can or should remove for safety or ease of the move.

A basic mover will most likely just move the piano as is, with no regard for foot pedals or what is inside the piano. Once the piano makes it to your new home because professional piano movers have the experience and knowledge they will know how to properly reassemble the piano, or check to make sure nothing has shifted out of place.

Piano movers understand what it takes.

Piano movers know pianos. You can tell them what kind of piano you have, and they will know how much it weighs and how many movers to bring. They will know specifically how to lift or move your piano.

With the transport in the vehicle to the new home, more than likely strings will shift. When the big moving day comes, give us a call here at Chicago Piano Tuners, and we will get your piano back in melodic action.

Caleb CrockettNeed to Move a Piano? Hire Professional Piano Movers.
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Pros and Cons of Buying a New Piano

At Chicago Piano Tuners, we know that investing in piano is a big decision. When it comes to buying a piano, you can basically go in one of two directions, new or used. There are pros and cons of buying a new piano that we’re going to explore in this article.

Pro – Never Been Used

Similar to buying a car new, buying a piano new comes with the peace of mind that no one except you has used this piano. This means that it’s never been damaged or repaired. A piano that had been damaged or repaired, could bring more problems depending on the extent of the prior damage and the quality of the repair.

Pro – Warranty Included

A new piano likely comes with a warranty. It could even have two warranties, one from the manufacturer, and one from the store. Warranties from manufacturers commonly cover up to three years. Knowing that your piano will be covered for three years is reassuring when shelling out a hefty chunk of change for a new piano. If the piano is also covered by the store warranty, be sure to read the fine print and ask for the warranty in writing. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions for clarity purpose.

Pro – Safe start for a new pianist.

If you’re purchasing this piano for a new player, a new piano can ensure a positive new experience. If a student begins playing on a used piano, and the piano is out of tune, it can be discouraging and could result in a student blaming themselves for the unpleasant sounds or giving up due to frustration. Either way, we’d love to take a look at the piano and make sure it is properly tuned!

Con – The cost of a new piano.

We like to believe that most piano manufacturers are doing right by their customers and providing a quality product. In this case, you get what you pay for. New pianos can bring a hefty price tag, starting at around $3,000 for an upright. Grand pianos can range from $15,000 to $30,000. Don’t be dissuaded by this con of buying a new piano right away. Do your research and keep your eyes peeled.

Con – The character of a used piano.

There’s a certain charm and character that comes with a used piano that you won’t experience if you buy a new piano. There’s a reason we gravitate toward antiques and vintage style; pre-owned items hold history and stories that newer versions don’t have, and may never have. If you enjoy vintage, or the smell of old wood, an older piano is an option. However, be careful and know what you’re buying. Make sure the price tag matches the quality. If the character isn’t a big deal to you, this may not be a true con to buying a new piano.

Overall, either route to your piano acquisition will bring with pros and cons. Buying a new piano comes with some of the pros and cons listed here, and you should take these into consideration when determining where to begin your piano buying journey.

Caleb CrockettPros and Cons of Buying a New Piano
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