Home | Included Services | Why YOU get to set the price | Praise & References | Paying with a Credit Card?
Frequently Asked Questions | My Calendar for the month | Local Piano Teachers & Vocal Coach | Write Me | Piano Atlas


 

 

Piano Tuning where
YOU set the price !

Click for a larger image

    If you can't afford the cost of a tuning, please get your piano tuned anyway. The money I receive for tuning pianos is secondary to getting a valuable musical instrument back into playing condition. Pay me whatever you can afford. I would never be disappointed or insulted if you paid me a lesser amount than my $140 average. I've been tuning pianos this way for over 23 years and I don't think it will ever change.
   If you need your piano tuned now but can't afford it at this time, get it tuned now and pay me when you can. I don't have you sign any invoice or contract, it's purely on the honor system.
   I truly enjoy what I do and don't want your piano to sit un-tuned simply because you can't afford it right now.

See my Calendar and Schedule a time
to get your piano tuned here

I accept Cash, Checks, physical Credit/Debit Cards, Venmo, Bitcoin and Paypal.com

Why Piano Tuning at a price YOU set?

   I have an obsession with music and anything having to do with music including musical instruments. This obsession has encouraged me to look at my life and to ask myself, "If everyone in the world made the same amount of money, what would I choose to do for a living?" The answer was obvious to me; "Anything having to do with music."
I love to walk up to a piano, good or bad sounding, play it, tune it, and play it again, then walk away with this immense feeling of accomplishment knowing that I made a valuable musical instrument sound better than it was when I arrived, knowing that some person is going to sit down in front of that piano and appreciate what it sounds like.

   I've sat in the audience watching an orchestra perform around a piano I tuned only hours before. I've heard on a musical Compact Disk a piano I tuned in the studio before the album was recorded. I get incredible satisfaction listening to a piano accompany a children's choir at a local elementary school knowing that my instrument is helping them stay on pitch. I sit in my church congregation every Sunday listening and singing to a piano I keep in tune. I've sat by myself for hours at the piano just playing chords and listening to them. Listening to how those different chords react to each other, how the vibrations in the air caused by the vibrations of the strings can enhance each other to produce this beautiful chord or how they can sometimes cause weird 'beats' and harmonics to occur.

   I tune pianos for the fun of it, for the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction I get when I do it. I love doing something that is considered a 'rare' or 'lost art'. This is what I would choose to do if everyone made the same amount of money, it's what I do to support myself and my 3 children. I want to tune your piano just to listen to it, to be around it and to get to know and talk to you. Please don't keep that pleasure from me any longer, set up an appointment for me to come visit you soon. Thanks so much. Doug

 

Piano Tuning Services Include:

TUNING:
Pianos are tuned to the international standard pitch of A=440 Hz. if it can be done safely.
Price: Pay what you can afford. A suggested price is $120.00 to $150.00
(The average cost for piano tuners in the area is between $90.00 and $180.00. I'm not asking for this, I've written it because people ask me daily what the going rate is.)
Time: 50 to 70 minutes.

PITCH RAISE:
If a piano hasn't been tuned for an extended period (usually a few years or more), its pitch may have dropped far below A=440. To bring each of the approximately 230 strings to the proper pitch a great amount of tension is created in your piano, making it, and the resultant tuning unstable. In these instances, a pitch raise is necessary prior to a fine tuning if it can be done without breaking strings. Many piano tuners will charge you $40 to $50 extra for this service, you can pay me whatever extra is in your budget.
Time: 70 to 90 minutes for the Pitch Raise AND Tuning combined.

MINOR KEY ADJUSTMENTS:
During a regularly scheduled tuning, problems such as stuck keys might be found and it'll take me a little more time to fix these problems. Pay me whatever extra you want to pay me.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about pianos & tuning

1) What's the going rate of piano tuners?
2) I know my piano sounds better after a piano tuning, but what exactly is a 'piano tuning', and why does my piano need to be tuned to A440?
3) How often should I have my piano tuned?
4) My piano hasn't been tuned for about 10 years and is pretty flat, is that bad?
5) Why, if a piano hasn't been tuned in years, does it sometimes take multiple tunings to reach and hold its pitch?
6) My piano isn't being used. Do I still need to have it tuned?

7) What are the important differences between an upright and a grand piano?
8) Can I change the weight of my action to make it heavier or lighter?
9) Are there different tunings? or Can a piano be tuned different ways and still be in tune?
10) I have a very accurate guitar tuner, couldn't I use it to tune my own piano? or Can electronic machines be used to tune pianos?
11) What should I use to clean my piano?
12) Does it hurt my piano when my children pound on the keys?
13) What can I expect when you come over to tune my piano?

 

 

1) What's the going rate of piano tuners?
Many people ask me this question in hopes of getting a rough estimate of what kind of payment to render. I've found that tuners charge between $90 & $180, my average is about $140.00. Pay what you can afford. I've received everything from a hug and some brownies to well over $200 for tuning pianos.

2) I know my piano sounds better after a piano tuning, but what exactly is a 'piano tuning', and why does my piano need to be tuned to A440?
The short answer:
"A tuning is an incremental adjustment to the tension of the wires by manipulating the tuning pins in a piano. Achievement results in the middle 'A' note achieving a frequency of 440 hertz, and then all other notes are tuned relative in frequency to the middle 'A' to attain an overall sweet or melodious sound. Every piano must be tuned relative to its particular acoustic environment."
A piano tuning is technically a stretching of the wires in a piano to achieve a certain frequency of sound once the piano tuning is completed. A440 is a technical term denoting the middle 'A' note on the piano being adjusted to 440 hertz and that all other 87 notes are adjusted to the optimum pleasing or melodious sound in relation to the middle 'A' note. A440 is and has been for decades the standard pitch of all musical instruments in the world. Furthermore, when you hear a piano tuner make a reference to tuning a piano to concert pitch they are referring to A440.
The wires in a piano (there are about 230) when properly tuned will have approximately 200 lbs. of tension per wire! This, multiplied by the number of wires in your piano, coupled with the size of the instrument, will equal roughly the weight of a 2 car garage (about 20 tons of tension) !!

3) How often should I have my piano tuned?
The two main factors that drive a piano out of tune are weather change and how much the piano is played between tunings, but the age of the piano has an effect also. Pianos newer than 4-5 years go out of tune much faster than older pianos and may need to be tuned as much as 4 times a year for the first few years. Pianos older than 30 years may not have such great action or tone, but often hold their tune very well. If you practice more than an hour a day, you'll probably need to have it tuned at least twice a year to keep it sounding good.
I would say that unless your piano is just another piece of furniture, you should have it tuned at least once a year. If it's used every day, twice a year will keep your piano sounding good anytime you sit down to play it. If you are a vocalist, string player, or that rare pianist with a very sensitive ear, 3-4 times a year will keep it in 'concert tune'.

What the manufacturers have to say:

Steinway & Sons
"...no matter how expertly a piano is tuned, atmospheric variations and the nature of the piano's construction constantly conspire to bring it off pitch"

Yamaha Pianos
"...a piano should be tuned at least twice a year."

Baldwin Piano Company
" After the first year a piano should be tuned at least twice each year."

 4) My piano hasn't been tuned for about 10 years and is pretty flat, is that bad?
A piano that sits un-tuned gradually goes flatter and flatter. After a long period, you may have to play a C sharp to get a concert-pitch C. That piano is said to be a half-step flat or 100 cents flat. Often, a piano that is brought out of storage when a child in the family is about to begin piano lessons is quite a bit below pitch. It is very important to bring that piano 'up to pitch' if it can be done without breaking strings, rather than tune it to sound good at the pitch it is at. Young children seem to be very pitch oriented, and are quite aware if their own piano plays at a different pitch than their teacher's piano. Some children will even attempt to transpose their pieces up to make them sound right!

5) Why, if a piano hasn't been tuned in years, does it sometimes take multiple tunings to reach and hold its pitch?
The wires in your piano literally have to be re-trained. In the industry we call this pitch raising. Your piano, with the amount of tension that it has at A440, most likely can't be tuned in one sitting and have the wires stabilize. Taking into account the tremendous amount of tension at A440, a standard pitch raise may have changed the overall tension by as much as 4 or 5 tons (8,000 - 10,000 lbs., no joke) of force or tension. The piano has to stabilize or re-acclimate itself to the new tension of A440. Some instruments will need more consecutive tunings than others, and factors such as age, overall stability of the piano and its environment will affect this fact.

6) My piano isn't being used. Do I still need to have it tuned?
Although it might seem unnecessary, it's important to keep a piano at least close to standard pitch, even if it's not being used. When your piano is in tune, a combined string tension of about 20 tons is exerted on the piano's structure. As the piano goes out of tune, the tension of the strings changes to varying degrees in different parts of the piano. If the tension becomes too uneven from one section to another, undue stress is exerted on the piano's frame. Also, a piano is much more difficult, and sometimes impossible to tune well after a period of neglect. For these reasons every piano should be tuned at least annually.

7) What are the important differences between an upright and a grand piano?
An upright piano is sometimes thought of as an inferior instrument to a grand, but this is not always true. The quality of tone is often a function of string length, this is the main reason why a nine foot grand sounds nicer than a small spinet. A large upright has longer strings than a 'baby grand' and will have a nicer tone, especially in the bass where string length is most critical. While 'quality of tone' is a result of the instruments physical properties, control of that tone is the musicians job, and this control is achieved through the action. It is in the action that we find the principal differences between the upright and the grand. In a grand the hammers are horizontal, and gravity resets virtually all the action parts after a note is played. In an upright, the action is standing up, with the hammers swinging on an almost vertical plane, so it needs assistance in the form of springs to reset the action for the next time the key is played. The two springs that can be felt in the upright action are the one pushing the hammer back and the spring pushing the dampers onto the springs. An advanced pianist will often depress a key very slowly in order to get a very soft pianissimo. This technique is extremely difficult on an upright because the springs don't provide as constant a resistance throughout the travel of the action as gravity does. When you try to play a very soft note on an upright, you might get silence instead!
Another noticeable difference between uprights and grand's is the key length, which can be much shorter on uprights than on grand's. Our eyes can see the amount that a short key tips as it is depressed, a long grand key will stay almost horizontal as it goes down. More importantly, our fingers will feel the difference of resistance from the front of a 'short' key to the back. A spinet piano has the action placed below and behind the keys, which are extra short to make room for it. This weight difference between key front and back is obvious on spinets. So, can anything be done to compensate for these differences in action feel? On better quality uprights, a parameter known as the 'key let-off' can be tweaked a bit closer, allowing a more controlled quiet touch.

8) Can I change the weight of my action to make it heavier or lighter?
Yes you can, but I would suggest that you don't. There are some cases where increasing the 'weight' of the action is a good idea, but they are rare. We often think we need a heavier action when something else is affecting our control of the instrument. The actual weight of a piano action and how it affects playing is very complicated and needs some explaining. There are two ways to think about action weight and they are static and inertial. The static weight refers to how much pressure it takes to begin to depress the key, but the inertial weight can vary greatly depending on the speed of depression. A piano could have a light static touch, but very heavy inertial resistance, for example. On most well built pianos, the action is set up to be able to play as soft and as loud as possible, while still allowing the quickest repetition of single notes. Changing action settings or adding lead weights will usually compromise one or more of these tasks. Adding weights to the backs of the keys could increase both types of resistance and create a 'heavier' action, but I feel that too often technicians do this to remedy a problem which should be fixed other ways. One of the most common 'other' problems is hammer voicing. When the felt becomes compressed at the head of the hammer from repeated playing, the hammer tone becomes very bright. But, also the hammer becomes loud, and soft playing is impossible. A very soft touch still results in a loud note. This makes the action feel too light! If the hammer is softened properly, a soft touch will produce a soft note, and a much harder touch will be required to produce a loud note. The result is that the action will feel MUCH heavier, even though it actually is not. A piano should be properly voiced before any action adjustments made, or weights added.

9) Are there different tunings?
or
Can a piano be tuned different ways and still be in tune?

There are different opinions about this question. Mine is that a good tuner will tune a given piano very similarly to another good tuner, but not-so-good tuners will tune it differently. Each individual piano is tuned somewhat differently though, primarily because of a thing called inharmonicity, which I'll explain later.
From a hearing point of view, there are three main aspects to tuning Temperament, Octaves and Unisons. Setting the Temperament involves spacing 12 notes equally within an octave. If, for example, the octave between middle C and the next one up were an exact doubling of Hz., or frequency, one could simply use 12 tuning forks and tune each note exactly to the forks. But its not that way in real life. Because of a little thing called inharmonicity, the actual distance of an octave on a piano is a bit more than an exact doubling of Hz., and to make things more complicated, it is different on each piano. That is why a technician will set the temperament by ear. Octaves are simply tuned 'beatless', or the fundamental frequency of the upper octave is tuned exactly to the first partial (octave harmonic) of the lower octave. Octave partials are fairly easy to hear until they reach the very high end of the piano. The notes in the very top octave can be tuned a very small amount sharp because our ears hear beatless octaves as being flat in this range. (Confusing, isn't it?) Sometimes classical pianists will prefer a slightly sharper top octave tuning than jazz or rock players. Unisons are the easiest to hear, and any technician usually sets good unisons, except at the high end where some people's hearing isn't too great. The skill of tuning lies in the manipulation of the tuning lever and this can take years to develop. A tuner with good lever control can not only bring the string into tune more accurately, but more importantly to the player, he/she can make it STAY in tune longer.

10) I have a very accurate guitar tuner, couldn't I use it to tune my own piano?
or
Can electronic machines be used to tune pianos?

There is a problem with using an electronic tuner, or even a set of 12 extremely accurate tuning forks and I'll attempt to explain that here. In terms of the sound made, there are four basic properties of a vibrating string: Length, Mass, Tension, and Frequency of vibration. Knowing any three of these properties will allow you to calculate the fourth. Unfortunately, this nice arrangement is complicated by a fifth string quality which exerts a tiny but important influence on the sound, and that is stiffness. An ideal string might be a strong but flexible chain, but hard piano strings are anything but flexible. In fact, the hard steel is so stiff that they break if bent more than once. What stiffness does is limit string excursion (from center) which makes a string return sooner in its vibration cycle. The result is a higher note than would be calculated from the L.M.T.F. The stiffness has little effect on the fundamental frequency of the string, but higher harmonics are produced by progressively shorter sections of the string. These shorter sections are greatly affected by the stiffness and vibrate at a much higher frequency than 'mathematically correct' partials (harmonics) would.
Whew! Still with me? I'm gonna wrap it up soon, I promise. An octave on the piano is tuned 'beatless' or, the higher string is tuned to the same frequency of the octave partial of the lower string. The theoretical distance of an octave is an exact doubling of frequency, so if A4=440hz then A5 should be 880hz, but because of the stiffness of steel strings the first partial is already a tad higher than mathematically correct. This makes the actual distance of the octave a bit wider than an exact doubling of frequency, and because of the different stringing scales of pianos, each piano is different. The modern system of tuning (Equal Temperament) spaces all twelve chromatic notes equally within the space of the octave. A piano tuner, working by ear, first tunes a beatless octave. Then the tuner spaces the notes at exactly equal distances from each other by comparing intervals and counting beats. A tuner doesn't even need to know that the octave is wider than usual, they just tune it until there's no beats. A guitar tuner, or a set of tuning forks for that matter, are tuned to the equal temperament system, but can't be re-calibrated to accommodate various different octave distances found on pianos, that the twelve notes must be spaced equally within. Interestingly enough, and here's a useful piece of information for those of you who made it this far, a harpsichord can be nicely tuned with a guitar tuner (or 12 tuning forks). It would seem that the harpsichord string is so light that the stiffness doesn't effect the first partial. There are electronic machines made for tuning pianos, that can be re-calibrated to accommodate degrees of octave stretch.

11) What should I use to clean my piano?
Any good quality furniture polish will work well on wood finishes. Avoid products that leave a waxy or oily residue.
On the keys, it's best to use a very mild soap & water solution on a rag. Be sure to wring the rag out well before cleaning the keys. If water drips down between the keys they can swell up and stick, or even warp.
Cleaning dust from grand piano soundboard under the strings is particularly tricky. Under no circumstances should you get any kind of chemical or moisture on the piano strings. The best way to get at the dust is with a set of "soundboard sweepers". There are three different-sized cleaners, and they are designed to be inserted between the strings to sweep the soundboard.

12) Does it hurt my piano when my children pound on the keys?
The noise produced by this action may hurt our ears at times, but it won't damage the piano. Most pianos are built to withstand some very heavy use. Think of a concert pianist performing an energetic piece by Rachmaninoff, or a rock star pounding on the piano loud enough to be heard over the screaming guitars, and beating drums. It is doubtful a small child can duplicate the force that these people exert on the keys. Try not to let them drive their toy cars up and down the piano keys though. That can chip or break older plastic and ivory key tops.

13) What can I expect when you come over to tune my piano?
• First of all, I'm nearly always on time. I may be a little early but I really don't like being late so you'll get a text message from me if I am going to be more than ten minutes late. You can track me driving to your house via GPS here.
• When I come into your house feel free to ask me to remove my shoes or to let me know of any other rules you might have.
• I'm not allergic to anything or afraid of any of your animals.
• It helps if everything is cleared off of the top of the piano. If you don't have it done before I get there, I don't mind at all doing it myself but I need to open the top of your piano to tune it.
• I will be sitting in front of the piano most of the time so there is no need to move it away from the wall before I arrive. If I need to get behind an upright piano for some reason, I'll move it myself.
• Silence is Golden to a piano tuner. I need to listen to strings vibrating thousands of times every second! Any noise that I hear makes it more difficult to tune your piano. You don't need to apologize or ask to use the blender for a minute, do what you normally do and I'll wait for you. I have an infinite amount of patience so please don't fret too much about making noise.
• Get ready for some noise! I'm going to make noise so take that into consideration before scheduling the appointment. Consider the neighbors and your own sleeping family members (napping babies) when scheduling an appointment.
• When I tune a piano, I will hit the same note up to 20 times in a row. Some people love the sounds and harmonics that occur when a piano is being tuned. Other people will leave me alone and go out to lunch because the sound gives them a headache.
• Please feel free to ask me questions while I'm tuning your piano. I'm there for you and I don't mind at all.
• I am close to finishing when you hear me playing a lot of random songs and chords. I am listening to various intervals and unisons at this point. Fine tuning.
• I'll probably ask you to play for me when I'm finished. Mostly I'm just kidding but sometimes I'll be lucky enough that someone will say, "sure" and then sit down to give me a mini concert. I love that.
• When you see me cleaning and putting your piano back together, I'm pretty much finished. Traditionally this is the time when the payment is rendered. You can see my payment options on this page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to
the Top
of the Page