Frequently Asked Questions

“What has keys but can’t listen to the beauty it unlocks?
A piano.”
— -Jarod Kintz

Have Other Questions?    

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I've never had a piano tuned before.  What should I expect? 

I will need to remove case parts and open up your piano to gain access to the tuning pin field and strings.  Please remove pictures, music, and everything else on the piano.  You do not need to move the piano out from the wall. For a grand piano, you do not have to remove everything from on top of the lid nor open the lid.  If I need to access something under the lid, then I will let you know.  Piano tuning involves adjusting the tension of each string by turning each tuning pin.  On average there are about 220 strings in a piano.  I will have to play every note loudly, multiple times, listening very carefully for tiny changes.  The quieter your house is, the better I can do my job.  The whole process takes about 1-1.5 hours

Please wait until after your piano is tuned to oil or polish it.  I have to touch the case parts many times and unfortunately, sometimes not all the oil or polish is completely absorbed by the case.  This causes me to unintentionally spread it to places it doesn’t belong.

Will moving the piano put it out of tune? 

Yes, even moving a piano a few inches can put it out of tune.  Please have it tuned when it is in its final place.

Do you tune by ear?

I tune pianos with the hybrid approach.  I perform aural (by ear) tunings but incorporate state-of-the-art electronic tuning devices (ETD) to enhance the efficiency of the outcome.  I believe that my “ear” is the best judge of a pleasing and sweet-sounding piano and it always overrides what the ETD “says” when there is a conflict.

Do you have a multi piano discount?

Yes - I discount the bill $20 for each additional piano in the house that is receiving service.

Are older pianos better?

Pianos do not get better with age.  Pianos are made of wood, felt and metal that is under enormous amounts of tension.  The wood goes through many cycles of shrinking and expanding which causes cracking, the felt wears down, and strings corrode and lose elasticity.  High end, top brand pianos (Yamaha, Kawai, and Steinway) do tend to hold their value.  If you bought a Steinway piano 30 years ago, you can probably sell it today for more than you bought it for due to inflation. However, the instrument itself has not improved.  

How long after moving should I wait to tune my piano?

A piano takes about 2 weeks to get acclimated if it was coming from a similar environment or moving across town.  If you just moved to southern NM from a humid climate you’ll need to install a climate control system ASAP.  General rule of thumb is that if a piano “grows up” in a drier climate and survives without issues it will be able to withstand a move to just about anywhere, including somewhere with a humid climate.  The same isn’t true about pianos that “grows up” in a humid climate.  The piano will take about 2 years to fully dry out from a humid climate, during which, it will undergo major changes.  The case may start separating, the pin block and soundboard might crack, and the action will certainly have problems.  A climate control system will help eliminate these effects in most pianos, however, if your piano is very old, or came from a very humid climate even a climate control system might not be able to stop damage caused by our southern NM climate.

How long after turning on the air conditioning or heater should I wait to tune my piano?

A piano takes about 2 weeks to get acclimatized to any major changes in temperature or humidity.  Wait until at least 2 weeks after the heating or air conditioning system is running actively throughout the day to tune your piano. 

What sort of payment do you prefer?

I accept check or cash payment only.

How do I maintain my piano?

Tuning your piano regularly will keep it sounding at its best.  Regular regulation maintenance will keep it performing at its best.   Manufacturers recommend tuning your piano every season, or 4 times a year.   Many piano teachers and serious pianist get their piano tuned at this frequency and a concert venue piano might get tuned several times in one day.  Here in Southern NM, for the average piano, I recommend tuning every 6 months if you have a swamp cooler, or once a year if you have refrigerated air.   In addition to tuning, your piano will need to be regulated every few years.  This involves turning screws and adjusting the action, lubricating parts, and many other adjustments that will keep your piano at factory specifications. 

What should I look for in buying a used piano?

The best way to ensure you buy a quality piano is to have a piano technician evaluate it before purchasing.  You wouldn’t purchase a used car without taking it to a mechanic or knowledgeable friend would you? 

General rules to finding out if you should have a proper evaluation competed by a piano technician are:

Open the top lid (or slide the music desk out of the way on a grand) and look inside.  If anything is obviously broken or the groves from the strings in the hammers are ¾” long and ¼” deep-just say no.

While looking inside the piano play each key from highest to lowest.   If more than 2 hammers “wobble” on the way to the string or don’t return all the way-just say no.

Play and listen to each key from the lowest to the highest.  If any note sounds lower instead of rising in pitch, or if any key sounds like it’s hitting more than one note at a time-just say no.

If any of the notes keep making noise after you’ve released the key (except for the top two octaves or so)-just say no.

Sit down and really play the piano.  If you’re not an experienced player, then bring along a friend who is.  Do you like how the piano sounds (not so much if it’s in tune or not, but the overall tone-is it too mellow or too bright)? Do you like how the piano feels?  Is the touch too heavy or too light?  If you don’t like the piano, then don’t get it.

Many times people are looking for a used piano for the child or grandchild to start piano lessons on.  “Free” always sounds good, but you wouldn’t let your 16 year old, newly licensed driver out on the road in a car that the brakes don’t work properly, the clutch is going out, and it shimmies down the road sideways would you?  You need to make sure that the piano you’re looking at purchasing is in good working order so that the beginner pianist learns quality fundamental skills that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

If the piano you’re interested in has passed these simple tests, give me a call and I’ll be happy to swing by and take a look for a minimum fee.