The list of services here are the most common, at least consultation on any piano related issue is extended. If you don't see what you need, just call.
Most services are performed in the home: tuning, minor repairs, regulation, voicing, evaluations and estimates.
The bigger work of rebuilding and reconditioning usually come to the shop.
Please Call or EMAIL to Schedule an Appointment.
Why Pianos go out of tune:
One reason why pianos go out of tune is the change of humidity over the course of the year(s). The soundboard is a huge wood diaphram that expands and contracts with the relative humidity. The piano is non-linear, so the changes are uneven, resulting in the instrument being out of tune. A piano should be tuned at least once a year to accomodate these changes.
A standard tuning refers to a fine tuning at standard pitch, Standard pitch is A4 at 440hz, and with an equal temperament. Equal Temperament is the common spacing of pitch between the notes used today (modern). Special antique temperaments may be used upon request.
Pianos that have not been yearly maintained may require the pitch of the instrument be first brought close enough to standard pitch to do a standard tuning. This is called PITCH CORRECTION and may add some additional cost to the tuning process.
The current tuning fee is $120. A pitch correction, if needed, could add cost. Pitch corrections average an additional $60.
A large variety of repairs can be done in the field (home), however, all are subject to parts and time. As a guide line, expect an average of $20 per issue, if in conjuntion with a tuning appointment. If the problem requires more than that or requires parts not carried in spares, the repair will be discussed prior to commitment. An appointment just for repair will cost a minimum of 1 hr labor (currently $70).
All of the adjustments that control the playability of a piano come under this heading. Things like: Key hight and travel, when hammer drive is disengaged, damper lift timing, spacing, and many more fine points of adjustment.
Many of these adjustment points rely on the felt interfaces. The felt over time wears or compresses such that the mechanisms and adjustments are out of specification.
It's kind of like a "front end alignment", 88 times.
Not all pianos need a complete regulation and the charge is based of the time it takes. For a reference though, a complete, full regulation can take up to 8 hours, or just under $500. The GOOD NEWS side is that a full regulation is needed very infrequently for home pianos. Most instruments are lucky to get 1 regulation after it leaves the shop.
Changing the flexibilty of the hammer felt is a common method to adjust the tonal quality produced. Fine voicing adjustments usually in the field to help smooth the sound between notes. Adjustments involve needles to relieve tension in the wool fibers or a solution to stiffen the hammer shoulders.
It is important to know that voicing requires proper regulation first. Regulation elements affect how the hammer strikes the string imparting power into the set of frequencies that comprise a note.
Reconditioning / Rebuilding:
Many older instruments can be reconditioned. That is replaced felts, hammers, keytops. even all new strings with out complete replacement of the majorty of the parts.
Some require much more work. An example would be a redesign of the action to accomodate changing an old design with no replacement parts to a modern action. Replacement of a bridge instead of repairing it would probably crossthe line from recondition to rebuild.
Of course, either rebuild or recondition starts with an estimate. Refinish is a separate line item in a recondition or rebuild estimate as it is more subjective in its need and so optional.
Humidity Control Products:
It is the change in humidity that causes the big wooden diaphram of the sound board to swell and contract over the course of the year. That movement in turn affects string tension. That changes tuning. The piano is not a linear device so the changes are not equal across the notes. This is a primary reason to tune the piano yearly.
Humidity Control Products help to maintain a far more consistent relative humidity for the instrument. This results in smaller changes in the tuning cycle. It does not negate the need for the annual tuning, but with smaller changes the piano sounds better longer. Smaller changed in the tuning also means a more accurate tuning.
There are two humidity control products on the market:
The Piano Life-Saver system is a complete humidity control system with a drying element, a wetting element with reseviour, and a humidistat to control which is turned on when. It is the better of the two system we carry. It maintains the instrument at 48% RH +/- 3%. It's down side is it costs parts plus $200 installed and requires to be plugged in 24X7, and care and feeding of the reseviour.
MUSIC SORB is a micronized silica gel that "breaths" around the 50% RH point. It will take on or give up moisture as needed. It's band width is 5%. The product is non toxic and safe to recycle in the garden or potted plants. It's down side is that because it is "mechanical", no electricity, it looses its elasticity and should be replaced yearly. Its cost is only $60 per application for a year of protection. The application consists of 2 1Kg paper packages that look like small throw pillows. They are placed down in the bottom of a vertical piano and on the plate (not touching the strings) in a grand. Designer cloth bags (special fabric, very "breathable") are recommended for grand applications. The bags are reusable and add a one time cost of $15 for the pair. Another upside: this product can be user installed (no installation cost if in addition to a tuning either).
Got scratches? Got Dings?
Simply put, this is a time issue. Hourly rate X Time.
There are two primary finishes out in the piano world: Lacquer or Polyester. Lacquer is easier and cost $70/hr, Polyester is more specialized and usually requires more effort and time. $80 per hour.
So what are we talking about?
A 1 inch scratch that cannot be covered with a simple color stick (into the finish, definately "feelable") in lacquer may only take about 1/2 hour to treat. That same damage in Polyester will take 2 hours because to repair and blend a plastic finish material requires about 6:1 repair area size to damage size and needs to be buffed out.
A preliminary evaluation of a piano is always part of preparing for tuning. If the instrument is not playable or tunable, the tuning appointment is converted to an estimate. An estimate still takes about an hour and so the charge is $60 instead of the $90 standard tuning fee.
An appoint for the purpose of estimate may be scheduled of course.
Evaluation for the purpose of buying or selling an instrument is a good idea. An evaluation may include a rough estimate of repair costs, but usually just informative and oppinionated about the instrument. It takes about the same time as an estimate, 1 hour, same $60 price.
Service Level Agreement (SLA):
SLA was primarily designed to accomodate institutions, churches, and schools. The concept is to evaluate the instrument(s) to determine what work and services are required. The advantage is to get the needed repairs and regulations done immediately and the needed tunings scheduled out for the next 3 to 5 years and place the whole project on a time payment schedule.
This allows the benifit to the client of easy budgeting. It also helps level income at this end :)
Although there are no home clients currently using this SLA plan, it could be done.
This offering is highly negotiable, Please CALL for information on ths service. 503.642.1883