You can tune a piano but you can't tune a fish.....

Tarkus60

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I need some advise. My wife's regular piano tuner can't be found . So I am going to do it. I have been watching you tube vids, so I got a idea.

Is it hard? It looks kinda easy.

What tool kit do I need?

Am I jumping in way over my head?
 

Rich_S

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But seriously, piano tuners are hard to find these days. When we bought our daughter her first real piano 10-ish years ago in Potsdam, the closest tuner we found was 3-1/2 hours away, in Vermont.

There was a guy in town with whom I was friendly; we talked about stuff at soccer and basketball games while our kids were playing. I found out he was a piano technician by trade. When I asked him if he could tune our piano, he gave me a hard no. Turned out, he was the piano technician for the Crane School of Music and had 180 pianos he had to keep in good repair and tune. If he opened himself up to side jobs, pianos would have just taken over his entire life. I respected his position and his ability to just say no, but that meant I had to bring in the guy from St. Albans.
 

StoneH

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I need some advise. My wife's regular piano tuner can't be found . So I am going to do it. I have been watching you tube vids, so I got a idea.

Is it hard? It looks kinda easy.

What tool kit do I need?

Am I jumping in way over my head?

If you have ever tuned a 6-string with a headstock tuner, then had to tune by ear to dial it in, imagine needing to tune 88 strings. I might try to adjust a couple of strings until I could get the professional.
 

kafka

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If you have ever tuned a 6-string with a headstock tuner, then had to tune by ear to dial it in, imagine needing to tune 88 strings. I might try to adjust a couple of strings until I could get the professional.

~230 strings, actually. If 12-string guitar is hard to get in tune, imagine doing that with 230 strings.

Piano tuning is something you should hire out to a professional. Preferably, an old one who has been doing it for several decades.

Piano tuning is a physical skill. The peg twists in the pin block, and then settles into position. It takes an experienced hand to do that the exact right amount with a minimum of adjustment. You may think you got it right, only to find when you finish that it's horribly out-of-tune. With the varying, massive pressure on the block and settling, you may never actually get it in tune.

Also, you really want to minimize the amount that pins turns, total, over it's lifetime. The more you twist the peg, the more wear you put on the block, decreasing friction, and increasing the frequency that you'll need the piano tuned. i.e. you can ruin your piano if you do it wrong. A tuner has a really good sense of just the minimal amount of pressure that will get the pin to sit at just the right point.

Even the greenest piano tuner will get more experience in the first month on the job than you could in a lifetime tuning your own piano. You just can't build the skill on your own piano that they build as a professional.

To top it off, really good piano tuners are hard to find. Many tuners are just plain not good at their jobs. I would say most. You may need to go through a few before you find one that you keep. When you do, you'll want stick with them until they retire.

It's not totally hopeless. You can probably get OK enough to occasionally tweak a note or two that happens to stick out. But getting 88 keys in tune, 230 strings, and 18 tons of pressure, well, that takes a professional.
 
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Red Ryder

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Don't let people scare you, it's a piece of cake. All you need is a pry bar, pipe wrench, rubber mallet, torque wrench, chainsaw, floor jack, cutting torch, drill, bar spreader, a couple of joints and a 12 pack. Once you get your mind right flip it over on its back, cut off the legs and open up the sidewall. Once you're inside you can get started. Your wife might start complaining, but does she know any more about it than you?
 

dukewellington

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I thought this was a thread about REO Speedwagon.

Seriously, though, I’ve done this before (it was a studio size upright and fairly easy to access that I maintained for performances at work) but it does depend on the piano type and the tuner’s aptitude and ear. I also tune accordions. It is nuanced but straightforward, if that makes sense. If you haven’t already, I recommend a strobe tuner, watching a few YouTube videos first, learn about and learn how much “stretch” you want (or can tolerate) in your tuning.
 

joealso

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Wasn't it in tune when you bought it? Could be a warranty issue.

Seriously, I used to refurbish old upright pianos. Repairs and restoration - yeah, I'm down with that. Tuning? Not on your life.
 

schmee

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It was hard. Off one cent on a low note and you are off much more on a high note!
But of course we have headstock tuners now days so probably much easier now!
 

Fretting out

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~230 strings, actually. If 12-string guitar is hard to get in tune, imagine doing that with 230 strings.

Piano tuning is something you should hire out to a professional. Preferably, an old one who has been doing this for several decades.

Piano tuning is a physical skill. The peg twists in the pin block, and then settles into position. It takes an experienced hand to do that the exact right amount with a minimum of adjustment. You may think you got it right, only to find when you finish that it's horribly out-of-tune.

Also, you really want to minimize the amount that pins turns, total, over it's lifetime. The more you twist the peg, the more wear you put on the block, decreasing friction, and increasing the frequency that you'll need the piano tuned. i.e. you can ruin your piano if you do it wrong. A tuner has a really good sense of just the minimal amount of pressure that will get the pin to sit at just the right point.

Even the greenest piano tuner will get more experience in the first month on the job than you will in a lifetime tuning your own piano. You just can't build the skill on your own piano that they build as a professional.

To top it off, really good piano tuners are hard to find. Many tuners are just plain not good at their jobs. I would say most. You may need to go through a few before you find one that you keep. When you do, you'll want stick with them until they retire.

It's not totally hopeless. You can probably get OK enough to occasionally tweak a note or two that happens to stick out. But getting 88 keys in tune, 230 strings, and 18 tons of pressure, well, that takes a professional.

Exactly

My uncle went to college for two years to learn how to tune pianos

It’s not something that you can do just because you’ve tuned a couple of other stringed instruments

It takes a lot of skill, not saying the op doesn’t have it


If it was easy there wouldn’t be professionals and it wouldn’t necessitate hours of classes/learning

Again not saying the o.p can’t do it, just don’t expect to get it right for a long time

Also I think proper tools are fairly expensive
 
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kafka

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Also I think proper tools are fairly expensive

They're not really expensive. You need the correct wrench for your pins and some rubber stops. And, a tuning fork.

At least there's no intonation to worry about

Oh yes there is! It's called 'stretch'.

Pros all use software that has the correct stretch for the make and model they're tuning. Stretch, of course, is, a subject of it's own. **For reasons I won't get into here, I'll just put it out there that every piano has it's own 'correct' tuning, which is different than other pianos, and certainly different than your favorite strobe tuner.



**Because a string has a thickness and a length, the harmonics aren't perfect multiples of the fundamental. To get a note one octave up to match with the lower one, the higher string's fundamental has to sound in tune with the lower string's harmonic. Because the harmonic is invariably higher than a multiple of the fundamental, this causes the range of the piano to stretch wider than the mathematical range. How much is dependant on the physical characteristics of the piano.
 
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Toto'sDad

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I paid for a professional tuner from a reputable music store that stocks a large number of pianos. (at that time) to tune my wife's piano when we bought it. My daughter in law who is a VERY accomplished pianist played the piano after only a few days of it being tuned. She said, I'm sorry, but the piano tuner didn't tune this piano properly. What I'm saying is, just because YOU think you've got it in tune, doesn't mean a good pianist will be satisfied with the job.
 

Toto'sDad

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This whole piano thing is a pain in the rear to me. We had an old Baldwin, which was actually pretty nice, and lots of people played it over the around 25 years we owned it. We'd have it tuned once in a while, and it always sounded good.

When we sold out back in 2006 planning to move out of the country, the piano was sold. My wife insisted that where ever we ended up, I'd have to replace the piano. I did just that a couple of years later when we bought another house and stayed in Bakersfield. I paid $2400 dollars for a nice used Yamaha upright at a piano store, and had it tuned. She played it for a couple of years, then less, and less until now it sits there with pictures of grand kids and relatives scattered about all over it.
 

nojazzhere

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I paid for a professional tuner from a reputable music store that stocks a large number of pianos. (at that time) to tune my wife's piano when we bought it. My daughter in law who is a VERY accomplished pianist played the piano after only a few days of it being tuned. She said, I'm sorry, but the piano tuner didn't tune this piano properly. What I'm saying is, just because YOU think you've got it in tune, doesn't mean a good pianist will be satisfied with the job.
I've written about my uncle before.....the one who is a concert pianist AND has perfect pitch. He is called upon to play all sorts of terrible, out-of-tune pianos all the time. I don't know how he does it.
A few weeks before my mother (his sister) died, he came to visit, and gave an impromptu recital at the senior living facility. Their piano was (and probably still is) horribly out of tune. Not only that, but many older pianos are deliberately tuned DOWN a half or whole step, just to go easy on the sound board and pins. My uncle performed brilliantly, even though the piano was noticeably "off".
I, too, recommend a professional tuner. They are well worth the money.
 

JL_LI

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You'll just bite your tongue and buy a Roland RD2000 if you value your sanity.
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Toto'sDad

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I've written about my uncle before.....the one who is a concert pianist AND has perfect pitch. He is called upon to play all sorts of terrible, out-of-tune pianos all the time. I don't know how he does it.
A few weeks before my mother (his sister) died, he came to visit, and gave an impromptu recital at the senior living facility. Their piano was (and probably still is) horribly out of tune. Not only that, but many older pianos are deliberately tuned DOWN a half or whole step, just to go easy on the sound board and pins. My uncle performed brilliantly, even though the piano was noticeably "off".
I, too, recommend a professional tuner. They are well worth the money.

I've heard a piano that was tuned down a half step. I thought maybe the guy who owned it was a friend of Stevie's.
 




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