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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pianotek Supply Company demonstrates the Spurlock Hammer Shank Clamp

Pianotek Supply Company demonstrates the Spurlock Hammer Shank Clamp, a simple and fast way to gang-clamp hammer shanks securely for a number of tasks (hammer hanging, shank trimming, filing, tail shaping, voicing, etc.) that would normally put undo stress and possible damage to the action centers if not otherwise locked into position.

(Note: Pianotek sells to the trade only.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Proper Service and Maintenance for a New Piano (1): Importance of Regular Tuning

There is more to tuning than deriving a pleasant aural benefit. When done in accordance with the responsible manufacturer's recommendations for a new instrument - frequent in-store tunings plus a minimum of four in-home tunings during the first year and twice per year thereafter - in the hands of a knowledgeable and capable piano technician the integrity of the strings is maintained.

New piano string is elastic.  When delivered to the buyer the strings are still stretching. The four in-home tunings are required for the piano to remain at pitch with two tunings per year thereafter to ensure that it stays there. Stretch slows and then becomes negligible.

Slight bends form in piano strings from sidebearing where they contact bridge pins. When the new piano is tuned frequently as mentioned above, these bends can move to the speaking segment and smooth out rather well due to this elasticity. However, if a couple of years have elapsed since the first in-home tuning and the piano has fallen substantially below pitch, the required huge pitch raise(s) will force these now less-than-elastic bends into the speaking segment of the string and create false beats -  and even cause permanent deformation or "wild strings" in extreme cases.

What may be done? The damage is not necessarily irreparable.  Neither is it always expensive to repair. Sometimes a good tech can smooth the bends and minimize or "hide" false beats.  A string may need replacing.  The cost here is modest.  Many pianists and even some piano tuners may not be bothered by false beats because they cannot hear them.  Accordingly, for these individuals there is no problem to correct.  Or so it would seem. However, depending upon the extent of the problem it could get quite expensive to remedy. Consider the following:

"When tuning has been neglected for an extended period of time, the strings in the tenor, mid-range and extreme treble have often dropped in pitch much more, in comparison with the bass strings which have also dropped in pitch. The string tension has decreased so much and unevenly, that the soundboard and bridges have warped out of shape, placing tremendous strain on wood and glue joints, risking severe damage." 

“…pianos are designed to be at a specific tension. When the tension is allowed to go flat the soundboard may flatten resulting in less downbearing on the strings and an increase in the chance of wild strings, cracks in the soundboard and case and frame parts separating."
 -  Cited from the Randy Potter School of Piano Technology, Inc. by  Randy Potter, Registered Piano Technician,  chapter 1.8 pg.16.   

"If the piano has fallen substantially below pitch (i.e. from not having been tuned frequently enough), the process of pulling the strings back up to pitch often brings these little bends out into the speaking segment of the string without having had the opportunity to straighten out gradually. A competent tuner can usually remove these unwanted bends in the string, but it's additional work, and you may get charged more. Some tuners who are not so competent just leave them and hope they'll straighten out over time. And sometimes, no matter how good the tuner is or how hard he tries to remove a false beat, you're stuck with it.
- Piano Finders®

"Can the Piano Be Damaged by Not Having it Tuned?

"To keep a piano untuned for many years could do permanent damage to the piano. The strings are under a great deal of tension and tend to loose their tension over time. If the piano is kept untuned for too long you run the risk of the total pitch of the piano dropping. To bring the piano back to standard pitch may cause, at best, the necessity for several tunings over several weeks (at a higher cost) or, at worst, string breakage, and split bridges. Not only that, but playing on a poorly tuned piano can cause a potential musician to subconsciously not enjoy playing and hence, not wish to play."

  - Carl Radford, RPT

"Distortion in sound. In rare cases major tuning work can bring bends into the speaking length of the string causing distortion in the sound. Restringing is the only solution in this case."  - Daniel Berg, RPT  excerpt from  Results from years of neglect.

"Take care of your piano by not neglecting it for extended periods of time.  Piano strings stretch over time, and if left untuned for long enough, a piano will require a major pitch raising when it is tuned again.  A major pitch raising is not good for the health of your piano; it increases the possibility of breaking some strings and/or may introduce a permanent out-of-tune sound known as 'false beating.' "Gooch Piano Service

"Does Piano Tuning Neglect Harm Your Piano?

"To my knowledge, all professional piano tuners agree that neglecting regular service does harm pianos. When piano problems begin to develop, a professional piano tuner, who regularly services your piano, can help with advice and solutions. Pianos do not last forever, and those that receive regular tuning and service uphold their value better than neglected pianos.

"Even if, no one is playing your piano, the weather is playing it 24 hours a day, and it needs regular tuning.

"With over 20 tons of string pressure, manufacturers design pianos to be maintained at A440 standard pitch and when pianos drift off-pitch the curvature of the soundboard changes and the whole structure of the piano shifts. The strings in the piano produce about 18 to 22 tons of tension. The cast iron plate supports this tension, but the rest of the piano is mostly wood, which makes the piano extremely flexible.

"Everything in a piano is either made of wood, or depends on wooden parts to function.
In wet, humid conditions, the piano swells; and in dry conditions, it contracts. This bending and shifting is not productive for the health of your piano. In Physics, the piano as a whole is a ‘flexible’ structure.

"Allowing the piano to cycle through periods of neglect, or ‘hit and miss’ service, combined with changes in humidity ~ the seasonal bending and changing of the soundboard and overall structure ~ can damage the piano. Allowing it to go through such cycles of neglect, in my mind, is like bending a green twig; at some point, it is going to break."
 -  Chuck Littau Piano Services

"The false beat is one of the tuner's worst enemies. This is a beat within a single string
that you can't eliminate by tuning. A string with a false beat sounds like two
strings that are out of tune with each other. False beats occur most commonly in the
upper middle register of the piano, from the treble break up to the middle of the top

"Other causes of false beats include rusty strings, kinked or twisted treble strings, and
strings that were stretched too much during stringing, pitch raising, or tuning. If you see
a kink or bend in the speaking portion of a string, try to straighten it by burnishing with
a steel rod. If this doesn't work, loosen the string and straighten it carefully with smooth
pliers. If it still sounds bad, replace it."  

- Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding, 
Arthur A, Reblitz, RPT


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mark Cerisano offers a new Basic Piano Tuning Manual.

"This manual describes the theory and practice of tuning a piano by ear. It accompanies the course given by Mark Cerisano . You can read more about this and other courses at and"

From Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc. (Mech. Eng,)
For more info:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Photo Art Old Upright Pianos Abandoned Schoolhouse

All photo art by Bradley Widding

Cardon Bottoms, AR
Click photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The action itself should not have a sound of it's own.

"The action itself should not have a sound of it's own - in that regard (in theory) it does not contribute to the tone of the piano at all. However, the action has a HUGE affect on how the pianist makes tone, and anyone who has prepared fine pianos for artists has experienced the difference that apparently non-tonal changes can make to the sound of a piano! Again, these changes do not, in themselves, change the sound of the piano, but they demonstrably will change the ability of the pianist to create the sound they are looking for in the music."

KawaiDon in PW Forums.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The best Rach 3 since Lazar Berman: Hae-Sun Paik

Rachmaninov Piano Concert No.3  

Hae-Sun Paik  

Mikhail Pletnev's RNO