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#28717 - 10/19/04 08:22 AM Piano Tuning Issues
xstitch4me Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/15/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Idaho
Ok...I had my piano tuned, you have to realize it's 21 years old....first of all the tuner couldn't fix my squeaky pedal. He came back twice and finally refunded my money on that part. I eventually fixed it myself by practically taking the whole thing apart and finding a little rubber thing that goes on it which he didn't replace and spraying the insides with....well I can't remember the name now. Anyhooooo....after he left I still had some notes that sounded "flat". When I called, he notified me that I had "dead" strings....which he didn't tell me while he was here. I've since asked tons of people in the business who have never heard of dead strings. Is this a real thing? Or was my tuner a loser who just messed up? I don't want him coming again...he said the strings are $20 a pop and there are 4 dead. I would love to hear input on this.......I'll be holding my breath waiting.... ;\)

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#28718 - 10/19/04 09:24 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Vivace' Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 1717
Loc: USA
_________________________
Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us,and never stop learning." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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#28719 - 10/19/04 11:37 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
Dead strings? That's a new one.

A less-than-ethical piano tuner in Lubbock did some work on my piano, which I later found out (from 2 reputable piano technicians, one of whom works for TTU) was completely unnecessary. It wouldn't have been so bad except that the work he did cost me almost $1k, and the piano was still not right (thus the reason I had to call another technician).

Thankfully, the 2 other technicians fixed the piano. \:\) The one from TTU couldn't actually do much 'cuz of his full-time job at the univ., but at least he was able to replace all the felt underneath the key bed and the pedal (that fixed the squeeky pedal, btw). The other technician, who he referred to me, did the voicing. That was all it took to fix my piano's problems. Needless to say, I wish I'd called the technician at TTU in the first place, \:o but I guess that's water under the bridge. Hindsight is better than foresight. ;\)

I hope you get your piano fixed soon, by an honest and well-qualified technician. Good luck!

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#28720 - 10/19/04 11:43 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Carole Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/08/00
Posts: 2229
Loc: southern California
BTW, piano tuners are very scarce here. My tuner is retired and does very little anymore. I have no one to refer my students.

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#28721 - 10/19/04 11:55 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Gail Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/04/04
Posts: 369
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
I think Jalapena has the right terminology--an honest and well-qualified technician (not necessarily just a tuner). Piano Technicians Guild has a website--don't know the address right off-hand. I found my piano technician by calling a local piano store that my MTA group has worked with quite a bit and got a recommendation from them. When we bought my piano (from another store--before my favorite piano store was in business), the store sent out a guy who tuned by ear. He was AWFUL!! I had him come back twice and still couldn't get the piano in tune. I finally gave up and got a qualified tech to come do it. Be careful!!

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#28722 - 10/19/04 12:17 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
xstitch4me Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/15/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Idaho
Wow, now I really feel like he didn't know what he was doing. I got his name from a music store - he tunes all of their pianos. It is VERY interesting that nobody has heard of dead strings....I think I'll the University and find out who does their tunings. However, I worry a little that my piano is old and maybe they only like working on nice grand pianos. Thanks for the input.

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#28723 - 10/19/04 05:21 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Vivace' Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 1717
Loc: USA
I've heard of dead strings......sent the website to you earlier, but........

The bass on my piano sounds thumpy and "dead". what can we do?
First you need to understand why the tone in the bass has deteriorated. Bass strings are wrapped with copper winding so they will vibrate slow enough to produce low tones. Over the years, corrosion builds up between the copper windings and the steel core, and inhibits the free vibration of the strings necessary for a full, rich tone.
Sometimes it is possible to revive the old strings by taking them off the piano and flexing them to break up the corrosion. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee how long this procedure will remain effective, if it works at all. The permanent solution is installation of new, custom-made bass strings.
_________________________
Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us,and never stop learning." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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#28724 - 10/19/04 06:09 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
The rip-off artist that did all that unnecessary work was not only a technician, but was a member of the Guild. Being a Guild member is no guarantee that a technician will be honest. Fortunately for me, I managed to find some good technicians (also Guild members) to fix my piano.

I knew about dead strings... I just had never heard of them on a piano that's only 21 years old. My piano's almost 30 years old, and the strings are still fine.

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#28725 - 10/19/04 06:50 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
PFVTeach Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 481
Loc: USA
On tuners and techs the difference is a tuner does that, tunes. Techs can fix things gone wrong inside as well as tune. Anytime I've switched techs because of where I lived I always asked for three references they have done work for and phone numbers to see how reputable they are or aren't. Lucky for me I found a really good tech that I use where I live and recommend him to all my students.

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#28726 - 10/20/04 06:22 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
xstitch4me Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/15/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Idaho
 Quote:
Originally posted by Vivace:
Dead strings


Didn't know this was a web site. Thanks for your input. Sounds like I have to invest in the 4 new strings.

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#28727 - 10/20/04 06:28 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
pianoc Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 1088
Loc: Goshen, Indiana
I checked out that websites - had some interesting info, I thought.

Question - are there any of you here that tune your own piano?

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#28728 - 10/20/04 07:04 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoc:
I checked out that websites - had some interesting info, I thought.

Question - are there any of you here that tune your own piano?


Tune my own piano? I liken that to cutting my own hair. Scaryboo! ;\) \:\)

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#28729 - 10/20/04 07:33 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Vivace' Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 1717
Loc: USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeņa:
Tune my own piano? I liken that to cutting my own hair. Scaryboo! ;\) \:\)


Or coloring your own hair....even scarier \:D
_________________________
Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us,and never stop learning." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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#28730 - 10/20/04 12:11 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
 Quote:
Originally posted by Vivace:
Or coloring your own hair....even scarier \:D


Actually, I'm doing okay on the hair coloring thang... now that I've switched to Clairol Natural Instincts. \:\) However, I promise not to color my own hair once it grays to the point that this product no longer works. When that day comes, I'll head straight to the salon.

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#28731 - 10/20/04 03:51 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
xstitch4me Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/15/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Idaho
Well.........I cut my own hair and color it too. Nothing fancy though. I can't do highlights either...just enough to cover my grey hair..oops did I say that? As for tuning my piano.....how in the world would you know how to do that? Wouldn't you need training? Although.......I did fix my own squeaky pedal and practically took my whole piano apart...but believe me I was shaking the whole time...I was so afraid I couldn't put it all back....kind of like a computer I guess...I hate opening them up.

(BTW didn't say my hair looked nice...but I'm too cheap to spend $60+ for a trim)

[ 10-20-2004: Message edited by: xstitch4me ]

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#28732 - 10/20/04 09:14 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
Interesting topic here (the tuning that is..lol)
I am getting ready to buy a tuning kit of some sort and learn to do my own! One of our local teachers here in our MTAC turns her piano, and others too sometimes. My tuner that I have had for 23 years (well I had his dad, who retired, and now have his son)is always telling me I should tune my own pianos. He has taught me a lot actually and last week when he was here tuning one studio piano I regulated the another, that he had tuned the week before. Last year he taught me to regulate my other (3rd) piano (in our living room)which was my mothers and is a spinet. My Kawai is done a little differently but the same idea. I had a BLAST doing it and working along side Greg, our tuner. In the past he has let me help tune my own piano and taught me a few things. His dad was great like that too. I have looked online and there are kits at all different prices. Also training you can get....actual schooling ...or do it yourself kind of things. Our tuner uses a tuner that my husband sold him, but his dad did it by ear. My husband has such a great ear he could tune by ear. I would probably rely on a tuner a lot. I think it could be very fun and it is interesting getting into all the workings of the piano..if you like that sort of thing. I would like to learn to tune and plan to try it as soon as I can get what I need. Shoot, we tune our own guitars. I realize the piano is much more complicated, but still.
And I have heard of dead strings. Piano strings can get old and lose their tone quality just like a guitar string. One of my bass guitars was sounding SO dull we replaced the strings and it made a huge difference. The strings were "dead". Steve replaces guitar strings frequently because they wear and/or sound dead. Same thing happens to pianos eventually. If I ever do get to tuning I will let you know how my experience is. I don't plan to try to make a living at it, HOWEVER I did just cut my studio almost in half to do accompanying work because I was tired of SO MUCH teaching. I want to cut back a bit more eventually. Maybe tuning could offset some more students. ???????? I wouldn;t charge as much as most tuners, not being certified and all that. Maybe I will get certified. ??? I don't know...but I figure many teachers could tune...IF we wanted to.

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#28733 - 10/21/04 05:17 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
pianoc Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 1088
Loc: Goshen, Indiana
I cut my hair - between professional cuts. I color my own hair. I sew my own clothes - some of them. I cook/bake my own food from scratch - most of it.

I like doing things that can be done - within reason. Tuning the piano - I've always wondered why more teachers don't do it themselves. It LOOKS like it doesn't take that many tools, and it LOOKS like something most of us could do. I've never noticed Tuning the piano 101 as a class offered at school. So where do these tuners learn? Is it by those "kits" that Nancy was talking about it, or do you learn from your Dad, or somebody else.

I've also wondered if I did have the equipment and knowledge to tune my piano - would that mean I would keep in tune better - or would I put the job off even more than calling my piano tuner to come do it?

So - is Nancy the only person that's even considered it? There are several of you that I really expected to find out that you do it sometimes, or have at least tried.

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#28734 - 10/21/04 06:55 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
 Quote:
Originally posted by NancyK:
[BI I wouldn;t charge as much as most tuners, not being certified and all that. Maybe I will get certified. ??? I don't know...[/B]


Hey, I think this is some more material to argue about! ;\) How do you feel about fresh and/or green piano teachers who come in and undercut the going rate? Just curious. \:D

Lisa, who holds a first rate piano technician right up there with a smooth gynecologist....

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#28735 - 10/21/04 07:46 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
Regarding references, the dishonest technician I hired was highly recommended to me by several LMTA piano teachers. I assume that either he was treating them right and everybody else wrong, or that they weren't aware of his unethical business practices. Whatever the reason, I learned a valuable lesson. You can't necessarily rely on references, or on the fact that a technician is a Guild member.

After the fact, I found out that other LMTA teachers had in fact been ripped off by that technician, and had started using the other technician (the one recommended to me by the TTU music dept. technician). He lived out of town, so his fee was more expensive due to his travel expenses, but he didn't do any unnecessary work. As a matter of fact, one of the times he made a trip to my house to tune my piano, he told me that it didn't need to be tuned and that he'd be back in 6 months. He didn't charge me a cent for that visit. Now that's the kind of technician I like!

[ 10-21-2004: Message edited by: Jalapeņa ]

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#28736 - 10/21/04 10:33 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
xstitch4me Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/15/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Idaho
 Quote:
Originally posted by Lisa Kalmar:

Lisa, who holds a first rate piano technician right up there with a smooth gynecologist....


Speaking of a smooth gynecologist.....mine is wonderful and a woman! The clamp things are heated or warmed I should say and you don't feel a thing. I guess some people are born to that..just like musical ability...now there's a comparison. Sounds like a whole new thread \:D

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#28737 - 10/21/04 10:36 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Ginger Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/08/04
Posts: 277
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
When I was at college, I had a friend that tuned the practice pianos for us. She had the tools to do it, but she admitted that she wasn't very good at it. She mainly did it in between visits from the real technician that came only about once every 2 years. (Well, he was at the university all the time, but I guess that the practice pianos were last on his priority list) Those practice pianos really get a workout being played all day and all night long. Some keys especially the high notes would go out of tune very easily! (I remember a time when the high C and D both sounded like the high E!) I was once practicing a Chopin Ballade and I broke a string- and the technician didn't come to replace it for months!

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#28738 - 10/21/04 11:24 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
There's much more to tuning than simply adjusting the strings to meet a regulated tone. I believe a good technician is worth their weight in gold. My techinician is forever explaining (I don't listen all that hard) about adjusting it up or down slightly because of impending dryness or humidity in which case it'll end up just right. My father is always wanting to give me his old strobes from the organ tuning business but I know from experience that you can tune every string to match the tone on the strobe - but it won't necessarily sound exceptional - like we want. It like a choir - you don't want all perfect pitch singers. You need the riff-raff (that was my spot) in there to generate harmonies. A kit won't do it. Training won't do it (although it'll help.) Experience, talent, a good apprenticeship, and probably a love for the instrument all combine to make a great technician.

[ 10-21-2004: Message edited by: Lilla ]

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#28739 - 10/22/04 07:00 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
Lisa...I thought we already beat that one to death not long ago? I guess you can look at it two ways.....I was thinking I would not charge as much if I was not certified and "green". I was thinking I wouldn't be worth as much as another. HOWEVER...if that would upset the apple cart for other more experienced tuners then I guess I should charge as much. ??? Would they then not say, "How can she charge what we do with all our training and experience?"
As far as teachers the same holds true. Are we more comfortable with them charging less because they are green or do we get mad because they charge as much? Personally I feel any teacher should charge what they think they are worth and what also what their area will bear. I know for a fact that I charge more than some teachers around here who have more education than I. I do not feel I am charging too much and plan to raise rates next year. I have all the students I want and no one complains. I KNOW those other teachers could charge more. Some do. Many don't.

As far as tuning...there are schools you can attend but I'm not sure where. There is an article in the latest Clavier magazine about being a piano technician. At the end it has an ad for a 1 year and 2 year program. I know there are correspondance programs. I may look into that.

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#28740 - 10/22/04 10:53 AM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Beat to death or not - the fact is, the market place sets the price. Does the surgeon charge you less because it's his first operation? Does the plumber charge you less because he's only 25? Do they not go through training and school, and then gain experience? Compare your rates to demand in the marketplace vs the activity within local piano studios, and you'll know your rate. Period.

[ 10-22-2004: Message edited by: Lilla ]

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#28741 - 10/22/04 01:32 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
OK. When the time comes I will think about that.

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#28742 - 10/22/04 08:13 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
My tuner was here this afternoon returning the action for one of my pianos. It is a very old piano and he reshaped the hammers for me to get the grooves out. It sounds SO much better. Anyway...I asked him about new and "green" tuners and how he felt about them charging a lower price or the same. He said to charge lower would be bad for the rest of them. He said to charge high would not be good. He thought a new tuner should charge the average going rate. Around here that's about $75 / $80.
He also told me that there is a 2 day school in Sacramento that you can go to to be trained as a technician and the kit is included. I do not know the price. He himself was trained by his father. I don't know how soon I can do all this, but I may look into the Sacramento two day training.

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#28743 - 10/28/04 12:05 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
Ginger Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/08/04
Posts: 277
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
I just wanted to say that my piano technician came on Monday to tune and fix my pedal. While she was here, she made sure that she had my phone and address correct so that she could refer people to me who are in need of lessons. She says that so many people buy a piano and get it tuned and ask her for some teachers in the area. Great! Thought that I'd share this interesting way of getting your name out there!

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#28744 - 10/28/04 02:42 PM Re: Piano Tuning Issues
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
It's a GREAT way. My tuner/technician and I have been referring for eachother for years now. He is in a ton of homes asking for a teacher and of course my students ask me for a tuner. We've had a great thing going for quite awhile. He carries my business cards and I have his. When new students start I give them his card along with their copy of the policy etc.

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