Can my piano have MIDI?
Yes, MIDI can be fitted to both grands and uprights with very little modifications to the piano. See this page for the MIDI that can fit into acoustic pianos.
Upsetting the neighbours - soundproofing a piano.
Try moving the piano to an inside wall. If this is not possible then 4-inch thick soft foam behind the piano will muffle quite a bit of the sound. If your piano has not got a practice pedal fitted one can be fitted to most uprights. If these measures are not enough the next step is to fit a Silent System; these systems give you the best of both worlds. You plug in head phones when you just want to hear the piano and switch it off when you want the world to hear you. They are best fitted on larger uprights.
You can push 4-inch thick soft foam under the bracings to kill some of the sounds, and place the piano on a thick carpet. Hang a thick curtain just off the wall about 1 inch. Silent Systems don't fit well in grand pianos unless they are factory fitted as too many alterations have to be made to the action.
What is Piano Servicing?
It's a combination of skills that piano tuner-technicians have, all working together to get the most out of your piano. This can involve cleaning the soundboard and bridges, dismantling the playing mechanism, cleaning and lubricating the parts of the playing mechanism using a variety of products. Re-facing the hammers, Re-Regulating the playing mechanism, Action, Keys and Dampers. Servicing can include replacement of some badly worn parts but in general, if the playing mechanism is badly worn we tend to recommend reconditioning or a rebuild. How long will it take? It can take 4 to 16 hours depending on the type of piano, the interval from that last time it was serviced. How often should a piano be serviced? Every 5 to 10 years. However, this can be shorter on a piano used hard on daily bases.
What is meant by over-stringing.
This is where the bass strings are set at a diagonal across the piano frame, running from the top left to the bottom right, and crossing over the top of the steel wires which themselves are set diagonally from bottom left to top right. However, the steel strings are not set at as great an angle as the bass strings. The reason for this is that theoretically, the longer the bass string the truer the tone of the piano. Overstringing also allows manufacturers to gain a longer string length using the same size of the case than straight stringing permits. Overstrung pianos, both grand and uprights, are considered modern pianos. In the UK trade, beginners' pianos are generally straight-strung over-damper pianos.
Should I put water in my piano?
Pianos built before the 1960s were not designed to withstand the dry heat found in some homes in the UK, with the prevalence of central heating and modern insulation. This can result in splits in the soundboard and the drying out of the wrest plank, which effectively keeps the piano's tuning pins nice and tight, thereby holding the piano in tune.
To combat this we recommend the placing of Hydracell units inside the piano positioned at the relevant points. However, a large container filled with water, placed in the bottom of an upright piano, will do nearly as good a job and will cost you considerably less. Grands, on the other hand, do require the fitting of Hydracell units or a Piano Life Saver. In homes that have under floor heating or wide swings in humidity, we strongly recommend a Piano Life Saver as Hydracell units cannot cope with this type of direct dry heat or swings in humidity. Most manufacturers recommend that your piano should reside in a temperate atmosphere where relative humidity ranges from 45% to 65%.
Quite a lot of homes in Lancashire in the months of November to April tend to have a humidity range from 38% 40% and from April to November 40% to 65% and some as low as 20%. Pianos that are in rooms with the humidity below 38% for several months are causing the piano long-term damage for theses pianos we recommend piano Piano Life Saver. In homes that have under floor heating or wide swings in humidity we strongly recommend a Piano Life Saver
Why maintain a piano?
The piano is a highly developed, complicated piece of equipment. It contains approximately 240 different lengths of highly tensioned wire, with approximately 160 lbs. of pressure per string and a 15% increase in the bass. This produces an overall strain on the frame of about 21 tonnes. These lengths of wire go to make up 85 to 88 notes spread across the musical range. Each note has its own individual mechanism, the combined total of which in the case of an upright piano adds up to 14,000 moving parts. In the case of a grand the total reaches as high as 22,000 parts.
Since the piano must be maintained at a specific tension to achieve a good musical sound, the matter of maintenance becomes an on-going process. A piano consists mainly of wood and iron, and both materials are subject to movement. The movement of the wooden soundboard and the frame cause the wires to change tension . Thus, it becomes necessary to set up a minimal schedule of tuning of the instrument to ensure reliable and pleasing results. This schedule isn't a hard and fast one, but we can make recommendations and set out guidelines. Once a year is a minimum for most pianos. Most piano makers recommend twice a year and some three times a year.
What should the tuner be expected to do and why?
Assuming that the piano has been maintained to a quality standard down the years, the tuner should be prepared to maintain the piano at "concert pitch." This is what has been accepted as the pitch to which all musical instruments are tuned. In this case, the "A" note should be set to 440 Hz. That's 440 cycles per second. It may be necessary to perform more than one tuning to achieve this result. This may be due to long-term neglect, or moving the piano to a different environment. Again, this isn't unexpected. The tuner will do his utmost to keep the piano in as stable a condition as his art will permit. However, on occasions, conditions caused by weather and the indoor environment may affect the piano adversely. Again, the tuner should be prepared to advise accordingly. The tuner should be prepared to check the overall performance of the action as well. This is the mechanism which turns your key-strokes into sound. If he finds a problem, he should be prepared to discuss additional maintenance.
What is voicing and toning?
See the main voicing and toning page
What is tuning?
Tuning is the procedure by which the piano is brought into sonic harmony with itself. The process of tuning is a multi-stage process. The tuner begins by setting the instrument to the pitch to which it is to be tuned. Then he performs the setting of the "temperament." This is the 12-note pattern that governs the entire tuning of the piano. It is based on a mathematical formula that dictates that all the notes in this 12-note pattern be spaced equally apart from each other. This "scale" has been worked out by musicians down the years, and has come to be known as "equal temperament." This is the formula by which instruments in the west have been tuned for the last 150 years. The tuner accomplishes this task of setting the temperament by applying a series of tests that are part of his training. Thus, a good aural tuner can set up a piano from a single reference point.
What is action regulation?
Action regulation is maintaining the moving parts to work as they are meant to. What are some signs of poor regulation? Some guidance here may help. These items may also be useful in evaluating an instrument for purchase. A lot of what happens when the key is pressed can be picked up by touch. After all, it's the key that transforms your intentions into sound. The key must work efficiently and accurately to do the job it was designed to do. Poor regulation can cause the key to work at less than its utmost efficiency. If you gently press the key and feel a lot of "nothing happening," this could suggest that the key isn't set up properly. In the trade, this is called "lost motion," which is one of the most common conditions one encounters. Of course, this kind of regulation must be carried out by a trained technician. One should understand that all of the regulation procedures are interrelated. Change one, and another one may be affected. When the key is pressed, the hammer is brought into contact with the string. In a correctly maintained action, the hammer will release a split second before actually hitting the string. To understand this, think of a rocket being launched into orbit. The engines are turned off, and the rocket allowed to coast to its final position. Same for the hammer. It is sent to the note in a sort of free fall. If this isn't happening, you may get a condition known as "blubbering," a sort of double-strike, when the hammer is brought repeatedly into contact with the string. Again, this condition must be treated by a trained, competent technician. Another aspect of piano regulation is something called "after-touch." This is harder to define and describe. When the key is pressed down slowly, it brings the hammer up to the string. In an ideal situation, the hammer is released by the jack described above; that is, the rocket has been switched off. The key will continue to travel downwards a small distance. There is a slight kick or bite transmitted back through the key as the jack is released, and the key bottoms out against the keybed where it rests. A small amount of after-touch ensures that the key has done its job, rather than running out of steam before the hammer hits the string. Blubbering can occur with insufficient after-touch.
Flood and Water Damaged Pianos
Question: Our piano was exposed to water during a recent flood. Is there a possibility that this piano can be repaired? Will the damage to the instrument be evident very quickly or does it take time for serious problems to become evident?
Answer: Exposure to or immersion in water can be very damaging to a piano. Even if the exposure is only for a few days, the humidity will make the wooden parts expand and become warped. In many cases it is cheaper to replace the piano than repair it.
Question: Our piano was raised above the water during a recent flood, but the room had several inches of water in it. Will this cause us a problem?
Answer: Pianos that have been sitting in a few inches of water, but where the water has not reached the level of the case, are not necessarily ruined beyond repair. Humidity levels in that room will be very high, though. Even if the exposure is only for a few days, the humidity will make the wooden parts and felt expand. Also, there is a problem with mould and bacteria can form in the many areas of the piano excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mould in the piano and may be a health risk for your family.
The biggest problems we come across is over-drying of the piano. As the insurance company send in a team, they put in industrial dryers and dehumidifiers near the piano this results in more damage done to the piano than the water has done in the first place, and we often end up writing off the piano as the cost of the repair exceeds the value of a new one .