Concert or Studio Piano Tuning: How It’s Done
Upcoming concert performance or studio recording session coming up? You’ll need your piano tuning to a concert or studio quality! Piano technician Chris Vesty walks you through his process to getting the absolute best out of your sound!
Concert and studio servicing of a piano is one of the most challenging jobs for a piano technician. Whereas a regular tuning is completed once every 6 months or annually, a studio or venue may require a piano to be adjusted several times a day to ensure it sounds and plays perfectly and consistently.
Pianists have to travel around the globe, to different studios and concert halls. Unlike a violinist or trumpet player, they don’t have the option of taking their favourite piano with them, instead having to use the instrument that remains resident at the venue, or has been hired for the occasion.
For a concert, the pianist may be playing a well-known repertoire for an audience of fans, and they will need the piano to not only be perfectly in tune, but also respond evenly and reliably to their touch. The tone (or voice) of the piano also needs to be even and balanced, so every note has a consistent sound and volume.
In a studio setting, one piece may be put together from several different takes, assembled to sound like one continuous take. On occasion, these takes are recorded on different days, even different months, and for the transitions to be seamless, the piano needs to sound identical throughout.
Millers Piano Technician Chris Vesty Doing What He Does Best!
How does a technician tune to a studio or concert standard?
The first thing a technician will do when they begin to service a concert or studio piano is spend some time checking that everything is in order. Basic things like making sure the wheels are locked, and that the pedals are free from squeaks. Even the piano bench needs to be checked for noises, to make sure that it doesn’t creak in the middle of a quiet passage in the music.
Then the performance of the action is checked, making sure all the keys are level, that the dampers lift evenly, and that the regulation of each key is consistent. All of this is done before playing a single note!
Next, the tuning and voicing is checked, to ensure that the piano has a good dynamic range, and that the una-corda pedal is creating the desired sound. With this overview, any adjustments to the tuning and tone can be made. The precision of the tuning is far greater than a home tuning; it has to be perfect for the next few hours, rather than great for the next six months.
Once the piano sounds and feels just right, the final step is to make sure it looks perfect too. The finish of not only the piano, but also the piano bench has to be checked over and polished, both the cabinet and the metal fittings. It may sound silly, but there’s no point in putting in all of that effort in making the piano sound great, if it doesn’t feel and look great too!
The pianist could then have a rehearsal, and afterwards may ask for some adjustments to the touch or tone to be made. They may request a particular range of the piano sound richer, more rounded, less dark, more crisp, less strident, more focused, less metallic, more responsive, less percussive. The technician has to then interpret what the pianist needs, and make changes to suit.
If you are in need or a concert or studio tuning service, our expert team of piano technicians are on hand and ready to help! Get in touch today!