When our piano tuners visit our client’s homes, they’re sometimes met with a few unexpected surprises that hinder them from being able to do the job to the best of their ability. If you have a tuning booked with us, or are looking to book a tuning for the future, this article is aimed to give you a quick checklist to follow before the tuner arrives in order to help save time, best diagnose your instrument and also offer a little guidance into the kind of things that may be affecting your piano.
If you’re not sure whether your piano is due for a tuning, for the most part, we generally recommend pianos be tuned every 6-12 months in order to stay in the best possible condition and deliver the best sound possible. Learn more about our tuning and technician service here. Or if you’re unsure why it’s important to get your instrument tuned, read this guide here!
So without further ado, let’s dive in!
Clearing The Area
Piano technicians need space to work, from taking off the front panels of your piano to even just lifting the lid on the top of the piano to see what’s inside, it’s important that nothing is obstructing the technician before they begin work.
We’ve seen it a few times where customers may keep items or prized ornaments on top of their pianos, whilst this generally isn’t something we’d recommend anyway incase they fall off during your playing, but when it comes to the technician, having to remove these objects is not only a delay but also a pressured task as we’d hate to accidentally knock or break these possessions, so please make sure the area on top and in front of the piano is cleared.
The same is also said for furniture, if the technician needs to inspect the back of the piano, it may need rotating, this job is made an awful lot easier however if there aren’t sofas or chairs blocking the piano from coming out from the wall.
When it comes to cleaning the piano, we wouldn’t expect you to fully clean the instrument before we arrive, however a light dusting across the keys definitely doesn't go amiss! We’ve seen some real horror stories of those who spray cleaning fluids and materials directly onto their piano and this is something we’d highly recommend avoiding as the fluid can become stuck in between the keys and make them stick. If you’re unsure how to clean your piano, read this guide to better understanding the best ways to keep your instrument clean.
Take A Peek Inside!
Now, we’re definitely not saying to remove the entire front panel of the instrument as if not done properly, it is easily dropped or marked or even cracked, however it is generally safe to lift the lid of the piano and to take a look inside from above using a torch or phone light.
When looking inside, the first thing to note is that if the instrument is looking dusty, DO NOT DUST IT!
There are thousands of tiny delicate components within the piano and we’ve seen far too many piano actions broken or damaged due to vigorous dusting. Believe us, our technicians are more than used to a little dust on the hammers or strings.
What you perhaps are looking for however is if there are any immediate or obvious signs of damage, for example: Has a string snapped? Are there any pieces of the action that have gone missing or broken off? Are the hammers still in one piece?
Performing simple diagnoses such as these are absolutely fine and can really help the technician know where to begin looking or the size of the job they may be looking at.
One other thing to look for is: Is there anything down the back of the piano that may be affecting it? Overtime things may fall down the back of the instrument and if those things are leaning against the soundboard they may be buzzing, cracking or preventing a component of the piano from working. Over the years we’ve seen everything from pencils, notebooks and even some rather old chocolate bars fallen down the back...yum. One thing worth finding and removing here is also any potential shipping notes or paperwork that may have been placed inside the piano during porting.
If this can be easily reached and removed, we’d recommend doing so, however once again, you won’t want to disturb or disrupt any part of the action or soundboard, so if there is something stuck at the bottom of the instrument, ask a technician to retrieve it for you.
Feeling The Keys And Pedals:
As mentioned when we spoke about cleaning, it’s worth testing the keys before the tuner arrives just to make sure the issue is still present, does the key buzz? Or does it stick more than you’d expect it to? There may be a few reasons for this, however it is important to note down which notes are causing you the issues as this may help the tuner identify the problem quicker.
The same can be said for the pedals, make sure the pedals on the piano are doing all they should be and are in the correct positions. If you’re not sure what the pedals on your instrument actually do, this guide may help. One thing in particular to note here is if a pedal is active or not, most notably damper or soft pedals that allow the instrument to be played more quietly. Our tuners have been to a fair few homes where the client believes the instrument is playing too quietly when in fact they simply have the damper pedal tuned on!
Evaluating The Space Your Piano Is In
We’ve written countless times before on the best places to position your piano, however it’s often something that many people overlook if their instrument has been in the same position for a long time. A few things worth noting that may be affecting your piano are:
Temperature - Pianos don’t like being kept in temperatures that fluctuate between hot and cold, such as in a conservatory, or even being kept in rooms that are extremely hot consistently. We’ve been in a few rooms where the client can’t work out what might be wrong only to find the instrument is being kept in a room that is around 25 degrees!
The same goes for pianos against radiators, underfloor heating and also those that are being kept next to rooms that output a lot of moisture such as kitchens or bathrooms.
The Most Important Rule
If you believe your instrument is out of tune, or just needs a little check over, even if you’re not 100% sure, our absolute biggest piece of advice is to ALWAYS get a technician to look it over instead of trying to fix it yourself.
Even if it’s just that one note sounds a little off, do not attempt to tune the piano yourself, as these are incredibly sensitive instruments and even the slightest of movements may result in catastrophe for the tuning of your instrument overall.
So there you have it, that’s everything you need to do before your tuner arrives to allow them to offer the fastest, best opportunity to tune your piano and diagnose any potential service issues that they may need.
To learn more about our tuning service or to book your tuning today, click here. Or for those looking to perhaps learn more about the piano market, upgrade your current piano or buy your first piano, please contact our experts or visit our showroom today!