Monthly Archives: December 2015

Back to Work

Hello readers of Piano Tuner Sheffield. I hope you all had a nice Christmas.

I’m now back in sunny Sheffield after spending my week off with the family in Robin Hood’s Bay. I took my piano tuning kit up there and tried to convince a few locals in the village pub to let me tune their pianos, with no success. I took some promotional cards up to put in Whitby and Scarborough (I’ve had a few piano tuning jobs up there but I really need to expand my customer base in that area) but the day I went to Scarborough (Christmas Eve) it was so busy I couldn’t find anywhere to park! In the end I spent most of the time playing guitar and watching christmas TV.

Business will continue as usual from today (the 28th of December). I’m open to taking on piano tuning customers every day now, even on the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Please contact me by phone or email if you would like to make a booking.


– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.

Christmas piano tuning dates

Merry Christmas to everyone whose piano I tuned or repaired this year (most of whom are new customers) around Sheffield and elsewhere! You have all, without exception, been a pleasure to work for. Don’t forget to play those pianos lots during this holiday time, surprise your relatives with how different your piano sounds now it has been tuned!

From December the 24th until Sunday the 27th I will be in Robin Hood’s Bay (a village on the North Yorkshire coast, near Scarborough and 5 miles from Whitby) with the family, so I will not be piano tuning on those days. I can fit piano tuning customers in from Sunday 27th onwards when I am back in Sheffield, and that includes New Years Eve and New Years Day.

I hope to see you all in the new year. Merry Christmas.

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.

Hammer regulating: repinning hammer flanges

A common restoration job for piano tuners and technicians is replacing the centre pins on the hammer flange. Over time, humidity can cause the flange bushings to swell and cause the hammer to be sluggish. I have a centre pin tool that compresses the bushings and loosens up the hole in the flange allowing it move more freely, which works some of the time. If this doesn’t work the centre pins may have to be replaced with pins of a slightly smaller size.

If, after a piano tuning, I need a temporary solution to the problem, often I will lubricate the moving parts with oil to see if that helps, although that will only work in the short term. Another temporary solution is to move action parts down from the top treble to the middle, which allows the piano to be played until the piano tuner purchases the required parts. There is no where I know of that sells them in Sheffield (or even Chesterfield, Doncaster, Rotherham, Barnsley, etc), so I order them online and wait a few days for them to arrive by post.

For this job there may be a small charge of £10. I will often have to order new centre pins as they come in about 20 different sizes (at least).

I have 3 piano tuning jobs this week which require centre pin replacement. One is a piano tuning in a school near Woodseats in Sheffield, one is after a piano tuning (pitch raise) in Chesterfield, and one is for an old victorian piano in Rotherham. I will take some pictures and possibly a video of this job to post on this website, so that it is more clear what the job entails, because it is such a common one that piano tuners need to carry out.

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield

Buying a second-hand piano

One can obtain astonishing bargains on websites such as ebay, but there are also unwanted pianos whose owners are unaware of their true value, offering what seems like a low price for something essentially worthless. When you are purchasing a second-hand piano online, there are four things you should keep in mind:


1. The newer the piano the better. Pianos do not age well. The average lifespan of a piano is about 50 years: over time the wood deteriorates, the soundboard warps and cracks, action parts break which cost more to replace than the price of a better piano. If you buy a piano that’s older than 80 years there’s a strong chance that it won’t be able to be tuned and will certainly never sound as good as new. If you can, buy a piano that’s less than 20 years old (older pianos in good condition may be worth it, however).

2.  Buy an iron-framed piano and avoid wooden-framed pianos at all cost. Iron frames are preferable because they can better withold the massive amount of tension caused by the piano strings. Wooden-framed pianos go out tune very quickly for this reason as the wood warps due to changing humidity. Thankfully, wooden-framed pianos are not as commonly found as iron-framed ones.

3. The phrase “good things come in small packages” is not true in the case of pianos. Larger pianos are generally better because the longer strings provide a richer tone. However, with the advent of overstrung pianos (where the strings are strung diagonally rather than vertically), smaller overstrung pianos can also have excellent tone. Straight strung pianos will be lower in value and their tone is not usually as good (they’re generally pianos made for beginners), therefore they are usually not worth buying second-hand.

4. Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind is the condition of the piano. In this case it would be wise to have a specialist view the piano (I charge £20 for visits to inspect pianos) and assess the condition before buying anything. If you buy anything that needs a lot of resoration work, you might not be getting such a good deal as you thought, as extensive resoration work can sometimes cost more than the price of the piano.


I have customers with old pianos that are in OK working order and they are satisfied with the sound and quality of them, but these tend to be either relative begineers who will eventually upgrade to something better, or they are people with young children who are only starting to learn how to play.

If you have an ancient piano and your heart is set on keeping it, then most of the time it can be made to sound OK (but never as good as new). Last week I was called for a job in Rotherham to find a 100 year old piano with a beautiful rosewood finish that luckily only required some minor regulating work replacing the centre pins. The tone was rather dull-sounding compared to a new piano, but it was relatively close to concert pitch and had been kept well-maintained by its previous owner. On the other hand, about six months ago I was called out for a job in Woodseats, Sheffield, and found an untunable straight-strung overdamper made in the 1900s. The customer purchased it for a low price on gumtree unfortunately unaware of the poor condition the piano was in and I had no choice but to refuse to tune it, knowing that no matter how good a piano tuning I did, it would sound little better.

Take your time when looking for a new piano and don’t rush into things. What seems like a bargain might in fact be someone trying to get you to pay the movers to get rid of their valueless piano (or they might simply be unaware of that their piano is beyond repair). If you buy a high-quality piano in good condition, you will save money in the long run by avoiding costly restoration work, and hopefully you will have a beautiful-sounding piano that you can own and cherish for a very long time.


– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.