Category Archives: Sheffield

A Happy 2019 from the Piano Tuner

Happy New Year from the piano tuner! After two piano-free days I’m glad to be tuning again in Sheffield, Rotherham, Chesterfield and Doncaster. January is usually a slow month for me, so if you’ve been putting off booking a tuning, please get in touch. If you’re thinking of putting it off further, here’s a message from an old Bentley piano:

If your piano requires any replacement parts, I’ll be placing an order with my suppliers (Fletcher & Newman) after the 7th of January when they’ve re-opened. I have a large collection of sundry parts for odd jobs which can be used during a piano tuning session, but if it needs a component of a specific size or shape, you may have to wait a week. I pride myself on my punctuality and organisational abilities, so I will make sure I have everything I need to fix your piano as soon as I possibly can.

Piano of the week: The Schimmel Vogel V115

Anyone searching for a wide-ranging instrument at an affordable price might take a look at this elegant 45″ studio piano, a remarkable feat of German engineering using traditionally old-fashioned methods of production (wasn’t it great when they built things to last?). I haven’t encountered a great number of them in my piano tuning work, but the few I have made an immediate and lasting impression on me – largely thanks to their hugely diverse tonal palette.

Here’s a snippet from a Pianist magazine article detailing the superior production of its spruce soundboard:

Anyone can work out that a ‘budget’ upright can’t be made exactly the same way as a concert grand, but differences are rarely spelled out. One important area is the soundboard, the heart of the piano’s tonal response. It’s not simply a matter of which material you use: there is also the question of how you put it together.

There are two fundamentally different methods of constructing the soundboard of a piano, says Simon Loat of Schimmel’s UK distributor, Forsyth Bros. ‘The mid-market tends to be where the two methodologies cross over and explains why two pianos of the same size can produce sounds which are totally different.’

For mass production where speed is of the essence, a flat soundboard is attached to ribs cut with a curved profile, immediately forming a crown once the two are joined. The traditional ‘German’ method, where high humidity straight ribs are joined with a low-humidity soundboard and the transfer of moisture results in the crown, takes around six months. It delivers a richer tonal character, but costs a lot more.

In order to produce the Vogel, a mid-market priced piano with an expensive traditional soundboard, Schimmel makes the soundboard assembly in its Braunschweig factory. It then ships the ‘strung backs’ (soundboard, wooden back frame and bracing and iron frame plus tensioned strings) to the Vogel assembly plant in Poland to take advantage of cheaper labour costs.

Halloween Availability [31-10-17]

For piano tuning and maintenance this week, I still have the following times available for bookings:

  • Wednesday 1st November @ 2 PM
  • Wednesday 1st November @ 7 PM
  • Wednesday 1st November @ 9 PM
  • Thursday 2nd November @ 12 PM
  • Thursday 2nd November @ 2 PM
  • Friday 3rd November @ 9 AM
  • Friday 3rd November @ 11 AM
  • Saturday 4th November @ 2 PM
  • Sunday 5th November @ 2 PM
  • Sunday 5th November @ 4 PM

Later dates are also available by arrangement.

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.

Upcoming Availability [24-07-17]

For anyone in urgent need of a piano tuner, I still have a lot of availability left this week:

  • Tuesday 25th July @ 12 PM
  • Tuesday 25th July @ 6 PM
  • Tuesday 25th July @ 8 PM
  • Wednesday 26th July @ 10 AM
  • Wednesday 26th July @ 12 PM
  • Wednesday 26th July @ 2 PM
  • Wednesday 26th July @ 4 PM
  • Wednesday 26th July @ 6 PM
  • Wednesday 26th July @ 8 PM
  • Thursday 27th July @ 3 PM
  • Thursday 27th July @ 6  PM
  • Thursday 27th July @ 8 PM
  • Friday 28th July @ 12 PM
  • Friday 28th July @ 2 PM
  • Friday 28th July @ 4 PM

 

If you live in Derbyshire, I have two piano tuning jobs booked on Thursday (one at 10 AM in Worksop and one at 12 PM in Dronfield) so any time after 2 PM would work perfectly on that day.

For Whitby, Scarborough and Robin Hood’s Bay customers I will next be in your area on Saturday the 5th of August for a weekend of piano tuning across the East Coast.

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield

Piano Tuning Bookings This Week [Sheffield & Scarborough]

For my available times for piano tuning bookings, see the bullet point lists below. The first one is for South Yorkshire customers and the second for piano tuning in North Yorkshire (as far south as Bridlington) and Teesside (as far north as Middlesborough). I update this blog with my weekly availability every Monday and later dates are always available on request!

For customers in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire (Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley, Chesterfield, etc), I am free at the following times:

  • Monday the 1st of May @ 6 PM
  • Monday the 1st of May @ 8 PM
  • Tuesday the 2nd @ 10 AM
  • Tuesday the 2nd @ 5 PM
  • Tuesday the 2nd @ 7 PM
  • Wednesday the 3rd @ 10 AM
  • Wednesday the 3rd @ 12 PM
  • Wednesday the 3rd @ 2 PM
  • Wednesday the 3rd @ 4 PM
  • Wednesday the 3rd @ 6 PM
  • Wednesday the 3rd @ 8 PM
  • Thursday the 4th @ 10 AM
  • Thursday the 4th @ 12 PM
  • Thursday the 4th @ 7 PM

For North Yorkshire & Teesside Customers (Whitby, Scarborough, Ravenscar, Guisborough, Pickering, Bridlington, Brotton, Ruswick Bay, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Staithes, Redcar, Thornaby, Stokesly, Middlesbrough, etc) I am available at the following times this week:

  • Friday the 5th of May @ 7 PM
  • Saturday the 6th @ 1 PM
  • Saturday the 6th @ 4 PM
  • Saturday the 6th @ 7 PM
  • Sunday the 7th @ 10 AM
  • Sunday the 7th @ 2 PM
  • Sunday the 7th @ 4 PM
  • Sunday the 7th @ 6 PM
  • Sunday the 7th @ 8 PM

Availability over the next week

For those in need of a piano tuner I still have the following times available over the next week:

  • Sunday 19th of March @ 4 PM
  • Monday 20th @ 12 PM
  • Tuesday 21st @ 2 PM
  • Tuesday 21st @ 6 PM
  • Wednesday 22nd @ 10 AM
  • Wednesday 22nd @ 12 PM
  • Wednesday 22nd @ 2 PM
  • Wednesday 22nd @ 4 PM
  • Wednesday 22nd @ 6 PM
  • Thursday 23rd @ 10 AM
  • Thursday 23rd @ 4 PM
  • Thursday 23rd @ 6 PM
  • Friday 24th @ 10 AM
  • Friday 24th @ 12 PM

These are times are for piano tuning in Sheffield and places within a 40 mile radius of Sheffield. For Whitby, Scarborough, North Yorkshire and Teesside bookings, I will next be in your area tuning pianos at the following times:

  • Saturday 25th of March @ 2 PM
  • Saturday 25th @ 4 PM
  • Saturday 25th @ 6 PM
  • Sunday 26th @ 10 AM
  • Sunday 26th @ 12 PM
  • Sunday 26th @ 2 PM
  • Sunday 26th @ 4 PM
  • Sunday 26th @ 6 PM
  • Monday 27th @ 10 AM
  • Monday 27th @ 12 PM

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.

 

 

Bassist required for metal band in Sheffield

In the evening, when I’m not piano tuning, I play guitar in two bands: a progressive/art rock band and a traditional heavy metal band. The second band is in need of a bass player, so I’ll use this blog to post an advertisement I’ve posted on other websites (you never know who’s looking):

Bassist required for Sheffield metal band. At its core it’s a traditional, melodic heavy metal band although other styles (progressive rock, thrash, neo-classical & folk to name a few) are sometimes incorporated. Our influences include Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, early Metallica, Megadeth, Sabaton, Death/Control Denied, Wintesun, Nevermore, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Queensrÿche and many more. The main requirements are a high level technical skill & a love of the genre. We definitely don’t want typical, inaudible root-note bass playing, we need someone who understands good tone & can create interesting basslines that add something to the music.

We currently practice in Sheffield although we have members from Doncaster, Barnsley and Wakefield. We are currently learning a few covers to play live, but our main priority is to work on original material as a group.
If you might be interested, please contact me:

Email: richard@pianotunersheffield.co.uk

Mobile: 0754 266 7040

 

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.

Piano tuning video: touching up a unison

I’d been meaning to film myself piano tuning for a while, thinking it would be something a bit more interesting to put on this website. After piano tuning for a living, keeping my own piano in tune can sometimes seem like a chore (seeing as I’m doing it for free). I tuned the piano in my own house here in Sheffield last week, but forgot to film myself first time round. There were one or two unisons that were close but not 100% in tune, so I went round the piano again and filmed myself tuning one of them. There’s something strangely satisfying about an out of tune string sliding in tune! I’m sure piano tuners will agree…

A year of piano tuning

So, according to my calender it was August of last year that I had my first paid piano tuning. Before then I had done free piano tuning for friends in Rotherham and Sheffield, but only a year ago did I start tuning professionally. It’s been a year of ups and downs, with some weeks busier than others, but I enjoy it more and more as it goes on and, even though I could tune a piano upon finishing my piano tuning course, my piano tuning has improved since then, in that my tuning is more precise (particularly unisons) and I can set the pins with more ease and tune the whole piano faster than I could a year ago.

 

Customers will receive a text reminding them that their piano has not been tuned in a year and asking them whether they want me to come round and tune it. Not wanting to seem pushy with new customers, I’ll continue this policy for the forseeable future.

 

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.