F.A.Q.

Q: How do I book an appointment?

A: If you are looking to arrange a piano tuning (or repair, regulation or maintenance) or if you simply have any questions regarding pianos that you’d like me to answer, please contact me via my mobile [0754 266 7040] or email me at richard@pianotunersheffield.co.uk.

 

Q: How far are you able to travel for a piano tuning?

A: Ordinarily I tune pianos in South Yorkshire (Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham, Barnsley) and the surrounding areas (Chesterfield, Dronfield, Castleton, Hathersage, etc). I am prepared to travel anywhere within a 40 mile radius of Sheffield for a piano tuning. Long distances are not an issue for me, but customers further than 40 miles from Sheffield may be charged a small travel supplement of £5 to cover fuel costs. Once every two weeks I tune pianos in the Whitby and Scarborough region – I am currently trying to build up a separate customer base in this area. On such visits I have tuned in areas as diverse as Filey, Bridlington, Hull, Burniston, Pickering, Malton, Robin Hood’s Bay, Ravenscar, Scalby, Scarborough, Whitby, East Ayton, Cloughton, Staithes, Guisborough, and Redcar. I even managed to aquire two jobs in Teesside recently – one in Middlesborough and one in Thornaby. So generally speaking I don’t mind a car journey (I should be used to it by now)!

 

Q: How much you charge for a piano tuning?

A: As of July 2017, I charge £40 for a first piano tuning and £45 for every tuning after that (for Sheffield customers). The charge for customers outside of Sheffield is £45 for a first tuning and £50 for regular customers – the extra £5 is added to cover fuel costs. If your piano has not been tuned in over 2 years and has dropped more than 7 cents flat of concert pitch, I will give you the option of a pitch raise. A pitch raise involves a second piano tuning two weeks after the first in order to stabalize it at concert pitch – for this I charge an extra £20.

 

Q: Do you charge any extra for repairs and regulating?

A: At present I do not usually charge extra for repairs, as most of the repair jobs I have to perform can be resolved quite quickly right after I’ve finished the piano tuning – usually within the two hours period I set for myself. If there are any piano parts that need to be replaced, I will charge the price I paid for the parts. If the piano is in bad condition requiring lot of time and perhaps even a second vist for repair work, I will discuss the options with you on the day.

 

Q: I have been given an old piano and it sounds horribly out of tune. Is it worth hiring a piano tuner or should I despose of it?

A: It is actually quite rare for me to find that a piano is “past the point of no return” but unfortunately it does happen on occassion – the most common reason for this is loose tuning pins (especially on cheaply made pianos older than 70 years). Often the reason a piano sounds particularly bad is that it has been sitting in someones room for years (possibly decades) without being serviced by a piano tuner in all that time, and after the first tuning the customer is usually amazed at how much better it sounds. However, depending on their quality, pianos older than 50 years will usually sound ‘past their prime’, with the hammers and other actions parts having been worn out over time, the strings rusting, or cracks in the soundboard being the biggest culprits – so that eventually making adjustments or replacing action parts won’t be enough to restore the piano to health. If it turns out that your piano is untunable I will only charge a small call-out fee for my visit.

 

Q: How often should my piano be tuned?

A: Your piano should be tuned and regulated once every six months; this will keep it in optimal health all year round. The closer the piano is to concert pitch before it is tuned, the better it will hold its tuning. When a piano has gone years without being tuned, the strings have to be stretched much more than usual to get it in tune, which adds much more tension to the strings. If this is the case it better to have the piano tuned again 1 to 3 months after the first tuning to stabilize it.

 

Q: How long does it take to tune the piano?

A: On average it takes me 90 minutes to tune a piano, however depending on the condition of the piano it may take up to 2 hours (which will include the minor repairs and maintenance usually performed). From other piano tuners I have spoken to, this seems to be about average (that is, for those trying to do a first rate job and who aren’t deliberately rushing). If you are booking a piano tuning on a busy day or if you generally have a busy schedule, please bear in my mind that I may be working on your piano for as long as two hours.

 

A: What can I do to keep my piano in tune for longer?

Q: Firstly you should ensure the piano is in a part of the room where the temperature is most stable – a constant temperate of 20°C is ideal. Keep your piano as far away as possible from radiators, fire places, wood-burning stoves, front doors and from direct sunlight. At the times of year when humidity is greatest you could keep a dehumidifier in the room to try to keep relative humidity between 40% to 45% (if you can). In winter try to resist turning the heating up too high in the room your piano rests in, as this can prevent some of the problems related to dryness. If you own a grand piano, keeping the lid down when its not in use is well-advised, both for reasons of tuning stability and to keep the soundboard and wrestplank from getting too dusty.

There are humidity control systems available for anyone who finds their piano goes out of tune quickly (even when tuned regularly). Since most of my customers are in the north of England, I usually suggest a dehumidifier system which I can purchase from my supplier and install for them (I charge the price I paid for it plus a call out fee).

 

 

Q: What is the difference between a piano tuner and a piano technician?

A: As is generally understood, a piano technician is someone who tunes, repairs, regulates and restores pianos while a piano tuner simply tunes them. Technically I am a piano technician, but I prefer the label piano tuner as it’s more easily recognised by the general public.

 

Q: Do you use an electronic tuning device or do you tune the piano aurally?

A:  Piano tuning technology has come a long way in recent years, and while piano tuning apps certainly have their uses (such as increasing the speed in which a piano tuner performs the initial rough tuning during a pitch raise), I believe that no app can match the human ear. I use an electronic device to speed up the initial process of tuning the middle scale to which the rest of piano is tuned to, but certain parts of the job – such as tuning the unisons and stretching the treble and the bass –  involve some subjectivity which most apps aren’t very good at imitating.

Q: Can I tune my piano myself?

A: Please do not attempt to tune your piano by yourself – it is very unlikely that you’ll be able tune your piano to any sort of standard on your own, and by attempting it you could damage the piano leading to expensive repair work further down the road. Even those with a good ear for music should leave the job of piano tuning to a professional, as the technique of pulling the strings in tune and setting the tuning pins so that they stay in tune is one that takes a long time to learn. If you love and cherish your piano and want to keep it the best possible condition, you should opt to have your piano tuned and serviced by a professional at least twice a year. Although hiring a piano tuner can seem expensive at the time, when you take into account that they only need to be hired once every six months, it only works out to be around 22p per day! A small price to pay for the amount of happiness that a piano can bring to your life.

 

Q: Do you need to be able to play the piano to be able to tune them?

A: If you are thinking about a career as a piano tuner, then being accustomed to the sound of the piano will certainly help you in the early stages, but you do not need any playing ability to become a piano tuner – the main requirements are a musical ear, some manual dexterity and enough determination to complete 2 – 3 years of training. A pianist with some experience will probably find it easier in the early stages as they will be used aware of the difference between a piano with well-tuned unisons and equal temperament, and one that is slightly out of tune.

– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.