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#1588010 - 12/31/10 06:19 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
There are two definitions of "Pro". One is a technician who can efficiently achieve a refined stable tuning, in addition to touch and tone regulating, and is in demand by discriminating clients for this work.

Then there is the other type of "Pro" (or "tooners" as some of us call them!). These are the ones who can't really tune a piano to a reasonable standard, and may even cause damage trying to fix them: i.e. WD-40 to lube an action! This type of "Pro" may be full time and may advertise in the phone book, internet,and or Craigslist. They make up for their lack of skill by charging substandard rates and/or having a convincing song and dance. Some of these folks actually make a better living than some skilled techs!

Assuming that the professional tuning spectrum is a bell curve, you can figure the top 20% are terrific, and the bottom 20% are lousy. The rest of us fit somewhere in the middle. The problem is (like Rickster says) that in some areas one of those top 20% techs may not be available. Maybe not even a top 50% tech. I have known more than one piano technician who got into the biz because they simply could not find anyone who could do the job to their satisfaction.

I have no doubt that a conscientious piano owner who does his/her homework can learn to service their own piano and get results that are far superior to the professional "tooner". With enough practice and effort I see no reason why they couldn't achieve truly professional level results.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1588029 - 12/31/10 07:08 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1226
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
I recently tuned an Everett that a self professed pro had replaced the hammers on. I really wish I had photographed it. None of the hammers were even close to the same angle with the strings and they didn't line up even with each other in any way. He charged the lady $400.00. I think her teenage son could have at least got them all in a nice even row :-)


I don't know first hand, but I expect this inconsistancy may be why the PTG was formed.

However, that's another can of worms and I hope I'm not sorry for even mentioning it.
_________________________
Laugh More
Yamaha G7 - Roland FP7

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#1589379 - 01/03/11 02:40 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
cyclotron Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/03/11
Posts: 14
Loc: California
I am your basic fourth string amateur piano player. Tuning isn't really my thing, but there are times...

In college we had an old grand available for anyone to play on. You could tell from all the cigarette burns. One day several keys were jammed - Pencil in the works. That day I learned how to pull the action and put it back. I became five bucks richer in change, had writing implements for the year and two class rings (six years apart).

Later I ended up working in Saudi Arabia, a country with mixed feelings about music. I couldn't find a decent piano and ended up buying an electric.

Several months later I snagged a Yamaha upright from the Taiwan Interest Section (equivalent to their embassy). It was bought in Japan, moved to Taiwan and then recently to Saudi. It was still in the shipping crate and came with a full internal complement of cockroach traps.

Minor problem: no decent tuners and NO technicians. Where to begin?

I had my machine shop make a tuning hammer and a few regulating tools. It was basically in tune (Fortunately). I adjusted a few unisons. Pulled up two bass notes that were low and did some basic regulating.

All was well except that those bass strings did tend to drift and a few more joined the group a few years later. So on my next trip to Europe I talked to the technician at a big piano store in Bonn and got ten oversize pins. Only needed five.

Several years later I found a decent tuner, but still no technician, "Not bad, but you're 12 cents low."

Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Hiring a tuner/technician is much easier and I wouldn't even think of doing a complete tuning or trying regulation. Oh, and I don't have perfect pitch, thankfully.

Dan Carroll

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#1589383 - 01/03/11 02:51 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
cyclotron Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/03/11
Posts: 14
Loc: California
Trying Voicing, not trying regulation. Been there, done that.

It's late.

Dan Carroll

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#1589468 - 01/03/11 08:32 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1226
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
Interesting perspective 'cyclotron'.

There are many reasons to pursue some of these skills beside saving money. Even though that was part of my initial motivation, satisfaction and interest was what kept me interested over time.


Edited by Roger Ransom (01/03/11 08:35 AM)
_________________________
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Yamaha G7 - Roland FP7

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#1589517 - 01/03/11 10:31 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
leemax Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 501
Loc: pacific nw, usa
I'm a bicycle shop owner and have worked with bikes for about 35 years. This discussion sort of reminds me of when people talk about truing their own bicycle wheels. I know there are amateurs who can do an OK job, but I pretty much only see the failed attempts. I imagine piano tuning is much the same in that the basic techniques can be taught easily, but the art of doing it proficiently, every time, and on a wide varitey of wheels takes years to master. When people ask me about truing their own wheels, I often suggest they practice on a wheel they don't care about.
In spite of being quite mechanically adept I have never considered tuning my own piano. I have adjusted some of the dampers, and my technician showed me how to tighten some of the hundreds of little screws that have worked loose on my old piano.
_________________________
Lee

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#1589828 - 01/03/11 06:19 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Pianolance]
sam235813 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/08
Posts: 54
Loc: middle america
Originally Posted By: Pianolance
One thing that came in handy and was sort of a suprise, I got a speeding ticket this summer and the judge sentanced me to 8 hours of community service.
that's a stiff sentence. habitual offender?
_________________________
1933 S&S A3

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#1590297 - 01/04/11 10:45 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: rysowers]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
Originally Posted By: rysowers
I am in Cy's camp! I have purchased professional tuning levers for clients who are interested in tuning. I have a link to places to buy tools, and acquire tuning software on my website. I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who wants to try their hand at tuning a piano! Even if it doesn't work out, they will gain a deeper appreciation to the craft, and their piano. So what if a string breaks? It happens to all of us! As a professional in the service industry I feel it is NOT professional to make a client feel embarrassed or ashamed if they attempted a repair themselves. Sometimes they do surprisingly well. Other times.... wink



As an amateur owner, player and tuner, I have to admit that my instrument is likely inferior to the very best Steinway D, my playing is not to the professional standards of an Oscar Peterson, and my tuning skills do not equal those of a concert tuner. In all likelihood, none of these peaks will ever be obtained in my lifetime. If these were the main criteria, I would stop now.

As for tuning my own piano, it deepens my appreciation for the instrument and the process of tuning. I find it interesting and worthwhile. So far, I have not often tuned an entire keyboard to the level of a good tuner. The primary result of my tuning efforts so far has been to have a professional tuner service my piano more often the previously. I don't see that as a bad thing.

One additional benefit is that I can now determine the differences in the quality of the tunings I pay for. I have had three different tuners, one of whom was excellent and two of whom were very good to excellent. I now have a basis of comparison and can evaluate who I want to call. This is not a bad thing either.

Hop


Edited by Hop (01/04/11 10:48 AM)
Edit Reason: additional thought
_________________________
HG178, Roland FP-5, Casio PX 130

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#1591940 - 01/06/11 01:19 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Mike86 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 91
I tune my harpsichords about once a month out of necessity. I use the Korg Orchestral tuner for most of it and tune the extreme notes by ear. It does a good job. I never break strings now, but I did when I began a few decades ago.

Personally, I would like to buy the tools and tune my piano, but I will leave it to the professionals. I would hate to break a string or bend a tuning pin. Plus, it's a big job compared to a 2-choir harpsichord.

Mike86

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#1592010 - 01/06/11 03:02 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Mike86]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3318
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Mike86
I tune my harpsichords about once a month out of necessity. I use the Korg Orchestral tuner for most of it and tune the extreme notes by ear. It does a good job. I never break strings now, but I did when I began a few decades ago.

Personally, I would like to buy the tools and tune my piano, but I will leave it to the professionals. I would hate to break a string or bend a tuning pin. Plus, it's a big job compared to a 2-choir harpsichord.

Mike86


Hey Mike, I thought you had a loaner Kawai to practise on for a while... wink

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#1592677 - 01/07/11 03:14 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
wouter79 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3243
The unisons may be the hardest but also the first one that audibly go out of tune.

I have tweaked them both on my previous grand (Petrof IV) and on my current one (Grotrian 189) with good results. At least the sound acceptable again and saves me some annoyance till the tuner comes around again.

Just a very little pulling and pushing usually does the trick with unisons. In my case only 1 string was out, the other 2 were still ok.
_________________________

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#1592731 - 01/07/11 04:36 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8067
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: wouter79
The unisons may be the hardest but also the first one that audibly go out of tune.

I have tweaked them both on my previous grand (Petrof IV) and on my current one (Grotrian 189) with good results. At least the sound acceptable again and saves me some annoyance till the tuner comes around again.

Just a very little pulling and pushing usually does the trick with unisons. In my case only 1 string was out, the other 2 were still ok.


This has been my experience as well… when I notice a unison a little twangy or has that slow “cat’s meow” or has an odd ring to it, I’ll take a rubber mute and determine which string of the unison is out. It is usually one of the outer strings and on occasion it might be the middle string. It doesn’t take long to clean up the unison so it sounds pure.

I’ve also learned that after several times cleaning up a few wayward unisons, the overall tuning will become less “in tune” and some intervals become a little dissonant; that is when a full tuning is in order.

There is nothing sweeter than a fresh tuning… smile

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1592926 - 01/07/11 09:51 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Edtek Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/26/10
Posts: 235
Loc: El Paso
"There is nothing sweeter than a fresh tuning… "

Rick, you said a mouthful! I tuned my Hamilton a week after I got it 3 months ago. After the passage of time and switching from high humidity cooling to how humidity heating it seemed that playing the piano didn't excite me as much. Tuned it this weekend and there's that wonderful sweet sound again, can't keep my hands off it :-)

Ed
_________________________
Ed (Out in the West Texas town of El Paso)
Yamaha T118, Yamaha PSR-S710

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#1642515 - 03/16/11 09:22 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Mario Bruneau Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 133
Loc: Québec, Canada
Interesting thread.

I always encouraged my clients to try the DIY or at least study the piano tuning and servicing. A knowledgeable pianist is better equipped to perform when he knows how the piano works.

Likewise, I think DIYers can sometimes do a better job than the "tooners" Some so called pros. There are too many around unfortunately.

In the DIY world, I have to say that the resources on the Net are poor.

The DIY sites often give bad informations but then again, a lot of "pros" do so too!

But today with YouTube, one can see and hear what's good and what's not.

I have seen videos with people commenting on a pro tuner like he was a king or a master and he did it all by ear! People just don't make the difference between good and bad "pro" tuners.

I invite you to look and listen to this video:

http://www.tucson-piano-tuning.com/blog/piano-tuning/piano-tuning#more-36

I want to start sharing my knowledge with HowToTunePianos.com (http for short) It is not online yet but will be within weeks.

When my clients call me because they notice their piano is out of tune, then I know I am in trouble.

Don't have your piano tuned because it is out of tune, have it tuned to keep it in tune!

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#1642800 - 03/17/11 10:39 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8067
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi, Mario...

I watched the video you mentioned and it was interesting. You could tell the tuner worked pretty quickly and knew what he was doing. The only thing I saw that was a little surprising is how rough he was on the tuning pins. It looked to me like he was “flag-polling” the heck out of the tuning pins (bending the pin without turning/twisting the pin in the pin block).

I don’t know… maybe its okay to “flag-pole” the tuning pins if you are a pro and know how far you can go without doing any damage to the pin or the pin-block.

Thanks for sharing!

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1642836 - 03/17/11 11:45 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Tip: when inserting or removing mutes, please step on the sustain pedal. This prevents damper damage.

Inserting a mute moves the string sideways a bit. For those dampers shaped like a "V" or a "W", this squeezes the narrow edge that goes between strings. Over time, the damper felt will get deformed so the narrow edge hangs below the strings, causing problems like whooshing noises when the damper is lifted. I've seen dampers with 1/4" of felt hanging down!

Playing can cause this, too, but this is just one of those subtleties of working on pianos. Please protect yours.

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#1650904 - 03/30/11 10:20 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Cy Shuster, RPT]
Mario Bruneau Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 133
Loc: Québec, Canada
Hi folks,

I was kind of hoping for more replies.

C'mon guys! Give it a shot!

Tell me what you think about this video and the comments too.

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#1651071 - 03/30/11 02:08 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
mikf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/11
Posts: 66
Loc: Texas
I have made my own wine, was it as good as I can buy - no, would a wine expert scoff at it - yes, did it put the wine makers out of business - no, was it fun to do, cheap and drinkable - yes.

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#1651231 - 03/30/11 06:45 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
Interesting little video. Looks like the gentleman is still enjoying his craft! thumb

One thing I wonder about though is the super long tip he's using on his tuning lever. I was always told those were a no-no because they cause so much more flex and flag-poling of the tuning pin, which can create tuning stability problems.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1653929 - 04/03/11 07:03 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: rysowers]
Mario Bruneau Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 133
Loc: Québec, Canada
Dear fellow piano lovers,

I presented this video to you to show what should NOT be done to the tuning pins.

My opinion on this gentlemen piano tuner is that he might be a good pianist but not so good a piano tuner.

Like other mentioned here, he really is hard on the tuning pins.

Funny enough, people seem to think that because he works fast that "he must know what he is doing" Well, my opinion is, maybe he is doing it fast but very far from perfection. His unisons are far from accurate, the temperament is so so and the highs are completely out.

BTW he is using a long bit only for highs to pass over the plate. In the middle he was using a bit longer than a regular but not as long as for the high region.

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#1656004 - 04/06/11 10:23 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: Mario Bruneau]
Prof.Pickles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/17/08
Posts: 33
Loc: USA, AZ
I made a video on how to tune your own piano using an oscilloscope and entered in a contest.

I really could use your vote!

Here are the links and let me know what you think too.
Contest page: http://mytektronixscope.com/videos/

This was a fun video to make and share. I hope you enjoy and support me.
Thanks

PS: I had posted this under a different forum but I think this is a better home for it being it is just general piano chat. Sorry if you already read this in the other forum.

Todd Harrison
_________________________
Prof. Pickles
Schimmel SP189 Konzert Diamond Edition 2004 {Photos}

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#1657246 - 04/09/11 11:58 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Don't tune your piano by yourself.

1. You will spend lots of time tuning it.
2. Your piano will sound so gorgeous, it will make it painful to play on any piano not tuned within the last 78 hours.
3. You will have difficulty listening to commercial CDs, as the pianos are so often out of tune.

Don't let your ear become that good, it will backfire.

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#1657281 - 04/09/11 01:29 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10335
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
And should the pins become loose prematurely, don't expect it to be covered by the warranty. Same if you break a string.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1657340 - 04/09/11 03:41 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
wouter79 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3243
"Don't let your ear become that good, it will backfire."

LOL that makes me wonder, do tuners ever go to a concert or listen to recorded music? Probably half of the pianos sound awfully out of tune? If they play piano themselves, do they tune every 3 days or so?
_________________________

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#1657348 - 04/09/11 04:14 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: wouter79]
David Jenson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 1946
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: wouter79
"Don't let your ear become that good, it will backfire."

LOL that makes me wonder, do tuners ever go to a concert or listen to recorded music? Probably half of the pianos sound awfully out of tune? If they play piano themselves, do they tune every 3 days or so?
When I go to a concert or listen to recorded music, I listen to the MUSIC. Unless the piano is really horribly out of tune, I don't notice any problems.

If I'm called to tune an instrument, THEN ... I go over it with a fine tooth comb listening to it in a different way.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#1662560 - 04/18/11 09:37 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: wouter79]
Mario Bruneau Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 133
Loc: Québec, Canada
Originally Posted By: wouter79
"Don't let your ear become that good, it will backfire."

LOL that makes me wonder, do tuners ever go to a concert or listen to recorded music? Probably half of the pianos sound awfully out of tune? If they play piano themselves, do they tune every 3 days or so?


Yes it is a drag when you get sort of perfect pitch. I especially find it hard to go at concerts with "non keyboard instruments" like violin, singer, flute, those instruments often sound out of tune to me. The intonation is often not so good even at pro concerts.

On the other hand, I don't encounter that many piano concerts with an out of tune piano thankfully. But when it happens, it really freak me out. I mean, get a "real" piano tuner.

But then again there are "circumstances"

If a piano is tuned perfectly before a concert and then, for the concert 10,000watts worth of lighting is on, BANG! the piano gets out of tune. It's a matter of minutes not even hours for this effect to happen.

I usually tune my piano every 3 months.

But if I'm recording I might tune it 3 times A DAY!

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#1662586 - 04/18/11 10:27 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Finally! The ultimate on-line video tutorial for tuning your own piano at home!

http://youtu.be/mYwSe_ixkCU
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1662785 - 04/19/11 08:07 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8067
Loc: Georgia, USA
Well, I thought I might learn something from that video, but it’s not too educational and it was just uploaded to YT on April 17 2011 (this past Sunday).

That’s not you in that video is it, Jurgen? laugh (Just kidding)

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1662799 - 04/19/11 08:47 AM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
Mark R. Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1864
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Oh, but you can learn something from that video, Rick:

1) iPhones have been around for almost 100 years.
2) Impact tuning levers have been around for almost a hundred years.
3) Loren has been around for almost 100 years (and given the hue of his hair in the video, probably 50 more).
4) What really counts, is not the sound you get from the piano. It's using the right tuning lever.

smile
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1663043 - 04/19/11 04:09 PM Re: tune your piano by yourself! [Re: offnote]
wouter79 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3243
Quote:
I especially find it hard to go at concerts with "non keyboard instruments" like violin, singer, flute, those instruments often sound out of tune to me. The intonation is often not so good even at pro concerts.


Interesting but I think I know what you mean. But sometimes you hear a perfectly tuned set of wind instruments and then it sounds awesome. I guess I have been lucky

Quote:
If a piano is tuned perfectly before a concert and then, for the concert 10,000watts worth of lighting is on, BANG! the piano gets out of tune. It's a matter of minutes not even hours for this effect to happen.


Never noticed it is that bad but you might be right... Maybe they should paint these concert pianos white instead of black laugh

Quote:
"I usually tune my piano every 3 months."

That is much less frequent than I was expecting. That is without tweaking a few strings in between the tunings?


Edited by wouter79 (04/19/11 04:09 PM)
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