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#2024823 - 01/31/13 06:03 PM If a piano isn't tuned for many years
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19105
Loc: New York City
A relative of mine owns a 20 year old Charles Walter vertical which probably hasn't been tuned for 10+ years because his children are out of the house and no one else plays. Is there any harm in not tuning a piano this long besides the fact that if he ever wants it tuned it will take a pitch raise (or more) to accomplish? The cabinet and perhaps even the insides are in pristine condition.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/31/13 06:57 PM)

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#2024825 - 01/31/13 06:11 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
Of course there is harm if the piano isn't tuned. Aside from having to raise pitch, and stabilize the piano at A=440, strings might have formed bends, which are now in the speaking length after pitch raising, causing tonal or termination issues. If you are really asking if your relative can get by with another 5 or 10 years of not tuning the piano, I say sell the piano to someone who will take care of it properly.
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#2024832 - 01/31/13 06:28 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3300
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
A relative of mine owns a 20 year old Charles Walter vertical which probably hasn't been tuned for 10+ years because his children are out of the house and no one else plays. Is there any harm in not tuning a piano this long besides the fact that if he ever wants it tuned it will take a pitch raise (or more) to accomplish? The cabinet and perhaps even the insides are in pristine condition.


Will it permanently harm the piano? No. But it will require a pitch raise followed by regular tuning 3-4 times a year to be stable at A-440.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
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#2024836 - 01/31/13 06:29 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1116
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
I would say yes, there is harm done to the piano both to its structural stability and the difficulty, after a long period without attention, of ever achieving a stable, refined tuning.

I am no expert, but I would think that as the string tension slips, there will be changes to the down bearing pressure on the bridge which will affect the soundboard and distort the tension design of the piano.

That said, I believe that the Charles Walter is a very well made piano and may be able to withstand the consequences of neglect with minimal permanent damage.

I would encourage encourage your relative to keep the piano tuned at least twice a year.

Kind regards,

Robert.

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#2024865 - 01/31/13 07:40 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Bob M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/02/09
Posts: 208
Loc: North Carolina
Pianoloverus,

Just one man's experience, more to do with Walter quality than with luck, I think.

August 2012 I found my Walter 1520 on CL. It was as the one you describe--very clean in and out. Same story, bought for a boy to take lessons on, then only dusted by Mom for about 24 years after he lost interest. They warned me that it had been tuned only (3) times. When it was delivered to my home I found the tuners log. Tuned once in 1986, and then twice in 1987. Period!

After a few weeks to acclimate to my house, I called my tuner--he found it about 40 cents down, and we thought to bring it up in (2) tunings. About half way thru, he started over again saying "I think we can bring this up to 440 without a problem". And he did!

On his Yamaha PT 100 he used the setting for U3 upright which I think is about 50" tall (because the Walter is really a bigger piano than its 43" height would suggest). In the next few weeks in addition to a little voicing in the high treble, I adjusted the lowest C to get beatless unisons with C3 and C4. I can be pretty picky about tone and tuning, but the Walter has given me no reason to "fiddle" since September, 2012. But I won't wait 25 years to have it tuned again!
_________________________
Bob M

Charles Walter Model 1520
Yamaha NP 30, NP 11, PSR E333

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#2025103 - 02/01/13 06:59 AM Re: If a piano isn't tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3164
Loc: Northern England.
I had reason to pull out a piano at our local working men`s clubs after years of non use (the organ was used in those days) and I was very surprised. It weighed very little; almost like there was no steel frame in it; two of us manhandled it outa the dressing room where it was stuffed amongst the other unused and dusty rubbish.

And when I started playing, it was perfectly in tune. I loved it. It was small and had a sloping front.

Does yours have a sloping front?
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#2025114 - 02/01/13 07:35 AM Re: If a piano isn't tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Ed Foote Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 993
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
I haven't seen any piano damaged by lack of tuning. Sometimes strings form a corrosion-like bond with the bearing surfaces that should be broken by flattening before bring up the pitch, but it really doesn't matter to the steel strings if they are brought up to tension all at once or gradually, the stress is the same.
Regards,

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#2025160 - 02/01/13 09:21 AM Re: If a piano isn't tuned for many years [Re: Ed Foote]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10346
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Greetings,
I haven't seen any piano damaged by lack of tuning. Sometimes strings form a corrosion-like bond with the bearing surfaces that should be broken by flattening before bring up the pitch, but it really doesn't matter to the steel strings if they are brought up to tension all at once or gradually, the stress is the same.
Regards,


+1

it is rarely a problem beyound the need for a few tunings to restablize pitch, especially in a well built piano.
_________________________
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Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
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Since 1937.

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

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#2025268 - 02/01/13 11:59 AM Re: If a piano isn't tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Zormpas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/05
Posts: 616
Loc: Monterey, Ca
In my case, my 1918 Hobart M. Cable 55" upright was about 140 cents flat. It had been in the same house since 1963 (Til 2005), and probably hadn't been tuned the entire time. Goddess only knows where it had been before that and when/if it had been tuned.

Anyway, it too a year and a half, but its stabilized nicely. My tuner is QUITE impressed with it, actually.

YMMV!
_________________________
-Zorba
"The Veiled Male"
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1918 Hobart M. Cable "H"
"No-one would knowingly provide Franz Liszt with a mediocre piano." -E. M. Good

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#2025274 - 02/01/13 12:04 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: Robert 45]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Very often in these forums, questions which address technical and structural issues such as this one receive a good deal of response from all kinds of piano enthusiasts. While everyone's posting is made with the best intentions of giving good advice, there is often a lot of mis-information disseminated by people who are "piano lovers", as opposed to people who are "piano knowers".
"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing", and I would not be placing too much weight on the opinions of laypersons in technical matters.
Quote:
...I am no expert, but I would think that ...


There are a lot of actual experts who post regularly on these forums, and I recommend paying closer attention to their thoughts and ideas. You will be able to recognize industry professionals by their signature line. They may not always agree on every detail, but they have knowledge, experience and qualifications to give meaningful advice.
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Piano Forte Supply
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#2025339 - 02/01/13 02:05 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: Supply]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1116
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Then, I suggest that OP should have started this topic in the Piano Tuners-Technicians Forum. I always defer to reputable, professional opinion, but the nature of the Piano Forum is that all kinds of opinion, from personal and anecdotal to the experience and wisdom of those who have dedicated their lives to working with pianos, are expressed under this rubric. In fact, rather than discouraging the expression of lay persons' opinions in this category, I would encourage more participation from piano enthusiasts and to provide diversity of opinion and a livelier forum.
Kind regards,

Robert.

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#2025373 - 02/01/13 03:08 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


Originally Posted By: Supply
There are a lot of actual experts who post regularly on these forums, and I recommend paying closer attention to their thoughts and ideas. You will be able to recognize industry professionals by their signature line. They may not always agree on every detail, but they have knowledge, experience and qualifications to give meaningful advice.


I resemble that remark.

After forty years of tuning and repair, one of the worst things to do is not tune the piano regularly.

Lots of techs do, but I never pull the instrument up to pitch in one session. The sounding board is not in the correct place and the wire must be allowed to stretch. By over pulling the wire it can stretch and permanently deform the molecules and that in turn will shorten the life of the wire.

The other reason I don’t pull the instrument to pitch in one session?

I do not reward people for their negligence.

Just as Bob stated either take care of the machine properly or give it to a responsible party that will.
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www.silverwoodpianos.com
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2025400 - 02/01/13 03:53 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6179
Loc: Rochester MN
Mr. Silverwood,

Your answer is all well and good in piano narnia, however it does not address the real world. People shopping for used instruments, of which I hope you do approve, will often encounter pianos which have been neglected. The question is whether lapsed tuning causes a fatal flaw. Your warning to the future owner is noted.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2025423 - 02/01/13 04:16 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
SteveM732 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 25
Loc: Beaverton, OR, USA
I dunno, we have a bunch of piano enthusiasts that have experienced success at retuning a neglected piano. On the other hand we have experts that get paid to tune pianos say it is very bad and one has just said a part of why he won't raise to pitch in one tuning is to ensure the owner has to pay him twice so that they learn their lesson.

I am no means an expert, but so far all I've heard from the experts other than "very bad for your piano" is that you might need new strings. Why not just stop the scare tactics and tell people that are considering purchasing a neglected piano that new strings might be in order? If it is more than strings then let's hear from the experts what irreparable harm to the piano does happen on a regular basis from a lack of regular tunings.
_________________________
-Steve
1969 Yamaha U3

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#2025428 - 02/01/13 04:19 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Quote:
...By over pulling the wire it can stretch and permanently deform the molecules and that in turn will shorten the life of the wire...
Wire can be damaged by over-pulling which is why tuning should be done by a qualified piano tech, who will know what to do and how to do it. But I can assure anyone that it is physically impossible for a piano tuner wielding a tuning lever to "deform the molecules" of anything. Steel is mot made of molecules, and molecules cannot be stretched in any case.


Edited by Supply (02/01/13 06:17 PM)
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2025511 - 02/01/13 06:17 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: Supply]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3300
Originally Posted By: Supply
[quote]But I can assure anyone that it is physically impossible for a piano tuner wielding a tuning lever to "deform the molecules" of anything.


Except for, perhaps, brain molecules! laugh
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2025515 - 02/01/13 06:28 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10346
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I too am concerned the "amatuers" often give advice on tecnical matters, or opinions based on anecdotal events. Often readers are misled.
_________________________
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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#2025517 - 02/01/13 06:36 PM Re: If a piano is tuned for many years [Re: pianoloverus]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I always bring the piano up to pitch regardless of how flat it is. There really is no reason to leave it flat or tune it flat returning later to raise it up the rest of the way. If something is going to break, it's going to break then, or later, it doesn't matter. Bringing it all the way up to pitch is the best and most honest way.

Recently, I acquired a church that had a tuner that was intentionally tuning the piano 40 cents + flat of pitch for a few years. He was telling them that he couldn't raise it to pitch because the strings might break. It is a Kawai RX-2, a very nice piano only about 10 years old. I raised it up to pitch, went over it a couple of extra times, it came out great, sounds great and of couse, nothing broke.... It's a great piano and sounds a heck of a lot better up to pitch. smile
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Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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