Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of frequently asked questions that people ask us about their pianos:

Why should I have my piano tuned every 6 months?

Six months is the amount of time we think your piano will sound it’s best at. That’s because this is often the time with regular use that the piano becomes noticeably out of tune to most people. It works because tuning twice a year makes up for the higher temperatures and humidity in the summer, and colder and dry weather in the winter. This makes the piano become more unstable because of changes to the tuning pins, strings, and other parts of the piano.

Tuning a piano every six months also helps keep the tension on the piano more consistent – meaning that the piano will take longer to go out of tune. This is because when tuned regularly the pitch changes much less your piano, meaning we can tune it more precisely rather than large amounts.

More information at our piano tuning page.

How long does it take to tune a piano?

A piano that is fairly out of tune will take around an hour to tune. A piano that are very out of tune will take longer. The age, make, and condition of a piano will all affect the tuning time, but not by much.

What is a pitch raise?

Pianos that have not been tuned in several years are likely to be very out of tune and very flat; the oldest pianos can be over a tone out (ie. A sounds like G). When a piano like this is tuned it will fall out of tune very quickly.

Think of a piano string like a very thick piece of elastic: the further it is pulled, the faster it will come back. Because of this, 2-3 quick, rough tunings are done before the main tuning to adjust the tension of the strings and plate. This process is called a ‘pitch-raise’, and the new pitch is A440 concert pitch. We can either do the pitch raise in one go which will take about two hours, or in two seperate visits of an hour each. Both cost the same.

Pitch raises great for pianists and students, because the piano at A440 allows for much more enjoyment with other musicians and recorded music. No more violinists complaining about a flat piano! However, on very old pianos, pitch raises might not be possible due to the risk of strings breaking, but we will discuss this if it is the case.

I want to buy/sell a piano. How much is it worth?

In general, the older a piano is the less it will be worth. Older pianos tend to have less stable tuning, a less consistent sound and touch, and other wear-and-tear issues. The appearance of the piano is also very important. Pianos with cracks or chips in the case or soundboard will lower the value, as will corrosion on the strings or hammers inside.

We offer price assessments for all pianos, where we give a price estimate, and let you know of any issues that could affect the piano. This can save significant amounts of money in the long term due to pianos being expensive, and buyers and sellers often judging the value mainly by how it look

More information at our Assesment/Valuation page.

I want to move my piano. Who do I contact?

Pianos are the heaviest of musical instruments. This is because of the cast-iron plate inside. Because of this weight, moving a piano is a very difficult job and is not recommended for anybody except professional piano movers. Many regular-moving companies will say that they move pianos, but be wary because many movers do not know how to carry them properly; especially up and down stairs.

Many movers do not have the insurance for pianos, which can be worth more than the rest of the furniture in a house combined. We are in contact with a couple piano moving teams in London who are very experienced, are insured, and we use regularly. Please send us a message for more information.

What is a piano action?

The piano action is the removable section of the piano which is made up of the hammers, dampers, and other parts which transfer the energy of the pianists finger on the keyboard to the strings. This section contains thousands of intricate parts that work together seamlessly.

What is piano servicing?

Pianos are complex machines. They require regular servicing so that the piano feels even throughout. By adjusting the components of the action and the keys; the feel, weight, responsiveness, and timing of the piano action can be completely changed. This is known as regulation. Many issues with pianos can be solved by regulation; examples such as slow keys, dampers not damping properly, and misaligned hammers. Some pianists have their own preferred touch and the regulation can be customised to suit their needs.

More information at our Servicing page.

What is voicing a piano?

The hammers of a piano strike the strings, which makes the sound of the piano. Much of the timbre of this sound comes from the hammers themselves. Voicing is the art of shaping the sound of a piano hammer by filing away the grooves that appear over time, and using needles and occasionally lacquer to adjust the brightness, sustain, and tone of the piano. This quality can be varied and individual to different brands and ages of pianos.

Voicing a piano is a delicate process and can only be achieved when a piano is in tune. The effects of voicing are extremely noticeable and can unleash a pianos sound; in the sense that it can sound like when it was brand new.  This is especially true of high-level grand pianos.

More information at our Voicing page.

How is a piano valued?

Pianos are expensive instruments, but there is a wide range of price and quality. Brand new they can cost as high as £200,000, or as low as £1,500. Regardless of price, a piano is similar to a car in its long term value: A brand new piano will lose some value when it is bought, and then will decrease in value over time. Fine antique grand pianos and novelty pianos will remain high in value because of their rarity. Many of these older pianos, notably Steinway, are completely refurbished and increase in value.

Unfortunately, the reality is that most pianos, particularly cheaper uprights, will eventually over a period of many decades become worthless. Piano rebuilders will often value a piano like a car: If a car’s MOT costs more than the value of the car, then many buy a newer car. Pianos are exactly the same! This is why the majority of rebuilds are the highest-quality grand piano manufacturers such as Steinway & SonsBösendorferBlüthnerBechstein, and Fazioli.

More information at our Assesment/Valuation page.

How is a piano tuned?

Tuning a piano is a process which requires quite a lot of skill and takes many years to master, and to explain in full is quite lengthy. However, in brief, a piano is tuned by adjusting the pitch of a particular string by turning the tuning pin the string is looped around with a tuning hammer. Piano strings are under a lot of tension so this ‘hammer’ is very strong.

Firstly a temperament is set in the middle range of the piano where the tuning is the least difficult. This is followed by tuning the octave then unisons of notes in the treble and bass, a time consuming process as there are over 200 strings in a piano. Finally, the temperament is checked again, and small adjustments are made to strings which were more out of tune.

How is a piano rebuilt?

Pianos are manufactured to a high standard, but they do not last forever. The condition of any piano will deteriorate, with corroded strings, worn hammers, dry felts, cracked keys, a cracked soundboard, and loose tuning pins being some factors that affect pianos over time. This is especially true for pianos that have been exposed to changes of temperature and humidity. One of our most memorable was a customer who kept a piano in a barn for 20 years!

With pianos that are worthwhile, rebuilding is an option. There are different types of rebuilding; often only the strings, tuning pins, and action parts will be replaced. In more extreme cases, and most often with older fine grand pianos (Steinway, Bechstein etc.) everything but the rim and the plate will be replaced. This means a new soundboard, new pinblock, and refinishing the case.

We hope you enjoyed reading some of our most frequently asked questions. Do contact us if you would like to get in touch about anything else.

For any other questions please don't hesitate to contact us.