How many toolboxes does a piano technician carry?

How many toolboxes does a piano technician carry?

Actually, I carry three with me for most appointments. And that doesn't include many, many more tools at home. But one toolbag is typically all I need for a tuning. The extra materials are for those impossible-to-predict broken strings, regulation and voicing issues, broken parts, and miscellaneous repairs! And those extra toolboxes stay in the trunk. So you know it's a serious job when you have to bring in the second toolbox... ...
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Voicing piano hammers – an incredible difference in sound

Voicing piano hammers – an incredible difference in sound

Did you know there are actually three categories of maintenance that pianos need? Tuning is the first that most people think of. But regulation and voicing are two other maintenence items that make an enormous difference in the feel and sound of a piano - sometimes more so than tuning. I've discussed regulation before, but voicing is the third element of piano maintenance and refers exclusively to the manipulation of the hammer felt. Over time, piano hammers get deep grooves, as well as the natural hardening and compressing of the felt with age and use. Voicing involves several different techniques to harden, soften, reshape, and re-texturize the hammer felt. It's called "voicing" because every change made to the hammer felt makes a significant difference in the tone quality of the piano. What may be perceived as a "sour" or "out-of-tune" note is sometimes a voicing issue. Lastly, it's worth pointing out that new pianos need this too! Technicians spend many hours voicing quality new...
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Soundboard cleaning – easy with the right tools!

Soundboard cleaning – easy with the right tools!

Grand piano soundboards tend to collect dust, and unfortunately they are pretty difficult to clean with any standard household equipment. However, there are some specialized tools, both commercial and handmade, that can do the trick! Pictured here is a soundboard cleaning set that I carry everywhere with me (3 pieces). They're not too expensive, if you hate dust and want to do it yourself on a regular basis. Alternatively, most piano technicians will do it for a nominal fee. For annual customers who keep up with their tunings, I often do this service free of charge! ...
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Regulation – more important than you realize

Regulation – more important than you realize

For every single key in a piano, there are dozens of parts working behind the scenes to produce the sound. Translate that to several thousand parts in a piano action, and you have a good reminder that tuning is not the only maintenance pianos need! The adjustment of the mechanical workings of the action is referred to as regulation. Regulation, not tuning, is what determines the "feel" of the piano - heavy, light, bouncy, stiff, fast, slow, etc. Often, your piano playing experience may be improved dramatically by some quality action regulation. If there are a number of issues, this can be a more involved job and may be scheduled as a separate appointment from your tuning. However, good piano technicians often will perform some limited regulation as part of a regular tuning appointment, if time allows, or may recommend some additional work that can be performed on the spot. This is particularly the case when you maintain regular tuning intervals without...
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Social Media Links

Social Media Links

Approximately twice a week, I post pictures of pianos I have worked on, usually focusing on a specific aspect of piano care, maintenance, or repair. Sometimes they're educational, sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're scary, and sometimes just plain interesting. If you're a pianist or a piano owner, follow South Jersey Piano Service on Instagram and Facebook! You'll learn more about these incredibly complex instruments, and you'll be better informed when you have your own piano serviced. And of course, if you live in South Jersey, you'll know who to call! www.instagram.com/sjpianoservice www.facebook.com/sjpianoservice ...
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Tuning pin problems – watch out for this!

Tuning pin problems – watch out for this!

Besides the rust, there is another problem with this picture. The wire coiled around each tuning pin is flush against the plate. This happens after several decades of tuning and settling, and is largely unavoidable. Once the coil is touching the plate, tightening the tuning pins is difficult and the piano's tuning stability can suffer. Eventually the tuning pins have to be replaced with a slightly larger size, at which point it usually is most sensible to simply re-string the entire instrument because of the labor involved. Fortunately, this piano was about to get re-strung anyway! ...
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Gutted piano

Gutted piano

A baby grand piano, gutted and waiting for a thorough cleaning and re-stringing. What you see is the soundboard, with the long bridge and bass bridge still attached. The dampers are removed and lying in the keybed. The action and key frame is in the background, and the plate with attached pinblock is leaning against the wall to the left. Don't try this at home! Like all the pictures we post, this is a South Jersey Piano Service job. Feel free to contact us if you'd like more information or an estimate. ...
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Piano strings – how many are there?

Piano strings – how many are there?

A standard piano has 88 keys, but well over 200 strings. Typically the lowest octave or so consists of single-string notes, or monochords. The next section, usually ending somewhere in the octave below middle C, consists of two-string notes: bichords. All monochords and bichords are wound strings, meaning they have a steel core but have one or two layers of copper winding on top which increase the size of the string and yield a lower pitch. The rest of the piano consists of three plain-wire strings for each note.And that is part of why it takes a while to tune a piano. Not to mention re-stringing one! ...
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