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Ben Patterson is a full service piano technician and has served the southern New Jersey piano market since 2010, providing piano tunings, repairs, regulation, maintenance, service and upgrades at a high quality and reasonable price. He is a Registered Piano Technician (RPT) with the Piano Technicians Guild, and a certified installer of Dampp-Chaser Piano Lifesaver systems. South Jersey Piano Service is a licensed and insured New Jersey LLC.

Ben has played piano since the age of 5, and has had a fascination with mechanics for almost as long. His first formal job working on pianos began in university practice rooms during his undergraduate degree, working at minimum wage but learning valuable skills for the trade.

Since graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, Ben has tuned and serviced pianos regularly and his client base continues to grow. He moved to New Jersey in the fall of 2009, was married in 2010, and now lives with his wife and three daughters near Woodstown, NJ. South Jersey Piano Service grew out of the need he saw for quality piano work in rural South Jersey, and has been blessed with regular referrals from satisfied customers. Ben now travels across the entire southern half of New Jersey, servicing pianos in homes, schools, churches, studios, and numerous other institutions.

When not working on pianos, Ben also teaches piano, performs professionally, directs the choir at his church, and serves as Director of Auditions and Solo Events for the Philadelphia International Music Festival. He has also produced multiple music albums, taught middle school and high school music for 6 years, and completed a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting at Rowan University.

  • Ben Patterson

Services & Rates

Prices are subject to change. These prices are valid as of January 1st, 2021. Please confirm pricing when scheduling your appointment.
Payment forms accepted:
Cash, check, or credit card (Visa/MC/AMEX/Discover)

Basic Service

Piano tuning
- $120 -

Annual or bi-annual appointment;
for pianos that are regularly maintained
Schedule an appointment

Full service
tuning & cleaning
- $240 -

Optional, but strongly recommended for pianos that have not been regularly maintained. This includes a two-pass tuning as well as cleaning & lubrication.
Schedule an appointment

Piano tuning
w/ pitch adjustment
- $160 -

Two-pass tuning, often necessary for pianos
that have not been regularly maintained
Schedule an appointment

Service call
- $80 -

Minimum charge for house call to diagnose, repair, evaluate, etc. Additional labor and parts charges may apply. Not applicable to tuning appointments.
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Additional services


Regulation is the adjustment of the mechanical action of the piano to give proper touch, response, and control. Proper regulation is critical for any serious playing.
Read more

Keytop replacement

Keytop replacement is one of the most commonly requested cosmetic improvements and can make a huge difference in a piano's appearance.
Read more

Piano LifeSaver

The Piano LifeSaver system by Dampp-Chaser is a humidity control system designed to help pianos last longer and maintain greater tuning stability.
Read more


Voicing refers to manipulating the hammer felt to adjust the attack, tone, sustain, and timbre of the piano strings. Proper hammer voicing has a tremendous effect on the overall sound of a piano.
Read more

Finish repair

Piano finishes can be very difficult to work with, especially if the repair has to be done on-site. We do on-site and shop repairs, and refer to other specialists for more complex or unusual jobs.
Read more


When the life and sustain is gone from piano strings, they have to be replaced. This is the same as any other stringed instrument, except that a piano has well over 200 strings, at 100-200 lbs of tension each!
Read more

Piano moving

We offer professional piano moving services for uprights and grands, throughout southern NJ and surrounding regions.
Get a quote

Used pianos for sale

We regularly have used pianos for sale, both uprights and grands.

New page coming soon! In the meantime please contact us if you are looking for something.
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Piano Moving

Piano moving by a Registered Piano Technician

(What’s an RPT?)

Piano Moving Rig

If you have a piano that needs to be moved, and you need it done carefully and professionally, we’re happy to help! The form below is detailed and allows us to give you a very accurate cost estimate.

If you are just looking to get a general idea about the cost of moving a piano, please read this article, which may help answer your questions: “How much does it cost to move a piano?”

This is the number of steps (up or down) that the piano will have to traverse to get out the door, in addition to any steps outside to get to the driveway/parking area. Do not count steps anywhere that an elevator or ramp is available as an alternative.
This is the number of steps (up or down) that the piano will have to traverse to get to the door, in addition to any steps inside to get to the final location. Do not count steps anywhere that an elevator or ramp is available as an alternative.
Please list any other important information about the move. For example: Is there a deadline the piano must be moved by? Are there any tight turns or narrow hallways the piano will have to move through? Is there dirt, gravel, or grass the piano will have to move across to get to the house? Is parking available at or near the delivery location? Are there any steep driveways or sidewalks? These are all things that can impact the price, and the more information provided here the better.

IMPORTANT: The accuracy of the quote will be dependent on the accuracy of the information submitted, and quoted prices are subject to change if information is incomplete/inaccurate.

Drop your files here or click here to upload You can upload up to 4 files.
Please upload a clear picture of the piano. If you have any unusual conditions at the pickup or delivery location, such as tight turns or a lot of steps, please upload a picture of that as well to help obtain a more accurate quote.


How often should a piano be tuned?

Virtually all piano manufacturers and technicians are in agreement that pianos should be tuned no less than once per year. This is a good benchmark. Many manufacturers recommend two or more tunings per year, but for home pianos that are not being moved or subjected to temperature and humidity swings, once a year is generally sufficient. More frequent tunings are often necessary for churches, schools, or private studios where pianos get heavier use and/or less climate control.

What happens to a piano that doesn’t get tuned regularly?

This depends largely on the instrument and the environment. Some pianos may be able to survive for several years at a time between tunings with minimal effect other than sounding “out-of-tune.” Often, however, pianos that have not been maintained in several years begin to succumb to their environment:

  • Humidity makes wood parts in the piano swell, with many negative consequences, the most immediate being that strings get pulled sharp as the pin block tightens.
  • Dryness makes wood shrink and even become brittle, with obvious negative consequences, the most obvious being a loosening of the pin block and a resulting drop in the piano’s overall pitch.
  • Dust accumulates, slowing down moving parts inside the piano and eventually accumulating enough to make keys and other action components stick.
  • Moth, insect, and rodent infestations are far more common in pianos that are not maintained. This is often exacerbated in pianos that are also rarely played.

What is involved in a piano tuning?

The most basic and important part of a piano tuning is adjusting the pitch of individual strings in the piano. Many piano players do not realize that although a typical piano has 88 keys, they have well over 200 strings. The upper two-thirds of the piano has three strings per note, while the lower range consists of monochords (one string) and bichords (two strings) that are copper-wound, heavier strings.

When tuning, the piano technician is striving to get the piano “in tune with itself” – this is the simplest way to explain the relationship of each note to every other note. Far from being a simple formula, this is determined by temperament and stretch and in reality varies slightly for every single piano based on many acoustic factors.

It is also my philosophy that a piano tuning appointment should address any other problems, immediate or potential, that the piano may have. Much like a good mechanic performing routine maintenance on your vehicle, I consider an annual piano servicing appointment an opportunity to make sure every aspect of the piano is functioning optimally. I frequently fix or adjust small problems as I go, and for larger or systemic issues I will be sure to bring them to your attention and have a discussion about the possible courses of treatment.

Do you use an electronic tuning device (ETD) or do you tune by ear?

Both. While it is certainly possible to tune a piano well exclusively by ear (and this has been the practice for the last 200 years), there is also no reason to reject out of hand the benefits of modern technology. I use an ETD for certain parts of the piano tuning, but am constantly checking its results by ear. There are also parts of the tuning that I do entirely by ear – most significantly, the unisons (two or three strings that correspond to the same note).

Does my piano need any other work besides tuning?

This is a common question, and of course the answer varies. If you notice any sluggishness in the movement of the keys when you play, notes that do not sound all the time, keys that “stick,” pedals that do not work, etc., then there is probably regulation work that is needed. The extent of regulation work is up the customer, and my ultimate goal is for the customer to enjoy playing the piano and not have any mechanical problems getting in the way of that.

Besides mechanical issues, there are many factors that can negatively effect a piano’s tone quality. “Voicing” addresses the hammers themselves, reshaping, needling, or hardening them to adjust the timbre of the struck note. In older or heavily used pianos, restringing may also be a necessary step in reviving the full potential of sound quality in a piano. This is particularly true in bass strings, where dust and grime collect over time and gradually yield a “thuddy” or “tubby” sound.

Where is the best place in my home to put a piano?

The most important advice I can give for pianos in homes is to keep them away from direct heat and direct sunlight. Modern homes, with good exterior wall insulation, are not as hostile to instruments as older homes. It is still generally advisable to put pianos on an inside wall to avoid temperature changes as much as possible. For homes with forced air heat, the piano should be kept away from any vents. Direct sunlight through windows can also very quickly fade or damage the finish of pianos, in addition to causing other problems as it warms and dries out the cabinet.

What can I do about keys on my piano that are sticking or sluggish?

Often this is a simple problem that can be fixed in the course of a routine piano tuning, but in some cases it may involve more extensive time or the replacement of parts.

What can I do about a pedal on my piano that’s not working?

Again, often a simple fix, but best taken care of by a professional technician at a routine appointment. During a piano tuning appointment, I do not charge extra for minor repairs or adjustments.

How old is my piano?

To determine a piano’s age in the absence of official documentation, the make (brand) of the piano is needed, along with a serial numbers. Serial numbers are found in a number of different places. For grand pianos, the most common place is directly underneath the music desk, etched into the brass-painted plate next to the tuning pins, or in the pinblock itself. For uprights, it can sometimes be found on the back of the piano, or inside the top of the piano, in the pinblock area.

The make and serial number of a piano can be used at websites such as Bluebook of Pianos to look up the age, although the number of brands represented is limited. For other piano makes (particularly older pianos), the information can be found in atlases. Most piano technicians carry piano atlases and can find this information easily.

How much is my piano worth?

Piano value is determined largely by the current market in your geographical area. In general, old uprights and spinets have very little resale value, although they can still be perfectly viable instruments for home use and practice. Grand pianos usually have at least some resale value, with newer instruments, larger instruments, and well-known brand names increasing the value significantly.

Why is piano tuning so expensive?

In reality, piano servicing appointments are no more expensive than other in-home services such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc. As with those services, however, there is a significant overhead expense of equipment, parts, liability, business fees and taxes, and travel involved. Remember whenever you have anyone working in your home, the fee you pay them is not their hourly wage! It has to cover all aspects of running the entire business.

Do you give any discounts on piano tuning?

Yes. Customers with multiple pianos being serviced in the same location and in the same appointment may be eligible for a discount. Also, referral discounts can be given in some situations. Feel free to ask about discounts when scheduling your appointment. It is always my goal to give you the best value I can.

What forms of payment do you accept?

Cash, personal/business check, or credit card (Visa/MC/AMEX/Discover). Payment is due upon delivery of services. Exceptions can be made for churches, schools, and other institutions – Net 14 days – in most cases.

Other questions?

Feel free to ask anything you’d like by clicking the Contact menu option and using the form on that page.

Humidity Control

Pianos are made primarily out of wood and metal parts.  Both materials are significantly affected by temperature and humidity. Combined with the fact that pianos are extremely complex instruments with thousands of small parts under immense amounts of tension, the smallest changes in relative humidity can have a significant impact on the tuning and stability of the piano.

Certified InstallerWood expands as it takes on moisture, and contracts as it loses moisture.  This is the most basic and important reason that humidity control is so important for pianos. In southern New Jersey, I have found that indoor relative humidity is often extremely low during the winter months, with heat running regularly, and dry air circulating around the piano. Unfortunately, relative humidity often gets very high during the summer months, particularly in churches and schools, or homes with no air-conditioning.  I have seen these conditions take a severe toll on a number of otherwise fine pianos.

Piano Life Saver SystemThe Piano Life Saver system by Dampp-Chaser is a self-contained humidity control system that is installed inside (verticals) or underneath (grands) your piano, and can cycle between humidifying and dehumidifying modes.  It keeps the crucial components of your piano, such as the pinblock and soundboard, at nearly constant moisture levels year-round.  The cycling between humidifier and dehumidifier is controlled by a sophisticated humidistat, and the system uses very minimal electricity due to its small size and focused application.

I can whole-heartedly recommend this system, and due to the positive results I have seen and the dire need of such a system in our climate, I have acquired an installer certification with Dampp-Chaser.  I particularly recommend the Piano Life Safer system for churches and schools, as they typically have extreme temperature and humidity swings during the course of each week. It is also of great benefit in homes with forced air heat, or with no central air-conditioning systems.

Interested in a Piano Life Saver system? Call, email or use the contact form to ask for a brochure or an estimate.

For more information, visit

How much does it cost to move a piano?

Moving a piano is unlike any other type of moving. It can’t be compared with any other type of furniture, nor can it be compared with any other type of musical instrument. Many people successfully move their upright pianos by themselves, but there are also many pitfalls and many reasons to hire a professional – particularly if you have a grand piano. Prices vary widely across the country, and depending on logistical details at each location, but upright piano moving prices may range from $150-400 for typical local or regional moves, while similar grand piano moves may range at least $100 more due to the break-down and setup that is required.

Moving a grand piano safely requires good equipment and careful procedure

The smallest upright pianos still weigh in at around 400 pounds, while baby grands may easily weigh 600-700 pounds, and larger grands even more. Full length concert grands can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds.

The weight of a piano is mostly in its plate – a cast iron frame inside the piano (usually painted gold/bronze) that essentially holds the entire piano together and allows the thousands of pounds of tension in the strings to remain stable. For this reason, there is really no effective way to make a piano lighter for moving. Removing cabinet parts, hardware, even keys and action, makes almost no discernible weight difference. The weight has to be dealt with . . . and carefully.

Why is piano moving so expensive?

Many people are surprised by the cost of piano moving. It doesn’t seem complicated – maybe you’ve even moved your piano yourself before with reasonable success. There are a lot of factors, but here’s a quick break-down:

  • Travel time: a piano moving crew will be 2-4 people, who are all on the clock for the entirety of the piano moving job, including all travel time to, from, and between.
  • Liability: there is an immense amount of liability in piano moving, and not just for the piano – as you can surely imagine, a piano falling on or crashing into things (or people) can cause a lot of damage. Good piano movers carry good liability insurance, but work even harder to never have to use it.
  • Equipment: moving anything well and safely requires good equipment, and pianos even more so. This goes for everything from piano boards and dollies, to the trucks and trailers being used for transport.
  • Business overhead: this goes for every type of business, and especially any in-home service. Remember, the hourly rate you’re being charged is not anyone’s hourly wage. That hourly rate has to cover all expenses of running the entire business before it even begins to pay anyone’s salary or benefits.

In conclusion, the more you care about your piano, the more you should consider having it professionally moved. Some general movers have significant experience with pianos and carry all the needed equipment – but in most cases, if you are going to pay to have your piano moved, you would be best to hire piano moving specialists. You might be surprised to find one nearer than you think. Start by asking your piano technician. Or do a Google search in your area. And of course, if your move is in southern New Jersey, well, you can start right here.

What is a Registered Piano Technician (RPT)?

Registered Piano Technician is a technical certification awarded by the Piano Technicians Guild to piano technicians who have passed a series of exams to demonstrate competency. There are currently three exams: a written exam, a 4-hour tuning exam, and a 4-hour technical exam (demonstrating various common repairs).

There are no government bodies regulating or certifying piano technicians in the US. As a result, the Piano Technicians Guild was founded in 1958 (with the roots of the organization going back to 1910), to provide a common space for piano technicians to learn from one another, and later, to provide a standardized competency certification.

There are other organizations in North America and worldwide, but the Piano Technicians Guild is by far the largest and most well-established, and for that reason I chose to complete the PTG’s Registered Piano Technician certification.

It is very important that you hire a piano technician whom you can trust! I view the RPT certification as one of several ways that I communicate to my customers my seriousness about the craft, and my intention to care for their pianos properly.

Ben Patterson, RPT

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Loss of tone on bass strings?

The copper-wound bass strings on your piano collect dust and grime much more quickly than the plain-wire treble strings. If you don’t believe it, you can see it plainly in the picture; the portion of the string under the damper on a grand piano looks as good as new, while the exposed part of the string has turned almost brown over time. And this was not an old piano!

This is the primary cause of tone loss in the bass over time. Gunked up bass strings, unsurprisingly, do not produce good tone. The best solution, of course, is new bass strings. Measurements can be taken to replace all copper-wound strings with a complete set of new strings customized to the proper size and length (different on every piano model). New bass strings are often needed well before treble strings.

Another option is to clean the bass strings. There are several ways to do this, and a good cleaning can yield surprising improvements in tone quality, at a lower cost than string replacement. To be thorough, however, the strings have to be removed from the piano.

So there you have it. If your piano has a tubby-sounding bass, poor sustain, or just in general a dead tone in the bass, there are things that can be done! Talk to your piano technician about the options.

What is a pitch raise, and why is it necessary?

When a piano has not been regularly maintained, it often drifts very far from its target pitch center. Most pianos are manufactured to perform optimally at A440: with the note A4 being tuned to 440hz and everything else tuned to that.

When a piano has been neglected for a number of years, it’s not uncommon for it to be as much as 100-200 cents flat – 100 cents being the distance between two notes on a piano. In other words, a piano that is 100 cents flat sounds a B when you play an C. This is a problem for many practical reasons, but the most basic is that the piano is designed to work and sound best at a certain level of tension on the strings, and anything significantly less is compromising the performance of the instrument.

The other fact that many piano owners do not realize is that pianos do not go uniformly out of tune. As you can see in the picture, the notes on this neglected piano vary from 90 cents flat to 176 cents flat, just within a couple of octaves. That’s the difference of almost an entire note! Obviously, tuning the piano at a pitch lower than A440 (known as “floating” the pitch) is not a good option, since it would still require massive adjustment of some notes for the piano to be in tune with itself. And large variances like this are quite common in instruments that have not been regularly tuned.

Keep on top of your piano tuning! You don’t want to be in the position this piano is in, because the piano will take multiple tunings to be stable again, and the longevity of the instrument will be negatively affected.

Heat vents vs. pianos

Quite often this time of year, I have conversations with customers about heat vents in their home. It has been a cold winter in New Jersey, and many home furnaces have been working overtime. Particularly in homes with forced air (blowing) heat sources, it’s important to protect pianos and other musical instruments from the hot, dry air.

The simplest and most effective way of accomplishing this is simply keeping the piano away from heat vents. If that’s not an option, consider vent redirect options like the one pictured. Notice the air from the vent is being diverted away from the piano, without any significant loss to the amount of airflow into the room.

Your piano will thank you for your attentiveness to this detail – pianos that are kept away from dry heat sources are far less likely to develop soundboard and bridge cracks, and remain much more stable in tuning and regulation.

Cleaning piano keys

Cleaning even the dirtiest piano keys is much simpler than you may think. There are rarely any special chemicals or tools needed, and particularly with most modern plastic key tops, there’s very little you could do to harm the keys.

I would always recommend starting with the least abrasive cleaner possible. Quite a lot of cleaning can be accomplished with just a damp cloth. In the picture below, I did all of the cleaning with a multi-surface furniture cleaner spray, along with some paper towels.

On ivory keys, more care should be taken, not so much because typical household cleaners will damage the ivory (just test on an inconspicuous spot first to be safe), but because the ivory keys are much easier to chip if you’re not careful around the edges.

With a little common sense and some elbow grease, most piano keys can be cleaned quickly and safely!

Polyester finish repair

The most common type of clear coat finish on modern pianos is not shellac, lacquer, or polyurethane. It is high-gloss polyester, which yields a beautiful, almost mirror-like level of gloss. Virtually all ebony (black) finishes in recent years are coated with polyester, as well as many other colors.

One of the greatest advantages of polyester is its durability – it is very resistant to scratches, wear, and chemical damage. However, for the same reasons, it is also difficult to repair when it does get damaged. These pictures are of a piano I worked on recently that had received very heavy use in a school environment for years. Even this major damage, however, can usually be repaired to an almost like-new finish. The biggest hindrance is typically cost, as it is labor-intensive to repair polyester, and the finish materials needed are specialized and somewhat expensive as well.

If you have a piano with finish damage, just ask for an estimate! I do polyester finish repair at an adjusted hourly rate which includes materials cost. Many common finish repairs can be accomplished in-home.

Cleaning, Regulation, & Voicing

Tuning is not the only maintenance that pianos need! As dust and other debris accumulates inside a piano, age and routine use wear down moving parts, and hammers compact and form deep grooves, various other maintenance tasks become essential.

There is no standard interval for these maintenance tasks; but as a general rule, the more use the piano gets and the more advanced the pianists using it, the more frequently they should be done. Many pianists are simply not aware of what a well-regulated and well-voiced piano feels and sounds like, and don’t realize what they’re missing!

As a general rule, any instrument that is being used by an advanced pianist, or for any performance purposes, should have voicing and regulation touched up on an annual basis. A thorough cleaning and regulation will generally be necessary every few years. If these tasks are done on a regular basis, the costs and time involved are much more manageable. In other cases where general maintenance has been neglected (even if the piano has been tuned regularly), it may require one or two full days of work to get the instrument back in shape. Such a job is more costly, but still more than worth it for the health of the piano and enjoyment of the pianist and audience.

Piano string sizes

Did you know that one piano will use more than a dozen different sizes of plain string?

In this picture, you can see the string sizes of 18, 19, and 20 marked on the plate behind the strings, as well as the half sizes between those. Many modern piano manufacturers indicate the string sizes in this way to make re-stringing easier and faster.

Piano wire (string) varies in sizes from 12 to 25 commonly, including half sizes up through 18 or 20. Unlike electrical wire or other wiring gauges you may be familiar with, piano wire numbers increase with size (that is, 16 gauge would be larger than 14 gauge).

Also, piano wire sizing does not work the same way in the bass section, where strings are copper-wound to increase the mass (and lower the pitch). Bass strings are always custom-sized to the piano, which is also what makes them more expensive to replace.

If you’d like to read more about copper-wound strings, check out these recent posts:

Copper-wound vs. plain wire strings

Aluminum-wound strings

Are open windows OK for pianos?

This time of year, at least in New Jersey, we enjoy some gorgeous weather. I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like fresh air, and if you’re like my family you open your windows every chance you get and leave them open for as long as you can.

Piano owners are sometimes concerned about opening their windows, thinking the extra airflow could harm their instrument and throw it out of tune. It’s a legitimate concern, but you have no reason to deprive yourself of fresh air for the sake of your piano. Just keep a few things in mind:

  1. Pianos like consistency. Unless the temperature and humidity outside are drastically different from what the piano is accustomed to, you’re not going to do any harm by allowing some breeze in the house.
  2. Strong, direct airflow around the piano could be destabilizing. Make sure it’s not too exposed.
  3. Be sure to close the windows when you’re not at home. A sudden rainstorm, or falling nighttime temperatures, could have a negative effect on the piano’s stability.
  4. While we’re talking about windows, be certain your piano is not exposed to any direct sunlight. Some of the worst finish damage can come from prolonged sunlight exposure. In addition, the sunlight heats up and dries out the inside of the piano over time, which can lead to a host of other issues.

In summary, a day you would be comfortable sitting outside is more than likely a day that’s safe for your piano to get some fresh air as well.

Happy autumn!