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Piano Tuning & Maintenance

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Piano Maintenance

Here at Shackleford Pianos, we offer a world-class piano tuning and repair service designed to maintain and protect your valuable investment. We employ highly trained piano tuner technicians who are passionate about their craft and always look to produce the best possible work to keep your piano playing at it’s optimum performance level. Find out more about the Shackleford Pianos team.

All modern pianos should be tuned to A440hz – International Concert Pitch, this is the pitch that most modern musical instruments have been designed and constructed to best deliver their individual tone and volume. Pitch level can be likened to a language and all instruments can be said to be talking the same language if they're being played to the same pitch level. A good example is an orchestra or choir. If an orchestra or choir were to all play or sing at different pitch levels…. well it wouldn’t sound very good!

Maintaining Concert Pitch is also vitally important when considering the education of children as it has been scientifically proven that most early learning is aural dependant. Both adults and children can have fun with aural learning by downloading the Aural Trainer App

It is extremely important to keep your piano regularly tuned and serviced for the following reasons:

  • Keep your piano playing at it’s highest possible standard
  • Present your piano as an important educational tool
  • Prevent any future mechanical issues from arising
  • Help retain or even increase the value of your instrument
  • Most of all make your piano playing experience the most enjoyable

For your piano to be presented at its optimum level, it's important to understand the different types of maintenance procedures involved.

Why do pianos go out of tune?

There are several factors that make pianos go out of tune, and these are thereasons why you need to have your piano regularly maintained.

  • The tension the piano must maintain. There is approximately 18 tons of pressure being exerted by the stretched steel piano strings within each piano. In a concert grand this is closer to 30 tons of pressure. Each average piano string is under about 160 pounds of tension. There are 230 strings inside a typical piano. It is almost as if the stretched piano strings are trying to break the piano in half all the time! Naturally, anything that is constantly under tension will weaken, or stretch, and this is the main reason why pianos must be tuned regularly back to concert pitch, even if the piano is unused.
  • Climatic changes. If the temperature and humidity of the air changes frequently, hygroscopic materials (a substance that attracts and holds water molecules from the surrounding environment – piano woods, felts, etc) will swell and shrink repeatedly. This causes internal stress and possibly damage within any given material and can particularly be a problem in composite objects where the different materials have different rates of expansion and shrinkage. The expansion of one material may force changes in the dimensions of another, causing considerable tension and eventually damage. The cabinet, wrest plank, bridges, soundboard, action parts of a piano are all made of wood. The frame is cast iron, and the strings are high tensile steel and copper. With all of these parts expanding and contacting at different rates it is understandable that any piano will drift out of tune – again, even if it is not being played.
  • Impact stress due to usage. When a piano hammer hits the string it causes the string to flex and then vibrate, this is what gives a piano sound – the vibrating string. If the strings do not vibrate then there is no sound. In the less than 50mm the hammer travels to meet the string it reaches a speed of about 21.6 km per hour or 6 meters per second. The hammer only comes into contact with the string for a few milliseconds but this is enough to generate 300 Newtons of force. This causes great shock to the string, causing it to flex wildly, as can be seen in the diagram below. This constant flexing causes the string to distort in shape, stretch and go out of tune. The harder you hit the piano key the faster the hammer travels to hit the string generating louder volume, and also causing greater flex in the string, causing the piano to go out of tune quickly. In essence the more you play the piano and the louder you play the piano, the more quickly it is likely to go out of tune!

Hammer hitting string

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