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Collection: Piano Tuning

Here at Shackleford Pianos, we offer a world-class piano tuning and piano 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 tuning piano work to keep your piano playing at it’s optimum performance level.

As a conventionally trained piano services specialists, our Piano Tuner/Technician at Shackleford Pianos utilise tuning forks to gage and readjust the changes in the instrument’s pitch. Not only has this fine-tuned their hearing, it is also a good example of resonance in practice.

Readjusting for the correct pitch i.e. resonant frequency is a requirement for adjusting a piano who’s internals are impacted by a change in dampness and temperature. Given that Britain is a cold country of a high latitude, there are seasonal variants, triggering extreme temperature fluctuations. Additionally, exposure to radiators, as well as central heating with intermittent running times, can affect a piano’s sound over time.

Consequently, we will constantly compensate for acoustic variations caused by thermal expansion/contraction of the musical instrument.

steingraeber tuning

 

The piano has one of the sweetest and most evocative voices of any instrument.  But over time even the most meticulously crafted piano will go out of tune, and the magic will be lost. To keep your instrument sounding its best it is important to find a reliable piano tuning service, and have your piano tuned every six to twelve months.

Tuning a piano is a lengthy and demanding process, as every string has to be tuned individually.  Since notes in the middle and upper ranges are sounded by multiple strings, some pianos have up to 236 in total!  By comparison, violin players only have four strings to tune, and guitarists, six.

Since we practice piano tuning in Cheshire, North England, Manchester, Great Manchester, Lancashire, Chester, Liverpool, Birmingham, London... we occasionally have the privilege of servicing the instruments of well-known figures in the music industry, and you can be sure we will be just as meticulous in tuning your piano.

Providing a piano tuning service to dedicated and discerning musicians is not simply a case of adjusting the strings until they sound right to our ears.  We set up each piano to continue to sound its best until its next service.  Tuning hammers, tuning forks, mutes, and electronic tuners all have their parts to play.

 

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!

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 importantly make your piano playing experience the most enjoyable possible

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

Piano Tuning

The first and most commonly known maintenance procedure is Piano Tuning. Accurate Piano tuning will keep your piano playing at correct pitch level and in tune with itself. Modern pianos have been designed and manufactured to resonate at a pitch level of A440hz, (meaning the A above middle C should vibrate 440 times in one second) which is international concert pitch. International concert pitch has been determined so all performance, education, design and production has an attainable exacting standard. Maintaining concert pitch is extremely important as it means your piano is speaking at the same level as all other instruments, this level is 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

 

Tuning Pianos

Why do pianos go out of tune?

There are several factors that make pianos go out of tune, and these reasons why you need to regularly have your piano 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. So basically 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 issue why pianos must be tuned regularly back to concert pitch, even if a 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 – 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 and 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. This can be seen in the videos 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 more quickly. In simple terms the more you play the piano and the louder you play the piano, the quicker it will go out of tune.
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