Bill Gerow Piano Service
Piano tuning is the act of making minute adjustments to the tensions of the strings of an acoustic piano to properly align the intervals between their tones so that the instrument is in tune. Pianos that are prized by their owners are tuned regularly, usually once every six months for domestic pianos, and always just before a performance in concert halls. The longer a piano remains out of tune, the more time and effort it will take me to restore it to proper pitch. When a piano is only slightly out of tune, it loses the glowing tonal quality characteristic of a freshly tuned piano, especially because each note in the middle and upper range is sounded by more than one string, and these may get slightly out of tune with each other. Pianos that are more than slightly out of tune tend to be unpleasant to play and listen to, to an extent that varies with the ear of the listener. - Wikipedia
I do minor repairs and/or replacement on all parts of the piano action including hammers, keys, parts, strings, etc.
I provide written appraisals and estimates on pianos that you are either selling or purchasing.
Pianos have a limited lifetime, usually measured in decades. However, different parts have different lifetimes: for example, on a heavily used but well-cared-for instrument (e.g. in a concert hall), the hammers might last less than five years while the soundboard might last fifty years and more. Regular replacement of worn parts can therefore extend a piano's lifetime by decades – even indefinitely, provided that the piano's structural support (i.e. the frame) remains sound (and sometimes the frame can also be repaired).
In very used pianos, the frame and some parts of the action may remain in good condition, and piano rebuilders are able to restore or rebuild an instrument by replacing many components. These include the strings, pinblock, bridges, soundboard and ribs, hammers, and action. "Restoration" implies more replacement work than mere "repair" or "maintenance," and "rebuilding" implies yet more intensive work than restoration. However, there is no precise definition of these terms.
Over time, the performance of a piano action tends to decline, due to the compression of felt, warping of wood, and other types of wear. I can restore it to optimal precision, in a process called regulation, which involves adjustments ranging from turning a small screw to sanding down a wood surface. Many new pianos are not perfectly regulated when released from the factory, or quickly lose their regulation when moved to their new home, and benefit from regulation in the store or in the home. The goal of regulation is to make the piano's touch and sound consistent across all notes, allow it to comfortably achieve the widest possible range of dynamics, and make the keys responsive to even the most rapid or most subtle motions of the player. -Wikipedia
The felt hammers of the piano tend to harden over time, as the felt becomes compressed by repeated impact. They also form grooves at the points of contact with the strings. Harder hammers produce a brighter tone quality, which may ultimately become harsh and undesirable. I can soften hammers using special tools called voicing needles. They also sometimes use special hardening agents when the hammers are too soft (though this practice is controversial among some technicians). In either case, an important goal is uniform tone quality across the piano, since the hammers are not used with equal frequency and therefore tend to wear unevenly and produce uneven tone. How much and how forcefully the piano is played is a factor in how often a piano needs to be voiced, as are the piano's setting and the preferences of its players.
Over time, the strings will wear grooves into the surface of the hammers. The grooves eventually become deep enough, and the head of the hammer flattened enough, that voicing cannot restore the piano's tone. At this point I can file the hammers, restoring their original ovoid shape and pristine surface at the expense of making them somewhat smaller and lighter. This process may repeated once or twice, until there is not enough felt left on the hammers for another filing, and they must be replaced. -Wikipedia
Much of a piano is made of wood, and is therefore extremely sensitive to fluctuations in humidity. The piano's wooden soundboard is designed to have an arch, or crown. The crown increases or decreases with changes of humidity, changing the tension on the strings and throwing the instrument out of tune. Larger fluctuations in humidity can affect regulation, and even cause parts to crack. If humidity changes are extreme, the soundboard can warp so much that it can collapse and lose its crown, which may require rebuilding or replacement of the instrument.
Piano owners can prevent these problems by controlling humidity. Most technicians recommend an indoor relative humidity in the range of 30% to 50%, kept as frequent as possible. Keeping the piano away from air vents, heaters, open windows, open doors, direct sunlight, and the kitchen can help prevent damage, since all these are potential sources of sudden changes in humidity. However, even with these precautions, changes in weather can affect indoor humidity. Ideally, a piano owner would use a hygrometer in conjunction with a humidifier and dehumidifier and/or air conditioner/evaporative cooler to keep the humidity of the room housing the piano constant year-round. To prevent fluctuations I suggest that a Humidifying system be installed.