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Doug Ramage Ministries


Piano Tuning Service

20 years experience

American School of Piano Tuning 

Peterson Strobe Tuner

Grand Piano: $100
Spinet, Upright, Console Piano: $100
Raise pitch (if necessary): $50 each
contract tunings available

Call for appointments: 704.784.1285

"Every piano begins to lose it's tune right after it's tuned. I recommend twice per year tuning" 
                                                                            - Doug Ramage

Tuning is accomplished by twisting the "tuning pins" ever so slightly until is correct to produce the desired "tone". If a piano has not been tuned in several years, it will require having the "pitch raised" in order to be tuned correctly. "Standard pitch" is "A440". This means that the "A" above "middle C" produces sound waves at the rate of 440 per second. Everything else is tuned to that note. After not being tuned for a few years, it takes drastic changes in the strings to return them to the appropriate tension. Because the strings are so close together, a drastic change in tension affects the strings next to the one you are tuning. After the drastic changes are made to all the strings, you must "re-tune" the piano, making only subtle changes to the tension of the strings. Sometimes if it has been 15 or more years, the "pitch" may be so low that it may take 3 tuning's to reach "A440". After a piano has not been tuned for many years, when the pitch is raised, and it is tuned; it will not hold that tuning for very long. The piano literally goes into shock. Because the structure is not used to having that much pressure on it, it will settle. After a few weeks you may want to have your piano tuned again. That tuning should "hold" as much as a year or two.

A piano’s tone contains a slight reverb effect. This is due to variations in string length and other factors. These variations must be compensated for when you tune the piano. This is called a piano’s "temperament". Electronic keyboards have attempted to duplicate this effect for many years. Although, to this point they have not. Some very expensive keyboards can sound close, however, no keyboard can exactly match the distinctive tone of an acoustic piano. The age of electronics has also brought us electronic tuners or Strobe Tuners. For guitars, violins, cellos, etc., these work fine. I use a Peterson Strobe Tuner model 440.

When you tune a piano "by ear", the first thing that you do is called " setting a temperament". This means exactly what it says. You take a center octave and adjust it. Starting with one note, you tune "4ths" (expanding slightly) and "5ths"(contracting slightly) moving back and forth until every note in the "octave" has been tuned. The expansions and contractions are necessary to compensate for the imperfection of the piano. The amount of variations between "4ths" and "5ths" are determined by trial and error until all cords harmonize properly. Whatever these variations end up being is considered the "temperament" of the piano. After accomplishing this, you adjust each string from that "octave" to both the treble and bass ends of the "string scale". You tune octaves to each other (F sharp to F sharp, G to G, etc.). Most notes have 3 strings. Each must be tuned together. This is called a "unison". "Unisons" and "octaves" are tuned by adjusting string tension until all "overtones" are eliminated.

The simple mechanics of tuning can be learned in a day. However, it can take many years to develop the concentration and "the ear" to be accurate. Also you must develop "hand and ear" coordination. "Hand and eye" coordination is something you use all day, everyday, in everything you do. However, "hand and ear" coordination is something you never use. Piano tuning is becoming a lost art.

Among the piano's I have tuned:
Bosendorfer - Prayer Baptist Church Westland Michigan
George Steck - Plymouth Michigan
Kawaii - Livonia Michigan
Yamaha - Liberty Baptist Church Dunreith Indiana
Wurlitzer - Canton Michigan
Steinway - New Castle Indiana
Baldwin - Monroe North Carolina
Baldwin - Louisburg North Carolina

Pianos require tuning on a regular basis. Many factors cause pianos to get "out of tune." Piano strings span the length of the piano. They are supported on a metal plate (usually cast iron) hitched on pins at one end and coiled around "tuning pins" at the other end. The plate is supported by braces usually made of wood. The accumulated pressure of the strings (230 strings or so depending on the piano) is as much as 40,000 pounds. Since wood and cast iron are both porous materials, they are affected by changes in the air that flows through them. Changes in temperature and humidity cause them to expand and contract slightly. When these changes occur, the plate and braces give to the pressure of the strings causing "string tension" to decrease. Also each string can stretch. Though strings are made of steel, over time they can stretch enough to lose their tension. "Tuning pins" are tightly embedded in a piece of layered wood called a "pin block". "Tuning pins" can slip slightly to reduce tension on the strings. All of these factors working together over time can result in a significant drop in the overall "pitch" of the piano within a few years, even if it is not played. To maintain standard pitch (A440), a piano should be tuned at least every two years and more often if the piano is subjected to extreme conditions.

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