Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much does it cost to tune my piano?
My charge for tuning your piano will be $90 if you live in and around Fredericton. The price increases proportionately depending on how far you live out of the city. I throw in free of charge simple but helpful fixes like adjusting the dampers and pedals and I will check the piano bench for loose legs and tighten them if needed, etc.
If your piano has not been tuned and maintained regularly (at least once every 12 months) then it might require what I call a “major pitch raise”. This applies to any piano that is 25 cents flat or lower.
I charge an additional $20 to the price of the tuning for a major pitch raise. I charge extra for a major pitch raise because it takes me longer. Sometimes I need to go through the piano three times then “fine-tune” it after all that.
Of course, any additional regulation adjustments or repairs and parts have a separate charge.
I do free estimates “only” if you decide to have me work on your piano, otherwise I charge a service fee of $50 for the visit and quote.
I will tune your piano to Standard "Concert" pitch which is A-440 unless I deem the strings are too rusty or fatigued. In such cases I will explain how in order to try to prevent string breakage I will tune it below standard pitch. If you agree I will proceed.
2. How much do you charge for a sticky key?
For repairs on your piano in general I charge $40 per hour plus parts. The good thing about this is that I usually can get a lot done in an hour or less depending on the situation of course. “Most” of the time sticky keys just need some properly placed CLP which is a special cleaner and lubricant and the key is as good as new.
Of course, this is not always the case and the flange pin will need to be replaced then I would charge a little more. If I tune your piano, I do not charge for minor adjustments and simple repairs (and I make many of them spontaneously when going through all the keys) unless I have to remove the “piano action” to repair it.
As I tune your piano key-by-key in the course of bringing it up to pitch I will find any sticky or sluggish keys on it and free them up on the spot.
3. What if I have broken strings on my piano?
Most often, depending where the string breaks, I will be able to "splice" the string first. For splicing I charge $30 per string. I can replace any string but some strings need to be special made (I’m talking about Bass Strings) and therefore I would need to order them from a supplier. The cost is generally in the vicinity of $60-70 installed. For regular steel strings (not Bass Strings) the charge is $50 per string installed as I supply the string and install it also.
4. I have been told that I need new strings on my piano, how much does that cost?
When restringing a piano there are two things to consider:
-First question: "Is the piano worth it?" If the piano is a high quality piano, it would be worth the expense. If the piano has sentimental value then you have to consider whether it is worth the expense. For instance, if the piano is an heirloom and is likely to be passed to other members of the family.
-Second question to consider is: "Does it need both treble and bass strings to be replaced or does it just need the bass strings to be replaced?" Bass strings become dead from temperature and humidity changes. They also collect dust in the windings. If your bass section strings sound have the sound of a dull thud (in the field we call this a “tubby” sound), more than likely the bass section needs to be replaced.
I recommend that the piano be completely restrung, both treble and bass strings as this will give a more beautiful sound to the piano. The tuning pins are typically replaced at the time of restringing. The cost of a complete restringing on a piano will need to quoted per project.
5. What if I have broken hammers. How can they be replaced?
If a hammer breaks on your piano, save it. It is best to place it somewhere inside the piano, as it will easily become lost, or you will forget where you put it.
I can usually repair the broken hammer in your home, but if not I will take the action out and bring it to my workshop and repair it. Before I take the action out I will inform you as to the expense of repairing the action.
If all the hammers need to be replaced, the cost will be quoted per project. It usually takes several weeks to replace hammers as each hammer is taken out of the action and is handled separately.
6. I have several Ivories missing and considering the ban on ivory, what can I do?
I carry a supply of old ivories (and simulated plastic ivories) taken off old pianos that have been destroyed. Most of the time I can match the coloring or aging of the ivory. I install and charge $10 a key top.
7. Is it possible to replace all the keytops on my piano?
Yes, it is possible to replace the keytops on your piano. The new keytops will be of plastic, however, new keytops will greatly improve the look of your old piano. I will give you a quote as to the cost per project.
8. The last time my piano was tuned I was told that the tuning pins are loose. Is there anything that can be done for my piano?
There are several ways to tighten the tuning pins on your piano.
1. The process of "gluing" the pins is the one I recommend. This process involves laying the vertical piano on its back (similar procedure for a grand only they are already laying flat) and applying very thin but also very potent CA glue on every tuning pin and let the very thin glue be gravity fed down the pins length where it hardens and causes the wood to swell around the pin. This is the cheapest way to correct the issue of loose tuning pins. I charge $220 which “includes” a tuning ($190 if no tuning is required). Please note that by performing this procedure on your piano this means the tuning pins will have good resistance for many years to come. The piano should hold its tune for at least 12 months now as opposed to tuning it every 2-4 months without this procedure.
2. Also and more commonly although not nearly as productive I will glue them one at a time or in other words “as I find they need it” with the piano in upright position since pianos are so heavy. This procedure is adequate although not as good as number 1 above.
3. There is another way to tighten the pins. When the piano is restrung and new pins are installed whereby the technician will replace the pins with a larger diameter pin.
4. Another approach for the loose tuning pins is to replace them individually with a slightly larger diameter tuning pin.
5. Also the loose pin(s) can be taken out and the hole lined with a 50mm cardboard and the tuning pin then screwed in with the cardboard acting as a gap filler hence causing resistance.
6. Another procedure includes “punching” the tuning pins into the tuning block a few millimeters so as to give the pins some resistance again.
9. Where is the best place to put my piano in my home?
It is preferable to place your piano on an inside wall. However, with modern houses that are insulated properly there should not be a problem placing the piano on an outside wall if no other wall is available.
The piano should not be placed near any heat and A/C vents, or anywhere near moving air.
The piano should not be placed in a basement unless it has a dehumidifier or has a Piano Life Saver System installed in the piano. If your piano needs a Piano Life Saver System, I am able to install the system you need after looking at the piano. I charge $575 to purchase and install this system in your piano ($625 if a tuning is required). This is a savings $50 if your piano needs to be tuned as well.
Here is a video that will demonstrate and educate you as to the benefits of installing the Piano Life Saver System:
10. How long does it take to tune my piano?
It usually takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to tune a piano. There are some considerations involving the amount of time to tune a piano like when was the last time it was tuned, etc. If the piano needs minor repairs, the amount of time will increase. It will also take extra time if the piano's pitch is considerably lower than A-440. It takes extra time to do a pitch raise.
I hope this has been helpful.
Written by Duane Graves @ Duane's Piano Tuning & Technology