Taking Care of Your Piano — Scheduled Tunings

June continues to be a busy month at Matlock’s Piano Service.  I continue to educate customers on the care of their piano which begins with scheduled tunings that fit the piano and its level of use.  The bottom line is a piano should be tuned at least twice a year but by all means every year. If the piano has not been tuned in a long time, I must do a pitch raise to get the piano close before it can be tuned and even then, depending on how sharp or flat, the piano probably will need to be tuned a couple more times to achieve tuning stability. As I have heard piano tuners say: “You cannot tune an out-of-tune piano.”

1975 Story & Clark - 1 1/2 steps flat

1975 Story & Clark – 1 1/2 steps flat

Bottom line again: don’t wait until the piano is so out of tune before you schedule a tuning. Better still — get on a schedule.  When I have to do a pitch raise, it puts significant stress on the strings — you risk string breakage.  Don’t wait until it gets to that point. Below are some pianos that I have tuned recently that have required significant pitch raises — as much a 1/2 to one full step flat. I went up and down the piano three times in 2 1/2 hours to get it as close to A=440 and as stable as I could. From what I can tell the Story & Clark to the left gets some moderate to heavy play. This owner plays this piano! Awesome!  This piano was in pretty good shape when I found it in terms of playability.  It just had not been tuned in years — and the F#3 wound string broke under the stress.

1972 piano  over 1/2 step flat

1972 piano
over 1/2 step flat

No big deal as I will repair it and it will be as good as new. Normally, I can splice this string but this one was under the pressure bar and simply did not leave enough room for me to do that. I will order a new string and install — easy fix, but, this could have been avoided if the piano was tuned on a regular basis. The piano on the right is a piano that has been moved from Colorado and other places and had not been tuned in years.  It is a Clark made by Wurlitzer, a spinet, and had several sticky keys. I eased many of them and even had to sand # 88 as it was rubbing against the cheek block.  Again, three trips up the keyboard in an attempt to get her stable.  This piano needs to have the action taken out to lubricate the action centers and is certainly a good candidate for an action regulation. Not a bad piano. Just needs some TLC.

Now below are two clients that have their pianos tuned on a yearly basis.

Kimball Upright -- annual repeating client

Kimball Upright — annual repeating client

This works for them. These pianos were both close in pitch and  I was able to fine tune each to A=440

1948 Steinway Upright

1948 Steinway Upright

Moral of the story — TAKE CARE OF YOUR PIANO. Schedule the necessary tuning.

If you use your piano moderately to heavy, please consider tuning it every 6 months; for light piano use, schedule the tuning every year.

Here is an interesting video with some good information.




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Johnny Matlock 217 West 24th Street Hays, Kansas 67601 Phone: 785-623-1412 Email: matlockjc@gmail.com