If the overall piano is at pitch, a fine tuning can be achieved in one pass ($180).
If the overall piano is sharp or flat, a preliminary pass ($60) is required, one that overshoots pitch just enough that the piano lands on pitch when done. This is needed because the soundboard is flexible and a change of pitch (tension) in one note changes the pitch of surrounding notes to varying degrees, depending on proximity - the closest, the most.
There are limits to how far pitch can be raised - too far breaks strings, not far enough doesn't get there. Lowering tension doesn't have the hazard of string breakage but it is more difficult to land in exactly the right spot.
So sometimes, three passes are needed. Generally, piano wire slowly loses tension over time, causing the piano to go flat: not tuned in 10 years might require 2 passes (a pitch raise and a tuning), not tuned in 30 years, 3.
Repairs or material/part replacement are extra at cost + labor ($120 / HR).
If you are unsure which service to pick, you may opt for an Evaluation, which allows us to meet the piano and offer informed guidance.
Evaluation / Appraisal
An Evaluation or Appraisal give both you and us the at-the-piano information we need to make best choices.
An Evaluation starts as a dedicated visit to the piano by our technician, for which we have a minimum charge of $180. We talk with you about your goals for the piano, thoroughly inspect it, and develop a strategy for improving it. You will receive a verbal evaluation of condition and a written proposal for the work in which you are interested. You will be credited the Evaluation fee if you purchase more than $1,800 of services on that piano.
An Appraisal contains a thorough evaluation of condition accompanied by photographs that illustrate various points. A market value is estimated and the piano is compared with three or more similar, recently offered or sold pianos. A written document in PDF format will be sent to you by email ($360). Upon request, an anoymized version of the condition evaluation without the value appraisal will be included for use in advertising the piano to interested parties who cannot inspect the piano directly.
First of all, keep your Dampp-chaser plugged in. If your Humidifier goes dry, the Smart Heater Bar will be shut off by the Humidistat, awaiting the addition of water. But the Dehumidifier will still be available as needed - and in the summer, most of the balancing benefit of the system comes from the Dehumidifier.
We offer two variants of Dampp-chaser service, in which we clean the system as needed, change the Humidifier pads, and supply a fresh bottle of additive (normal use goes through one bottle per year). If we can service the DC when we are at the piano to tune, we charge a .5 hour's fee. If we have to make a dedicated visit for this service, we charge a full hour's fee.
The humidifier pads filter minerals out of the water that is evaporated to add moisture. This starts happening on the first day of use and gradually accelerates - the more the pads clog, the faster they clog. The minimum maintenance should be to change the pads once a year and preferably in the autumn so that the system is most effective when most needed: in the winter.
*Even if your piano does not require tuning in a given year, call for a Dampp-chaser Service to protect your instrument!
We offer four Vertical Piano Regulation options: Improve, Partial, Full, and Maintenance.
Often the couple of hours of regulating in the Improve option ($480) can make a substantial difference to playability. This work may make a big difference to the playability of the instrument, but it will not go beyond what can be reached without removing the action, will not address loose screws in the action, and will not substantially improve the voice of the piano. Tuning, of course, must be part of each option.
The Partial option ($840) accomplishes more with less hazard of setback than with a spinet, since the action is easily removed (provided the bridle straps are healthy). Choices still have to be made as to which items receive attention, but if some steps can be left out or be only partially addressed, a good result can be had at an affordable price.
For all models of vertical piano, our approach to the Full regulation ($1,760) is the same. We remove rest rail, spring rail, and letoff rail, opening the action up for easy and efficient access and lubrication.
After reshaping the hammers, we tighten action screws, lubricate as needed, replace the bridle straps and the hammer rest cloth, even up friction in the hammer centers (global and extreme problems are extra), steam/file the dampers, and travel and square the hammers as needed. Taking the action to the piano, we settle wire on the piano, square hammers and fit hammers to strings (as access permits), regulate dampers, lubricate key pins and ease keys as needed, and tighten all case and trapwork screws (as access permits). If included, a Dampp-chaser is installed.
Back on the bench, we finish assembly and return to the piano. Keys are squared, spaced, and leveled, the top action and pedals are regulated, and the piano is pitch-adjusted, tuned, and voiced.
Even without enumerating all the detail, you can see that the 16 hours needed for the Full option (18 hours for a spinet) must be efficiently spent to come in on schedule! Major repairs, restoration, or rebuilding are extra.
The Maintenance option ($1,200) is a next Full regulation, planned to occur before wear, atmosphere, and gravity have produced a severe degree of change.
We offer four types of Spinet Regulation, with four incremental price points.
Given limited resources, Improve ($480) is the category of regulation that encompasses what can be readily adjusted in 2 hours plus tuning. This work may make a big difference to the playability of the instrument, but it will not go beyond what can be reached without removing the action, will not address loose screws in the action, and will not substantially improve the voice of the piano.
Since action removal is costly in a spinet, the Partial option ($960) is tricky. If screws need tightening, for instance, parts that were previously clearing each other when loose, may not clear when fixed. Hammers that were all striking in their wear marks may or may not, now, so that some notes are bright and others muffled. In short, a significant amount of work may cause problems on the way to solving problems, producing an unsatisfactory result. So the success of a Partial regulation depends on the starting condition being less than terrible.
The Full option ($1,980) seems expensive, but is actually the best value if you can afford it. Noises are solved, stability is reinstated, the action plays really well, and the instrument sounds musical. Couple this with a Dampp-chaser and the piano you have (which may have sentimental value and the replacment of which involves expensive moves and a purchase that may be twice this cost AND may include a smattering of the problems this option corrects) gains a new life, with attributes possibly better than when it was new because of the detail with which we do this work (see Upright Regulation for an overview).
Then, once this work is done, a Maintenance ($1,360) regulation can be planned to methodically extend these benefits.
We offer four Grand Regulation options: Improve, Partial, Full, and Maintenance. In terms of time, these take approximately 6, 12, 32, and 16 hours respectively. Tuning is part of each package, and voicing.
So the Improve option has 3-4 hours to pull back in the most errant elements and make the most difference possible in that timeframe. Cleaning, tightening and one or more repairs may add extra time or borrow from regulating time. This work will be done at the piano.
The Partial option will also be at the piano and what elements are included depend on the condition of the action. This option is most successful with pianos that have not received a lot of wear.
The Full option follows the Grandwork™ Regulation Protocol and takes four days to complete. Repairs, repinning, restoration, or replacement of parts and materials would be extras, added as desired or necessary. Of the days needed for this work, 1 at the beginning and 1-1.5 at the end will be at the piano. The rest of the work will be executed on a Grandwork™ Regulation Station, with its many advantages.
Full bedding of the keyframe (including the backrail, which largely gets ignored in the trade today) provides a stable foundation. Making hammer travel vertical (not just parallel) and the hammers vertical as they meet the strings sets up the hammer-string mating to succeed and the final voicing to realize the piano's potential.
The Maintenance option is a Full regulation done within a reasonable timeframe, depending on how much (and how hard) the piano is played. A moderately played instrument revisited within 5 years of a Full regulation does not need to start from scratch, and with the RS, setup is quick. The process touches up what is mostly still correct, cutting the time needed approximately in half. Wear and gravity settle materials, but much of the bedding and verticality will still be in place.
The hammers will need filing again and the wire will have been brought up in pitch shifting slightly the hammer-string mating - but the starting point will be much closer to the finish line than in the previous regulation.
For a grand, an upright, or a spinet that no longer holds a tuning at pitch, Pinblock Consolidation can offer a pragmatic and inexpensive solution compared to pinblock replacement. CA glue is soaked into the pinblock at the feet of the tuning pins and left to cure overnight. An upright or spinet must be tilted onto its back first so that the low-viscosity glue is aided by gravity and doesn't make a mess. Grand pinblocks are already horizontal.
This has the benefit of being a passive repair: nothing has to come apart or be replaced. The glue wicks into the pinblock laminations (generally rock maple or European beech), reinforcing the area around the pins and increasing the surface contact between tuning pins and pinblock, thereby providing sufficient friction to hold the strings in tune.
This glue will not repair delaminations or fill cracks, however. Such structural failures may or may not have a visible symptom so there is the risk that the repair will not succeed. This repair is undertaken first, if needed, and its success is a contingency for continuing with other work.
Vertical Action Restoration
Generally, the cost of restoring a spinet action would too far outstrip its market value. A Vertical Action Restoration, however, may be worth the investment for various valid reasons, including sentimental attachments, history, and features not to be found in a new instrument.
Since this job will cost over $5,000, we take a deposit and two subsequent payments. The overall price needs to reflect the real state of the piano and customer choices given options only able to be formulated once the instrument has been inspected. So, the deposit gets the piano a place in line and purchases the necessary parts and materials. A consultation then negotiates the particulars, which are included in a written proposal. The second payment is due at the start of the job and the final payment upon completion.
The worse case is that the work needed is too extensive and too expensive, in which case the deposit is refunded, minus $240 for the consultation.
Grand Action Rebuild
A Grand Action Rebuild replaces or restores all parts and perishable materials of the action, damper action, trapwork, and pedals. New key coverings, new keys and keyframe, and replacement action rails are examples of possible extras. A conversation by phone or a Consultation at the piano is needed to custom fit appropriate details to the particulars of your piano and your wishes for it.
Since this job will cost over $10,000, we take a deposit and three subsequent payments to ease the financial exchange. The deposit gets the piano a place in line and purchases the necessary parts and materials. The second payment is due at the start of the job, when the action is ready to regulate, and the final due upon completion. The worse case is that the work needed is too extensive and too expensive, in which case the deposit is refunded, minus $240 for the consultation.
We are flexible in our choice of parts, if you have a preference, but we only use best quality materials of our selection. All parts are custom prepped to have appropriate friction in their centers, appropriate geometry in their configuration, and appropriate weight for best performance and best tone.