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Frequently Asked Questions:

piano


How often should my piano be tuned?

As a general guideline, just to keep the instrument alive, the piano should be tuned at least two times every year.  But with two slight variations in the piano tuning schedule, you will help extend the life of the piano and help reduce the chances of a cracked soundboard and bridges, as well as maintenance costs.

Whether it's played or not, every piano, no matter whether it's a spinet or a concert grand, is a high-tension instrument which bears thousands of pounds of string pressure on its soundboard.

New Piano Tuning Schedule

When your piano is brand new, the new strings will stretch out like rubber bands and the piano will go out of tune.  This is a normal and crucial process for the piano.  The fresh wood is settling and it's very important to maintain the right pressure at all times.  After the piano has been delivered, let it acclimate to its new humidity levels for one to two weeks and then have it tuned.  After the initial tuning, have your piano retuned every three months for the first year.  Tuning your piano more often in its first year will stabilize string tension and will help the piano hold its tune much better for future generations.  After the first year, the piano should be tuned twice every year.

Tune by Seasons

Because humidity is the key factor in the piano's stability in tuning, it's best to have the instrument tuned after the major climactic change in the FALL and then again in the SPRING.  The easiest way to remember to tune your piano on time is to schedule your tuning for two weeks after you shut off the heat in your home in the SPRING, and once again, for two weeks after you turn the heat on in the FALL.

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Will a piano tuning fix sticking keys?

Piano tuning is the process of pulling each string into the right pitch.  In fact, piano tuning has nothing to do with the playing mechanism of a piano.  Piano tuning is the last step (besides voicing) in piano repair, and should only be performed when the instrument is in good working order.  If there are cracks in the bridge, tuning will worsen and spread the cracks, as the pressure from the strings to the bridge rises when the piano is being tuned.  It is also impossible to tune a piano well if the action is misaligned, since the hammers must strike all the strings precisely in the center to be audible to the piano tuner.  Sticking keys, misaligned hammers, quickly-fading notes and various knocking sounds are all signs that your piano needs more than a tuning.  Having your piano tuned at that point may worsen its condition.

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What is the difference between tuning, pitch raising, and voicing?

Although piano tuning is separate process from voicing, some customers assume that one includes or even stands for the other.  Raising the pitch of a piano is a separate process as well, even though it is related to the tuning of a piano.

Piano tuning is the pulling of strings to their appropriate pitch, to achieve equal temperament and a good relative tuning.  Equal temperament, in short, allows you to play the same song in a different key with an equally proportional tuning, allowing the song to sound just as good.

Pitch raising is the process of raising the pitch of the whole piano.  Pitch raising can be necessary for some types of contemporary music.  For some early music, lowering the pitch is also common.  The standard concert pitch today is A=440Hz.  In the times of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the standard concert pitch was A=432Hz.  Today, some contemporary composers write for pitch A=445Hz and some even higher.  Depending on how far the pitch needs to be moved, this process may require tuning the piano several times until it's able to hold the pitch, as the strings stretch out to their new tension.

Raising the pitch of a piano is a potentially dangerous undertaking, which should be performed by an expert tuner only.  It's often recommended that a piano be tuned in several steps, spaced a few weeks or even months apart.  However, it can be done in one day with a set of three or four consecutive tunings, if the piano can handle the change in pressure.  The pressure from the strings on the bridges and soundboard is always set at thousands of pounds of tension.  When a piano is out of tune, the change in pressure is so tremendous that it may cause cracks in the hardwoods of the piano, such as the bridges, soundboard, and pinblock.  The technician should inspect the piano and determine whether or not the wood can handle such a stress in one sitting.

Voicing is sometimes misunderstood by amateurs and professionals alike.  The purpose of voicing a piano is to adjust the hardness of the hammers to help even out the tone of the piano, dampening some imperfections in the quality of the hammers and compensating for some acoustical shortcomings of the instrument.  In order to do this job perfectly, two highly-skilled technicians are needed on the job:  one person to listen from different angles of the room and another to adjust the hammers according to the directions from the listening technician.  This project costs approximately twice that of a piano tuning, but when performed correctly, will make a dramatic difference in the sound of a piano.

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What if my piano can't be tuned?

NO SUCH THING!  Pianos are fine instruments whose value and sentimental memories can carry through several generations.  No matter how old a piano is or what type of cabinet it's enclosed in, every part of the instrument is fixable and we're able to repair it.  We can restore the original parts of the piano or redesign the piano from the inside out, to your specifications.  Upon inspection of your piano, our technicians will make sure to tell you exactly how much it will cost to repair, present you with all available repair and finance options, and whether or not the piano is worth the investment.

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Where should I put the piano in my home?

The best place for a piano inside a home is where the environment is most stable, especially when it comes to humidity and temperature.  Place the piano as far as possible from all things that affect the change in humidity, such as air conditioning and heat vents, windows, fireplaces, laundry rooms, open kitchens and even outside walls.  If a satisfactory place cannot be found, consider having a climate control system installed in your piano.  A climate control system maintains your piano at an average 42% humidity as recommended by major piano manufacturers.  When your piano soundboard is kept at a constant moisture level, shrinking and swelling are minimized.  Amadeus Piano Co., Inc. is the proud recipient of the Field Expert Award by Dampp-Chaser Corp., the leading manufacturer of climate control systems.

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Why does a soundboard crack?

Whether or not the piano is being played, the instrument is under thousands of pounds of pressure from the strings on the bridges and soundboard.  When humidity changes, the wood expands with the rising humidity levels and shrinks when the air dries out.  The constant shrinking and swelling warps the wood, which then cracks under the high pressure.  Some homes have central air and humidity control systems which help even out the condition in the entire home. If this is not available, be sure to carefully select the proper spot for the piano in your home.

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Should I have my soundboard replaced?

If at all possible, it's better to preserve all original parts of a piano when repairing or restoring the instrument.  The soundboard is almost always fixable and able to be restored, as are all the other hardwood parts on your piano.

The process of aging wood for piano soundboards is much different today than in the past.  Traditionally, the hardwood used for soundboards was aged for decades, as much as 30 to 50 years before being selected for cutting and placement in older instruments.  Today, the process is hastened by placing fresh wood  into an electric oven for a few hours.  This process, although fast and inexpensive when compared to the cost and human effort of the older method, is a real problem with almost all new pianos today.  The new wood warps and settles under the high tension from the strings and can result in broken strings, cracks in the hardwood, and even warping of the cabinet.  To consider the piano made of "good wood," the soundboard should be aged at least 10 years.  Unfortunately most new, inexpensive pianos never even last the full term of their warranty - this is especially true for pianos made in a different climate.  The severity of the problem doubles, as raw hardwood raised in a different climate will almost always react adversely under such high pressure.

Never let anyone change your soundboard!  The sound that your quality piano will produce with a brand new soundboard is that of a cheap Chinese piano, and it will not stand the test of time.  It's also much simpler for a technician to replace the soundboard than it is to restore it - basically an easy way out.  Soundboard restoration is an art - as the crown of the soundboard is restored, the ribs are re-attached, and the cracks are filled with soundboard shims made from soundboards of quality old instruments.  The soundboards is then tuned by expert craftsmen, a process that adjusts the thickness of the soundboard to produce a clear and even tone throughout the registers of the piano.  Your piano will sound like it did when it was new.  It may even sound a little better, since the quality of strings today is better than it used to be.

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Can repairs be performed at my residence rather than at your workshop?

The piano has more parts than any car.  Certain repairs should be performed in a workplace because of dust conditions, fire and safety code regulations, careful temperature and humidity selection, and complex parts organization.

In-home repair may include piano tuning, voicing, fine adjustments, keyboard regulation, some pedal repairs and adjustments, and damper regulation.  String replacements and bridge repairs can also be done in-home.  Cabinet touch-up and most French polishing is an in-home repair as well.

Certain intricate processes are better done in our workplace.  Precise lighting, large equipment, and specially-equipped workbenches allow us to be more precise and work better and faster than we would be able to in an apartment setting, not to mention the mess that would be made.  Here's a list of jobs that should NOT be done at home:

Complete Piano Action Regulation is a large and dirty job.  Every part of the action needs to be taken apart, organized and carefully inspected, and possibly re-glued.  The amount of dust that comes from filing the hammers is obscene, and needs to be done in a controlled environment.  Special tools are installed to help level and check action parameters; refinishing, soundboard repair, any kind of part replacement including new hammers, dampers, elbows, pin block replacement, etc... and key-top replacement is also a job for a controlled environment.

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How can I increase my piano's value?

A piano is a musical instrument as well as an important piece of furniture in any modern home.  When you're bringing out the best qualities of your instrument the piano should play well, sound good, and be clean and polished.  Since a piano is usually a once-in-a-lifetime type of purchase, most people invite along a technician or piano teacher to see whether or not the piano is worth purchasing and what the necessary repair costs are, if any.  Therefore, it is wise to have your piano serviced and on a service warranty plan, so that the buyer knows that if anything goes wrong, all repairs and parts will not cost them a penny.

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What is the value of my piano?

Similar to wear-and-tear on automobiles, there are certain factors that affect the value of your piano.  These factors include the brand, age, location, service record, lighting, damage, use, etc...  With just a phone call, we at Amadeus Piano Co., Inc. can help you determine a ball park value of your instrument.

However, if you would like to purchase a piano or sell your piano, then only way to know the exact value of your instrument is to have a piano technician perform a full inspection and written appraisal on the instrument - this service can be ordered by clicking the link below.  Your will receive a written copy of the appraisal, as well as a full estimate for any repairs, restoration, or refinishing that are deemed necessary during inspection.  As always, the prices are extremely competitive and Amadeus Piano Co., Inc. will honor them at any time.

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What's the best way to sell my piano in today's market?

As a growing piano service company, we have been building a customer network for over ten years, which exceeds 15,000 regular customers in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area.  With our expanding network, we're capable of helping customers all over the tri-state and the rest of the nation find the right piano at the right price, without the sales commissions, markups, or middle men.  We can help you sell your piano through our website.  Simply email or send us photographs and a description of your piano, submit the $39.99, 3-month processing and listing fee, and your ad will be up in 1-2 business days.  We do this to offer a much cheaper alternative to consignment, which usually deducts 15% from the sales price, plus delivery and maintenance fees while the piano is in the showroom.  Also keep in mind that you can get a lot more money for your piano if it's in good shape and is well-maintained.

PLACE YOUR AD!!!  CLICK HERE

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What's the best Piano in the world?

It’s hard to say, which is the best piano.  –Each piano manufacturer tailored their pianos toward a different market, therefore each brand of pianos is better suited for different genres and styles of music.   We can give a few examples of the manufacturers’ intentions:

 Steinway & Sons is the best-advertised brand of pianos in the world.  They have made their name on concert-sized pianos, perfect for solo piano classical and contemporary music performances.  Their concert grand pianos range in prices from around $90,000+  The German, Hamburgh Steinway & Sons piano is far better constructed than the one in Astoria, New York and is a little more pricy.  Be careful with new Steinway Pianos as they have started to make some of them in China since the 1990’s

 Bosendorfer is a wonderful piano, with a light Renner Action and the perfect sound for chamber music and string group accompaniment.  Their concert pianos range from around $120,000

Knabe was the official piano of the Metropolitan Opera for many years until Knabe stopped making quality pianos.  The 1920’s through 1960’s Knabe was the finest instrument ever constructed for the vocalist.  Singers always prefer the Knabe’s mellow and deep tone to any other piano.  In restored condition the antique Knabe is worth between $25,000 and $85,000.  The brand new Knabe is a rather inferior copy, constructed in Indonesia and has a lifespan of up to 20 years of moderate use if regularly maintained.

Baldwin was a great piano for Jazz, bues and Rock.  Their best pianos were made from the 1920’s through the 1960’s.  They have been making pianos in Asia since the 1970’s.

 Yamaha was known to be the “best bang for your buck” in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.  While they were made in Japan (they are not any more) it was a really strong piano.  It could withstand our ever-changing climate and was a very durable instrument.  You can still buy used Yamaha and have a more decent instrument than their new one.

 Kawai is a strong piano.  Still made with good quality in Japan, it was always chasing after and now outclasses the Yamaha piano.  Their tone is very mellow and many musicians have the action custom-regulated and voiced in order to be able to enjoy the piano.

 Overall, the finest pianos were built between 1920 and 1960.  To purchase a brand new upright piano of similar quality, the starting price is about $18,000+  good Baby grand pianos start at about $30,000+ and fine grand pianos start at $65,000+

There are many fine American and European pianos including Chickering, Mason & Hamlin, Steinweg, Boston, Kimball, Wurlitzer, Sohmer, Petrof, Pleyel, Schimmel, Story & Clark, Kohler & Campbell, Kranich & Bach, Bechstein, Bluthner, Cable Pianos, Howard, Fazioli, Feurich, Forster, August , Grotrian, Gulbransen, Ibach, Hardman and Peck, Krakauer, Sauter, Seiler, George Steck, and many more.  Please call us at (800)33-TUNER for a consultation.

 It’s possible to acquire a fine antique upright in original condition from $2,000 to $5000 and a baby grand or grand piano in original condition from $5,000 to $10,000 Restoration costs vary depending on condition of the instrument, and the value of antique pianos in showroom condition far exceeds that of new pianos. Please feel free to contact us at any time for a consultation or to schedule an appointment for an estimate with a professional technician.

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 Piano Cleaning -  No matter how clean your home is, your piano will accumulate dust inside.  This dust is very hard to reach and can only be removed when the piano is taken apart during action regulation.  Therefore, it's very important to have your piano cleaned every two to three years, when you have it regulated.  Most of the dust gets trapped under the keys and inside the action mechanism.  The keyboard and action should be removed and the key-bed needs to be thoroughly cleaned.Is money making your keys stick?  Very often, we remove thick carpets of dust from under the keys.  The dust is very harmful and can cause allergies.  You breathe the dust that's in your piano when you play.

 


 

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