Replacing Piano Backchecks

Click Here to watch as Craig goes thru the process of replacing backchecks on a Steinway restoration job

For more information call 248-624-0940

Do you tune pianos in…?

Ace Piano services pianos in Oakland County, Michigan, and many cities surrounding Oakland County.  When I moved into the Metro Detroit area over thirty years ago and started my piano tuning company I had no idea what cities I could service and what cities and communities were just too far to travel, so I answered the phone and said, “yes, I service your area.”  I love what I do, so a bit of travel time is not bad when you consider the wonderful clients I have met over the years.

As the years have gone by, I have refined my piano service area a bit, but I still say yes most of the time.  My main service area is ALL OF OAKLAND COUNTY MICHIGAN.  I tune and repair pianos in cities including; Troy, Rochester Hills, Rochester, Auburn Hills, Waterford, Lake Orion, Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, West Bloomfield, Southfield, Livonia, Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, Novi, Northville on a daily basis.  I tune pianos in communities outside Oakland County such as; Grosse Pointe, Sterling Heights, Macomb Township, and communities to the west such as South Lyon, Milford, Brighton, Plymouth and Canton.  All the areas listed are not charged for travel time or mileage.  All clients in these areas pay a flat rate for tuning.

I have on occasion been asked to tune a piano at a lake front cottage up north, or a summer home in the Lansing, Michigan area.  I am happy to travel to those areas, but travel time and mileage will be charged.  One of my clients when asking about long distance travel to their summer home up north said, “you get what you pay for… you have tuned my home piano for many years, I would not want anyone else to tune my pianos.”

My name is Craig Cole,  I am the owner/piano technician of Ace Piano Inc.

I’d love the opportunity to help you with all your piano service and repair needs.

For an appointment please call 248.624.0940 or 248.647.6810

Should My Piano Be Tuned to A440?

Why should I pitch raise my piano? I am asked that question almost daily as I explain to my clients what I have found upon arrival at their home, and I set up for a tuning job. It is important to understand that pitch corrections before the actual tuning is always the clients option. Let’s consider what tuning is. A simple definition is: the strings of a piano being adjusted so that when the instrument is played, the intervals such as: thirds, fifths octaves, and any other interval that is played will sound pleasing and musical to the ear. It is important to note, I did not include in the definition, the pitch of the piano. That is simply because a piano, like any stringed instrument can be tuned at any pitch that is desired. (all stringed instruments can be damaged if tuned to sharp/to much tension, or if tuned to low can sound dull and lifeless) So if all this is true, why should a piano owner have the pitch corrected on their piano? Quite simple; first, modern pianos were designed to sound their best when tuned at a pitch referred to as, standard pitch or A440. Second, if the piano is within the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty, the piano must be kept at A440 to avoid voiding the warranty. In my opinion all modern pianos should be maintained as close as possible to standard pitch…simply; they sound best when tuned to A440.

When a piano is allowed to set un-tuned for a long period of time the pitch will drop. It is common to find pianos a quarter step flat, a third step flat, and in some cases as much as a whole step flat. This condition brings an option to the table. You; the piano owner must decide what you want done. The piano can be tuned a quarter step flat, or it can be tuned a whole step flat, or you may decide to have the pitch corrected and tuned to A440.

Piano manufactures recommend tuning a piano every six months or more often depending on use and demand. Pianos that are tuned often require very little change in over-all tension of the piano. This one fact helps produce solid and stable tunings, and will help prevent the pitch from dropping. Pitch corrections of one half step can effect the tension on your piano by thousands of pounds. The piano structure will react to this change, making it necessary to make two or three passes through the key board to get the piano to stabilize. Pitch corrections can, and should be avoided, by tuning regularly. If your piano needs to be pitch corrected before tuning, know this: it is a common procedure and all care is taken to avoid damage to your piano during the process.

Craig Cole is a piano technician serving piano owners in Oakland County, Michigan as well as many surrounding communities. Call for your piano service appointment today: (248) 647-6810

 

Piano Tuning in Michigan

Winter is upon us, and our pianos are beginning to react to the dryness of our homes. Those of us who live in cold northern climates need to take aggressive steps to humidify our homes or any space our piano is located.

piano-tuning-mi-1One common problem piano technicians come across at this time of year is the note on the piano that sounds like two or three notes played together, though only one note is being played. The most common cause is a loose tuning pin. The tuning pin can be thought of as a finely threaded screw. When the pin block is dry and old, and in some cases new pianos can, if exposed to extreme dryness, lose the ability to hold the tension of the string. When this occurs, the tuning pin can turn/unwind and the note will sound like two or three different notes.

There are three different approaches to remedy this problem.

  1. Remove old tuning pin and replace the pin with an oversize pin. This approach is great if there are just a few loose pins…perhaps up to a dozen loose pins.
  2. Apply a chemical at the base of each tuning pin, which will be absorbed by the pin block causing the wood to expand and tighten around the tuning pins. This can be an effective approach if the entire pin block is loose. It is also a cost effective way to gain a few more years of use from the piano without the investment of new pin block and new strings.
  3. The third approach as just mentioned is pin block replacement and re-stringing of the piano. This is the best approach when the pin block is unable to hold the tension of the strings through out the entire pin block. It is the most costly approach, and may not be practical if the instrument is of poor quality, or if the instrument has other major repair needs that will cost more to have done than the purchase of a new piano.

piano-tuning-mi-2If you suspect your piano is suffering from the effects of dryness and age, it is best to consult your piano technician. They can provide you with information concerning the best approach to remedy the problem. Keep in mind each piano is unique. The approach recommended should be tailored to your specific situation…no cookie cutter approach will due. Insist on a full explanation of the benefits and problems associated with each approach.

piano-tuning-mi-3Craig Cole is a piano technician servicing pianos in the Metro Detroit Michigan area. He has clients in Howell and Grosse Pointe, Clarkston to Plymouth and Canton. With thirty years of experience and thousands of happy customers Craig is the piano service professional to call. His central phone number is; 248-647-6810. Call for an appointment today.

How often should I tune a piano? What time of year?

A question that has come up often over my thirty years of piano service is; “what time of year is best for piano tuning in the state of Michigan?” To give the best answer to this question I must clarify a few important factors that contribute to the need to tune a piano.

craig-tuning-pianoI am a piano technician serving the Oakland County Michigan area. Pianos in Michigan are affected by the changes in temperature and the changes in humidity levels. Those who own a piano in states such as Arizona, (always dry) or Louisiana, (always humid) can service their piano on a much different schedule than will be required in Michigan. Temperature and humidity level changes have a dramatic impact on the wooden structure of the piano, as well as the small wooden parts of the piano that make up what is called the action of the piano. The soundboard of the piano in many cases is made of sitka spruce. This species of wood is very much like a sponge. It will absorb moisture from the air during our hot humid summers which will cause the pitch of the piano to go sharp. The summer months are followed by our cold dry winters which will dry the soundboard. This drying effect will cause the piano to drop in pitch. In order to keep the piano in tune, you must service the piano often enough to allow very small correction in the pitch of the piano, allowing solid, and stable tuning.

Another important factor in determining what time of year is best to tune your piano is; who is playing the piano, and for what is the piano used? A child playing the piano a few times each week verses a church that uses the piano for choir rehearsals, band practice, and church services will require a different tuning schedule. Added to the variety of circumstances piano owners have, are high demand piano owners, such as the recording studio. Recording studios require a finely tuned piano for their clients. Another common situation is the piano student using recorded instructional music to play along with. Many piano owners will require special care for the piano due to the individual circumstances associated with their piano. A piano technician will come in contact with people that will have different service needs for their piano. All this must be considered when determining the best time to tune.

The final factor to consider is humidity control. Those that air condition the home in summer and those that humidify properly during the winter months will require less tuning, and will have greater flexibility in what months they have the piano serviced. Those that do not air condition the home and do not humidify during the winter months will require tuning more frequently, and they will need to pay more careful attention to seasonal changes. I will go into more detail on humidity control in another post, for now I will recommend that you become pro active, and control the temperature and humidity of the space your piano is located in.

Now to answer the question; “what is the best time to tune in Michigan?” Piano manufacturers recommend a piano tuning every six months or as often as every three to four months if seasonal changes are having a dramatic effect on the piano. My experience with Michigan weather changes has led me to tell my in home piano clients to tune every six months. Tuning twice yearly is normally sufficient to keep the piano close to pitch and stable. It will work out that you will tune during a DRY SEASON and a WET SEASON six months later. As stated earlier, air conditioning and humidification, or lack thereof will produce scheduling issues that can best be addressed by a technician that develops a tuning track record with your piano. Recommendations will be made based on your individual circumstance and requirements. Churches, country clubs, recording studios, etc., will tune as needed. No attention can be paid to climate conditions, the show must go on, so to speak. Have the piano tuned when important events and programs are on schedule, or when artists are in studio recording. This can be weekly, or in some cases, monthly. What ever the level of demand in a professional setting, the frequency of tuning should correspond. High demand= tune often. Low demand= tune less often.

If you have questions about piano tuning or piano servicing, or to schedule a piano tuning appointment please call Craig Cole PT, at 248 647-6810.

Is there a right or wrong pitch for tuning my piano?

piano-tuningA 440, or commonly referred to as standard pitch is highly recommended. New piano warranties can be voided if your piano is not kept at A 440. Piano players who practice with a CD, or enjoy playing along with their favorite recording artist must keep the pitch at A 440, or things won’t sound right.

To answer, “is it right or wrong to tune to other pitches?” The simple answer is NO. For instance many symphonies tune their piano to A 443, slightly sharp. Many times I recommend leaving an old piano flat. This is done to avoid possible damage that would be costly to repair. The final decision is always left for the piano owner. If A 440 is the pitch you desire, then you must tune often enough to allow small adjustments to be made by your technician. In states like Michigan 2 to 4 tunings per year will be required.