Is my piano worth tuning?
Some old pianos are very valuable and some are not. The answer can depend on the brand, the overall condition, and the conditions in which the piano has been housed. At GVPS, telephone or email estimates are free and usually helpful in answering this question. This video may also be helpful:
My piano technician told me that no piano can be precisely in tune. Is he just making excuses?
Nope. He or she is absolutely right. The physical laws of sound (described by the Greek mathmatician Pythagoras) prohibit us from tuning pianos and other instruments "perfectly." If your piano technician, for instance, chose the musical interval of "fifths" and started tuning up the keyboard in beautiful beatless fifths, the very first set of octaves would sound horrible, as would the thirds, fourths and so on. Piano tuning is the other "great compromise." We have learned how to hide dischord.
If the GVPS technician finds serious issues in my piano that the free estimate did not take into account, and I decide not to have my piano tuned or repaired, will I be charged?
If your piano needs repairs that are beyond what the free estimate indicated, you will be asked for permission to continue, and may choose a level of repair that is within your budget. If you choose to do nothing, there is a minimum service charge of $50 for in home visits. This will include a thorough assesment and estimate of repairs.
Is my upright piano a spinet, a console or a full upright, and what difference does it make?
If your piano is over 43" it is considered a full upright. Pianos that stand from 40" to 43" tall are console pianos, and those under 40" are spinets. Spinets are more compact, and even though they are easier to move around, they are harder to work on and this is likely to affect the price of servicing. The other caveat to spinets is that they are less likely to be of great value.
It is important to remember though, that some spinets are well crafted, have been properly housed, are often played, and are definitely worth taking care of.
What is the difference between a pitch adjustment and a routine tuning?
Even pianos that haven't been tuned in years may be pitched near the standard A440. This may depend on how well they were tuned the last time, the humidity conditions in the building, or the quality of the piano. The piano tech never knows before arriving and checking (by simply listening or using a listening device), how far off pitch the instrument is. But, tuning a piano that is hovering around an acceptible pitch is fairly straight forward and we charge a price for that basic tuning service that is lower.
Pianos that have been left un-tuned, or live in an unstable humidity environment, or simply have loose tuning pins, will probably need a pitch adjustment which takes longer to perform and requires going back over the piano multiple times to assure that pitch and tuning are stable. This is a higher charge because it takes longer and carries more risk of string breakage. But how far off pitch is too far?
The Piano Technicians Guild has established that a variance of "5 cents" (1/20 of a semitone) off pitch constitutes a pitch adjustment. When GVPS arrives at a piano which requires tuning, we sample all five of the midrange A-s . if three out of five of those are beyond 5 cents we charge for a pitch adjustment.
Regardless of whether we charge for a pitch adjustment we always continue tuning until the piano is sounding as tempered and tuned as it can.
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