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MAX KEENLYSIDE

PIANIST  and  COMPOSER

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FREQUENTLY asked QUESTIONS

What does it cost?

With tax, standard tuning is $155.25; pitch-raise tuning is $180, reduced to $160 if other services are furnished. See my Sample Invoice for a breakdown of all my prices and rates.

How often should my piano be tuned?

Never go longer than a year without tuning.  For student or professional use, once every two to six months.  For institutional use, once every one or two months.
Why so often?  It's because it's easier on your piano, your technician, and your wallet.  Every seasonal change throws your piano further away from target pitch; pitch adjustment tunings take longer, require more work, and are slightly more expensive.

How far do you travel?

Anywhere in Nova Scotia, PEI, or New Brunswick! A modest fuel surcharge is added for locations remote to (more than half an hour outside of)   Summerside, Sackville, Moncton, Amherst, and Halifax.

Do you tune all makes/models of pianos?

If it is even vaguely piano-shaped and has strings inside it, I'll do my darndest!
(Even obscure ancient pianos that some tuners might have condemned as "untuneable"!)

How long will it take to tune?

If there aren't any repairs to be made, usually around one to two hours.  A pitch-raise can take as much as three hours.

Why do I need a pitch raising?

When a piano hasn't been tuned for a while, often the overall pitch of the instrument will slide (usually sharp in the summer or flat in the fall). It's not uncommon for a tuner to find a piano sitting as much as a whole tone flat.
Bringing the 200+ strings up to pitch evenly is a balancing act of adding hundreds of pounds of tension to the piano's frame.

I have a battered old piano that is unplayable. Can it be revived?

Almost always!  I love the before/after contrast on these jobs. 

What causes a piano to go out of tune?

Extended duration of heavy playing; temperature and humidity fluctuations; structural defects or needed repairs.  There are many factors that can contribute to a piano itself not holding tune, including loose tuning pins, loose bridge pins, delaminated pinblocks, separating back structures, cracked plates, etc.

Also, if a piano has been tuned poorly or amatuerishly, and the pins not properly set, the tuning will not last beyond a few pieces.  I know someone who advertises "I rectify $60 tuning jobs"!

If a piano isn't played very often, does it still need to be tuned?

Yes.  A neglected piano will wind up costing you more money, even if it's not used much.  Its state of tuning is still at the mercy of the elements, and it *will* still go out of tune in a climate controlled home.

Should a piano be tuned after being moved?

Yes, about two weeks after.

The last tuning is still OK.  Can you come tune just a couple notes?

No.  That's not how tuning works, and if you're buying my time, I may as well tune the whole piano.

How long in advance do I need to book you? Can you do "emergency" work, e.g. before a concert or recital?

Ideally as early as possible, so I can book other tunings in your area to make the trip worthwhile.  That said, I am available for last-minute tunings, and will even travel from another province if necessary (with the addition of a fuel surcharge).

Is there a base service price?

It depends on a number of factors -- (Is there travel involved?  How long will the services take?) -- but as a rule of thumb, I charge a "Service call" fee of $120.  This also applies to missed appointments or cancellations within 12 hours before.

How important is humidity?

Very.  If your piano is not in a steady climate for both temperature and humidity, you should buy a cheap digital hygrometer; with a humidifier / dehumidifier, maintain the room at around 50%-70% RH.

A mentor of mine has paraphrased Steinway's philosophy: regulate the room, not the piano.

Should the keyboard lid be kept closed?

Yes.  Keeping the all of the lids closed (including the lid above the strings) safeguards your piano from gradual or sudden accumulation of dust and other spills, all of which eventually degrade your piano's performance.
That said, ivory keyboards should be left open after use so the moisture from your fingers does not yellow the keys.

Is there a difference between tuning by ear and with a tuning device?

Setting a temperament by ear (an "aural tuning") is a highly specialized art that terchnicians develop and perfect over the course of their careers.  Being able to set a good temperament is a must for any tuner, but I also defend the use of electronic tuning devices.  I have perfect pitch, but I always "check my work" electronically.

I'm moving (or storing) my piano.  Should I have the strings slackened?

Unlike concert harps (as a dear friend pointed out), pianos should not have their strings slackened under any circumstance aside from repairs or historic preservation.

Do you have a question to ask here?
Use the Contact page and I'll post the answer here!

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