As pianos age, they undergo many changes: Felt and cloth compact, wood changes shape, and glue weakens. This can cause many different feelings and sounds:
- Keys can stick or feel “slow”
- Keys can have “lost motion,” which creates an unresponsive, gummy feeling
- Keys can feel like they’re tight and “bounce”
- Keys can wiggle and feel loose
- Keys can become visually uneven
- Hammers can hit multiple notes
- Certain keys can make clacking sounds
A degree of regulation is included with a standard tuning; however, if a piano requires a lot of regulation in multiple areas, or if the regulation actually requires more serious repairs, there may be additional costs.
More Significant Repairs
Some piano issues require more than regulation.
- Pianos can emit mysterious buzzes
- Pedals can stick, clank or not work
- Strings can break
- Keys can fail to play at all
If the repair is quick and straight-forward, it is often included in a basic tuning. Otherwise, more complicated or extensive repairs can be made at an hourly rate.
Major repairs that require a shop—such as major rebuilding where the piano needs to be tipped or lifted—are referred to piano rebuilders in the area. I do not refinish pianos. Refinishing is a woodworker’s craft. Some rebuilders do refinish pianos, but many do not and refer that business to local woodworkers.
The component of the action that strikes the string is called the hammer. As a piano ages and is played, the hammers becomes stiffer and more grooved. These hammers can be filed or needled to produce a softer sound. Sometimes, one particular hammer will become more hard or soft, making one note sound different from all the others. These hammers can be softened or hardened to make them sound more consistent with the rest of the piano. Sometimes hammers also move, causing a softer part of the hammers—one that hasn’t been grooved by years of use—to strike the keys and produce a very different tone.
If a piano has been stored or has been exposed to very high humidity, smoke, or mice for a prolonged period, it may require cleaning for optimal performance. Dirt and mold can change the sound and feeling of a piano and cause keys to feel “sticky.” This service is especially for older pianos, family heirlooms, and recently purchased pianos. Generally, this includes vacuuming all components and using an air compressor to remove dirt from between and under the keys and inside the action. This is not for restoration, but for playability.