Counting to 100: 31-40

(If you're new to this series, I am writing about my tuning journey, counting my first 100 tunings. Check out previous posts here: 

With two kids keeping me busy, finding time to rehash every tuning I do just isn't happening. Here's a review of the last 9 for anyone who may be keeping track with me. You might remember that I finally got an electronic tuning device (SAT I - it's a really old school one) to help me! It has definitely helped me improve my tunings and my speed as well. 

Piano Tuning #31: Our church's Baldwin upright with the SAT.

Every piano is slightly different in the way it needs to be tuned because of a lot of different factors (pianos are pretty complex). I consistently had trouble getting some of the G#'s and B's to fit when tuning this piano. Having the SAT helped me get them set in just right to fit the scale. I'm not sure why they were so much more tricky on this piano than others, but I was glad to finally start fixing the problem.

Funny note: I am pretty hyper aware of slightly out of tune B's because of my own struggles with them. Our church recently got a brand new grand piano and due to contract obligations it was tuned by someone else. I noticed immediately that a few of the B's weren't quite where I would want them. It makes me feel better that I am not the only one with this B tuning problem! 

Piano Tuning #32: a friend's Kimball spinet

  This piano has a double hitting problem, but because it is a spinet it is not an easy fix. Every time I tune it I look into it some more and try to fiddle with it to fix the double hitting. But I suspect I need to take it apart to really solve the problem. Since I am tuning it as a favor to a friend with both our little kids running around, I usually don't have the time to give it my full attention. Someday I'll take it apart and see what I can do. 

Piano Tuning #33: a student's Baldwin Acrosonic Spinet

These little pianos are workhorses. They don't always sound the prettiest, or play the smoothest, but they seem to last forever and hold up to abuse well. If you are looking for a used piano for your kid's lessons, a Baldwin Acrosonic spinet is not a bad choice. 

Piano Tuning #34: a friend's Kranich and Bach upright

This piano is old and not holding up well. The top notes were slipping this time that I tuned it. Sometimes pegs and pegboards just get worn out and won't hold a pitch as well anymore. That is a sign it is time to get a new piano.  

Piano Tuning #35: my own piano again. 

Yes, I tune my own piano, although it is a little like the cobbler's children. It is hard to schedule my own work in my own house. 

Piano Tuning #36: a Schumann upright

"Schumann" is not a quality name for a piano like it is for composers. This piano had several strings that were untunable, a broken flange, and badly needed a pitch raise. I did the best I could for it but advised them their piano did not have much life left. If your tuner ever has to tell you that, don't shoot the messenger. I understand it is disheartening to hear. However, better they tell you, than you continue to  pour money into an instrument that is just going to keep getting worse. 

Piano Tuning #37: Otto Altenburg spinet

I did a pitch raise over the course of 2014 when I first started tuning for this family. Now this piano is holding well and serving their needs perfectly. A little TLC for a piano goes a long way. 

Piano Tuning #38:  Kimball Upright 

This piano has been moved several times in the past 2 years and not happy about it. It takes a few weeks (or even longer) for pianos to stabilize after being put in a new environment. This affects pitch and necessitates more tunings for a time. 

Piano Tuning #39:  Back to my friend's Kimball spinet

This piano is still double hitting. I have several notes on it and I am going to make time in a few months to check it out more thoroughly. Since we have a special tuning arrangement, I haven't spent too much more time working on it.  

Piano Tuning #40:  Young Chang professional upright

I accompany a community choir and we hold our rehearsals and concerts at a local church. The church primarily uses an organ, so the choir hired me to tune the piano before our concert. I love being able to tune AND play pianos. Did you know that a lot of technicians don't actually play piano themselves? 

Phew I am almost up to date for this year. Stay tuned for pianos 41-50, coming in the next month or so. 

Counting to 100: #19

Welcome to the Counting to 100 Pianos series. I am blogging my way through my first 100 tunings. For previous pianos, check out these:

Tuning # 19 was another new piano! (Good thing, you might get tired of reading about the same pianos over and over). 

This piano was another Baldwin Acrosonic drop action piano. When you look inside a piano, usually the keys reach all the way back to the action (hammers and working parts inside the piano) and that action is all ABOVE the keys. On a drop action piano (or spinet) the action is dropped down inside the piano so it is all below and behind the keys. This is how they are able to make the piano shorter. For the average pianist, this isn't going to make a huge difference. The strings are shorter since there is only so much space for them to go, and this will affect the overall sound, but you may never notice if this is all you are used to hearing. The problems come when something needs to be fixed inside the piano. It is incredibly hard to fix something you can't see because everything is stuffed down in behind the keys.

 You'll find a lot of the these pianos because they were well made so they last pretty well. This one was built between 1958 and 1959. They are also pretty common because they fit well in homes with their short stature. My beef with them however is that dropped action. I am dreading the day I will have to take one apart. 

Counting to 100: #18

Welcome to the Counting to 100 Pianos series. I am blogging my way through my first 100 tunings. For previous pianos, check out these:

This Baldwin piano is one that I am getting very familiar with as I play it every week and have tuned it 3 times now. (You can read about the previous times here Tuning # 3 and  here Tuning #12 .)  

There was nothing new about this tuning. Now that the piano is being tuned regularly by the same person, and has the humidifier going regularly, it stays in tune very well. 

If you have problems with your piano swelling a lot with the seasons (you might be able to tell when whole sections of your piano are ringing because the dampers aren't working right) you should consider putting in a Dampp Chaser. They make a world of difference. Some time soon I hope to do the training to learn how to install them myself, but for now I will keep reminding you that they are amazing. 

This is the first time I changed the pads for one. A Dampp Chaser is essentially  a reservoir of water in your piano with a heating bar installed above it. There are cloth pads that hang over the heating bar and draw up water from the reservoir below. They slowly build up deposits from constantly evaporating water and have to be replaced regularly.  But don't let that dissuade you! Having a system installed in your piano is easy, and your regular technician should be able to service it once it is installed. 

Counting to 100: #12

Welcome to the Counting to 100 Pianos series. I am blogging my way through my first 100 tunings. For previous pianos, check out these:

I like going back to pianos I have tuned before and seeing how they are doing. My church's piano is one that I now tune regularly (tuning #12!), and I also play it every week, so I get to see how it is doing. The weather really effects this piano, well and pianos in general,  but having a Dampp Chaser helps tremendously. Fun story about this piano: When it is really hot and humid during the summer, the keys get sticky and sluggish. Everything rings because the dampers aren't making it to the strings strongly enough. It was getting very frustrating to play, but then I checked to see if there was a Dampp Chaser installed. There was, it just wasn't plugged in! We made a point to make sure it stayed plugged in, and the reservoir filled, and suddenly everything stopped sticking.  When the Dampp Chaser is plugged in and running, everything works a little more smoothly.

Extremely cold weather can have an effect on pianos too. Cold weather means the heater turns on more, which means pianos get dried out, and tuning takes a hit as the pins start to loosen. When it was really cold a few weeks ago, it seemed like every piano I played was terribly out of tune, even at the university where I accompany. Do your piano a favor, get a humidifier system installed. Email me for more information, or check out this website: Piano Life Saver   

Counting to 100: # 9

Welcome to the Counting to 100 Pianos series. I am blogging my way through my first 100 tunings. For previous pianos, check out these:

Tuning #9 was another new piano! 

Piano: Baldwin Spinet

This particular piano was a spinet built in the 1970's. While Baldwin is a good name (according to the Blue Book of Pianos), the 70's weren't nice to instruments. The quality of instruments from the time isn't always the best. So if you are going to buy a piano, be careful with anything made in the 60's, 70's and 80's. 

No firsts this time, just a funny note. Don't use a leaf blower outside while your technician is working inside and the windows are open. It makes the job a lot harder. Something about the hum of the leaf blower made it really hard to hear the vibrations of the strings and I had to ask the person to stop, at least until I finished. 

I actually hear this piano every week because I teach lessons at this family's home. I enjoy this because I get to hear how well the tuning is holding and how the piano sounds each week. Sadly, I've noticed that the tuning didn't hold as well as I would have liked. There are several factors that could go into this- weather (I tuned it when it was unseasonably warm and just a week or two later the house was closed up with the heat on), the quality of the piano (some 70's spinets just don't have as tight of pin blocks as would be nice), or my tuning (I may not have "set" the pins well enough). I hope to rule out the last possibility next time I tune the piano.