Counting to 100: #15 or Sometimes Heaters Are Good

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

 

Last year I completed one of the hardest tunings I've ever done. You can read about it here. When I arranged to go back this year, I was apprehensive but resolved. I managed to do it last time, surely this time it couldn't be worse. 

Well, it was better. Night and day better. A completely different piano. So what happened? What made those jumping strings even out and wonderfully easy to tune? I honestly don't know. Especially since I couldn't figure out why the strings were jumping last time.

But here's my best guess: something changed in the humidity of the piano. I just wrote about Where to Put Your Piano and said not to put a piano near a wood stove or similar heater. However this piano is in the same room as a wood stove, and I think in this case it was a good thing. Now, it wasn't RIGHT next to the heater, which would have been bad. However, the heat of the stove may have dried out the piano just enough that everything started moving properly again.  Another factor might be general seasonal humidity. Last time I tuned the piano in late August. This time I tuned it in mid-June. A summer of humidity could have played a significant role as well.  

The moral of the story is humidity (or lack thereof) has a HUGE impact on your piano. 

Counting to 100: #7

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

Piano #7 I've been hesitant to write about. In my short career there have only been two pianos that I have started tuning, only to quickly realize there is something wrong and tuning the piano is going to be a nightmare. This was the second. 

Many times when a piano cannot be tuned it is due to loose tuning pins. The tuning pins are little metal rods that the strings are wrapped around. These are pounded into holes in the pin block (made out of wood). They are supposed to be so tight that they can withstand the strain of the super strong piano wires pulled taught. If the holes get worn down and the pins get loose, then the piano won't stay in tune.

But on these pianos, the tuning pins weren't really that loose. Instead, I think the tuning problem was with the wires getting caught somewhere and not moving smoothly. There are various points of contact for the strings within the piano other than the tuning pins. If the strings get stuck at any of those points, they will not move when you try to raise or lower the pitch. When they finally do get free, the sudden release of tension will make the pitch jump way beyond what was intended. This doesn't mean the piano is impossible to tune, just really hard.   

Anyway, it was a Cable-Nelson grand piano in other wise fairly good condition. I hope next time I can figure out more of what is going on and help save a very pretty piano. Otherwise, I can just expect another rough tuning next time.