Pianos and More

Piano Tuning Technician

Piano Servicing, Repairs, Parts & Accessories,

International Member of the Piano Technicians Guild

In a 7 octave piano there will be over 200 strings to be tuned. Each string has about 73 kg (160 lbs) of tension on it. The combined pull of all the strings is approx. 16,300kg or 18 tons. In a concert grand the tension will be close to 27,180kg or 30 tons. A drop of 1/2 step in pitch can equal a change of 3000 to 5000 Pounds of tension! (Now you know why it is important to keep your piano tuned). The working section of the piano is called the action. There are about 7500 parts here, all playing a role in sending the hammers against the strings when keys are struck. Pianos are made of thousands of pieces of wood glued together to form various parts of the playing mechanism as well as the cabinet. Felt, buckskin, paper, steel, iron, copper, and other materials are also used. A new piano should be tuned four times the first year, with the change of seasons, and at least twice a year after that. Independent studies show that children who learn piano tend to do better in school. This is attributed to the discipline, eye-hand coordination, social skills building, learning a new language (music) and the pleasure derived from making your own music. Over the years there have been many attempts at "improving" the piano. One such experiment was to replace some of the wooden action parts with plastic. It didn't work, they cracked with age. That pianos were the first meaningful brand names, the first 'status symbol', and the first major items sold on an installment basis, which was the cornerstone of several major banking institutions of today. A grand piano action is faster than a vertical (spinet, console, upright) because it has a repetition lever. This allows the pianist to repeat the note when it is only half way up. A vertical action requires letting the key all the way up to reset the hammer action. The worlds largest piano is a Challen Concert Grand. This piano is 11 feet long and weighs more than a ton. The term A-440 concert pitch refers to A above middle C vibrating at 440 cycles per second.The exact middle of the keyboard is not middle C, it is actually the space between E and F above "middle" C. The Bösendorfer Imperial concert grand piano is 9' 6" long and has 9 extra keys stretching to a growling C below bottom C. (The Imperial grand sold for $55,000 in 1980.) The 9' and 7' 4" grands have four extra bass keys, the lowest of which is F below bottom C. The comma of Pythagoras (known also as the ditonic comma) is the difference between a cycle of just fifths and seven perfect octaves. In equal temperament tuning this comma is absorbed by the diminishing of each successive fifth in the cycle by the amount of 1/12th of the comma. Paul Janko, Austria, constructed a keyboard of six tiers, one above the other - runs and arpeggios made less difficult than on regular piano keyboard. G. Hoffman built a symetrically rounded piano in 1804. Mangeot of Paris built a piano with reversible keyboards in 1876. Nickelodeon is a general term used to describe various electrical coin operated pianos.


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