Monday, August 8, 2016

See our new Piano Tuner Website

Come see our new piano tuner website with lots of pictures and video at

Monday, October 13, 2014


A couple of questions people have when they call us are, "Are we experts at what we do?", and, "How much will it cost?"

The first question, I'll let my customers speak for themselves. Click here to see what they say. Click here to look at my resume.

As for, "How much will it cost", there are two answers:

1. Some things have set prices, and
2. Others are charged by the time it takes.

One thing I don't do is charge for mileage. Our service is unique in that respect. My philosopy is, "Why charge extra if I am going to be in that area anyway?" Overnight stays do not bother us in the slightest, and we have at times spent over a month in areas that way back in the boonies, 80 miles from the nearest McDonald's Restaurant.

To get right to the point most people are asking, The most common price to get your piano back into tune ranges between $110.00 to $165.00 depending on how far the piano is out of tune, and how much effort is required to get it there. Details are below if you want to go further.

Set Pricing On Most Common Tuning Tasks

Tension Analysis - Using computerized diagnostics to troubleshoot tuning stability and other issues - Free with tuning

Full Pitch Raising or Lowering - When a piano has not been tuned in a long time  - $55.00  (This procedure can sometimes be pro-rated for a, "Partial"). It is also recommended to do this in the same visit as the Tuning.

Tuning - (Also known as a, "Fine Tuning", or "Final Tuning"... the end product.) - $110.00

Voicing - Down - Free with tuning if needed

Common Repairs

Hammer Surfacing - $120.00

Broken String Replacement -

Bridle Strap Replacement - $90.00

Key Bushing Replacement - $250.00

Key Top Replacement - $250.00

Damper Felt Replacement (Full) - $250.00

Hammer Shank Replacement - $30.00

Tasks Based on Time

Some common tasks are based on time, because the time varies based on the design and characteristics of a piano that can widely vary in amounts of time necessary to complete a task. Normally I can give an estimated amount of time and a close estimated price when I do an evaluation of the piano at the time I come to tune it.

Technical work is charged at $60.00/hr or the exact amount of time that the task takes. If for some reason, the piano cannot be tuned or repaired, I ask a Minimum Service Fee to cover my time and expense to evaluate your piano. This fee is waived if I Fine Tune your piano in the same visit.

Booking An Appointment

To ask questions or book an appointment, it is always better to call. I try to be aailable to my clients at all times, because you are important. There are times I am out of cell phone range or am on another call, in this case, you can leave a message or text on my phone and I will call you back when I get back in range. The number is:


You may also contact me by e-mail at:

(Just click on the link)

or, if you are outside the Portland Metro Area:

(Just click on the link)

Many of our clients reside across the U.S. in different states. If you are outside the Portland Metro Area, we can sometimes plan a trip to your area. When we are travelling the United States and plan to go through your state, we will contact you to set up an appointment. My computer is set up to alert me when we plan to travel through your area.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Traditional and Computerized Diagnostics

Tension Analysis - Using computerized diagnostics to troubleshoot tuning stability and other issues

Tension Analysis

With the somewhat recent advent of computers in our field, we are now able to diagnose many problems through what I call “Tension Analysis”. Through Tension Analysis, we can measure the tension on a piano and quickly identify problems that may have been missed on a physical inspection. Some of these things include identifying problem changes in humidity, cracked plates and or struts, separated or cracked pin blocks, loose tuning pins, problems in string stability, etc…

Tension Analysis can be done the first time a technician sees the piano. It can head off years of dissatisfaction with a piano by identifying potential or current problems. It enables the owner to take care of a problem before they put money into a piano and are dissatisfied with the result. It is also extremely beneficial for the prospective buyer.
There are as many recommendations for these type of problems as there are problems, there is however a more common problem called stability.

Stability deals with how well a piano holds it's tuning. Manufacturers in general recommend tuning a piano twice a year (every six months) to keep it in top shape. This allows the piano to stay in tune and the player is able to get the most enjoyment out of the piano. It also will train a child's ear to hear music the way it is supposed to sound, this enables them to develop discriminating taste in music.
When a piano is new, there is a "break-in-period" where all the separate components of a piano shift and get used to each other under around 50,000 pounds of tension. A new piano needs more tunings the first year to reach that stabilization that will allow them to hold a tune for a normal 6 month interval of tuning. For a new piano, most manufacturers recommend four tunings the first year in this break-in period. Most dealers forget to tell people this.

There are two sub-headings under stability that I want to touch on as they are the most common. They are:

1. The need for Humidity Control
2. Identifying a piano that won't hold a tune

The need for Humidity Control

For brevity on this web page, I will publish these pre-existing links.

An example of low humidity
I was called to a recording studio where they had reported the piano going wildly out of tune. From servicing the piano before, I knew this piano had a problem with humidity fluxing beyond what the piano could cope with. I had installed an electronic humidity control system to solve the problem, but the piano didn't do what I expected. The owner called me because they thought the piano was way out of tune.

I had only tuned this piano 4 months ago. I wanted to know why the piano did not stay in tune. This is the graph I got from the Tension Analysis.


Notice the big drop in tension between the bass and treble bridges. The big change in tension between these bridges is the greatest indicator of humidity fluxing. The reason for this is because of the location of the bridges on the soundboard.
The soundboard is the big expanse of wood underneath the strings. It acts as an amplifier for sound. Because the soundboard is made of wood, it expands and contracts with the changes in moisture in the surrounding air. As the amount of moisture in the air changes, so does the soundboard.

The treble bridge is located towards the center of the soundboard and moves more than the bass bridge (which is close to the side of the piano) where the soundboard swells or shrinks less when humidity changes.
I mentioned before that I had installed a humidity control system in this piano that would effectively compensate for the changes in humidity. The system has a flashing light and a beeper that lets you know when to add water to the reservoir as the piano's request. The client had me remove the beeper when I installed the system because they did not like the sound of the beeper.
When I arrived, the system was completely out of water. The client did not notice the flashing light. The piano had dried out and the soundboard had shrunk up causing the strings to drop in tension.
I ended up reinstalling the beeper, watering the piano and rescheduling the tuning for when the piano recovered.
An example of high humidity

My Piano Won't Hold a Tune!

The piano is a complex feat of engineering and physics. Yet for the most part, pianos are an assembly line item. Manufacturers have a bottom line where they may only spend a certain amount of time on a piano and still make a profit. 

There is a point where the piano is "good enough" say for 90% of the public and they send it out the door. Even then, the uniformity between pianos can vary widely, even between pianos with adjacent serial numbers.

Variations can be natural or man-made. Being made of components we find in nature...i.e. wood, felt, leather, etc... no two pianos will be alike. Changes in environment will have an effect on the touch, tone and stability of the instrument. Minute changes in manufacturing processes and machining would be examples of man-made variations.

It is because of these reasons, all pianos need to be "prepped" in the store before the sale, or afterwards in the home to bring out the best performance in the instrument. This is where the technician comes in. If the store technician is to bring the most out in the instrument, he must be allowed to "prep" the piano and get it ready for sale. 

I have found the problem of string stability in every name brand I have encountered in the last nine years. Sadly enough, not much attention is paid to the area of seating strings, but this is the main cause that some pianos do not hold a tune. In the past, some of the fine technicians recognized this problem and an attempt they called "Tapping Down the Strings" was tried with a little bit of success. They knew it helped, even though it improved the stability, it was not good enough and the piano was particulary unstable for the first few months.

The Solution

In mid 2004 I took this problem head on. After tuning pianos by ear for over 10 years, I started working with an electronic tuning device that hears with about 100 times more accuracy that we can with our ears. It opened up new vistas in piano technology for me. The computer gave me more feedback about what was happening to the piano than I could detect or measure by ear. I could visually see what was going on with the piano and actually graph what I now call string instability. This is a graph of a piano's tension after tuning it 4 times the first year (as the manufacturer recommended) and even installing a humidity control system.

"Realistically, a pitch difference of a few percent can usually be accommodated successfully during tuning." This is a separate procedure from tuning and therefore is extra money. You can see where it would be frustrating having to pay extra on tuning when the piano should be more stable.
Click here for detailed information on pitch raising
The key to identifying string instability on a graph like this is noticing the large changes in pitch between adjacent notes. A physical test can be performed also for verification.
Since a string is under tension, seating a string properly so that it cannot shift or move in certain places will change the overall tension of that string. The following is a photograph of strings that were not seated properly against the plate at the hitch pin. Seating the string by tapping it down against the plate will cause the string under tension to decrease in tension and become flat in pitch. This change in pitch can be measured. The overall change that results will be the amount of instability removed from the piano.

There are a number of places that need to be adjusted when seating the strings properly. There is also a certain procedure that must be followed to get results that are expotentially improved from the old "Tap Down Procedure" that technicians have done for years. These following keys are the critical issues I have developed through computer aided research in the last two years.

Keys to Stability

1. Change all parts of the string that will move.

2. Make the string travel in a "bee line" (in the shortest possible 3 dimensional route). To make a bee-line, all wire needs to be "helped" when it takes a bend. Whether the bend is around a hitch pin, bridge pin, or bearing point, whenever the angle of the string changes, there will be slack that can be removed. Remember helping a wire bend can be in two different dimensions at one time.

3. Cause the least amount of trauma to the overall tension of the piano by doing half of the piano at a time. This means changing every other string on the piano and then bringing those strings back up to tension with a pitch raise.

4. Stretch the plain wire strings with a string stretcher. Almost 50% of the total change of a string comes from stretching it. We don't stretch wound bass strings because it messes up the coils.


The next 4 graphs are from the same piano at various stages of the process.

This next graph shows what happens to the individual tension of all the strings. When the tension on every other string drops, the tension is taken up by and increased on the "skipped" strings. It would create a vast amount of trauma change in tension if this were not allowed to happen. This way the piano stays in tune immediately instead of being very unstable the following year. This is the difference between the "Traditional Tap Down Procedure" and what we offer.

Even though there are a few individual notes that are outside a 5 cent range, this next chart shows a very desirable place to start a fine tuning. Most of the readings are even within the target range. We changed some strings almost 375 cents and in two passes (pitch raises) they are ready for a fine tuning. That’s impressive because a piano can normally accomodate only about a 4% change in tension. This process exceeds that.


The last graph shows the result of the fine tuning. All pitches are within my target range and additionally within +/- 1 cent. This is fantastic for a brand new piano. Things will only get better with time as the piano goes through it's "new piano break-in period".

Here is some video of the process of seating strings to create tuning stability. Notice how the string which is under tension changes when seated properly.


Other videos:

Single Tied vs Shared Strings AND Reduction Of False Beats

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Our New Motor Home

As many of you know, my friends, we have felt led by the Lord to take our business on the road and travel to the Nashville, TN area. To settle? We don't know... only that we are supposed to go there.

We began this journey last September when we took a step of faith and moved out of our 3 bedroom house with 2-1/2 acres and left behind our dream of country living to pursue what He had in store for us. We had anticipated that we would shortly be in a motor home, but God had different plans. There were things that needed to be accomplished and we still aren't finished yet.

Since we home-school our children, there will not be much of a change in that area, only that we will be able to make history come alive by travelling to different historical sites across the nation and to learn about and experience different cultures. We are becoming closer as a family and are learning to work together, making our lives less complicated; forcing us to concentrate on what is really important, and get back to the basics. Our children are going to get much more intensive one-on-one time with their parents while they are still in their formative years.

Over the last several years we have learned to realize that the family of God is MUCH bigger than I ever imagined in just my little group, and that my brothers and sisters in the Lord have much higher value than I ever considered. We look forward to finding and meeting our extended family, to make long-lasting relationships and share in them the good things God has given all of us, wherever we find ourselves.

This week, we will take a big step forward to the realization of that goal. The Lord has enabled us to finally get that motor home and in my excitement, I want to share these pictures with you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


A vertical piano has about 9,000 moving parts while a grand piano has about 14,000. Regulation is the process of adjustment of those parts to bring out the best performance possible in your piano. Regulation deals with the mechanical aspect of the piano and how the parts interract with each other to accomplish things like ease and quickness of repetition, the ability to play a wide dynamic range (loud. soft and everything in-between), and how heavy or light the touch is. Regulation is the adjustment of geometry that makes every mechanical piece in your piano work at its optimum. There are  built-in adjustment points made by manufactuers for this purpose that compensate for wear as a piano settles and ages.

Good regulation is necessary for the proper functioning of the piano and starts with the keys. The keys are the foundation for the rest of the regulation. Suffice it to say that if they keys are not right, then nothing else can be; just as the foundation of a house is ultimately responsible for the roof. A small mistake at the beginning will be multiplied and amplified to unacceptable proportions in the final result. Our fingers are also the place where we control our music, they are most sensitive place we touch the piano with and can feel the difference in a measurement 1/3 the thickness of a human hair... about 1/1,000 of an inch. This is how precice we have to be in regulation.

For a proper regulation to take place, all parts must function the way they were intended to. it is for this reason, all necessary repairs must be completed first and have stability in relation to other parts. The result is an evenness of touch and control over your piano that enables you to do what you want with your music. It is very tedious, but well worth the effort. The reaction I get when the client first plays the piano after a regulation is, "Wow! I didn't know my piano could play like this!"

For more comprehensive information on regulation, click here.

Winter Studio Piano #78074 - $750.00

This 1924 well maintained mid-sized piano was part of a rental fleet. It was tuned twice a year and had a humidity control system installed to protect it from damages that can occur from fluxing humidity levels.
Since we are taking the business nationwide, we are liquidating our rental fleet and this piano must be sold.
It recently came back from a 3 year rental to a school. Since then, the hammers have been surfaced and the piano has been regulated to provide the optimum in repetition and dynamic range.