Welcome to

Piano Tuner Geelong

A Harmony Piano Tuning site, website of Chris Lawson, Piano Tuner & Technician

To seen Chris's other website, CLICK HERE!

Questions & Answers:



Pianos go out of tune f
or several reasons. Probably the four most common factors are:

   - seasonal changes,
   - constant playing,
   - gradual downward drift of pins
   - loose tuning pins.

Seasonal changes  - contrary to common opinion, it is not temperature change which cause a piano to go out of tune, but changes in atmospheric humidity. An increase in humidity will cause the wood in the soundboard to expand. This exaggerates the crown and stretches the strings, thus altering the pitch. The reverse happens when humidity decreases.

Constant Playing—The piano is meant to be played. However, constant playing means that vibrations are travelling regularly from the strings up into the tuning pins. This, over time, will cause the pins to slip incrementally, and the tuning drifts lower.

Gradual Downward Drift  -Even if the piano is not played, string tension will, bit by bit, unwind the pins by tiny increments. Also the strings will stretch, and the pitch will gradually creep lower.

Loose Tuning PinsAnything loose unscrews more easily (logical isn’t it!). There are some ‘quick-fix’ solutions for loose tuning pins (such as ‘pin-block dope’ and knocking the pins in further). However, loose tuning pins are a real danger signal. To deal properly with loose pins very likely means repairs which will cost several hundreds of dollars (such as replacing the pin block).   If looking to buy, there are some instances when a tuner would tell you not to touch a piano with a ten-foot pole – and loose tuning pins is one of them! Don’t ever knowingly buy a piano with loose tuning pins!


     A 'pitch-raise'is as its name suggests: the raising of the pitch of the piano to concert pitch (A440)

      If a piano hasn’t been tuned for many years (or decades!), the pitch may have dropped significantly. If so, pulling it back up to pitch will result in a large increase in tension on the piano frame. This will cause the notes tuned first to drop in pitch again, as more notes are tuned. This means that the piano really needs to be tuned twice.

How is a pitch-raise done?
A pitch-raise is done in two parts:

i. A quick, inexact tuning, where the first notes tuned are taken over-pitch. As the tuning progresses, the extent of this over-pitching is tapered back.
ii A second, fine tuning.

       A pitch-raise is a drastic alteration to the balance and stress on the piano’s workings. So expect some instability after a pitch-raise, as the stretch of the strings across the v-bar and bridges stabilize. A subsequent tuning (perhaps six months later) should produce much more stable results.



      It’s like any piece of equipment; keep it clean and it will last longer and perform better. Look into any remote corner of the house, and you’ll be amazed at how much dust there is! It’s the same with pianos.  Dust and other rubbish can also interfere with the piano's action (eg coins dropped between the keys can cause can cause a jam. 
More serious are vermin infestations (eg mice, cockroaches). These can make a mess of the inside of a piano (mice love to make nests from the felts from hammers or other action parts!). You do not want your piano to be a breeding ground for such creatures as these!


     When the piano is opened up, the action and the keys are removed. The action, the key-bed and other dusty areas are gently brushed to removed built-up dust and grime. This is then vacuumed up. The whole of the interior is also dusted and vacuumed. The keys and the action are then placed back in the piano and tuning can commence. The whole cleaning process might take 30 minutes. With future tunings, a brief cleaning may be necessary, but not as lengthy as the first one (hence the lower charge for subsequent tunings!).


What might need repairing in a piano?

Any number of actions parts may, at various times, need repairing or replacement. These include such things as:

Worn hammer, Cracked or broken flanges, Broken string, Broken hammer shafts, Chipped keys, Broken keys,

Some piano technicians will repair small numbers of these things free of charge (eg one broken string). But if there are several items which need repair, it will, of course, be a different matter! (see page on services and prices 



      Regulating is the adjustment of the piano’s action parts. The purpose of this is to ensure that every part of the action is functioning with the greatest ease, evenness and efficiency.
       Most regulation work is carried out according to a precise set of specifications.


      Thankfully, not as often as tuning! The extent and frequency of regulation will depend upon a number of factors, such as the quality of the piano, how it is used, and how much it is played.

     A home piano, played infrequently, might go through its entire life without a single regulation (although it is likely that it would receive occasional regulation on some parts each time it is tuned). By contrast, a concert grand would very likely have some refined regulation work every time it is tuned, and may even have a thorough regulation two or three times a year.

     One factor affecting regulation work these days is the increasing number of super-strong synthetic materials which last much longer (the perspex elbows of a spinet piano action can last up to 500 years!). Complete regulation (apart from the initial setting up) for such pianos would, very likely, become much rarer.


Inspection  applies mainly to second-hand pianos. However, some new pianos, particularly those of lesser known brands, might bear scrutiny


Before Purchase—Like purchasing a car, you want to know that it functions well and is structurally sound.

Before sale—if you are the honest type, and want a clean conscience, an inspection is a good idea!

For Repairs—if you suspect your piano has major problems, you might want to consult a technician. If you have been diligent, and have had your piano tuned regularly, hopefully your technician will have kept you up-to-date with anything your piano might need.

If you are thinking of purchasing a piano, you will want to know if it is any good!

Contact a piano technician. They will charge a fee to look at a piano for you, but it will be money well spent.

Some tuners may also direct you to certain retailers who have a good reputation; he or she may also may suggest which sorts of piano to look for and which to avoid. They will probably offer this advice free of charge over the phone.

Useful Books:

How To Buy A Good Used Piano    Author: Willard Leverett

     THE PIANO: A Piano Technician’s Guide for the Piano Owner  Author: Philip Gurlik

Useful Websites:

Be careful with websites! - There are some where contributors simply pool their ignorance! Thankfully, the piano industry tends not to attract the quack-cure types or conspiracy theorists! Useful sites are the official websites of the various state guilds.

Victorian Guild: http://www.pianotuners.asn.au/

A useful discussion site is: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/