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Posts Tagged ‘piano’

  1. Replacing piano tuning pins

    January 28, 2012 by Karl

    Piano berry berry berry berry berry

    This post will show you how to replace a tuning pin on your piano.  If you have it done professionally, it will cost you a minimum of $1000 to have the entire piano re-pinned.  Here I will show you how to do it yourself for a fraction of that price.  You can typically get a full set of tuning pins for less than $100.  I will have some links at the bottom of this post with more information.

    When a piano gets old (more than 50 years) the tuning pins start to become loose in the pin block (a block of wood that is built into the piano).  This is due to the number of times the piano has been tuned over the years.  Each time the pins are adjusted, the hole becomes a bit bigger in the tuning block.

    There are several methods to take care of this problem, but the best overall method is to replace the existing tuning pins with the next larger size.  All other methods are just as time-consuming, and the results are not as not as good (I speak from the reading I have done on the subject, not personal experience).

    One concern in doing this is that you don’t want to crack the pin block.  A cracked pin block is will render the piano useless unless replaced.  To replace the pin block is very expensive on a grand / baby grand piano, but on an upright it is generally considered not doable.  To replace the pin block on an upright would require complete disassembly of the piano case.  The piano is built around the pin block on an upright piano.

    In an upright piano, there is no way to know for sure if the pin block is cracked, but generally, from what I read, if all the pins are loose and won’t hold a tune at all for more than a few hours, there is a good possibility that the block is cracked.

    The first step in replacing a tuning pin is to find out the current size of your pins.  The only way to do this is to remove one of the pins.  The video below will show you how to do this.  First take a look at the pins to see if they all generally look the same.  There may be a few that have already been replaced, and it will be somewhat obvious by the color / oxidation on the pins.  If none have been replaced, then you job is that much easier.

    In order to ensure that the pin block is not going to be cracked by the work you are doing, you SHOULD buy the proper size drill for the pin you are installing.  In my video, you will see that I have gone with a drill that is a bit smaller than it should be for the pin.  I may pay the price for this later by cracking the pin block.

    Here is a chart of pin sizes.  The proper drill bit is going to be .009 inch smaller than the pin diameter.  Yes, that is 9 thousandths of an inch.  There does seem to be some different information on the internet about the exact size of the drill bit, so there is probably a little wiggle room here, but I wouldn’t go to far. YOU MUST HAVE A MICROMETER to measure these pins correctly.  Borrow one, rent one, or take the removed tuning pin to a piano shop or machine shop to have them measure it for you.  I just happen to have my own, but most people do not.

    Size 2/0 – .282″ diameter

    Size 3/0 – .286″ diameter

    Size 4/0 – .291″ diameter

    Size 5/0 – .296″ diameter

    Once you know the diameter of the pins you need to replace, you should buy a pin that is one size bigger.  If you can get pins the same length, you may not need re-drill the hole, though there are also spoon type reamers that you can buy to prepare the hole for the new pin.  I’ve read that it is best to ream the hole as a minimum.

    You can buy the pins at a local piano shop if you are buying just a few, or you can buy them on-line at a piano supply house like THIS if you plan to re-pin the whole piano.

    Here’s my video on how I’ve done it.  Please be kind, this is my first video post.

    Please post a comment if you found this video helpful!

  2. Tune your own piano

    January 1, 2012 by Karl

    piano berry berry berry berry berry

    This article will teach you some of the basics of how to tune your own piano.  If you are a thrifty and frugal minded piano owner, this is for you.

    I grew up in a musical family. My mom was a piano teacher and concert pianist, and we all sang and played various instruments. One thing that has stuck out in my mind was how temperature and humidity sensitive pianos are.  If they are not kept at a constant humidity throughout the year, they go out of tune in as little as a few weeks. This can be a very expensive proposition for a finicky ear. I remember the piano tuner coming over regularly to keep both our pianos in tune when I was a child.

    Now with my own family, my daughter was taking lessons and practicing on a cheap electronic keyboard, so my wife started pressuring me to get a piano. I instantly started seeing dollar bills flying out the door at the first mention of a piano. Not only would we have the expense a piano purchase and moving of the beast, but keeping it tuned was going to be a nightmare.

    I slowly warmed up to the idea of buying a used piano from a local thrift store or finding one on Craigslist, but the cost of maintaining the thing seemed non-negotiable until I looked into the option of tuning it myself.  I realized that I could get the necessary tools off Amazon for about half the cost of bringing a piano tuner in for one visit.  All I needed was a laptop, some free (or evaluation) software, a tuning hammer (for some reason piano tuners call their wrench a hammer), and some “black wedge thingies” which I later found out were called mutes.

    Armed with this information, I was now actually excited about finding a piano to fix up and tune.  With a quick search, I found one on Craigslist for $50.  When I went to look at it, I almost didn’t take it because it was in such seemingly bad shape, but the woman was desperate to get it out of her house and lowered her price to $25, which was simply too good to pass up.  I probably could have gotten it for free if I pushed a little harder, but just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

    Some friends helped me load it onto my trailer, and before long it was parked on our living room floor.  I was beginning to think that I had just purchased a $25 carpet weight when I opened it up and started sucking out wads of cat hair with the vacuum cleaner.  Two of the keys played at the same time when either one was pressed down, and I discovered someone had jammed a house key between these piano keys.  Once removed, they worked fine.  I also found a quarter between another two keys, which oddly was not causing an issue.  A little furniture polish had it looking much better, but the piano was still desperately out of tune.  My newly purchased tools were still on the delivery truck passing through somewhereville USA, so I took some time to go to the library and take out a few books on piano repair.  I highly recommend doing some background reading if you want to attempt your own piano tuning project.

    UPDATE 2/9/12

    I have now revised and re-posted this article here:

    Sorry for the inconvenience.