Mitchell Piano Service Services

 

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A few words about "Service"

I strive to provide the highest quality professional and technical services.   Whether you are an accomplished pianist or someone just starting out, I will take the time to make sure you understand everything I plan to do (along with an estimate) before I start working.   

For me, it's all about customer satisfaction.  If for any reason you're not happy with my work, then I'm not happy -- I will extend every effort to correct the situation. 

I usually work normal business hours Tuesday through Saturday.  But please contact me if another time accommodates your schedule better. In the hectic world we live in, the last thing you should need to worry about is having your piano tuned. 

 

If you've read any of the articles I've published on this site, it should be clear that I believe piano maintenance to be much more than just keeping your instrument in tune. Lets review your piano to determine what's needed to bring it to peak performance. 

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GENERAL PIANO SERVICES

I offer three levels of general tuning and piano service:

1) Basic Tuning ($170*):  Tune to A-440. Check and adjust pedals. This service is best for pianos that are tuned regularly and are well maintained. A single-pass tuning usually takes about 45 minutes.  But I try to leave a little extra time in my schedule for minor regulation or voicing if needed.

Why should I have my piano regularly tuned?

Your piano is made of materials such as wood, leather, adhesives and felt which respond to the environment.  So even if the piano is not being played regularly, its pitch can change in response to humidity or temperature variations (humidity tends to be the strongest driver - the pitch rises as humidity goes up).  Your piano was designed to be tuned to the international pitch standard of 440Hz.  It will sound its best when tuned to this pitch.  Maintaining this pitch is also important if you have children in the household (so that they learn to remember pitches correctly) or if you regularly play with other instrumentalists or vocalists.  Most piano manufacturers recommend four tunings in the first year and twice a year after that. 

But in the end, the question has a simple answer: A tuned piano is more fun to play!

2) Full Service Tuning ($230*): Tune to A-440 (including a Pitch Raise -- two pass tuning if needed). Depending on the particular instrument: repairs, fix regulation issues (pedals, action, keys or dampers), and voicing for any uneven notes. (A separate estimate will be provided should more significant repairs, regulation or voicing be indicated.)  The Full Service Tuning is recommended for anyone who wants a more comprehensive service call. Also recommended for recording sessions or performance venues.  (Up to one and 1/2 hour).

Why would a piano need a "Pitch Raise"?

Over longer periods of time, pianos generally tend to drop in pitch.  If a piano is far out of tune, it’s usually not possible to bring it up-to-pitch in a single pass since tightening the strings at one end of the piano will throw already completed sections out of tune.

A “Basic Tuning” assumes that the piano is close to pitch and only requires a single pass.  But if it’s been years since the last tuning, then it’s likely that a “Pitch Raise” will be required which includes two passes through the tuning process. (More than two passes may be needed if it’s been many years since the last tuning.)

3) Tone Building & Voicing: Bed the keyframe, seat strings at bridges, level strings, file hammers for shape and string matching, and tune to A-440.  Voice the piano.  For the most discriminating grand piano owner, this process brings your piano to peak performance for tone, power and dynamic range by correcting hammer-to-string mating issues and voicing the instrument.  This picture shows the types of alignment issues that can occur:

(* prices are for San Francisco and neighboring cities)

DISKLAVIER SERVICE

The Disklavier System refers to Yamaha's line of player acoustic pianos.  Please contact me if you having problems with your Disklavier and I'll be happy to service it.   For details on this service, please see my Disklavier Repair Policy.  (Note that I only service the Disklavier Acoustic Pianos.  I don't work on Yamaha's Clavinova electronic or AvantGard hybrid pianos such as the NU1, N1, N2 or N3.  For these instruments, either contact Yamaha or CAE Sound )

REGULATION

"Regulation" is the term for making all the needed adjustments in the keys, action and pedals so that your piano can play through its full dynamic range and with good repetition.  (There can be as many as 20 adjustments per key.)

  •  Touchup Regulation: set hammer blow distance, adjust for lost motion, set let-off, and adjust back checks
  •  Basic Regulation: (repairs and adjustments necessary to bring regulation to a good level): ease keys, check and correct key height/dip, adjust: blow distance, lost motion, let off, checking, aftertouch, dampers to pedal, center pedal, soft pedal and bridal wires.
  •  Complete Regulation: (all repairs and adjustments needed to achieve a fine regulation).  All Basic Regulation, plus: replace key punchings, level and adjust keys, set key dip, align all action parts, space and travel hammers, full damper regulation
  •  Partial Damper Regulation
  •  Full Damper Regulation: adjust all dampers from scratch.

REPAIRS

I am well equipped to handle all repairs from simple problems (stuck key, broken string, squeaky pedal) to more complex issues.

 

The picture at the right shows a "key rebushing" job in-progress.  This is something that frequently gets ignored on older pianos.  But it replaces the "rattling" keys with nice, firm keys, restoring a lot of a piano's touch. 

In many cases, I will personally do the repairs myself.  However for more substantial projects, I have a list of very well qualified colleagues and vendors that I maintain for bigger jobs.  A good example of this is the complete replacement of all keytops - I'd much rather give this someone who does it for a living and can do a perfect job of installing new keytops.

Please note that I do not do any cabinet refinishing and only minimal woodworking repairs.  Again, I have some very good people I can recommend if that is your need.

Replacing broken strings is a common piano repair.  There are many subtleties to getting it "just right" and this is just one example were hiring an experienced technician pays off.

The picture to the right shows examples of a poorly done string replacement.  The left arrow points to coils that were not properly "snugged" in place, which can result in unstable tuning for that note.  On the right, one coil overlaps another again resulting in unstable tuning and possibly premature string breakage. 

SERVICE ESTIMATE

  •  Purchase / Repairs Estimate - $200 

Are you considering buying or selling a piano?  For the Repairs Estimate, I will do a full evaluation and provide written documentation on the condition of the piano.  This can be very useful in your purchase decision or to help you convince a buyer on the quality of your piano. 

If you are in the market for a new or used piano, I highly recommend getting copies of Larry Fine's books: "The Piano Book" and "The Piano Book Supplement".  These are rich in information on buying pianos, histories of piano brands, relative comparisons of brands and retail pricing information.  An online version may be accessed through http://www.pianobuyer.com/

For buying or selling pianos, it's hard to beat Craigslist.  Just spending some time on the pianos page will quickly calibrate you on the typical prices of used pianos.   It also doesn't hurt to check other cities if you have a particular brand and model in mind.

 

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