June 18, 2024

About How to repair a piano eBook

Learn to repair, regulate and voice pianos the professional way. This book “How to repair a piano” will be a great asset for beginers and/or advance students who also want to repair as well as tune their own piano.
Save lots of money in expensive repairs, and learn a skill that you can use to repair and service other people pianos. In addition, “How to repair a piano” will teach you not only to do repairs, but also so important aspects of the piano as regulation and voicing.

This book is the product of so many years of work. The techniques and methods exposed in this method are based on my own experience working as a piano technician for the last 32 years. As you will discover in this book, most malfunctions on the piano are easier to mend than they look at first sight so, why not to do it yourself. Learn the “tricks of the trade” and repair pianos in no time, I’ll show you how.


“How to repair a piano” Buy and download Now!

$29,95 USD


“How to repair a piano” main Features:

  • 132 pages divides into 7 Chapters comvering all the important issues
  • More than 140 pictures and helpful diagrams
  • Numerous tips and first hand advices
  • Full dedicated chapters covering regulation and voicing
  • A check list for quick reference with the piano most common failures

                            Table of Contents

Chapter I: How the action works 
Grand piano main sections
Note on cross sections nomenclature
Grand piano cabinet  nomenclature
Grand piano action cross section
Upright piano action cross section
Operation of the upright action
Upright wippen assembly
Upright action operation in four phases
How the grand piano action works
Grand piano wippen assembly
Grand piano operation in five phases 

Chapter II: The hammers, common faults and how to repair them
Basic tools
The virtues of “hot glue”
Repairing hammers and shanks
Changing a whole set of hammers
Modus operandi
Repairing a broken hammer shank
Flanges and bushings
Repairing a flange
Sluggish action parts
Repairing broken or damage bridle straps
Final notes and recommendations

Chapter III: The piano strings
Basic tools
Bass strings
Middle and treble section steel strings
Piano wire size number
Procedure to replace a string
Restringing a piano 

Chapter IV: The pins and the pinblock
Pinblock cross section
Pianos that don’t stay in tune
How to repair a loose pin
Pinblock tightener 

Chapter V: The keyboard, the keys
Most common fault
Determine where is the problem
Fixing a sluggish or sticking key
Keys rubbing on the key slip, a classic
Replacing the key bushings
Repairing a broken key 

Chapter VI: Regulating
Understanding regulation
Regulation tools
Basic preparations

Regulating the upright piano
General alignment and squaring
Check and align the travel of the hammer butt
Check and align the hammers to the strings
Check and align the jacks to the hammers
Aligning the backcheck
Regulate hammer stroke
Regulate lost motion
Regulate the average key height
Regulate hammer let-off
Regulate key dip
Regulate hammer checking
Regulate the pedals
Regulate the dampers
Regulate the damper spoons
Regulate the bridle straps
Final note on regulating the upright piano 

Regulating the grand piano
The let-off regulation rack
Basic preparations
Spacing and levelling the keys
Regulate the travel of hammers
Align hammers to strings
Regulate the jack to the hammer roller
Adjust the height of the repetition lever
Regulate the hammer height
Regulate the hammer let-off
Regulate the hammer drop
Regulate the backchecks
Regulate the repetition lever spring
Regulate the dampers
Adjust the height of the damper stop rail
The grand piano pedals
Regulating the grand pedals  

Chapter VII: Voicing
Understanding piano voicing
Voicing tools
The voicing technique
Voicing procedure
Voicing for “strong”
Voicing for “soft
Comprehensive hammer voicing
Voicing the last treble octave
Final notes on voicing 

Action problems summary quick reference
Note is too weak
Note doesn’t sound at all (dead key)
Hammer strikes the strings two or more times
Hammer gets blocked against the strings
Sluggish and “lazy” notes
Notes “clicking” noise
Dampers unable to damp

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$50,92 USD
Any questions about this/these books? Please, let us know.

Copyright © Juan Olalla 2011

Old pianos, the plain truth

 This is about Old Pianos, and how their owners often overate them. In plain words, an old piano  regarded as a “gem” by his/her owner, for the piano tuner is often just a piece of  “old junk”. Better not to say!

Not long ago, (probably a few years) I had a telephone call asking to tune a piano. By the tone of her voice, I guessed the potential customer was and old lady. I must point out that every time I get a call asking for an appointment, I ask for some information. Things  like, what’s the piano maker, how old it is, (the piano, not the customer), and so on. But this time, I probably was busy and didn’t ask more information, just the address. Big mistake.

Few days later I went to do the job, which incidentally was quite far away, in a village about 100 kms. from my place. A charming old lady was there to greet me. Her house, full of antiques, truly looked like a museum. The whole place expired tradition and memories. In that house everything was old, very old. By the way, the pic of the piano in this entry doesn’t correspond to the piano involved in this story.  This is just a  pic from a piano rougly the same period. but in a much better condition.

She took me to the piano, “the jewel” she said. When I saw the “jewel”, at first glance I knew that wasn’t my lucky day. I cursed my negligence for not asking sufficient information before accepting the job and giving an appointment. Let me clarify this, I don’t undertake jobs for pianos over a certain age and state.  Experience tells you, in the vast majority of circunstances they are not worth it. Not for the piano owner neither for the piano tuner.

Any way, it was a massive upright piano, probably mid-19th century, that is about 150 years old, easily. All kind of ornaments, chandeliers and so on, so highly appreciated at the time. I open the top lid, and as expected, a total ruin. The strings, all rusty. The action, neglected and completely out of condition. Also, as in all the pianos of that time, wooden string-plate. 

For the ones of you who don’t know, a piano with a wooden plate, is a piano that in the vast majority of cases, simply is not tunable, and therefore useless, at least from a technical point of view, of course. Cast-iron plates only started to be broadly manufactured around the beginning of the 20th century.

I must admit that my first impulse when I saw the “jewel” was to give an excuse and run away. But not, I didn’t chicken out. After all, I wasn’t prepare to waste the whole day and do about 200  kms. just for nothing. So, I started seriously inspecting the piano.

As I was evaluating the piano, and by extension the silly mess I got myself in, the charming old lady was illustrating me. She bought the piano only two months ago from an old gentleman that obviously had known better times. He inherited the piano from his parents, who at the same time, inherited it from his grandparents.

It is a gorgeous piano which have seen several generations and therefore of a very high value (she reasoned). I am a little bit ashamed to say (she giggled) but the best thing is that I bought this beauty for a ridiculous bargain price (she lowered her voice), just 2000 euros. 

I almost faint, 2000 euros!!?? For me, that old thing wasn’t worth it the money to transport it, and this woman had paid 2000 eutos!!. I wouldn’t accept that piano, even as a gift!!. As often happens, she was totally unconcern about the mechanical condition of the instrument and because there were no missing keys, she more or less figure out that an ordinary piano tuning would be all that was required to bring the piano back to live.

There are times and situations in the life of a piano tuner that are hateful, and this was one of them. How to tell this nice old lady that her piano wasn’t exactly a “jewel”. Well, trying to be as diplomatic as I possible could, I told her that although her piano was certainly a beauty, in reality the mechanical condition left much to be desired, so what the piano needed wasn’t just a tuning, but a restoration.

Now then, a full restoration (I kept informing the lady) would be extremely costly (I wasn’t certainly, willing to do it) and an ordinary standard tuning, little less than impossible, as the pin-block wouldn’t hold the new pressure of the strings (the piano was about one and a half whole steps down).  In the very improbable case that the piano were able to hold the tune, it would be needed at least three sessions to raise the piano pitch, up to standard.

 The lady, to my amazed, didn’t look surprised at all, and took it quite well. This made think that maybe she new more about the piano than she admitted to know. Well, she insisted that I tuned the piano lower pitch, so at least she could play it. 

Then, I did one of the things I most dislike. That is to tune a piano lower pitch. But the customer is always right and the one who subscribes have neither will nor intention to discuss the instructions of his payer. The piano was tuned a whole step down (as requested, impossible to tune it any higher)) and I also did a couple of repairs and odd regulations. 

To finish the whole job took me about four hours. I have to do a first rough tuning, follow by a second fine one. Hated the job, but at least, the old lady was happy to “play” her piano and I didn’t wasted the day and the long driving.  A day to reflect and also to forget.

Notice: If you are a newbie piano tuner or want to work as a such,  I strongly advice you to keep your thoughts (regarding a very old piano) to yourself, as that piece of “old junk” can mean a lot to his/her owner. In order to survive in this business, better to be polite and discreet.

©  copyright Juan Olalla 2010 

Has his articule been helpful to you? Got some questions? Please, leave a reply. Your opinion and/or suggestions are highly appreciated. Thanks                                                      

Tuning a piano with an electronic tuner

This free guide will show you how to “really” tune a piano with an inexpensive tuner. If you want to tune your own piano and have a decent chromatic tuner, this articule is for you.

Reality check:  Most piano tuning tutorials you see on the internet that pretend to show you how to tune a piano with an ordinary cheap tuner are fundamentally wrong, misleading at best, that is a fact. If your idea is to tune your piano armed with a chromatic tuner and a chart of the 88 theoretical piano pitches, sorry to dissapoint you, but things do not work that way. I know you probably dont believe me, so I encourage you to try (as they say, seeing is believing) anyway that will be a good exercise!

Before going any further let me point this out; A piano (any piano) can not be properly tune at least a “temperament” is set in advance either by aural or electronic means.  Ok, but what is the “temperament”? The temperament could be defined as a group of notes in the center of the keyboard (approximately one octave) that are tuned in a certain way. Once the temperament is set we will use it as a reference to tune the rest of the keyboard. Really what this articule is all about is to show you how to set a temperamente with a chromatic tuner.

Given that every note at the piano has a theoretical perfect pitch (for example A4 = 440 htz) it could be assumed that to tune a piano all you have to do is to tune each note to those theoretically perfect pitches. Unfortunately this is not true and whoever has tried that way, will agree that the outcome is rather disappointing. 

So,  can you tune a piano with a low cost electronic tuner? The answer is Yes, but also No!! It all depends on how you do it. There are specific electronic piano tuners and software, but the cost of these  are quite high.  Unless you are going to tune many many pianos they are not worth buying, so if you have an old Chromatic Tuner anywhere, rescue it, maybe you can give it a second life. Let me say that those for tuning guitars are not useful, also better if the tuner is of a certain quality. the one at the pic works quite well. Incidentally,  I dont sell electronic piano tuners neither have any commercial interest in them.

As far as I know, this is the first time on the internet that a method for setting the temperament and by extension to tune a piano with a simple Chromatic Tuner is clearly exposed. So, patient readers and friends hold your breath, the secret is going to be revealed….

Using the procedure that follows you can set a basic and could we say “acceptable” temperament. Let me warn you that the process is slow as you must recalibrate the tuner at each note. I would recommend  nervous and impatient people better to abstain.

Step one:
First thing you have to do is to calibrate the Chromatic Tuner to A-4 440 (standard tuning pitch). This means that  the A4 ( A above middle C) should vibrates at 440 htz (pulses or beats) per second.

Step two:
Now using a felt strip mute each side string of the unisons ranging from F33 to F45 (the temperament range). Look the picture below.

Step three:
Tune F33  to its theoretical frequency (174, 614 htz) then select the tuner to F45 (F just one octave higher). Again strike on the keyboard F33. You will be measuring the
second partial of F33. Now, what we read we subtract from the original theoretical frequency (174,614) and the result that we get we divide by 12 ( The 12 notes of the temperament that we are about to set) 

You have already determined the exact amount of stretch that requieres every note at the temperament. Now just add that little portion to the theoretical frequency of each of the 12 notes, recalibrating the tuner apropriately. Complicated? not really, please read again. As with many things, this is harder to explain than to do.

Step four:
 Tune the temperament (F3 – F4) starting  at F3 (key number F33) moving upwards one note at a time to F4 (note F45). Remember to recalibrate the tuner at each note as we explained earlier.

Step five:
Once you have finish setting the temperament, tune by octaves the upper part of the keyboard, then the bass section. At this stage I would recommend to tune by ear as the chromatic tuner doesn’t work too well on the low and high section of the piano.

This system of tuning a piano with an electronic tuner although not perfect is far superior to just “tune” by replicating the theoretical notes of the piano. Do not forget the importance of a good tuning hammer technic and properly setting  pins and strings. By the way, in case you care to know the cromatic tuner at the header is the “korg OT-120?  priced at about 50 US dollars.

If you are really serious about tuning pianos I would reccomend you to take your time and learn proper aural tuning, or as a second best, to invest in a dedicated electronic or software pro piano tuner, there are some good ones in the market. Calculate and expenditure of about 1000 USD.

©  copyright Juan Olalla 2010 

What do you think about this article, has it been helpful to you? Got some questions? You are welcome to leave a reply. Your opinion and/or suggestions are highly appreciated. Thanks