Tuning and Piano Maintenance

I own a number of keyboard instruments, one of these is a beloved old, locally made upright piano left to my care by my mom. She bought it for my sister around 1987 and it has been in a state of deterioration until 2012 when I had decided to have the piano reconditioned. After having it reconditioned, it became our keyboard practice instrument. From October to April, the piano’s tuning drifted to a about 50 cents lower than what it should be. My good friend, Kuya Cesar Wycoco, recommended that I call and hire master piano technician, Leonardo Wayan a.k.a. Kuya Nards, to get it into shape.

In contrast to the somewhat reserved and sophisticated Kuya Cesar, Kuya Nards had an air of flamboyance and an astounding level of confidence surrounding him. This is because he really knew his stuff well. He was loud but very entertaining while he worked. He had warned me that given the quality of the upright piano I have (which is somewhat mediocre given its built and post-flooded state), that it would be a challenge getting it to equal temperament at A = 440 Hz. However, he had managed to get it to that tuning, and so the piano sounded wonderful afterwards.

The good thing about hiring Mr. Wayan was that he really knew pianos. He did not mince his words when he said that he was surprised that the piano was already reconditioned when he first saw it. Believe me, it was far worse before he had touched the piano. At the very least, the money I spent last 2012 for piano repairs had at least turned the piano into something workable. Mr. Wayan, being seasoned piano technician for many hotels around the metro, claimed he could have done a much better job at reconditioning the piano than the people I had previously hired.

I got more than a bang for my buck by hiring Kuya Nards. He was a thousand pesos cheaper than the guys who worked on my piano before, he offered me amazing piano tips, was very honest in his dealings, and he even went on to provide a tuning wrench for free.

As part of a self-maintenance plan, he left me a 6-mm square socket wrench and some “Shoes Glue” so that I can perform tuning myself. This morning, I found myself tuning the piano because the upper register had drifted to a few cents lower. My suspicions were confirmed when I measured the tuning of A4 against a chromatic tuner and it registered around 432 Hz. I decided then to tune the piano to A = 442 Hz to solve the problem.

I used the socket wrench that Kuya Nards gave me to do most of the work. Because I didn’t have any rubber mutes, I used a thumb pick fixed to my right index finger to pluck each individual string as I tuned. I started out with A4 and then tuned A5 based on my 442-Hz A4, and then tuned an octave’s worth of keys based on the sound of 4ths and 5ths. Afterwards I tuned the rest of the keys.

I am quite happy with what I was able to accomplish. Maybe in a few more weeks of hammering away at the keys, it’s gonna drift lower again, so I expect to tune the piano again myself about two weeks from now. Maybe I might ask Kuya Nards to take me in as an apprentice. Hmm, now that’s a thought worth considering. Maybe afterwards I might offer a piano tuning service. But perhaps not at this time. If I gain more experience tuning pianos, then I might consider doing that professionally. Kuya Nards said that typically hotels would commission guys like him to get a piano tuned every week, so I’m not at all surprised that I had to tune the piano myself today.

If you’d like to get in touch with Kuya Nards to get your piano back into shape, leave a message in the comments section, and I’ll send you a private message regarding his contact details.


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