Click on a question below to find out more.

+ Why does my piano go out of tune?

When humidity changes in the vicinity of the piano, all of the wood in the piano expands or contracts in response to that change. This includes the soundboard. If the piano is tuned in January, humidity is low, and the soundboard is contracted. Humidity rises as winter goes to spring and the soundboard expands. The expanding soundboard exerts pressure on the strings, the strings get tighter and the pitch of the strings goes sharp or higher. If the piano is tuned in July, when the soundboard is expanded, the pitch of the piano will drop as winter approaches.

Seasonal changes in tuning can be greatly reduced with a Piano Life Saver™ System. These systems maintain the humidity level of the soundboard at about 42% relative humidity, all year long. This results in the piano staying in much better tune between tunings.

Frank Cahill Piano Service sells, installs, and services these systems.

+ Is a used piano a good purchase?

Good used pianos can be purchased for thousands of dollars less than a similar model purchased new. Not all used pianos are equal. A used piano should be examined by a piano technician to determine the quality of the instrument. After examining the piano, the technician will be able to determine if the purchase would be worthwhile.

Used pianos can be purchased from private owners, institutions, or piano dealers. Buying from a private owner may be the cheapest source of a used piano. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees from private owners.

Rick Jones Pianos in Beltsville, MD. sells used pianos that include a ten-year warranty on all repairs. Parts and labor are included in the warranty. As long as the piano is tuned biannually, the warranty is in effect. See www.Rickjonespianos.com.

+ What if my piano cannot be tuned?

Tuning a piano involves loosening or tightening the strings as needed to produce a pleasant musical sound. Strings are adjusted by turning the tuning pin associated with each string. As a piano ages, the tuning pins can become so loose that they cannot hold a string at the correct tension.

If the piano is in otherwise excellent condition, the tuning pins can be replaced with new tuning pins that have a wider diameter. The new pins will be very snug and allow the piano to be tuned. In most cases, however, installing new tuning pins is not cost effective. Loose tuning pins are usually found on old pianos that also have many other serious problems.

If the piano is old, a cost effective way to bring the piano back to tunable condition is to treat the original tuning pins with a thin glue, similar to the popular ‘super glues”. The piano is placed on its back so that the tuning pins are positioned vertically. Grand pianos already have tuning pins positioned vertically, so they are always ready to be treated. The glue is applied to the base of each tuning pin. This causes the wood surrounding the tuning pin to swell and tighten around the tuning pins. The piano can then be tuned.

+ Will a piano tuning include fixing sticking keys?

Keys stick for many reasons. Repairing sticky keys may require a very short amount of time to repair, or may require a substantial amount of time to repair. In most cases, the piano must be partially disassembled to allow access to the faulty parts to repair the sticky keys.

The piano business is just like any repair business, such as auto repair or air conditioning repair. The more items that are repaired during a service call, the greater the cost. For example, if your auto technician changes your auto’s spark plugs there is a set fee for that service. If the spark plug wires also need to be replaced, there is an additional charge to replace those wires.

Expect to pay an additional fee above the cost of the tuning if your piano has keys that stick. The cost of the repair depends on the complexity of the repair. An estimate will be provided for this repair or any repair before work is performed.