Expert Piano Tuning in Greater Manchester
You can count on me to tune all models of pianos whether new or antique. I tune pianos for beginners and professional pianists alike. I offer piano tuning services for customers in Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas. Get in touch with me for a free quote.
Keep your piano at pitch
What is an acoustic or real piano? How is a real piano made? What is the difference between an acoustic piano and a modern keyboard? How does artificial heating and the weather affect a piano? Why does an acoustic piano regularly need tuning? What are the different types of tuning? Why bother to have my piano tuned? What else does emspiano tuning, Manchester, do?
Although the invention of the harpsichord was much earlier, the development of the pianoforte is an Eighteenth Century invention, the purpose of which was to make it easier to make soft and loud music across a wide tonal range. Each one of your fingers can be used to make a different pitch. It takes regular practice to learn, but one can accompany oneself and become an entertainer. Construction strength and methods have improved beyond recognition since then, but the underlying purpose remains the same.
A bit about wood
The nature of any conventional stringed instrument is such that compression in its heart forces the wood to vibrate in sympathy with the strings, once they are set in motion. The sound is thereby naturally amplified so that we can hear it. The quality of that sound varies according to the physical properties and quality of the wood and the workmanship that went into its manufacture, and this quality can be heard. It is the job of emspiano to bring out (in an aural sense) the quality and beauty of that wood, so that it should give you pleasure when you hear it.
Wood is organic. The heart of a piano is its soundboard. This is made of a straight-grained softwood such as spruce. The manufacturer attaches bracing bars, or ribs, to the soundboard and these should force the board into a slight curve or what we call the crown. The soundboard is slowly dried in a large kiln for a fortnight or more. Wooden bridges are attached to the soundboard as necessary to its design and then the board is varnished. The rest of the piano, including its iron frame and the casework, is built around the soundboard and the piano is strung. Once the strings are tensioned, the soundboard starts to fulfil its purpose as the strings exert a down-bearing on the bridges. When the strings vibrate, the bridges transfer the vibrations (sound waves) along the grain of the soundboard and amplification occurs without the use of electricity.
Wood is porous. It can absorb and hold, or give up and lose, a significant quantity of water. When it absorbs water it swells; when it gives up water it shrinks. You don’t have to put the wood in a bath: it absorbs water from the air. This effect may have annoyed you when the wooden door got stuck in the winter. If you went to the trouble of planing it down, there’s now a large gap in the summer for drafts to come in. So far as wooden doors are concerned, one can minimise this effect by using hardwood, so the effect is less pronounced, or change to uPVC. But if you use anything other than a straight-grained spruce (which is a softwood) or similar for the heart of a musical instrument, you lose the organic quality of the tone so natural amplification of a musical sound does not occur. You may have heard this effect if you plucked a bass guitar when it was not plugged into an amplifier.
Many sounds produced by the best modern keyboards today are or were obtained from the audio sampling of high quality acoustic instruments. The samples are then formatted as sound files into the circuit boards. A touch-sensitive keyboard is created, which has its uses. But one is always limited by what a loudspeaker can produce. Any tone quality can only ever be a copy of the real thing. So they may be very smart, but cannot be naturally beautiful.
As stated above, wood moves as moisture affects it. This is an irresistible force that the ancient Egyptians would use, long before the advent of modern machinery with an independent mobile power source. They would jam dry wood into the cleft of a rock, and pour water on it. Just wait a few minutes, and the wood swells, forcing the rock to split. Simple and cheap, if less easy to control. Regarding pianos however, (please don’t pour water on your piano as an experiment!) the amount of moisture in the air directly affects the height of the soundboard crown, so that in damp conditions, the crown will increase and the piano will go sharp; in dry conditions the crown will decrease and it will go flat. As it is vague and unhelpful to say that we feel damp or dry, we measure the moisture in the air in Percentage relative humidity (%rH).
Relative Humidity and Comfort
It has been found that warm air can hold a surprising quantity of water vapour, and that cold air holds less. One atmospheric result of this, is that warm air rises because it is lighter, and reaches colder conditions. There, as the air cools, the rH reaches 100%, and condensation occurs. This forms cloud and eventually turns to rain, which seems to happen quite a bit over Manchester! At other times, a hard frost in the winter forces water out of the air at ground level, where it freezes on your car windows etc. But the air is now bone dry. Technicians have harnessed this effect to develop freeze drying.
We like to be both warm and dry, especially in our homes. The alert among you will notice a contradiction here, as we attempt to control our environment. If we want to be warm, expect loads of moisture. If we want to be dry, expect to be cold. Well we are not comfortable like that. So we take cold air, which even at 80%rH, holds a only a small quantity of moisture, and warm it up to say, 20ºC without introducing any water, so that the rH reduces to say, 30%. Now that is fairly comfortable, although you may find you need to drink plenty of water. The trouble is that such an atmosphere will pull water out of any possible source, including any wooden furniture in the room. This of course includes your pianoforte, where the crown of its soundboard will decrease and the piano will lose pitch. In the summer, you may turn the heating off, and a damp, warm summer will have the opposite effect on your piano’s soundboard. The crown will likely increase and the piano will be forced sharp. And all this, whether you play or not! So you need to call emspiano twice a year, to keep your piano at the correct pitch, to give you maximum pleasure from your pianoforte.
I have found that many pianos are neglected. Rather than being the pride and joy of the home and something to admire, many are frankly more of a joke. When a piano has been neglected for several years, or even if tunings have occasionally been done, emspiano is waiting for your call, to enliven your piano and enhance your enjoyment. Many people are surprised when this can be done. Although it costs more than a standard tuning, and each piano has to be inspected before a price can be estimated, emspiano can often bring your piano back to life, so that it can be your pride and joy, and a source of lasting musical pleasure. It is even (surprisingly) possible to transform brand new upright and grand pianos, which may have been assembled anywhere in the world, and make them respond more easily, in an amazing way, whatever the standard of your musical efforts. This encourages children to practise, and delights older musicians in equal measure.
With 42 years’ experience piano tuning Manchester, I take care of all acoustic pianos - old, new, upright or grand. The convention these days, is to tune all instruments to equal temperament, which means that there is not so much difference in the mood effect of the sound, if you choose to play in a different key. A select few clients however, prefer early keyboards dating from the Nineteenth Century, which require the use of different pitches and temperaments. Emspiano successfully tunes those too. One client regularly likes his 1980’s piano tuned to a Kirnberger temperament. This is one of several available compromises between mean tone, which really sounds terrible in most keys, and equal temperament, to which our ears are more familiar. He says it gives him more opportunity to express his musicality. so however you want to express yourself, I really can help!
So please contact EMS Piano Tuning Manchester:
0161 740 3971 or 07776 251698
and leave a clear message, including your address full name and phone number for a convenient appointment.
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