What does a piano technician do?

We commonly talk about "piano tuners", but the person who works on your piano really should be  a "piano technician".


A piano tuner only tunes the piano -- tightens or loosens the strings to put them all in the right pitch, so they play the correct tone when struck by a hammer.

A piano technician tunes your piano but can also repair, regulate, and voice it so that it sounds and plays its best.  A technician needs more skills and training than someone who only tunes pianos.

Your piano won't need all the skills and training your technician has every time it gets tuned.  But it's great to know that the person who works on your piano will recognize and fix problems before they become critical.

Tuning a piano means adjusting the tightness of the strings so that they all play the correct tones.  It also means matching all the strings of a note (if there are more than one) so that they all play the same tone.  This can be a real challenge in some pianos.

Repairing a piano can mean anything from fixing a broken string to replacing parts that are worn out.  Pianos are full of moving parts, and they get old and brittle over time.  Pianos need to be played to stay in their best condition - but parts wear out.  It's a trade-off, but I would always rather see a piano that has been played consistently throughout its life, even if it means replacing worn-out parts.  If it has been played, it's almost always a better investment than one that has been used as furniture.

Regulating a piano is the process of making sure that all the parts move the right distance at the right time.  When a piano is regulated properly, it is easier to control, more rewarding to play, and produces better sound.

A piano that is out of regulation or has worn-out parts will never play or sound as well as it could.  And a student who learns on a poorly regulated piano will learn bad technique habits that are difficult (if not impossible) to change later.  That is why you are wise to have a piano technician maintain your piano.

Pianos are made almost entirely of wood and metal and wool felt, held together with steel pins and glue.  Parts get brittle, smooshed, and eroded over time.  Some parts can be repaired, and others need to be replaced -- but all pianos need to be regulated every 7-15 years.

Voicing a piano helps it sound its best.  Have you ever listened to a bunch of singers and could pick out individual voices, even though they were singing the same notes?  Pianos are like that, too.  Each one has its own individual voice, and we want that voice to be pleasant and capable of a whole range of different tones.

So why bother with a piano?  What a pain!  We do it because nothing sounds or plays like a piano. 
We do it because we love these instruments, even when they are in sad shape.  No digital keyboard will ever play like a piano, no matter how fancy or expensive it might be.  It can't. 

I play professionally when I'm not working on other people's pianos, so I tend to be pretty sensitive to problems that pianos have.  I want your piano to play as well as if it was my own.

And if you have a new player in your house, then I want it to play even better than that... because I know that a new player needs all the encouragement and help possible.  And a piano that plays well is a piano that is more likely to be played.

For more information about piano technicians, please visit the Piano Technicians Guild.  The PTG has many resources for piano owners, teachers, and technicians, and I am a proud Guild member.



Here's a piano technician joke: