Information & FAQ

Registered Piano Technician

Welcome to the Wood Piano Service Information and FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. Below, we have tried to answer the most common questions you may have.

In addition to the questions and answers on this page, the navigation buttons on the left side of this page link to pages that contain more detailed and specific information, such as Technical Bulletins from the Piano Technicians Guild.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment to have your piano tuned and serviced, please contact us either by phone at (231) 744-1969, or via e-mail at:  lyle@woodpiano.com



About Us: 

My name is Lyle Wood.  I have been providing professional piano service in the Western Michigan area since 1979.  My goal is to provide you the very best in professional piano service. 

My quality standards are high. I have built a thriving piano service business based on high quality work, dependable professional service, and integrity. I am a Registered Piano Technician in the Piano Technicians Guild, since 1979. 

I am married to Margaret, who works with me in our piano shop and also helps with the managerial aspects of the business.  We have three grown children, and 10 grandchildren. 

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What are your qualifications as a piano tuner-technician?

I am a Registered Piano Technician in the Piano Technicians Guild, since 1979. 

I began my study of piano tuning, servicing and rebuilding in 1978.  My initial training in piano tuning was exclusively aural (by ear).  I was mentored by the late Nick Pool.  I learned by study, apprenticeship and practice, and then honed that art and craft through many years of tuning thousands of pianos.  It is only in more recent years that I have incorporated computer assistance into my tuning methodology, in order to maintain the very highest standards in state of the art piano tuning. 

In more than 38 years of tuning and servicing pianos, I have done in excess of 20,000 tunings.  When you consider that the average piano has roughly 220 strings, that comes to well over 4 million strings tuned in my career thus far! 

In addition to the ear training skills necessary to do professional concert level tuning, it takes a great deal of focused study, practice and experience to develop the skill, physical dexterity and tuning hammer technique necessary to producing solid tunings, tunings which will stand up to vigorous playing.  I take pride in having developed these skills over the years, and continue to strive to offer the very best in professional quality piano service. 

I also offer service in repairs, regulating, voicing, reconditioning and complete piano rebuilding.  Over the years, I have rebuilt scores of pianos in our piano shop, both grands and verticals, and have done countless reconditioning, regulation and repair jobs.  I derive great satisfaction out of bringing life back to good quality pianos that have fallen into poor condition. 

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How often should my piano be tuned?

For greatest tuning stability, your piano should be tuned at least two times per year.  This is especially critical in climates such as western Michigan where we have major shifts in seasonal humidity levels.  At the very least, a piano needs a yearly tuning in order to maintain the pitch at A-440, and to keep the tension constant on the strings, cast iron plate, bridges and soundboard.  For more detailed information from the Piano Technicians Guild, and a sampling of the recommendations of several major piano manufacturers, click here

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Do you tune “by ear” (aurally) or “by machine?”

I incorporate the best aspects of both aural (ear) and computer-based methods of tuning.  Technically speaking, I do computer-assisted aural tuning.  In practice, I use a small computer to quickly bring the pitch of each note close to where it should be.  Then, the final tuning of each note is checked and finely adjusted by ear.  There are several benefits to tuning this way.  First, because piano tuning is both art and science, even today’s sophisticated computers and programs cannot take the place of the highly trained ear of the professional piano tuner-technician.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the readout on a computer screen or other electronic tuning device indicates - what matters is how the tuning actually sounds.  Keeping this aural aspect paramount insures tunings that are not only scientifically accurate, but musically and artistically pleasing.  Second, the various readouts on the computer screen are a helpful verification of what the ear is hearing.  Third, being able to digitally store an unlimited number of these computer assisted aural tunings makes it possible to exactly duplicate and even further refine the tunings for individual pianos. 

 

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What is pitch raising, and why is it sometimes necessary?

Pianos are designed to be tuned to the internationally accepted standard pitch, A-440.  Regular tuning helps to maintain the pitch at this level.  However, if tuning is not done at the recommended regular intervals, the pitch will tend to drop lower as time goes on, due primarily to string stretching.  In addition to the passage of time, another factor affecting the overall pitch of a piano is changes in relative humidity.  As humidity changes, the soundboard swells and contracts, causing the pitch to go flat during the winter heating season, and sharp during the high humidity months of summer.  So there is the overall tendency for the pitch to drop over time, along with the additional changes that occur with humidity fluctuations.  When the piano is more than just slightly off standard pitch, an overall pitch adjustment will be required before the piano can be tuned.  This entails doing a quick rough tuning before attempting to actually tune the piano.  Because of the resulting change in overall tension on the strings, plate and soundboard, the piano tuner must calculate how far the added tension will cause the piano to settle away from pitch after pitch raising, and compensate for this additional drifting by “overpulling” the strings a certain percentage beyond their desired final target pitch.  This procedure is generally called “pitch raising,” although in the high humidity months from about June through September in Michigan, it will often actually be pitch lowering.  But whether the piano is overall flat or sharp, either condition requires doing a quick overpull tuning prior to actual tuning of the piano. 

The best steps to take in order to avoid having to have pitch raising or lowering done to your piano (with the resulting extra charge), are:

  1. Have your piano tuned regularly - at least once per year, preferably twice per year. 
  2. Take measures to minimize changes in humidity, either in the overall space your piano occupies, or by having a humidity control system installed in your piano.  (For more information on the Piano LifeSaver humidity control system, click here.)

For more detailed information about pitch raising from the Piano Technicians Guild, click here

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How much does it cost to have my piano tuned?

My current rates are:

  • Tuning:  $150.00
  • Pitch Raising (or lowering):  Usually $60 or less (depending on how far off the pitch is)

These rates are effective for Muskegon County. 

Outside Muskegon County, my  rates are:

  • Tuning:  $155 to $160, depending on the area
  • Pitch Raising (or lowering):  $60 or less (depending on how far off the pitch is)

My service area includes the greater Western Michigan lakeshore, from Grand Haven to Scottville.  Areas served include Grand Haven, Ferrysburg, Spring Lake, Fruitport, greater Muskegon / Norton Shores / N.Muskegon area, Whitehall/Montague, Rothbury, New Era, Shelby, Hart, Pentwater, Ludington, and Scottville.  Also included are the Twin Lake, Holton and Fremont areas.  Infrequently I will go to further outlying areas, for which extra charges for travel apply. 

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Do you do action regulation, voicing and repairs?

Yes, I can perform complete action regulation, voicing, and all needed repairs (major or minor) on any type and make of piano.  (More info in list below)

  • To see PTG Technical Bulletin on regulation, click here.
  • To see PTG Technical Bulletin on voicing, click here.

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Do you recondition and rebuild pianos? 

Yes, I have had extensive experience in both reconditioning and completely rebuilding pianos.  .  (More info in list below)

  • To see PTG Technical Bulletin on reconditioning and rebuilding, click here. 
  • To see photos of some pianos I have rebuilt in the past, click here

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What other services do you provide?

Below are listed most of the services I offer: 

Piano Tuning

    I provide concert-level tuning and servicing on all makes and styles of pianos.  In addition to tuning, I provide pitch-raising when needed, voicing, repairs, regulation, consultation and advice, and other services as outlined near the bottom of this page.  My service area encompasses the Western Michigan lakeshore, from south of Grand Haven, north as far as Ludington and Scottville. 

Repairs

    Very often, the initial reason a customer will call to have their piano serviced is because something is not working right, such as one or more keys that are sticking or dead, or a problem with the pedals, or strange sounds emanating from the piano.  The ability to diagnose and perform repairs is critical to providing complete piano service.  I find it an interesting challenge to not only find and repair the problem, but to also find any underlying cause of the problem, and advise the customer accordingly.  (For instance, extreme dryness may be causing their piano’s tuning pins to slip and action parts to rattle, etc)

Keytop Replacement

    Entire keyboard recovering with new keytops and sharps can restore a piano’s “Hollywood Smile.”  Not only is the appearance important, but the feel of the keyboard affects one’s experience of playing the piano.  Keytops that are chipped, warped, cracked or missing are a distraction to the pianist.  New keytops and sharps can restore the smooth, elegant feel of the keyboard. 

Action Regulation

    A piano action that is well-regulated gives the best “touch” which that piano is capable of producing.  This is important, because it directly affects the responsiveness and overall playability of the piano.  I have done a great deal of action regulation on both grand and vertical pianos, and am continually gratified by seeing customers that are thrilled with the renewed responsiveness of their pianos after action regulation is performed. 

  • To see PTG Technical Bulletin on regulation, click here. 

Voicing

    I regularly perform voicing, or tone regulation, to various degrees as needed.  Sometimes  just a quick spot voicing is needed to even out a few notes or one section of the piano.  At other times, more extensive voicing is needed, to alter the tonal character of the whole piano. 

  • To see PTG Technical Bulletin on voicing, click here. 

Installation of Dampp-Chaser PianoLifeSaver Humidity Control Systems

    Because I have found Dampp-Chaser Humidity Control systems to be so effective at controlling the relative humidity level inside a piano, I frequently install these systems on both grands and vertical pianos.  While a piano with a system installed still needs regular tuning and servicing, the tuning stability between tuning intervals and overall function of the piano is greatly improved. 

    To read more about Dampp-Chaser Humidity Control systems, click - here. 

Piano Reconditioning

    Many pianos can be brought back to better condition without having to go to the expense of total rebuilding.  If most of the internal systems are still viable, selected repairs, cleaning, adjustments, regulation and voicing can often extend the life of the piano for many years.  A thorough evaluation of the piano’s condition, value, and the expectations and needs of the customer can help determine whether or not reconditioning will be sufficient, or whether complete rebuilding is needed. 

Piano Rebuilding

    Since 1979, I have rebuilt scores of pianos, both grands and verticals, in our piano shop.  I try to give customers good and balanced advice as to whether or not their particular piano is a good candidate for complete rebuilding.  If the piano is of poor original quality, I will usually discourage the customer from putting the expense into the instrument, since the results will be limited by the original quality of the piano.  One exception to that rule is when there is a significant sentimental attachment to a piano, such as a piano that has been in a customer’s family for a long time etc.  In those cases, I make sure that the customer is well aware of the limited potential that the piano has as a musical instrument, and if rebuilding is still what they want, then we may proceed.  Of course, my preference is to rebuild pianos of fine original quality, knowing that the end result will be pleasing and satisfying to all concerned.  I have had extensive experience in pinblock replacement, restringing, soundboard and bridge restoration; complete action rebuilding with new hammers and shanks, dampers, key bushings, and action cloth; pedal system rebuilding, and exterior case refinishing. 

  • To see PTG Technical Bulletin on reconditioning and rebuilding, click here. 
  • To see photos of some pianos I have rebuilt in the past, click here

 

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If you find that your question is not answered on any of these pages, please email us at lyle@woodpiano.com or call us at (231) 744-1969.

 


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