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Tom DeFerrari Piano Tuning and Servicing

State College 814-237-6933

Clearfield 814-290-6252

Northern Cambria 814-672-5984

Please don't attempt to text the above phone numbers,

as they are all land based and can't accept texts.

 tdeferrari@gmail.com

 

Tuning Cost and Scheduling

Cost

I charge between $65 and $90 plus Pennsylvania sales tax (or $68.90 to $95.40) to tune a piano, depending on how far out of tune the piano is.


There is no mileage charge for State College, Bellefonte, and eastern  Clearfield County.

There is a $10 mileage charge for  Huntingdon, Blair, and Cambria Counties and the rest of Centre County.

There is a $20 mileage charge for all other areas.

If you are outside of my normal service area, or if you are in a hurry and I would need to make a special trip, please email or call me for a quote. 

Scheduling

Depending on where you are located, I can usually schedule within a couple of weeks.

For the State College area and most of Centre County, including Philipsburg and Bellefonte, and  for Tyrone, Houtzdale, and the surrounding  areas, I can usually schedule within a week or two.

For  the Altoona area, Clearfield county south of Route 80,  and northern Cambria county, I can usually schedule within a month or so.

For all other areas it may take a month or two to schedule, though if I am already scheduled in the area it may be much sooner.

When scheduling, I typically give a 1 hour range of when I will arrive. For example, I'll schedule to arrive sometime between 1 pm and 2 pm, or 2:30 and 3:30, etc.. This is because I never know exactly how much time the earlier tunings will take. Within that hour time slot, I am on time at least 95% of the time, but if for some reason I am delayed, I make every attempt to call.

Fine tuning, rough tuning and pitch adjustments.

The reason the cost of a tuning varies is because sometimes a piano is so far out of tune that it must be rough tuned before it can be fine tuned. Technically, this rough tuning is called raising the pitch, or a pitch adjustment. The pitch is the measurement of the overall tension level of the strings, which in turn determines how sharp or flat the piano is. (For more detailed information on this please see Piano Tuning Information). This terminology can lead to some confusion, and even frustration, when a piano tuner quotes one price over the phone for tuning, but then charges more because the pitch needed adjustment. It all looks like tuning to the average person. I include this rough tuning or pitch adjustment in the prices quoted above, except in the special situations mentioned below. When getting quotes from piano tuners for the cost of tuning, it is a very good idea to ask for a similar clarification.

Occasionally I see a piano that is so far flat that, in my opinion, it should be brought to the standard pitch in stages. A piano typically becomes this flat from not having been tuned in many years. In this situation, adding too much tension all at once to the strings creates a much higher risk of strings breaking, and it is even possible for the cast iron plate to break, though this is very rare.

In the event that the piano is so flat that it needs more than one tuning, I will raise the pitch as far as I feel is safe, and then fine tune the piano, all of which is included in the above quoted prices. At this point the piano will be perfectly in tune with itself, and can be played immediately without further tunings. However, the piano won't be playable with other instruments, since it will be flat compared to them. Depending on how important it is to the owner to have the piano at the standard pitch, the next tunings can be done within a few months, or over the next few years.

If it is important to have the piano at the standard pitch immediately, I can do that, though as mentioned, the risk of strings breaking is greater. In this case, I will need to do 2 or more rough tunings before fine tuning, so this is the one instance where the cost for tuning alone will be more than stated above. In addition, since this will take more time than what a typical tuning takes, please let me know in advance when scheduling.

Occasionally I am called to tune a piano that can't be safely brought to the standard pitch, without major work being done first. This is the case if there are rusty strings (which are more likely to break if brought up to the correct tension), or if there are problematic cracks in the soundboard or the bridges. In this case, it is often still possible to tune the piano to itself, or in other words, to fine tune it without raising the pitch first, so that the piano is in tune when played by itself, but can't be played with other instruments.

Three other notes on cost

Although I take every precaution to avoid string breakage during a tuning, strings do occasionally break. This can be due to rust (visible or hidden), a weak point on the string, or just the age of the strings. There is an additional fee to splice or replace any broken strings, whether they were broken before I arrived, or break during the tuning. String breakage during a tuning isn't that common an event, but I mention it because it can be a point of misunderstanding: " This piano tuner just broke my string and is now charging me to fix it! ".  I would estimate that a string breaks during a tuning one time in every 100 pianos, usually only with older pianos, but occasionally on a newer one.

As mentioned in the previous section, with a piano that is very flat, I recommend raising the pitch to the standard over several tunings. However, I can, on request, raise a piano to A440 in one visit, and in this case there is an additional charge. In addition, any string breakage, which I consider would be more likely, can result in additional cost, as mentioned above.

Finally, the tuning fees quoted above don't include repairs. If a note or two aren't working due to needing a simple adjustment, that is included, but if the entire mechanism (the piano action) needs adjustment (called regulation) I will give an estimate on what is needed. The same applies if a part is missing or broken.

Preparing for a tuning

There are a few things that the piano owner can do to make my work easier, and enable me to do a better job.

Since I tune entirely by ear, I need to have it fairly quiet while I tune.

If there are any problem keys, for example a key that is sticking or failing to repeat, it helps to tell me exactly which one it is. Often the piano owner will tell me there is a problem with a note "somewhere in this octave, or nearby". If it is a consistent problem, I will find it easily enough and be able to diagnose the problem. However, often a note has an intermittent problem, and if it doesn't act up while I'm there, and I don't know which exact note it is, I can't do too much to correct it. If I'm told a particular note is sticking intermittently, I can inspect that note carefully to see what problem it might be having. But to do that for each note in the piano, or section of a piano, would be beyond what I can do during a scheduled tuning. There are over 5000 moving parts in a piano action, and any of them can cause a note to fail. So, to save the cost of a repeat visit, it is best to note exactly which keys have problems.

Finally, it helps to have the top of the piano cleared, since I need to open the top of the piano to tune it. A lamp and a couple of books that still need to be removed aren't a problem. But occasionally, especially on a grand piano, there may be over a half dozen framed photographs, figurines, etc. I especially would rather not handle anything fragile, like vases or glassware.