David Patterson - Master Piano Technician

Piano Tuning

To be excellent at piano tuning, one needs to always be slightly dissatisfied with the result. For once a technician reaches 10,000 + pianos, one quality tuning result is much like another. Who is able to detect the nuances of quality difference when this higher-end branch of the piano service industry is being examined? It’s a technical answer/area too involved to cover briefly.

I tune aurally using a single muting strip that I designed in 1983. This tool allows a piano to be listened to with one string per note throughout the whole range of notes 1 to 88. The other 140 or so strings are tuned as the muting strip is gradually removed.

Of the four types of very clean octaves one can hear – even on broadcast radio – only “C”  is the acceptable standard to bring out the full power and potential of an instrument.

  • “A” Type: Have narrow upper octaves that have a slow wave, made necessary by failing to create proper octaves in the mid-range of the piano. Not good enough.
  • “B” Type: Have no narrowness, no wideness, and no wave whatsoever. Still not good enough. Double octaves and triple octaves won’t sound right.
  • “C” Type: Have wide octaves throughout, all with a very slow and barely-detectable wave. Intervals of 10ths and 17ths will beat exactly the same. This is the only standard you should accept for your piano if you want to achieve maximum quality and power.
  • “D” Type: Have wide octaves or upper octaves with audible beats or waves. Not acceptable. Power is lost. Upper octaves lack the clarity of perfection.

It is difficult to separate piano tuning from other general piano service, or from customer service for that matter. I am judged by the tuning work. Many piano owners refer to all of our work as tuning. Typically, new customers will ask for piano tuning, when  another concern prompted the call. The attention to detail and quality of care that I give to piano tuning services reflects the care I take concerning your overall customer experience.