Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In Tune

Kenn from Wildes Pianos came up from Kirkland to tune our piano. We picked him because he has a passion for old pianos and we have an old piano. He gave it a good examination before starting to tune it. I learned a lot about the mechanics of a piano, how you tune one, and about pitch. I also learned that the Pacific Northwest is the best climate for an instrument because the humidity and temperatures are relatively stable all year. He pretty much said that our piano is in almost factory condition. It also has the original ivory keys (!!!), although the black keys were replaced to plastic in the 1970s, so no ebony on this piano. I do know a lot about the history of the piano, something unique for an old piano. It came from the factory to the house in Snohomish, where is stayed until we got it. It has a big sound (which I love) and is a healthy instrument. All of things are good things.

The only aspect of the instrument's health that Kenn couldn't evaluate without tuning was the strings and how brittle they were. Do we take the risk of breaking strings and tune the piano to 440? Or do we play it safe and tune it low, which is only a problem if you have perfect pitch (I do not). Although I don't have perfect pitch, I do tune my cello to 440 so I decided to take the risk and tune the piano to 440.

The lowest set of strings (and most expensive to replace) went to perfect pitch without a hitch. And then up to the middle set. And the first one snapped. The middle set is also where three strings had previously been broken and repaired. At that point, we decided to tune the piano to 435. Next year, Kenn will come with a bunch of strings from a spool and tune the piano to 440. However, I did feel better about this once Kenn told me that pianos of this generation were traditionally tuned to 435, so it actually is perfect for the piano.

I haven't had an opportunity to sit down and pound it out on the piano. Ahhh, the life of a mom with a lot of things going on. But, Drew has been playing a lot and it sounds really good. I am really happy that we got it tuned and that our piano is a healthy instrument!

How often do you tune your piano? They recommend once a year.

Any perfect pitchers out there? Not me. But my uncle does have perfect pitch.

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