Wise?! DIY Piano Tuning?!

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

My blog has been a bit quiet over the last few days although I do have a few excuses!

Between the vastly increasing admin for teaching online, continuing with my MA in Education at University College London - nearly there folks (!) - and the countless tedious jobs that I have put off for many, many years. I ambitiously decided…

Enough. Is ENOUGH!

My Yamaha B3 Silent in tact, for the time being!

My piano, whilst a gorgeous Yamaha B3 silent, was is desperate need of a tune. Imagine the sound of the Addams Family piano? Yes. That was a massive over-exaggeration. You get the picture though.

I haven’t tried tinkering with piano mechanics since attempting to tune an ancient battered Baldwin that used to be in my University digs at the RNCM.

So, whilst I wouldn’t recommend ANY of what I’m about to say; however, if you’re feeling brave it’s entirely at your own risk.

To clarify, if it wasn’t for COVID-19, I would be calling on the skills of my local, friendly piano tuner. Piano tuning takes years of experience and years of training. It

is extremely sophisticated and demanding (and very easy to go horribly wrong!). After this experience, I appreciate my local, friendly piano tuner even more. Adam? Why, why did I embark on this?

The bargain piano tuning set (see link below)


Where to start? I didn’t want to break the bank so sourced this tuning kit from Amazon. Also, thinking about Amazon, have you heard of Amazon Smile? They donate a very small amount of the product cost to good causes that you choose.

I used an app called Entropy which is an incredible and intuitive piece of software and calculates tuning specifically for your instrument. You can also use it one your smartphone. There instructions are clear and explain the process. It’s simple to understand.

When I felt as though I mustered the right kind of ‘Piano Energy’ - a mixture of patience, annoyance, bit of confidence and lots of stupidity. I took a deep breath remembering my Russian Piano Professor’s famous words. “Jason, you must breathe! Breathe Jason!”.

1. First, I moved Fudge. Her latest obsession is our houseplants. Shredding them. Clawing them. Meowing incessantly at them.

2. Just to be safe, I moved all plants and shreds that were lying around….

Fudge (somehow) got back in!

4. I recorded each and every note into Entropy. With multiple strings, I sampled one of the strings, usually the one on the left for double strings and the string in the middle for three stringed. I used the piano tuning mutes to silence the strings I didn’t need.

Entropy in action

5. I then asked the app to calculate the appropriate tuning for the piano 😊

6. Then the fun really begins! I started manually tuning from around the centre of the keyboard. With multiple strings, I tuned just one of the strings (the same as the one sampled) and then aurally tuned the other strings around. This is when things got tough. The sheer sensitivity of the strings was unbelievable. It really didn’t take any effort at all to widely sharpen or flatten the notes. The sheer physicality of it was intense. I was exhausted after four notes (12 strings), deafened and honestly slightly grumpy!

The result of these four notes though was fantastic, I was really pleased with the outcome. I just didn’t have anywhere near the stamina to complete the job. I think it’s going to be a few notes a day. Hopefully, the COVID-19 restrictions won’t last too much longer, and I can draft in an expert. I couldn’t ever be an expert piano tuner - I don’t currently have the muscle or the right kind of patience. Unusually, I started my post not recommending DIY piano tuning. I’m going to end my post by saying NEVER try it yourself! Saying this, I enjoyed the challenge - the challenge was just a little too much.

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