Tuning Possible Repairs And Their Descriptions
You can use this list to help you make a more informed decision on the purchase of a used piano.
However, some of these problems are difficult to assess without the help of a competent piano technician.

Pins - The pins are the steel rods that the strings are wound around. They are driven into a hard maple wood called the pinblock. With age this wood becomes worn and the pins can slip in the wood causing the pitch of the string to drop. Pianos with loose pins will not hold a tuning very long, if at all! Repairs involve various methods that can prolong the pin fit for about 5 to 10 years, sometimes longer. Replacement involves removing and replacing the maple pinblock.

Keytops - Usually keytops are replaced or repaired for cosmetic reasons. Usually the edges of the keys are chipped. In severe cases the keytops may be missing or loose.

Bass Strings - These strings are the thickest and are made of a copper or steel winding wrapped around a steel core. The windings get dirty and rusted which affects the tone. Sometimes they can be cleaned but they will never sound like new strings.

Mid and Treble Strings - The rest of the strings are usually bare. Moisture and neglect may result in weak strings that break often. When more than a few start to break it is usually a good idea to have them all replaced.

Hammers - These are made of hard felt and strike the strings when the key is pressed. After time the strings begin to wear grooves in the hammers and these grooves tend to 'grab' the strings instead of the strings bouncing off the hammers. Also, the surface that is hitting the string is effectively flat, instead of slightly rounded as is the case with new or filed hammers. This results in a poor tone quality. The grooves can be filed down but after a few filings, there is not enough felt left to file and the hammers need replacing.

Dampers - After the key is let go, the dampers stop the string from ringing. The felt must be soft and conform to the string to stop all the ringing. As dampers age, the felt becomes hard and doesn't dampen effectively

Cabinet - The cabinet houses the mechanisms inside the piano. It is usually a veneer and sometimes begins to peel or may have scratches in it. Some pieces may be missing and need to be replaced.

Cabinet Finish - The protective coating on the veneer may be old and cracked and or may just need to be revived. A new finish can make an antique piano look beautiful again.

Bass Bridge - The strings are stretched over the bridge and this is where the vibrations are passed on to the amplifying sound board. The strings slalom between two tiny pins in the bridge and these pins may crack the bridge because of the sideways pressure on them. A cracked bridge can result in buzzing or lack of tone and volume. They can sometimes be repaired but may need to be replaced.

Treble Bridge - Same as the bass bridge but for the mid and treble strings.

Soundboard - The soundboard is the acoustical amplifier for the piano. It is a slightly dome shaped piece of spruce (or plywood) with wooden ribs on its back. Cracks can appear in older sound boards and the ribs may begin to come off the board itself. They may be repaired but if the sound board has lost its dome shape, then the amplification will be very poor and the tone will suffer.

Bench - Some benches for older pianos may have been lost or are broken. They may be repaired but new benches can be purchased that are close in colour to the original piano.

Action Repair - The term 'action' refers to the moving parts between the key and the hammer. There are over 50 parts involved in the playing of one note. There may be repair or replacement required for some of these parts depending on the condition of the piano. A good working action means an easily playable piano.

Bridle Straps - These are short ribbons of cloth that keep the key mechanism from hanging down when the action is removed. (The action is all the movable parts of a key) Original bridlestraps are sometimes brittle and can break easily. Trying to put an action back into a piano without bridlestraps is almost impossible.

Center Pins - Hinged parts are held together by small steel pins pressed into the wood of one part and fitted into a sleeve of felt in the hinged part. While being very resilient, sometimes the fit is too tight or too loose resulting in poor operation of the key mechanism.

Key Bushings - As the key moves up and down, it is restricted to only vertical movements by the key bushings. When these are worn, the keys begin to wobble as they are used, causing excessive wear and tear on the other parts. They can be easily replaced and sized to fit.

Pedals - There are usually three pedals. The right pedal lifts all the dampers. The left pedal brings the hammers closer to the strings in an upright or moves the hammers sideways thereby missing one of three strings in a grand. This results in a softer tone. The middle pedal in an upright piano can be tied to one of the other pedals, used to lower a mute cloth between the strings and the hammers, or used to lift only the bass dampers. It may even do nothing. In a grand or good quality upright, the middle pedal will hold just the dampers of the keys that were pressed when the pedal was pressed. This is called a sostenuto pedal. There may be other uses designed for the pedals depending on the piano.

Regulation - The are over 50 parts for each key. Some of these parts are mated with felt. The felts change size and shape due to humidity and age. When they change size, the way the parts move is affected and the key does not work as easily, if at all. There are, however, many adjustments that the skilled technicain can do to regulate all these parts so that the keys work well and the piano is easy to play. On some pianos a simple regulation can have an astounding affect on how easy it is to play.

Tuning in Home - When a piano is moved, it is a good idea to tune it because the humidity levels in the home may be different than what the piano is used to and/or the floor may not have the same shape as the floor it was on before. These factors result in varying the string tension and then the piano is out of tune. Of course, any banging and knocking in transit would have an affect also.