REGULAR PIANO MAINTENANCE, FEE SCHEDULE, POLICIES, AND DESCRIPTION OF TYPICAL SERVICES
ALL NEW AND REGULAR CLIENTS SHOULD READ THIS PAGE
PRICING: Please read the following before scrolling down to our fee schedule.
TUNING AND OTHER FIELD SERVICE: The most frequently requested field service we receive is tuning service. That is as it should be, since a piano should be tuned regularly. Twice a year would be a normal maintenance, especially if the piano has a humidity control unit installed. Six or more times a year is recommended for teaching studios, church sanctuaries, and regular performance venues. Tuning frequency will depend on many factors. See “Regular Maintenance” below.
Some clients believe that “tuning” is an all-encompassing service call covering any problem with the piano. That is NOT the case.
The client should be prepared to discuss problems with sticky keys, voicing, or other field service at the time of the initial tuning request so that the time can be included in the technician’s schedule. We find that frequently the client does not realize that these problems are not the same as tuning. The customer needs to be clear about what service is needed - as best can be ascertained - during the telephone request for service. More information is provided below to help identify service problems and needs. In addition to obvious problems such as notes which do not work or work noticably poorly, nearly every piano - even apparently well-functioning pianos - will benefit dramatically from technical service in addition to tuning.
This page includes an explanation of the different kinds of service you may need on your piano, and how Shull Piano approaches that service. Links to PTG literature are included. I also recommend that every piano owner purchase the excellent book by piano technician Larry Fine, “The Piano Book,” now in its fourth edition.
First Time Appointments: Most first time tuning appointments require a pitch adjustment, or what is sometimes called a “pitch raise” (see next section). . Repairs, voicing, and other service is extra, and should be arranged prior to arrival for the appointment, otherwise I may not have the time needed to perform this additional service. Some pianos have tuning-related impediments, such as poorly rendering strings, player mechanisms, etc., which may result in a higher fee. Historical pianos - square pianos, English and European pianos from the 19th century, pianos with oblong pins, etc., are separately priced. Please read our policies on fees, scheduling, and cancellations.
Pitch Raises: Frequently the first appointment involves a major pitch adjustment or “double-tuning” because of the lack of tuning or humidity maintenance, and a return call may be needed in as soon as a month before a regular tuning interval can be established. Once tuning maintenance has started, the piano may require a double tuning from time to time, depending on environmental conditions. Even minor pitch adjustments frequently require a “double-tuning.” For the PTG brochure on “pitch raising” click on http://www.ptg.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=62&MenuKey=Menu7
Regular Maintenance: Shull Piano provides prescheduled tuning maintenance for most of the pianos he services, usually at 6 month intervals. For established clients whose pianos are regularly serviced, It is recommended that additional funds for minor voicing, regulation, cleaning, and other repairs be included in the piano maintenance budget. For pianos which see daily, heavy practice a tuning interval of every week to every month is recommended. Due to the humidity variations I cannot be sure if a piano will require a “double-tuning” pitch compensation procedure until the beginning of the appointment. For PTG and manufacturer recommendations on tuning maintenance see http://www.ptg.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=29&MenuKey=Menu7
Event-Related Appointments: If a tuning is being scheduled for an event such as a concert, recital, performance, rehearsal, or party, it is important to schedule the appointment immediately before the event. Weather changes and other conditions (see below) can work to destroy a rock-solid tuning in an astonishingly short period. The “day of” is best, the “day-before” is next-best. Please be prepared to pay an additional fee for last-minute, weekend and evening scheduling
Humidity control, tuning stability and piano longevity: Pianos which are not equipped with complete humidity control may suffer tuning instability which may be moderate or severe. Regular tuning maintenance is enhanced dramatically with the use of humidity control, and some pianos require humidity control for tuning stability. For these instruments the regular fee for tuning maintenance is more often going to be the higher, pitch-adjustment rate. Shull Piano installs DamppChaser Corporation units which meet the following criteria: Units with humidifiers use the “Smart-barTM”, which assures the proper cycling of the system even when pads are dry. Units which only use dehumidifiers are always installed with humidistats to assure that the piano is not damaged from dryness. For the PTG brochure on humidity control see http://www.ptg.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=61&MenuKey=Menu7
Where access to electrical power is prohibitive, we install “MusicSorb.” Two large boxes of this specially packaged dessicant will reduce humidity swings in a piano. Even a grand piano, with the lid kept closed while not in use, will benefit from this product. Read more at http://musicsorbonline.com/product/music_sorb_brochure.pdf
Click here for the current relative humidity in Loma Linda.
Voicing Care, Action Regulation: Voicing, or tone regulation, relates to he “color” of your piano’s sound, the evenness of tone from note to note, section to section and soft to loud. Your piano’s own personality, its optimum sound, is attained through voicing. A solid action regulation
(click for the brochure on action regulation) is needed to provide the foundation for the the actual voicing process, especially when the action is significantly out of regulation. Then a set of skills is tapped into for the actual voicing process. Voicing is not a one-time event, but a maintenance procedure, and the intervals between voicing will depend on the type of piano hammer and the amount and type of playing. For the PTG brochure on voicing see http://www.ptg.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=64&MenuKey=Menu7
Repair: Occasionally a request for tuning cannot be met until repair work is performed. Sometimes that work can be done immediately, but the repair work might require an additional service call. The tuning service may not begin until this work is completed. If all of the notes work on your piano, and if each note is not so far out of tune that it sounds like two notes, there is a good chance that your piano can be tuned on the first service call. Repair work may still be needed, which will be discussed at the service call.
The Teaching Piano: Piano, voice and instrument teachers need a piano which is well tuned and maintained. ALL teaching pianos should have humidity control units, and should be tuned frequently - every few weeks to every two months - and voiced and regulated as needed, as well. Shull Piano is committed to the maintenance of the pianos of those dedicated teachers, both private and in schools and colleges. for more information on the maintenance of the teaching piano, see http://www.ptg.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=30&MenuKey=Menu7
Concert and Recital Service: Shull Piano has provide service for concert and recital venues since 1984. Click on “Concert Tuner-Technician” For CONCERT OR RECITAL SERVICE.
Impediments to tuning satisfaction: Our years of experience, our commitment to the highest level of skill and knowledge, and our commitment to the care of your instrument usually insure your satisfaction with our work. There are impediments to a desirable outcome, however, and some pianos have a combination of these factors. Loose tuning pins, poor string rendering, false beats, and string breakage tendencies can produce an undesirable result. Additional problems indirectly influence tuning perceptions, such as problems with the action mechanism, uneven voicing, uneven action friction (too low, high, or both). While a surprisingly satisfactory result may be obtained even with one or more impediment, the critical listener may be unsatisfied. Tuning alone may not achieve the desired result of a well-tuned piano.
High-level pianos require high-level service: High-performance pianos are quite unsatisfactory if provided only minimum maintenance. Fine instruments such as Bosendorfer, Bluthner, Bechstein, Schimmel, Sauter, Steinway - as well as S-series Yamahas (S4/S400, S6/S600, and CF/CFIII grands) and Shigeru Kawais are all highly demanding of the highest level of maintenance. These instruments need careful voicing, frequent tuning and regulation. The result is the highest level of musical satisfaction. However, if one of these instruments is simply tuned once a year, a very disappointing level of musical satisfaction might be attained. We do not recommend ownership of one of these fine instruments unless a commitment is made to a high service level, for a more “ordinary” piano of good quality fares will with minimum service levels.
TUNING FEES: The typical first-time tuning appointment is $220, plus mileage beyond a 20 mile radius. A weekend surcharge or extra time required for special circumstances.
The first-time tuning is nearly always a double-tuning, or pitch-compensation. Regular maintenance tuning fee can be as low as $175, especially after the installation of a humidity control unit in the piano. Some unforeseen costs should be anticipated, such as string or action part breakage during tuning (repairs can often be performed immediately, and are billed at the normal hourly rate). The repair of breakage of strings or other parts during service will be billed normally. Please click here for other fees.
Cancellation, Scheduling, The “Appointment Time,” and the Basic Service Call Fee: The appointment time is scheduled not for a specific time (10:30 AM) but for an arrival period (10 to 11 AM), and the client should allow for additional time, particularly in the afternoon. This allows us to provide the highest service level possible for each client.
Cancellation or rescheduling calls should be made as far ahead of the appointment as possible, so as to allow the technician to reschedule the time slot. 24-hour or same-day cancellations (including voicemail messages left the night before) are billed at the minimum service call rate, $175, higher outside of a 20 mile radius from Loma Linda, CA; non-use of masks during Covid-19 automatically cancels the appointment on the same terms. Please exercise the appropriate courtesy regarding this. This $175 basic service call fee is charged for up to 45 minutes of basic consultation, and for when, after the technician’s arrival, it is ascertained that the piano cannot be tuned.