Welcome, from A. Karabinus!

Piano Service: Tuning, Repair, Regulating, and Voicing

Bicycling to appointments whenever possible!

Servicing Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mercer Island, Edmonds, and parts of SW Snohomish County.

Grand Piano Tuner

This is an information site with links to more in-depth resources. Please contact me by phone at 206/783-6920 if you are in the Seattle, WA area and want piano service.

Piano Technicians Guild

"RPT" stands for Registered Piano Technician in the Piano Technicians Guild. Membership represents a professional and ethical commitment. Registered members have passed standardized written, technical, and tuning exams. 

How often should your piano be serviced?

Generally, tend to it once or twice a year. Specific recommendations made by a technician who has seen your piano regularly over time may take into account several variables: 

  • changes in the weather 
  • fluxuations in relative humidity that occur in the room and position the piano occupies
  • the age and condition of the piano 
  • the instrument's service history
How often you use it is not generally a variable, except in cases of teaching and performance pianos where extra wear or high expectations require a higher service standard. In addition to tuning, all pianos require other maintenance to counter the effects of time and wear.
Purchasing a piano soon?

Look at The Piano Book and Piano Buyer (online) by Larry Fine (Brookside Press). This book is a veritible wellspring of information! Its a good idea to read over whatever material is relevant for you before you buy anything. Recently two magazine articles also addressed the topic:

  • "How to Buy A Piano" by Katrine Ames (House & Garden: December 1998, pp. 49-56)
  • "Making a Key Decision" by James E. Reynolds (Money: November 1998, v.27, n.11, p.206)
If you shop the used market, hire a technician to inspect the piano you fall for. Remember that there is no standard definition for "restored" or "rebuilt", and that a beautiful appearance tells you nothing about the condition of the moving and structural parts! 

PIano CleaningA few words on cleaning!

To dust the outside of the piano, simply use a dry or dampened cotton cloth or a feather duster. Be careful to avoid common polishes and oils. They can complicate finish repairs and damage the internal parts. A cloth dampened with a mild soap solution can remove accumulations of old polish and other dirt that doesn't respond to a plain damp cloth. 

To clean the keytops, wipe with a dampened soft cloth. Chemical cleaners can damage the key surfaces!

Piano Humidity ControlHumidity and how it affects your piano.

Prolonged exposure to excessive Relative Humidity
can cause more problems than just sour notes and sluggish parts! Rust and mold can develop. Longer term, and more difficult to observe until the damage is done: wood cells in the soundboard, bridges, and pinblock can be crushed from expansion. Resilience lost, cracks can form. In cases where the environment cannot be regulated I may recommend Dampp-Chaser devices. These components are installed in or under the piano, and operate silently and automatically to protect your piano. I am a Certified Installer of the Piano Lifesaver System.

Elephants threatened by poaching.

Elephant - Ivory Keys"Whereas the population of the African elephant is suffering rapid decline, the very existence of this, the largest land mammal, is in grave danger and its total extinction is a present threat, and

Whereas the slaughter of this animal continues unabated, poaching is rampant and control of legal trade in ivory is ineffective,

Be it resolved that the Council of the Piano Technicians Guild opposes the use of new ivory in the manufacture and restoration of pianos, and be it further resolved that this Council supports a ban on all trade in ivory." 

Soundboard SpruceTimber resources are dwindling.

Piano soundboards use slow growing spruce whose annular rings are tightly packed, thus producing a vibrant tone. Sitka spruce growing in the Tongass National Forest and other sections of coastal Alaska may be the last large stands.  These areas are particularly at risk from logging, road building, and development. Replanting has not been done, and it takes 200 years to replace such a tree. Tree farms raise fast growing timber that may mature in 20 years but lacks the compact structure of annular rings that would make it useful for soundboards. In addition, piano hammers used to be made with mahogany, one of many depleted tropical resources. These trees may take 40 years or more to regrow, and the environments they grow in are being destroyed. Hammers are usually now made with woods that are more readily available, cheaper, and have the disadvantage of being heavier. We need to grow, use, and replenish lumber wisely!

Created: January 2000. Updated: August 2012

Elephant Ivory Keys