Category Archives

25 Articles

So, we couldn’t tune your piano… (Part 2)


Originally posted on 23/01/2013 19:23

As we mentioned in our previous entry, we often find underlying issues with some of the older pianos we’re called to tune. Here’s a quick look at some of the most common problems we come across. We should note though that prior to any mechanical issues being addressed, we first perform a quick check of the structural components, specifically looking for any major sound board cracks and bridge defects. A few tuning pins in each section are also checked to ensure they will hold the necessary torque.

Common mechanical issues:

1) Broken/brittle/worn and otherwise damaged bridle straps.

Most often age and humidity related. Bridle straps not only act as a back-up hammer return mechanism when hammer butt springs are damaged or out of position, they also keep action components firmly in place when action work is being performed. Missing bridle straps make removing and restoring a piano’s action safely much more diffucult, and as such, can lead to greater and far more expensive damage.
Cork straps are used only where unavoidable, and all hammer flange screws are unscrewed during the procedure, allowing for easier access to the area in question. In general, we estimate the cost for new bridle straps throughout (parts & labour ) at $ 295.00 CAD.

2)Broken hammer shanks.

Generally wear & tear/age realated. Repair cost (parts & labour): $30 dollars per shank

3) Mechanical clicking noises.

More often than not likely related to either loose front (hammer) flange screws, rear (whippen) flange screws or loose butt plate screws (depending on action design)

4)“Sticky” or slow returning keys.
This issue could be attributed to a number of factors, including: Overly tight balance rail holes, overly tight front key bushing or balance rail key bushings, excessively turned or improperly adjusted action frame pins


The problem could be centre pin related. This is checked by a quick/sudden forward push of the hammer rest rail. If hammers throughout return very slowly, both the hammer flange centre pins and and whipen flange centre pins require being replaced throughout ($ 350.00 each). This work will of course also require the hammers and whippens to be traveled/spaced to properly regulate the piano.

So, we couldn’t tune your piano…


16/01/2013 16:00

It happens much more often than one would expect, and certainly more than we’d like, but unfortunately, we are finding that an increasing number of instruments we’re called to tune are simply no longer tunable, at least not “gainfully” in their current state. Often years of neglect, exposure to dry or otherwise extreme temperatures, or simply age and regular wear and tear have damaged the instrument to the point where tuning it would do more harm than good. While often in these cases we could certainly bring it reasonably in tune at a lower pitch, such a piano tuning would most certainly last only a negligible amount of time, most likely only weeks, until the owner would once again be calling to have their instrument re-tuned. While we understand it may at times be disappointing to our customers, our company policy is strictly to not perform such non-beneficial tunings. We cannot take pride in work we know is substandard and will not provide the customer with any lasting gains.

In such cases, we do not charge for “dead calls”, as other may do, we instead prefer to provide affected customers with a free repair estimate addressing the underlying conditions which are keeping the piano from being properly tuned (more often than not loose tuning pins, cracked pinblocks and other structural issues). In most cases, attending to these issues sooner than later results in considerable savings down the road, and ensures that future piano tuners will be able to provide a tuning that will last and truly be beneficial to the customer.

Keeping a Canadian Icon in tune


Originally posted on 11/19/2012 12:30

Ivories’ technicians regularly tune at some of Toronto’s biggest and best known concert halls. This means we’re often tuning for some of the biggest names in classical and popular music. While this for the most part finds us tuning high-end instruments by brands like Steinway & Sons and Yamaha, we also occasionally get to tune pianos that are special for entirely other reasons. Case and point is the Chickering Grand piano found in the foyer of the CBC’s Front Street Studio. This structurally and cosmetically aged Chickering would first appear to be nothing more than a prop or discarded used instrument, but it is in fact the childhood piano of one of Canada’s most well known and respected pianists of the past 100 years, Mr. Glenn Gould. Gould rose to fame in the mid to late 1900’s with his technically masterful, yet at times unconventional interpretations of pieces by masters such as Bach, Brahms and Haydn. The often eccentric musician was nearly as well known for his television and radio productions as for his recordings. While a composer himself, he often left works unfinished and preferred to record the music of the masters, his renditions of which lead to four Grammy awards in his lifetime.


One of Gould’s most peculiar traits was insisting on playing in very warm climate controlled environments and at exactly 14 inches from the ground. It is unknown whether his insistence on playing in extremely warm temperatures contributed to the current condition of his cherished piano, but surprisingly, the weathered instrument is still used for recordings to this day. This is partially possible due to the care provided to it by our head technician Wolfgang, who regularly performs tuning and maintenance work on this prized instrument to not only preserve its history, but ensure that it can help nurture new Canadian greats for decades to come.

Lights, Camera, Tune!


Originally posted on 21/09/2012 12:11

While our technicians are accustomed to working behind the scenes for some of the country’s best known artists at many of Toronto’s most prestigious concert halls, and even for well known drama’s such as CTV’s Flashpoint, we recently had the pleasure of getting a bit more front and center of things by being asked to participate in a video shoot for a design series from Canada’s Fusion Television. Be sure to keep an eye out for our company president Wolfgang, as he makes his cable television debut on the W Network later this year! As for other new developments, is proud to announce that we are now the official piano tuners and repair specialists for the Toronto District Catholic School Board’s Western Region, serving over 100 schools in the city’s west end. If you live in the area, be sure to support your school’s talent shows and check out our work in action!

Avoiding Costly Structural Piano Repairs


Originally posted on 04/03/2012 13:39

Avoid costly structural repairs by keeping your piano in a properly humidified environment and well away from fireplaces or radiators. Humidity should ideally be at 45% and most definitely not fall below 40% or rise above 50%. Failure to do so can result in loose and straight tuning pins, swelling and shrinking of the pinblock and cracks in the soundboard. Humidity gauges are relatively inexpensive (around $25) and can help you ensure your instrument is in a favourable environment. They can easily be found online, in most good music shops, or even at your local wine store. If you find the humidity in your music room lacking, it is definitely in your best interest to invest in a humidifier, or if your budget allows, an in-piano humidifying system such as those offered by Dampp-Chaser. This will ensure your piano keeps a wonderful tone, remains tunable & in tune longer, and keeps you entertained for years to come.