Bob Mutchler Professional Piano Tuning, Repair, and Restoration



Fine piano tuning is a combination of technical and artistic skill - not unlike being a good musician.
Most new piano tuners use electronic tuning devices because their ears are not trained properly in order to allow them to tune accurately without this type of assistance. I tune exclusively by ear which allows me to make sure that every piano sounds as clear as possible.

After the first year of a new or restrung piano's life, when the wires have stabilized, all major piano manufacturers recommend that pianos be tuned twice a year. Changes in humidity, barometric pressure and temperature, over which we have no control, throughout seasons are the primary causes for a piano to go out of tune. During 12 months, the piano has usually gone through 4 cycles of change. Unfortunately, different sections of the piano change in pitch to varying degrees. The entire piano does not rise and fall in pitch together, so the piano sounds "out of tune with itself". If the ambient humidity or temperature is constantly changing, as in a school or church, the piano may need more frequent tunings. Allowing a piano to go much more than a year without being tuned means that the entire piano gradually drops in pitch until over several years, the whole piano is "flat" - below the pitch at which other instruments can tune to it. This will almost always require more than one tuning to put the piano back in stable pitch. Allowing a piano to drop in pitch repeatedly shortens the life of the wires and can cause wire breakage during the tuning process - something that can get quite expensive and is yet another reason to tune your piano on the appropriate prescribed intervals.


The piano action is made of wood, felt, and a small amount of metal and buckskin. Being a mechanical device which is under constant stress and motion, depending on the amount it is played, it will experience wear and tear, especially on the felt parts.
Many of these parts become worn, misshapen, broken, or even lost.
Some parts can be adjusted to play like new. Others need to be replaced. The most common reconditioning procedures include hammer reshaping, spring adjustment, felt replacement and regulation. Regulation consists of the adjustments required to set the touch of the piano for it to feel like it did when first manufactured.


There are many people who have learned to tune pianos, for the most part, electronically, but have never been trained to work on the mechanical parts of the piano.
Of the three teaching certificates I have been awarded by the State of California, one of them is in the field of piano tuning and repair. There are no repairs to a piano that I am not qualified to perform. This includes the older instruments that most tuner/technicians do not like to work on.


Regulation is the adjustment of all the mechanical, moving parts of the piano to exact specifications.
There are about 35 pieces assembled with glue, flanges, brass pins and screws for each note on the piano. In order for a note to play properly, these pieces have to move at exactly the right moment, for exactly the right distance, and stop at exactly the right time. If all of these things do not happen as required, the piano will play badly. Making all these adjustments 88 times (once for each note on the piano) is called regulating the piano. The sequence of the movements and the distance between the parts must be very precise. The result of a good regulation is that the pianist has a sense that the playing is "even" - that it takes the same amount of pressure to play each note, and the volume produced is the same relative to the amount of force applied. Regulation should be performed, under normal playing conditions in the home, about every ten to twelve years.