How to Tune a Piano Blog

Step-by-step procedure & proper tools

This piano tuning blog is a companion to our How to Tune a Piano Yourself tutorial. In this blog we expand on the tutorial with new information and perspectives on do-it-yourself piano tuning. If it is your first time here, visit the tutorial first.

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Impact Tuning Levers

Reyburn CyberHammer Impact Tuning Lever with tulipwood handle
Reyburn CyberHammer

Piano tuning depends on its tools. The tuning lever or hammer in particular is the most important tool of the piano tuner. As in any industry or art that depends on its tools, the search for the best tool never ends. Among piano tuning levers, impact tuning levers are the most advanced. Impact tuning levers have a counterweight in the handle at the far end from the head. The lever is turned in tiny increments with a flick of the wrist.

Schaff Impact Tuning Lever, fixed counterweight
Schaff Impact Lever, fixed counterweight

The impact tuning lever has two main advantages. First, impact-style tuning allows very precise, predictable movements. Precision and fine movement are important for the twin pillars of piano tuning: accuracy and stability. The second advantage, particularly for professional tuners, is reduced fatigue and stress on the back, shoulder and arm. The constant tension and repetitive movement of an outstretched arm in a restricted range using a traditional hammer can lead to fatigue, strain, pain and even repetitive stress injury.

Keyes Impact Tuning Lever, adjustable weight
Keyes Impact Lever with adjustable counterweight

Many tuners tune with a traditional lever all their long careers. Some tuners who use a traditional lever will use a "bump" motion rather than steady pulls or pushes; this approaches the technique of impact levers. But those who use the impact lever sing its praises.

Reyburn CyberHammer Impact Tuning Lever with two handles
Reyburn GW-1000 for grand pianos

Impact levers are used mostly with vertical pianos. The counterweight arrangement does not work as well with grands. However, Reyburn, a foremost name in impact levers, has recently developed an impact lever for use with grands. It looks like a lever with one head and two handles like wings, with the counterweights in the handles. It sits perfectly balanced on the horizontal soundboard.

This Piano Tool Profile is our attempt to share our exploration of piano tuning with you. If you detect any errors or can suggest clarification, please post a comment or contact us.

05/15/11

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