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.
T-handle Piano Tuning Levers
Piano tuning, repair and restoration has many unique tools associated with it. One rather curious tool is the T-handle piano tuning lever. It is a standard tuning tip on a straight t-handle. Its primary purpose is for the initial stringing of the pins in a new piano. A regular piano tuning lever with its long handle and angled head is very awkward for the many 360' turns required to wind the string onto the head of the tuning pin. The t-handle makes this much easier. From time to time the T-handle is useful to the tuner in the field as well. Not only for string replacement, but also tuning in the occasional tight spot, say the highest octave in a piano with a small cabinet. The T-handle is rather hard to handle for the fine touch of tuning because without the leverage of a long handle it takes more direct effort to turn, but it can work if needed. A good workout for the muscles of the forearm, as well, for any Popeye impersonators.
The T-handle tuning lever is also used when a pin is tending to "flagpole," which is to bend slightly as pressure is brought to bear. The pin may not stay bent, but rather flex then return to position. This can widen the pin hole in the block and ultimately loosen the pin. It's a common problem for inexperienced tuners, and is always a concern even for the professionals.The long handles of traditional levers can exacerbate this issue. The perfectly perpendicular force of the stubby T-handle tuning lever reduces the tendency to flagpole.
The T-handle tuning lever is surprisingly handy piano tuning tool.