Tuning, Repair, Regulation & Voicing
Tuning is the aligning of the musical pitch of the various notes of the piano by adjusting the tension of the piano's strings. People with relatively good "pitch discrimination" can easily tell when a piano is out of tune. It's important to understand that tuning, by itself, only corrects the pitch of the key being struck and does not correct factors such as tone, brightness, or responsiveness. In other words, even a precisely tuned piano can still sound "tinny" or its key action respond "sluggishly."
Repair work on pianos is occasionally needed due to the sheer number of parts that go into a typical piano assembly. Common repairs include sticking or unresponsive keys, broken strings or hammers, or even replacing key surfaces. Other types of repairs include pedal malfunction and damages that result from moving the instrument.
Regulation is an adjustment to various mechanical components of the piano so that the instrument "plays new again." It involves work on the action (the transfer of energy from striking a key all the way through to hammers striking the strings), trapwork (levers and springs connecting the pedals, producing "sustain" and dynamics), and the damper system (responsible for stopping the vibration of the string when a key is released).
Voicing is the adjustment of a piano's tone (i.e., the quality of a note's sound when the key is struck), e.g., mellow, bright, full or delicate. The tonal qualities of a piano eventually degrade over time as a result of wear to the felt hammers. Although tone has nothing to do with tune and is not addressed by a standard tuning, a piano in need of voicing should always be properly tuned first.
Restoration & Rebuilding (Specializing in Steinway)
Rebuilding is the replacement of worn or damaged parts or the cumulative effects of humidity and/or dryness. Distinct from reconditioning, which is only working with the original parts to resurface or compensate for wear and tear, rebuilding requires very specific knowledge of the many aspects of the pianos’ acoustics, principles of construction and manufacturing (and re-manufacturing) processes.
At JKP, we have in-depth knowledge of the characteristics of the currently available parts to be sure that to the greatest degree possible, the original tone and touch are recaptured or tailored to the requirements of the pianist.
Restoration work is currently focused on Steinway & Sons pianos. Most of our restoration clients have retained us to locate and select an unrestored vintage piano then work through the restoration process without ever seeing the actual instrument until it’s completed! Then, if required, we continue to work with clients on the development of tone and touch until they are completely satisfied with the result.
Please note: JKP also performs partial restorations to Steinway and all other makes and models, providing up-to-the-minute information about the cost-effectiveness of all projects.
Purchase Consultation & Insurance Appraisals
Just as no one would purchase a used vehicle without an initial inspection, so would-be piano buyers must exercise great caution before buying a new or used piano. We’ll let you know its value and if it’ll be an asset or liability.
James Karr Piano offers several customized levels of purchase consultations including: 1) hourly-rate consultations in which we educate piano buyers about features and potential risks; 2) fee-based searches based on customer requirements; and 3) fee-based, on-premises inspections and evaluations.
We also offer comprehensive insurance appraisals for a full range of piano brands.
James Karr Piano, in partnership with Steve Russo at Prime Piano (Mahwah, NJ), has an extensive inventory of the finest new and used upright and grand pianos (including rentals) in the New York City metropolitan area.
Jamie and Steve have a combined tradition of over 75 years of integrity, craftsmanship and reliability that have made them highly regarded as technicians and dealers of rebuilt and reconditioned Steinways and other fine pianos at reasonable prices.
The showroom is easily accessible off Rt. 202 in Mahwah, NJ. To those wishing to sell their present instruments, pianos taken on consignment is also offered.