Begin with the right tools
When starting to venture into tuning your own piano, your main and first concern will be choosing the right tools.
On this page, you will have the opportunity to thank me for my efforts to educate you on the best of what the Internet has to offer in piano tuning. By clicking on the images, you will be redirected to a sites like Amazon or eBay and if you make a purchase on these sites in less than 24 hours, I will receive a commission as an affiliate. You will not pay more and I will receive a small commission on the sale (less than 2%)
The piano tuning tools technology is in constant evolution and it is difficult to evaluate the best options in a short period of time.
PianoTuningHowTo have done extensive research on that manner and we are confident that the piano tuning tools that we have chosen for you will be your best choice.
You need to be incredibly careful when choosing your tools because if you chose the wrong ones, they could lead you to failure.
If you fail, you will never know if it was because of the bad tools you have chosen or your lack of ability to learn the trade.
I have find a lot of misinformation on the web as to what tools you should begin with.
So, I took on me to choose the right tools for you so that we both move at the same speed.
The student quality piano tuning lever with its one piece tip-head USED TO BE a good option for a limited budget but now with the very good quality tuning levers produced in China, you are better off getting one of those tools on eBay or Amazon .
The next tuning lever is your minimum. It is made in China but is of good quality. A good starting point.
HERE ARE OTHER CHOICES OF QUALITY TUNING HAMMERS
For example, this next tuning hammer is equipped with a tip from the famous Japanese brand WATANABE but in one whole piece. Very good value for money.
If you follow PianoTuningHowTo's teachings, your ideal tuning lever is the ball handle. There are a few available for less than $ 100 on eBay.
HERE IS THE ULTIMATE TUNING LEVER
You've certainly heard of the carbon fiber tuning levers? Those are very expensive but you can get a Chinese made that works like this one for much cheaper than the USA made carbon fiber tuning levers.
STAY AWAY FROM THIS ONE:
If you are serious about tuning your own piano, you deserve it to yourself NOT to get the cheapest piano tuning lever for it will not serve you well.
AVOID THE GOOSENECK TYPE OF TUNING LEVERS AT ALL COST!
This type of tuning levers will damage your piano and your learning will suffer.
The head and tip are of poor quality and this tuning lever wobbles around the tuning pins making it extremely hard to "feel" the pins even for an experience piano tuner like me.
Here is a list of the only tools you will need if you follow the method taught on PianoTuningHowTo.com
They can be found on eBay and Amazon.
The Temperament Felt Strip
Using a temperament felt strip makes tuning your piano much easier than using a whole bunch of wedge mutes to mute strings while establishing the temperament. I will show you how to use it when establishing the temperament tuning with one octave and a half in the middle range of the piano. Notice that this felt is "tapered" to make it easier to insert in the limited space over the hammer heads at the upper region of the temperament.
Papp's mute to tune higher notes
I will show you how and why it is better to use Papp's treble mute to tune the upper region of the piano. Here is an animation about this that you can also find on the "about" page:
The Bass Muting Wedges
The bass strings are very long and are harder to mute than the shorter treble strings. Therefore you need a wider wedge to mute the bass strings. In the tuning kit you can purchase on this page, you will get the rubber wide tuning wedge for the bass.
This tool is especially important. You won’t need it often but when you do need it, you'll be glad you have it. It is used to mute two strings that are too close together so a regular bass mute or even a regular treble rubber mute won’t work.
The Tuning Fork
You will need one quality tuning fork pitched at A=440Hz. You will get the John Walker blue steel superior quality tuning fork on Amazon. (click image)
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Here is a list of Electronic piano tuning Devices that are worth considering. I have ordered them by price from the most affordable ones to the more advanced machines.
You can get a very cheap tuning device like the Korg CA-40 Large Display Auto Chromatic Tuner for under $20 to start (and it WILL work) I have tested this machine with my Peterson V-SAM strobe tuner and it was giving me the same reading so both machines came out with the same results.
But as soon as you get more "serious" about piano tuning, you will want to move to the next quality level with the Korg OT-120 Wide 8 Octave Chromatic Orchestral Tuner for around $75.
The Korg OT-120 piano tuning electronic device
If you plan on producing videos for your website or recording live music of your band's rehearsal, you might as well go for the fantastic ZOOM H2 audio recorder with built in chromatic tuner and metronome. I consider this tool a better fit than the next one, the more expensive Peterson Virtual Strobe Tuner. If you are into music like a lot of piano tuners are, you will like the added features that the Zoom H2 will give you.
Get it here!
This is a very versatile tool. The Zoom H2 has 4 internal microphones and can capture audio in stereo and 4 channels surround. It can be used as a USB mic for recording your voice in your computer with pristine clarity. It can be used as an MP3 player with the included stereo headphones. Most importantly, it has a built-in chromatic tuner you can use to tune pianos. Double this with an internal metronome, it is the perfect tool to evaluate the beat-rates of intervals when establishing the temperament. For under $400, you cannot go wrong.
Peterson AutoStrobe 490 Strobe Tuner
I've been using the Peterson Virtual Strobo-tuner VS-1 for many years. Unfortunately, it is not available anymore and you are better off with the StroboSoft for your mobile phone.
Another alternative is TuneLab Piano Tuner for Pocket PCs, Smartphones or your LapTop.
- Can be calibrated to an accuracy of 0.02 cents.
- Measures and uses inharmonicity of the piano to construct the tuning.
- Provides an over-pull mode for pitch-raises.
- Can store hundreds of tuning files for individual pianos.
- Provides many historical temperaments for period music.
- Switches notes automatically when you play the next note.
- Provides a strobe-like phase display for fine-tuning.
- Provides a versatile spectrum display with a Fourier Transform.
The top level electronic piano tuner is the Peterson AutoStrobe 490 Strobe Tuner at $842 for advance piano tuners.
For advance users, the Peterson Auto Strobe 490 is the State Of The Art piano tuning device. Often used in Laboratories and piano manufacturers around the world. Click here to get it on Amazon.
Your tool kit should look like this one
• Pro Tuning Lever
• 4" long head-tip #2 for grand pianos at 5 degree angle
• Muting Felt strip - 7/32" thick x 50" long - Tapered from 3/4" to 1/2" wide
• John Walker Tuning Fork (A-440)
• Papps Treble Mute
• Narrow Mute 6" x 1/2"
• 2 Bass Felt Mutes 3" x 3/4"
• Tip Wrench, the perfect tool for changing tuning tips (and for tightening the tips)
On eBay you will find complete sets of many tools in one single package. Those look like the following picture. You will find piano tuning tools from the tuning lever to regulating and action repair tools. I can confirm those are quality tools (I have tried them myself) A very good buy at around $349.
You will also find more affordable tool kit with 19 pieces at eBay for around $150.
Please do stay away from lots of junk sold on eBay and Amazon like the following picture. Notice the blue mutes! Anytime you see those blue mutes, stay away from it, this is pure junk!