Who Is Your Tuner?
In Tucson, there are a handful of first-rate professionals. Most are registered tuner/technicians certified by the Piano Technicians Guild. I am proud to be a RPT member of that distinguished guild.
What is a RPT?
The title of Registered Piano Technician (RPT) must be earned by passing a series of rigorous examinations.
My father, Larry Prentice, a popular Tucson tuner and jazz pianist in the '70s started me out by demonstrating basic fundamentals of the craft. After some practice at home, my work was acceptable enough to land a job tuning rental and showroom pianos for the Muller Piano Company in Tucson. Eventually, after tuning hundreds of pianos and working several years in Muller's piano rebuilding shop, I achieved the RPT rating and advanced to the position of field technician. My duties included in-home warranty tuning and service as well an occasional tuning for touring artists such as Harry Connick Jr., Burt Bacharach and Neil Sedaka. The Muller Piano Company closed its doors about ten years ago. After pursuing other endeavors for the past decade, I have returned to being an independent piano technician offering vast experience and the cumulative knowledge acquired from my years with the Muller Piano Co. I tune and repair pianos.
How Often Should I Have My Piano Tuned?
Piano manufacturers recommend twice a year and four times for the first year of a brand new instrument. Teachers and serious players will usually have their piano tuned at least twice a year. If you have your piano tuned once a year, you can count on the basic tuning fee. If you wait two years before the next tuning, there's a fair chance that you will pay an additional fee for a pitch raise to keep the piano at A440 pitch. If you wait three years, it is almost certain that you will pay additional for a pitch raise.
Using impact tuning hammer technology, I have excellent success bringing a neglected instrument back to a playable condition at the pitch standard of A440. However, on very rare occasions it may be advisable to tune the piano at its current pitch.
Tips For Tucson Piano Owners
People often praise the desert because of the dry air, but dryness is a piano killer! Buy a hygrometer to monitor your piano's climate. Avoid direct sunlight on the instrument, either through a window or a skylight. In addition to fading the finish, the heat from direct sunlight will dry out the pinblock causing the tuning pins to loosen and even slip, making it impossible to properly tune the instrument. For the best care of your instrument, invest in a room humidifier or have a certified technician install a piano climate control system. About 40% is the ideal humidity for maintaining a healthy piano.
What? Ceiling Fans?
The majority of homes in the desert have ceiling fans. Be aware that a spinning ceiling fan cuts the sound waves and will distort your piano's tone. This is particularly noticeable in sustained higher range notes. The only remedy is to turn off the fan.