I’ve been told my piano won’t hold a tuning – Is it dead yet?

bass end of pinblock showing veneer "shims" (to correct for poor fitting)

I’ve been told my piano won’t hold a tuning – Is it dead yet?

This is usually a far worse issue than a crack in a soundboard, but the piano may still be salvageable.

Pianos that won’t “hold a tuning” usually have loose tuning pins. Tuning pins are bedded in a multi-ply (usually maple or other hardwood) plank variously called a “pinblock” or “wrestplank.” When, through age, weathering, (or sometimes poor drilling technique), the wood is no longer able to hold the tuning pin snug while under the tension of the piano string, the pin will “let go,” causing the piano to go out of tune (often, rather abruptly).

Even this can be repaired, but as with defective soundboards, you will need to know if the cost of repair will outweigh the value of the instrument. Fortunately, as with soundboards, there are a variety of treatments – some more affordable than others – that may at least help prolong the life of a piano with this condition.

Again, don’t hesitate to call me for an evaluation appointment before disposal – you just might be pleasantly surprised!

(photo: faulty rebuild showing incorrectly fitted grand pinblock (tuning pins & casting removed) – veneer shims added to fill gaps between block and casting)