Many piano tuners are equipped to not only adjust the piano's strings to raise and lower their pitch, but also to make minor repairs to the piano's mechanisms. For instance, if the hammers that strike the strings become worn out, your piano tuner may be able to repair them. If you suspect your piano may also need repairs, let your tuner know in advance.
Here are some of the signs that your piano may need repairs as well as tuning adjustments at its next tuning appointment.
1. One or more keys don't play
A key that's jammed in a down position or that simply makes no sound when pushed down can indicate a problem. In some cases, the piano may just have a coin or other small object wedged between the keys. But in other cases, an unresponsive key could mean one part of the piano's machinery (such as a hammer rail pin) is broken and needs to be replaced.
2. Piano has had hard wear or neglect
A piano that's played frequently with great force and, conversely, one that's had little attention over the years are both at higher risk of problems. One example of damage from hard use is when the most commonly played notes start to sound different than the rest. This is often because the felt pads on the hammers (the mechanism which strike the strings to create sound) become worn down and flattened on those notes.
As you can imagine, hitting a string with a fluffier piece of felt makes a different noise than hitting it with a hard, solidly compacted felt piece. Piano tuning technicians can typically replace or revoice the felts, or simply replace the entire hammer for better sound consistency.
3. Missing keytops
Many times, an antique piano can lose some of the white tops of its keys (these used to be made of ivory, although modern ones are typically made of plastic). This leaves the piano with a gap-toothed appearance and makes it difficult to play. Your piano tuner can help you source and install keytops for your keys.
4. Unwanted rattles or similar noise
A piano string that's physically fraying and about to give out may create an unpleasant buzz when it's played. A piano tuning technician can help you replace the string, and if your strings are so old they're falling apart, you'll want to consider having all the strings replaced.
These are just a few of the signs that your piano needs not just tuning, but some degree of repair as well. If you notice these signs in your piano, let your piano tuner know so they can prepare for small repairs or refer you to a full-service piano repair shop.