Category Archives: My Pitch

Piano tuning and allied arts! A collection of some of the day to day problems thrown in the way of achieving that perfect tuning.

Lion, or Losing it?


As you might imagine I spend a lot of time gazing into the insides of pianos. I’m looking here at a Yamaha decal and I’m seeing the face of a cat trapped behind bars.

Perhaps I should get out more.IMG_20160307_091113


A New Twist

This picture shows tuning pins in the low bass on an old grand piano. Weirdly the very last string (top of picture) has been wound round the pin the opposite way to all the rest. You might think this would not be so unusual an occurrence, but in reality the strings are ever only wound one way – so the tuner knows which way to turn his tuning lever to raise or lower the pitch.

You might think it could be due to a dodgy workshop or a cowboy tuner, but this string along with the others looks as though it has been undisturbed since the piano was manufactured (not that there are such things as dodgy workshops or cowboy tuners in our highly reputable trade).

I can only conclude that it must be the only way that last note could be strung, given the limitations of the design of the frame. It certainly is unusual; I’ve never come across it before in all my years as a tuner.

The Future?

????nIt has been some months since I last wrote, but spurred on by a customer last week who said they liked my blog I thought I’d have another go. The picture here shows part of a Kawai upright piano action. On their older instruments the plastic parts used to be wood coloured. Now they make a feature of them, they’re black, but not just to make them stand out, but because they’re carbon fibre. The great thing about CF is that it’s lightweight, rigid, strong and not prone to warping, shrinking or swelling like conventional wooden parts. I read an article the other day about a whole piano that had been made from carbon fibre. There are good reasons for using this material. A CF soundboard won’t crack or lose its downbearing. A low friction climate resistant cf/composite felt-less action won’t suffer from the troubles humidity can cause to wood and felt. The CF piano (still at the experimental stage) weighs in at about a third the weight of a conventional piano. Still fairly hefty then, but not as costly to move and therefore more possible to take with you to a gig in a van. And it does sound like a piano.

So, for the piano, the future’s bright, but the future’s also… well, black!

Mike the Tuner


I’m Mike Butterworth, a piano tuner based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. I cover Harrogate, Wetherby and York and all rural districts in between.

My tuning work encompasses concert halls, local festivals, schools, hotels, churches and domestic homes.

Please contact me if you would like to arrange a tuning.

I qualified at the City of Leeds College of Music gaining a National Diploma in musical instrument technology and a City and Guilds of the London Institute in piano repair and tuning. Later I passed for membership of the Pianoforte Tuners’ Association, so I can justly add the letters MPTA after my name. Past experience includes working for the Harrogate Piano Centre and then Woods of Bradford at their Harrogate branch. Sadly neither are still in existence (it wasn’t me!).


I have been a solo tuner for some years now and although I am skilled in all aspects of piano restoration and am also a member of the International Association of Piano Builders and Technicians, the main emphasis of my business is tuning and on-site minor repairs.

Call or text me on 07946 517384

or send an email to:

MIKE THE TUNER – For all your piano tuning needs in Harrogate, Wetherby and York

More Hi-Tec Stuff

Talking about the carbon-fibre tuning lever (a subject I shall return to later, as I intend to review it) has made me think of other technology products in regular use by piano tuners that I might write a short article on.

One such product is Protek CLP. The CLP stands for cleaner, lubricant, protectant. Since its arrival some years ago, it has assisted greatly in the job of the piano tuner. I use it chiefly for its lubricating properties. It’s amazing at freeing up sluggish or seized up action parts such as hammers or keys without the need to dismantle them.

This saves huge amounts of time as the only alternative would be to take everything apart and then begin reaming out bushings, testing them, repinning them back together and finally, reassembling. If the problem was extensive, such process would cost a fortune. On old pianos, removing the hammers can mean the accidental, though inevitable breaking of the old and brittle bridle tapes along with other fatigued parts like springs and flanges; so the cost of such work can easily spiral out of control.

Protek CLP is similar in its effect to the familiar penetrating oil, WD40, but it has one distinct difference; it is not an oil. It is designed for the job and unlike oil, it is harmless to wood and felt. It is also harmless to plastic, metal or the piano finish. So, in theory you can splash it on all over. Though in practice, the use of a dropper, syringe or small brush is best. There’s harmless and harmless and as it contains flouropolymers in solvents, I think a degree of respect is called for!

Still, it has been a saviour for many an old piano and I never travel to a job without it.

More information from Protek Products Inc, Smithtown NY 11787

Flipping Nuisance

There’s one modern make of piano where the rail holding the strip of felt operated by the middle pedal has an annoying habit of flipping upside down so that it can’t function. Once in that position, the only way to reset it is to open up the top of the piano and reach inside.

However, the strategic placing of a simple screw, as shown, completely solves the problem as it prevents the rail from flipping.

I commend this solution to all owners of Wendl & Lung pianos, and to the makers too. I’ve had to do this to at least 3 instruments of this make of piano (screw in top RH corner of picture).

New Technology Hits Piano Tuning World

Today I took delivery of my new Fujan carbon-fibre tuning lever (Seen here gently laid across the keys of my own piano).

It’s not often new technology products hit the small world of piano tuning and credit must go to Steve Fujan of Tulsa USA for developing this amazing piece of kit. It has until recently only been available from America, but it’s now starting to be made under licence in Germany.

So what’s amazing?

Well, you can check out the Fujan Products web site: 
Also you can see what they’re saying about it here in the UK, like at Gordon Bell Pianos of Aberdeen: 
Be sure to visit if you’re out that way.

What’s so special is that carbon fibre tube is extremely rigid; also very strong and lightweight. It allows a tuning lever to be made longer, yet it won’t flex like a similar-length steel one would. This means that all the force applied to it goes straight to where it’s needed – the tuning pin. The extra length gives greater leverage and greater control. Thus the tuning pin can be ‘set’ with extreme precision, resulting in a more accurate tuning with improved stability – and better stability means the piano stays in tune for longer.

I’m looking forward to passing on the benefits of this great technology to my clients – starting today!