Diagnosing A Piano w/ Nick Gravagne

Piano Tech Radio Hour

Aug 23 2023 • 1 hr 3 mins

Nick is a piano engineer with over 40 years of experience in the field. He has made significant contributions to the piano trade through his technical seminars across America and numerous articles he has authored.

During our session, Nick shared his unique approach to understanding pianos. According to him, there are three primary elements of a piano that demand attention: its body or 'box', its action (playability), and sound.

Nick offered clever and crucial insights like identifying issues related to tone quality by plucking strings and listening for their decay rate - a technique revealing each string's efficiency level. Simple but effective techniques like this help both in educating customers about their instrument’s optimal sound quality as well as guiding our own work process during tuning jobs.

Another technique involves a clever way of estimating where a piano's hammer strikes a string. Imagine the hammer striking a string at a certain distance from the capo bar or agraffe. The key is to replicate this distance near the bridge, at the back of the string. Picture it as if you're placing the ideal strike point between the bridge pins and the piano's front.

Then comes the fascinating part: using a specialized wedge, somewhat resembling a guitar pick, the technician gently plucks the string at this designated point. If you hear the vibrant high notes you expect, it's a signal that untapped potential can be unlocked through voicing or hammer work.

Nick also highlighted how altering a piano's tone can be subjective and tricky given individual preferences and performance situations—making voicing pianos complex yet fascinating!

Tune in to learn more clever techniques to diagnose pianos, treat them, and communicate flawlessly with the client about their piano’s care.

Here’s a little bit about our guest Nick Gravagne:

Nick combines a formal engineering background with over 40 years of hands-on experience in piano design, manufacturing, and rebuilding. He has authored numerous articles for the piano trade and has been a featured instructor at piano technical seminars all over the U.S. His business currently revolves around rebuilding and manufacturing custom soundboards for the piano rebuilding trade.


𝐉𝐎𝐈𝐍 𝐔𝐒 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐌𝐎𝐑𝐄 𝐆𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐓 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐍𝐓❗❗


Browse more masterclasses and lectures from Piano Tuning Pros here: https://www.pianotechniciansmasterclass.com/


Piano Tech Radio Hour is brought to you by Piano Technicians Master. We provide cutting-edge piano technology instruction from piano industry masters without leaving your home, featuring monthly subscriptions, conventions, single live streaming, and recorded masterclasses. Learn advanced skills:

  • How to tune pianos.
  • How to repair pianos.
  • How to rebuild pianos.
  • How to tune concert pianos for the finest performers in the world.

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