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The most obvious clue that you have loose tuning pins is that one pin slips by itself, usually while you are playing it. The resulting sound is absolutely horrible. When you hit the key with the slipped pin, it sounds like you are hitting two notes at once. I pin can get so bad that if you raise the string tension with a tuning lever so that you reach a clear sound in the unison (all strings in one note), when you let go of the tuning lever, it will slowly move back where you started. This is severe and may indicate that there is no repair or cure possible for the existing pin block. The other clue, which is more subtle, is that your piano doesn't hold pitch, in certain notes, between tunings. The move is slower and more subtle. The tuner should tell you about this.
If you have ordered the Tool Kit, in my Online Catalogue, you can go to Chapter Seven, sub-topic- Tuning Pins- Treatment. You will be helped to reset the tuning pin, then go to the sub-topic- Tuning- Do-It-Yourself, and you can get that note back very close to right.
The other thing you need to consider is treating the tuning pins with a liquid treatment that fills the wood and tightens the pins. This is found in Chapter Seven, sub-topic- Tuning Pins- Treatment. This is easily a do-it-yourself project, but you should order the Tool Kit so that you can re-set the wires after treating the pins.
If you do not have the tool kit, you can make some improvement in the sound, but this is very temporary, and you should call your tuner to schedule a session for tuning and ask him to plan to treat the pins. Here is what you can do in the meantime:
1. Get something softish to wedge between the wires.
2. With the piano open, strike the note that sounds horrible.
3. Touch your finger to each wire in the note until the note sounds better. You are touching the bad one. If the bad wire, that is, the low or dropped wire, is in a three wire note, and if it is one of the outside wires of the three, push your wedge between the bad wire and the wire next to it in the next note. You will lose one third of your sound in the two notes with the mute between them, but the result will be greatly improved. Try to put the wedge as far down the wire as possible with out interfering with the hammers or action, even below where the hammers strike if possible. On a grand, put the muting material out in the middle for best results.
4. If it is the center wire in the note, your only option is to push your wedge between the center wire and one of the outside wire next to it. You will lose two thirds of the sound in that note, but it's still a lot better than the twang, right?
5. Every wire in the three wire notes goes down to the bottom of the piano, around a pin, and back up. When a pin slips, both sections of the wire that dropped can be affected, so you may have to go through this process twice, isolating both sections of the wire. This may mean that the wire in the next note is also affected.
6. If the wire is in the copper wound two wire, or the higher bass section, you follow the same principles as above, and put your wedge between the offending wire and the one next to it in the next note. You lose 50% of your sound in two notes, but life is tolerable until the tuner comes to the rescue.
7. If a single string bass note has gone south, you will just have to live with it until the tuner comes around.
This is about as far as you can go without the tool kit. Of course, you can do this temporary step, then order the tool kit and the pin treatment liquid, and do-it-yourself. This could save you as much as $500 depending on how much your tuner charges.
Remember, there are other steps you can take to tighten a loose tuning pin at 60. Tuning pins- Tightening