For those who don't know I'm a pianist. Earlier this year I learned the basics of how to tune a piano. Because of safety concerns this year it's not been practical to get my tuner over. We had a leaking pipe which needed urgent attention this year. It wasn't hard to keep a safe distance from the plumber, wearing masks and sanitising everything afterwards. But having a piano tuned is a totally different thing. Plus pianos can't be sanitised with alcohol. So it's just off the table for now.
It's really not great to leave a piano out of tune for long periods for just about every reason you can think of. So what with everything going on I knew I'd be learning to DIY tune at some point. For context it's relatively common for pianists to maintain their own tuning in between professional services. The piano community is pretty divided on that. My opinion is it's not for everyone and that's okay too. Some months ago I watched/rewatched copious amounts of footage from tuners on YouTube in preparation and sent away for the tools I needed.
Fast forward to now and I'm pretty surprised at how far I've come in picking up the techniques. Since then I've done a few full tunes and maybe a dozen quick 'top up' tunings. Point being for any ghost frequenting this year would have seen me doing this by now.
A couple weeks ago I was doing another full tune, which takes about two hours. I've always been obsessive about keeping the lid down whenever the piano isn't in use. Just like any other time I closed the lid before leaving the room except this time something really weird happened.
As I lowered the lid at first it felt normal then it was like the piano had rolls upon rolls of blankets inside it. For some reason that's what I first thought, other than confusion. The lid became considerably lighter on the way down as if there was resistance, like a heap of blankets cushioning from within. I lifted the lid higher again, enough to check inside, there was nothing there. I paused a few seconds mulling it over, holding the lid two thirds down near my shoulder (I'm short). Then I lowered it as normal and it was as normal, no more lighter feeling or cushiony resistance. I stood staring at the piano a few seconds replaying in my mind trying to figure how that happened. It's totally illogical. I left the room baffled wondering if a ghost could really support that kind of weight. Then I backtracked, opened the door to this room again and said "Thanks". You know, cause it's polite if what I think happened really did just happen.
Something else happened right before this that only struck me after the fact. A few minutes before I took a break I was tuning one of the lower treble notes, don't remember which note, but remember it was a semitone. I started hearing static when this note was held down. It was a faint buzzing sound which was present the entire time I worked on this note. So present on all three strings. (Majority of notes across a piano are three strings.) At first I thought it was one of the mutes vibrating. (Rubber wedge.) So I adjusted them and the faint static continued. I'm pretty one track minded so regardless of a faint noise I pressed on. When this note was finished, and with mutes removed, the static continued. Now I really wanted to identify it.
I tried every trick in the book but still the static remained on that note. The hammer wasn't sticking, everything was as normal. Couldn't account for it. Intuition must've kicked in because it felt like if I played something, anything, a quick improv using that note it would stop the static and it did. Hasn't happened since.
When I can finally get the tuner over and tell him about it he may determine exactly what it was. Or he may ask questions and give me 'the look' we all know on YGS. From my DIY knowledge I don't know of anything which would make all three stings rattle slightly on a single note, then stop at once. One string, sure, but all three? I need a professional's input there.
With regards to static it's not the first time I've experienced that kind of sound. I've heard it from my headphones and speakers at separate times. It hardly happens. But from the piano is a first.
Piano lids are heavy, especially solid hardwood like this. As it was lowered it felt like it more than halved in weight until I lifted it again to check inside. After which it returned to normal weight. Don't know why I immediately thought something would be inside. I called this strong ghost because it impressed me how whatever/whoever was able to influence or interact with something heavy.
Months ago when I was watching all those tuning videos one of YouTube's suggestions down the side caught my attention. I think whoever's behind this lid trick also watched me flip out over this video. It was something about a safety piano lid. The video demonstrated a soft close hinge mechanism for grand piano lids. In the video a piano lid was allowed to fall but the hinge caught the weight. I remarked that it seemed supernatural, it really does! I watched that video a few times in a row, it was so novel to me. Reckon someone else must've been watching too. But that was months ago, even so I can't help wondering if that video, or my reaction to it, was a kind of inspiration.
My piano has a soft close fallboard, the keyboard covering, that design feature's been around for a while. But I'd not heard of a soft close lid device. That's crazy impressive.
Wonder if the tuner has ever experienced anything. Really don't want to scare him away with any hocus pocus talk. But he comes with all this neat frequency meter kit. Oh the potential!
Which reminds me when I tune I'm using an app on a phone for reference. The app is great, however you're at the mercy of your phone's on board mic, which ain't great. Because of that the readings crap out on the extreme highs and lows. It's not impossible to get a reading on these ones it's just insanely tricky. I actually don't remember what the app was telling me during the static note. It's usually a great app but that evening it's readings were going back and forth for an annoying amount of time on notes within the phone mic's range, the static note being one of those. Unfortunately I don't remember if the app behaved itself or not after taking a break. To be frank I just wanted to get the tuning done so I could play again. One track minded remember.
Thanks for reading.