With the harp, on the contrary, one of the first lessons a purchaser finds it necessary to learn is to tune it, and replace broken strings, and it would be considered quite exceptional, even for a lady, not to possess this amount of skill. It may fairly be urged that as the tuning of a harp is diatonic, and the strings so much more accessible, there is little comparison between the two; but it must also be remembered that though the tuning of a piano, as a whole, may be, and generally is, beyond the powers of an amateur to accomplish, there are yet many accidents to which the mechanism is liable, which, though trivial in themselves, are not on that account the less annoying (especially when it happens, as is often the case, where the visits of a professional tuner are few and far between), and yet are very easily put right - such an occur-rence, for instance, as a crumb or other small article getting between the keys will occasionally render a piano useless, and necessitate, besides delay, the expense of a tuning, when probably it would not otherwise require it.
In upright pianos the whole of the movable parts are kept in their places by what are termed steady pius, so that when replaced they are certain to be in their exact position for playing, and as the first step in repairing is to obtain access to the interior, the beginner should accustom himself to take all these to pieces until he is familiar with the mechanism. To take out the doors, having turned back the buttons (if any), pull them forward at the top, and then lift them up off their bottom dowels - in replacing, these movements are reversed - the cylinder and hollow can then be lifted out, the left hand holding the cylinder, and the right placed under the back of the hollow. The action is removed by pulling it forward at the top, and lifting out by the hammer-rest; where the dampers are detached it will be easier if they are first taken out. In replacing, it is necessary to be careful in guiding the back of the action over the hoppers, and in placing the dowels at the bottom of each standard in their respective holes, when, by a slight pressure at the top, the action will slip into its place.
In pianos that are fitted with a double check action, the mod is operandi, though still the same, is a little more difficult of execution, in consequence of both the weight of the action and the complication of its parts, but generally in such instruments special directions are pasted inside to serve as a certain guide. Keys may be taken out by lifting them at the front until they are clear of the centre pin, when they may be drawn forward. In practising these movements, it must be borne in mind that under no conditions should force be exercised, as every part should drop easily into its place.
Lime-wood is generally used for keys, though any straight-grained and tough wood would answer quite as well. When the middle of a wide board is used, the keys at that part are liable to warp, and sometimes to twist. A slight warping may easily be cured by laying the hollow side of the key on a flat-iron, and gently striking the upper side with a broad-faced hammer, between the centre hole and the hopper, the key being bent, by a pressure of the hand, in the direction required. If the warping is very bad, it will be necessary to wedge saw kerfs about 1/4 in. deep in the hollow side, though this requires great care, as the key is apt to break. A twisted key is very hard to straighten, as the saw kerf will have to be diagonal, and a wrong slant will only make it worse. A great deal can, however, be done with the plane, and by resetting the hopper or by bending the key pin. Pine makes a very good key, when slipped at the pin-holes with a hard wood.
In all problems relating to the repair of pianos, it is not so much the cure as the cause of a defect that is difficult to discover, for when the latter is once known, the remedy is generally easy enough. Properly speaking, a hammer can only stick from its centre; but a damper wire out of place or binding in its socket, a hinge-bound sticker, or a broken tape to a check action may each be described as a "sticking hammer," although the hammer itself may be perfectly free. It is so common to see a set of centres completely ruined by unnecessary broaching that it is worth while taking some trouble to first ascertain whether the centre is too tight or not. It is pretty good evidence that the sticking is caused by the damper wires when the hammers are free at the treble end, but this will be rendered more conclusive by bending one of the wires out of its socket and trying the effect. If the hammer is then free, it is the socket rail which must be broached; but if the hammer still sticks, it must be either that its centre is tight, or the butt of the hammer is jammed between the forks of the rail. To test for the latter, insert the point of a pen-blade between the fork and butt, and whilst there work the hammer to and fro with the finger.
Should this not succeed, there is nothing for it but removing the wire and broaching the centres; but this is altogether too difficult a task for any amateur to attempt. Dampers are often kept from the strings by hanging upon their lifts. If upon the damper wire lift, screw down the lift (or button) until there is the space of a card between the lift and damper. With Collard or Kirkman dampers, they may also hang upon the rail lift, or the piece of wood which lifts the dampers when the loud pedal is 'down. Either of these makes may be eased by enlarging the screw holes and lowering the lift, though for Broadwood or French dampers this is not needed.
It is useless to keep tuning up to pitch, until the cause of giving way is remedied. The causes are various. If the wrest plank has not been thoroughly seasoned, it would cause the pins to give from the immense strain on them. The same remark may be applied to that part (at the bottom of the piano) where the hitch pins are inserted. Instances have occurred where the hitch pins have been torn through the wood from the strain on them. If the scale or speaking length of string between the belly bridge and wrest plank is not to the correct length, it will cause a breakage of the strings, and the instrument cannot be kept up to the standard pitch. A good many pianos become worthless from the inaccuracy of their scale. Now for the remedies: To cure looseness of the wrest pin in the hole, if the wrest plank be sound, put a larger wrest pin in. When the hitch pin does not hold in the bent side or bottom block, if the bent side or bottom block is sound, replace either with a stouter or longer hitch pin. (W. H. Davies.)