In order to tune a piano, the primary tool that is needed is a Piano Tuning Hammer, sometimes called a Piano Tuning Lever. This is a tool that is used to turn the tuning pins in order to adjust the pitch of each string to where it should be. Almost all pianos have tuning pins that have a square shape on the top which is the portion of the pin that the tuning hammer goes on.
There are 3 parts to a tuning hammer: the handle, the head and the tip. Some of the more basic styles of tuning hammers are all one piece which means the head and the tip cannot be changed from the handle. The pictures above show different types of tuning hammers. The first is a more basic style which is all one piece. The third picture shows an extension tuning hammer.
The handle can be made of wood or some other material such as nylon or plastic. The more expensive piano tuning hammers have an extension rod to allow the handle to be lengthened by extending the rod. Most piano tuners who have this type of hammer don’t use the extension primarily, but the extension hammers are generally stiffer than the non-extension hammers. The stiffer the handle is, the more control you’ll have on the tuning pin.
The head is the part of the tuning hammer that attaches to the handle. It is threaded so it screws onto the end of the handle which is also threaded. You can purchase different angles for your tuning hammer head. The angle of the head determines what to what degree the handle will extend away from the tuning pins. Head angles are available in 5, 10 or 15 degree angles. The 5 degree head angle will put the tuning hammer the closest to the tuning pins where the 15 degree angle will extend the handle further away from the pins. You can also get the heads in different lengths. The longer the head is, the further the handle will be from the tuning pins. The main disadvantage to a longer head is that there will be more flex and thereby less control on the tuning pin. Though all of the piano tuning hammers we sell come with a head and tip you can purchase other heads at howardpianoindustries.com.
The tip is the portion of the tool that screws onto the end of the head and which fits over the tuning pin. The portion of the tip that goes over the pin is usually a star shape which is designed to fit on the square pins. The reason for the star shape is to be able to facilitate more angles on the tuning hammer. There are some hammers available with a square shaped tip, but you are limited to 4 positions on the pin, where the star shape allows you to have 8 different positions on the pin. The tips are available in different sizes. The #2 size tip is the most common and will fit piano tuning pins on almost all pianos. The #1 size tip is a little smaller and is designed to fit tuning pins that are extremely small. This would apply to mostly older European style pianos. The #3 tip is for larger or oversized pins. The tips are also available in different lengths, but like the heads, the longer the tip is the more flex you will have which means less control on the pin. You can purchase a tuning hammer with the head and the tip being one piece. This just means that you wouldn’t be able to change just the head or the tip, you would need to either change to another one piece head and tip or get the head and the tip as two separate pieces. We have a variety of different tips available in our online store: Piano Tuning Hammer Tips.
We have a video available showing the different types of tuning hammers we sell as well as a more detailed view of the different piano tuning hammer parts: