Maqiano – detailed info

The Maqiano™ – Micro-tuning system for acoustic piano


It works a bit like the Capo in guitar – it shortens the ringing part, so called “speaking length” of the strings, making the tuning go up. A specially shaped mass is attached to the choir of strings, and the tip of the mass is determining the new speaking length / new tuning level for that note. You need one piece of Maqiano for every pitch (=choir of strings) you want to tune. For example, if you need a B-half-flat, you just tune the B-flat up a 1/4-step. If you need it in many octaves, you have to tune all the B-flats separately. Once installed, you can easily fine-tune the note to any desired tuning level, usually up to half step up the original pitch. You understand now, that when you tune a note up, for example a B-flat to a B-half-flat, you don’t have the B-flat in that octave anymore. If you need to play a B-flat, you have to change the octave, or remove the Maqiano unit.

The operating range is 3 to 4 octaves, depending on your piano. In Steinway models B, C & D it’s from the lowest B-flat up to the B-flat above the middle C. About the same range in Fazioli 212. In general it works fine from the low range with 2 strings per pitch, to mid-range as long as there’s enough space upon the strings between the tuning pins/agraffes/v-bar and the dampers/hammers. The lowest strings, just 1 per pitch, work too, but requires a bit more adjusting. The sound, as well as the easiness of use is at its best on plain wire strings, the copper-wound strings are bit less convenient, specially on upright pianos, and the sound is also thinner, and more likely to buzz / crack on heavily accented notes.

With the old version of the Maqiano that I used for my solo album and for the video you’ve seen, the timbre of the micro-tuned notes is quite different from the other notes. I used some other preparations to soften that difference. The new version is much better, but still the timbre changes a little bit. This depends on the piano, range, dynamic level etc. Listen to the difference here in this new home recording without any other preparations (all C’s and F’s are tuned about 1/4-step up). 

Also, please note that the best dynamic range is from piano pianissimo to forte, depending on the range and the piano model. Heavy fortissimo accents are likely to cause distortion / buzz / crack in the sound, specially on the low copper-wound strings, and also a bit in the highest register. Listen to this sound example, and then you can decide if this is a pro or a con 🙂

Installing one unit of Maqiano takes a few seconds. When I practise it, I can do it in 4 or 5 seconds, sometimes having to adjust it a bit after trying to play. Removing is faster. Tuning for example 2 notes per octave in the whole operating range of your piano takes less than a minute, should be possible in concert during the oud intro 🙂 Fine-tuning is very fast, when you want to adjust the micro-tuned note a tiny bit up – it takes a second or two. The abovementioned times are for grand pianos. Some uprights are easy too, but some smaller ones are more tricky. Might take more time, specially in the lower register. You can tune as many pitches as you want, but placing the Maqiano on two adjacent choirs of strings (e.g. D and E-flat) is very difficult.

It’s quite awkward installing the Maqiano with your grand piano’s music stand on its place. However, if you need to read music, you can re-install the music stand after installing and adjusting the Maqiano pieces. There will be enough space to do that in most of the pianos. The same thing with upright pianos – it might be possible to install the Maqiano with the front lid on its place, but it would certainly be very difficult. In most pianos you can re-install the front cover after installing and adjusting the Maqiano, this takes time of course.

I have used the Maqiano a lot on my own Steinway, and on at least 100 different pianos around the world, and no damage has ever happened to any piano or to their strings. No piano has ever got out of tune – after removing the Maqiano, it’s always in its initial tuning again. I have got a statement from a top class Finnish Steinway-, Bösendorfer-, Yamaha-, Fazioli- & Kawai-authorized piano technician, that the Maqiano “when used properly for its intended use, causes no harm to the piano, its strings or its tuning.” However, since the device has strong magnets and heavy metal parts, you have to read, understand, and follow all the instructions & watch all tutorial videos I’ll be sending, and be extremely careful when using the Maqiano.

The construction of the Maqiano is modular – you can add and remove different parts according to the piano model and register. All this will be easy and fast, but of course better if you do that in the soundcheck, so installing will be faster during the concert.

One thing reg. air travel: I have had a few Maqiano units in my cabin luggage on about ten flights now, and no problem. However, the long metal bar ”The Bar” is clearly against the rules for the cabin bags, they would take it for sure! And of course if they are really mean, the could just decide to not let you take a Maqiano set inside the cabin, since the metal pieces are more than 6cm long… so I recommend putting it to checked-in luggage, or go to the airport early enough to be able to check it in if there’s problems in the security check. Also, it’s quite heavy – the set of 4 units weighs almost 4 kilos… another reason to check it in.

Maqiano is sold in sets of 4 or 6 units = you could micro-tune 4/6 pitches. If you need more, you can order multiple sets with a good discount. The system is carried in a stylish plywood/alcantara case, which also works as a stand for the Maqiano units and accessories. You just place it on the grand piano’s tuning pins, or in another horizontal level, or on a chair/table next to your piano. Will be easy and safe to use. 

Now I have got all the prices for the parts, and a rough estimate of the labor costs – there’s a lot of hand craft involved – and the total costs are a bit higher than my earlier estimates… so the customer prices will now be:

Maqiano 4-pcs set 725 € + VAT (899€ incl VAT 24%) + shipping
Maqiano 6-pcs set 967 € + VAT (1199 incl VAT 24%) + shipping
Discounts available for multiple sets: 2 x 4 pcs, 4 + 6 pcs or 2 x 6 pcs. Just ask!