Microtuning Your Piano
You need one Maqiano unit 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 microtones in several 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 a half-step up from 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 Maqiano operating range is 3 to 4 octaves, depending on your piano. In Steinway models B, C and D the range is from the lowest B-flat up to the B-flat above the middle C. About the same range in the 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 between the strings, the tuning pins/agraffes/v-bar and the dampers/hammers. On the lowest range, with just one string per pitch, it may work fine, but may require slightly more adjusting.
The sound as well as the ease of use, is at its best on plain wire strings. The copper-wound strings are slightly less convenient, especially on upright pianos. The sound is also thinner and is more likely to buzz or crack on heavily accented notes.
The Sound of the Maqiano-Tuned Piano
With the Maqiano prototype that I used on my solo album, the timbre of the microtuned notes is quite different from the other notes. I used some other modifications to soften that difference.
The new version is much better, but still the timbre changes a bit. This depends on the piano, range, dynamic level etc. Download the music here and listen to the difference in this new home recording without any other modifications (all C’s and F’s are tuned about ¼ 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, a buzz or a crack in the sound, especially on the low copper-wound strings, and also a bit in the highest register. Download here and listen to this sound example and then you can decide for yourself if this is a pro or a con.
Installing one Maqiano unit takes only a few seconds. With practice, I am able to do it in 4 or 5 seconds, sometimes having to adjust it a bit after starting to play. Removing it is faster. Tuning 2 notes per octave for example, in the possible Maqiano operating range of your piano takes less than a minute. It should be possible in concert during the oud intro. Fine-tuning is very fast when you want to adjust the microtuned note a tiny bit up or down. It takes just a second or two. The previously mentioned times are for grand pianos. Some uprights are easy as well, but some smaller ones are trickier. They might take more time to tune, especially in the lower register.
You can tune as many pitches as you want, but placing Maqiano on two adjacent choirs of strings (e.g. D and E-flat) can be difficult due to tight spaces.
It’s a bit awkward installing Maqiano with your grand piano’s music stand in place. However, if you need to read music, you can re-install the music stand after installing and adjusting the Maqiano units. There will be enough space to do just that with most of the pianos. The same thing with upright pianos – it might be possible to install Maqiano with the front lid in place, but it can be challenging. With most pianos you can re-install the front cover after installing and adjusting Maqiano. Note that this does take some time.
The construction of Maqiano is modular. You can add and remove different parts according to your piano model and register. Maqiano is sold in sets of 4 or 6 units, so you can microtune 4 or 6 pitches. If you need more, you can order multiple sets with a discount.
Maqiano in Concert
The system is carried in a stylish 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 on another horizontal level or on a chair or table next to your piano. It is best to always try Maqiano in different configurations in the soundcheck, so installing it will be faster during your concert performance.
Flying with Maqiano
I have had a few Maqiano units in my cabin luggage on roughly ten flights now with no problems. However, the long metal bar, ”The Bar,” is clearly against the rules for cabin baggage and the airport security will not likely allow it. They may not let you take the Maqiano tuning units inside the cabin either due to the metal pieces being more than 6 cm long. I recommend checking in the whole system with your luggage. The Maqiano system is quite heavy; the set of 4 units weighs almost 3.7 kg. Another good reason to check it in.
Maqiano is Safe for Your Piano
I have used Maqiano quite a bit on my own Steinway, and on at least 100 different pianos around the world. No damage has ever been caused to any piano or their strings. No piano has ever gone out of tune. After removing Maqiano, the pianos have returned to their original tuning, every single time.
No damage to your piano or the strings from using Maqiano. I guarantee it!*
*You must read and understand the instructions, watch the instructional videos and use Maqiano accordingly, only for the purpose described.
Piano Tuner’s Statement
“I have become familiar with Kari Ikonen’s invention, the microtuning device Maqiano™, and I am assured that when used properly for its intended use, it causes no harm to the piano, its strings or its tuning.
I have been providing service and tuning for Kari’s Steinway & Sons grand piano since 2003, and I haven’t noticed any damage or changes in the piano or its strings during the last 2-year period with extensive use of the Maqiano.”
Helsinki, Finland, December 18, 2020.
Mr. Pekka Savolainen
Piano technician with 38 years of experience
Member of the Finnish Piano Technicians Union
Yamaha, Fazioli, Bösendorfer and Steinway authorized technician
Treat Maqiano as a Precision Instrument
Since Maqiano has strong magnets and heavy metal parts, you have to read, understand, and follow all the instructions and watch all tutorial videos that I’ll be sending along with your order. Because your piano and Maqiano are both precision instruments, you need to be careful when using Maqiano.
The Complete Maqiano System
Maqiano comes ready to use. The system includes:
1 x Dock, the Alcantara case/stand for all the components
4 x Hull, the main unit
4 x Ballast, the extra weight
8 x Anchor with different thicknesses, for attaching the Hull to the strings
4 x Single Pontoon, a support for Grand Piano
4 x Double Pontoon, a support for upright Piano
2 x Fender, sometimes needed for holding the Hull in place and keeping the tuning level precise. It is also needed for measuring the distance from the agraffes = the tuning level.
1 x Bar, for replacing the pressure bar for upright piano’s lower strings
4-unit set weight 3.5 kg
“Dock” case/stand dimensions 270 x 295 x 40 mm
6-unit set weight 4.9 kg
“Dock” case/stand dimensions 370 x 295 x 40 mm
Ready to explore microtones in your own music? Order your own Maqiano today!
For the next few orders, I am available to provide free technical support on installation and
performance. Once demand exceeds my available time, I might not be able to provide service without charge.
A few sets are ready to ship immediately. If you’re in a rush, order your own right now!
Here’s how to order. Order yours now!
Contact me to receive more detailed information on Maqiano or to set up a free consultation on video, if you would like. Email: email@example.com.
Contact me for special pricing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For orders within the EU, we will add a VAT of 24%. For orders outside of the EU, no VAT will be added.*
*For your responsibilities on taxes, customs fees, tariffs etc. in your own country, consult your local tax professional.
Want more information before ordering? Contact me at email@example.com and I’ll send you an info packet. After reading the info, if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
– pianist, moogist & composer –