Setting the Pin

It is important to "set the pin" correctly in order for the tuning to hold. If you look down on the pin, the string comes around the right side of the pin (grands -- it is on the left for uprights) and twirls around it. Therefore if you rotate the pin cw (clockwise), you will tune sharp and vice versa. The string tension is always trying to rotate the pin ccw (counter clock-wise, or flat). Normally, a piano de-tunes flat as you play it. However, because the grip of the pinblock on the pin is so strong, the pin is never straight but is always twisted.

If you rotate it cw and stop, the top of the pin will be twisted cw with respect to the bottom. In this position, the top of the pin wants to rotate ccw (the pin wants to untwist) but can't because it is held by the pinblock. Remember that the string is also trying to rotate it ccw. The two forces together can be sufficient to quickly de-tune the piano flat when you play something loud.

If the pin is turned ccw, the opposite happens -- the pin will want to untwist cw, which opposes the string force. This reduces the net torque on the pin, making the tuning more stable. In fact, you can twist the pin so far ccw that the untwisting force is much larger than the string force and the piano can then de-tune itself sharp as you play. Clearly, you must properly "set the pin" in order produce a stable tuning. This requirement will be taken into account in the following tuning instructions.