piano faq 1

Piano Tuning Frequently Asked Questions

What is the number one reason pianos go out of tune?

The main reason pianos need tuning is because of fluctuations in the amount of humidity in the air. When humidity is high, the soundboard swells and puts more tension on the strings, causing the pitch to go up. When the air dries out, the soundboard lets go of the extra moisture, which causes the pitch of the piano to fall. Each time the piano goes through this cycle the strings in each section of the piano will change by different amounts, which causes the piano to be "out of tune."

piano faq 2

How often does a piano need to be tuned?

It is best to tune a piano once or twice a year because of the seasonal changes in humidity.

Does the location of the piano within my home make a difference?

Location is very important. Changes in humidity can be a real "killer." Some locations can be quite detrimental to the life of a piano. Pianos should not be placed in direct sunlight, damp places such as basements, garages, or storage rooms that do not have climate control. Also to be avoided would be A/C vents, open windows or other drafty places. Contrary to what you may have heard, an outside wall (with modern insulation) is not a bad place for a piano as long as you avoid direct sun and all those other things that were mentioned.

piano faq 3

What is concert pitch?

Concert Pitch designates that A-4 (the A above middle C) will sound at 440 vibrations per second. This standard is pretty much recognized worldwide.

Pianos are made to sound best when tuned to A 440. When the piano's pitch drops because of a lack of tuning, the tone quality suffers.

Also, if a piano is not tuned for a long time, the pitch begins to slip far enough away from concert pitch that it will require a pitch raise to bring it back to concert pitch.

piano faq 4

What is a pitch raise?

When your piano is not tuned for a long period of time, the pitch goes lower and lower and far away from where it should be. When this happens, it is much more difficult for a tuner to pull it back up to its proper pitch.

So the tuner finds himself raising the pitch of over 200 strings and putting a great deal more tension on the soundboard. This size jump in pitch creates an unstable tuning if a tuner tries to accomplish this in one pass. So the tuner might do an overpull which pulls the pitch of all the strings slightly sharp. After this, a stable and accurate tuning can be accomplished on the second pass.

piano faq 5

It is also true that instruments left in an extremely hot environment with high levels of humidity may need a pitch lowering. In our experience, this is more difficult than a pitch raise. Bringing string tension down causes a lot of destabilization. It can take several passes to get everything into its proper place. So as you might imagine, the piano tuner's fee is higher for correcting these types of problems. And after a pitch raise/lowering, it is likely necessary to tune the instrument again in six months. This helps to keep tension and pitch at a more stable level.

It is advisable, and most if not all piano manufacturers recommend, that a piano be tuned every six months. In homes with more stable temperature and humidity, that might be stretched to once a year.