This is perhaps the most common question asked by customers.
The answer can be quite complex and depends on a number of different factors…
What makes a piano go out of tune?
In this picture you can see the soundboard of an Grand Piano.
The soundboard being made out of softwood timber is very sensitive to humidity changes, especially the sudden variations brought by weather or poorly insulated housing. These changes cause the soundboard to expand and contract depending upon its moisture content. This in turn adjusts the plane of the the strings up or down.
Minute changes in the tension of the strings eventually lead to notes sounds “off” and the pitch of the piano moving.
When a Piano is moved the structure of the Instrument is often placed under great stress.
The strung back of an acoustic Piano can hold as much as 30 tons of string tension with the Frame of the Piano often taking the brunt of this strain.
When force is applied to this structure (such as tilting or lifting) it is common for the structure to twist and minutely move the strings, soundboard and bridges.
This is often exacerbated by the fact that a Piano may move a great distance and be subdued to a variated of different climatic conditions (with the effect as described above).
Instruments that are played regularly for great intervals require more tuning.
The Piano is a percussion instrument and the repetitive action of a hammer striking a string can, over weeks and months, cause the individual strings of a note to vibrate out of unison with each other. Because of this heavy duty application Instruments, such as those in concert halls and schools, often require additional tuning.
Heavy duty application Instruments, such as those in concert halls and schools, often require additional tuning.
New pianos require more tuning than older instruments. This is due to a number of factors.
Firstly, there are a number of new components that are still adjusting and bedding in from the factory. New Pianos also have an increased amount of elasticity in the strings which often caused them to move much more then an older counterpart.
The a new piano ideally should be tuned twice in the first year after a intensive setup which will include tightening frame bolts and seating strings to the bridge.
As a Piano Tuner it is very common to come across Instruments that haven’t been tuned in many years (even decades!). These instruments are often very flat and in some instances can be over a semitone below concert pitch.
When a Piano like this is tuned for the first time in many years it often requires additional tunings to maintain stability as a great deal of additional string tension is added to the frame and soundboard. Most Tuners after tuning a very flat instrument will recommend a followup in 3 - 6 months to consolidate their work.
Amateur Musician: In domestic household situations where a piano is used for less than half an hour a day a single annually tuning is recommendable. Neglected instruments may require additional tunings to allow for stability.
Music Teacher & Pianist: Musicians who play for more than an hour a day should ideally have their Piano tuned twice a year with periodic servicing every 5 to 10 years on upright and grand pianos.
Concert Halls & Professional venues: Concert hall instruments should ideally be tuned before every concert.
Further questions about tuning? Leave a comment below,