To tune or not to tune? That is the question. All things piano tuning
Updated: Jun 25
How often should I tune my piano? Should I get a pitch adjustment or just tune the piano at the current frequency? Should I get my piano deep cleaned? Why does my piano tuner keep calling me for an annual piano tuning?!
Have you asked yourself these questions about piano tuning? So, what’s the answer!? Well, you have come to the right place for answers!
The recommended interval by piano manufacturers is 3 to 4 times a year!! As this is not feasible for most piano players, as a piano tuner I recommend tuning your piano 1 to 2 times a year. Most people can get away with tuning their piano once a year but, depending on your home environment, humidity and temperature, your piano may need to be tuned twice. There are many factors in play when it comes to my recommendation of piano tuning frequency.
Humidity and temperature
· Your piano's perfect “ecosystem” is about 70 degrees and 42% humidity. There is obvious room for error here and in some homes, it is impossible for these perfect numbers. If you can adjust your piano’s environment, get it close to this level. Now depending on where you live, temperature and humidity will change dependent on the season. In the summer it is hot and humid, making the piano go up in pitch and in the winter, it is cold and dry, making the piano's pitch drop. This fluctuation is unavoidable in almost every environment and with every seasonal shift your piano is moving further and further away from the A440 standard (I’ll explain in a later post). This is why you need to have your piano tuned often to help your piano stay sounding awesome and keep your family on pitch!
· New pianos need to be tuned less and old pianos need to be tuned more, right? … Wrong! Where piano age is a big factor when it comes to piano tuning recommendations it doesn’t work how you might think. When a piano is newly strung it will be tuned several times by the piano builders. The strings need to be stretched multiple times to get the pitch set. Once it gets to your home the piano strings are not done stretching yet. Pianos need to be tuned at least every six months for the first few years as the strings are still not fully stable. If you keep up with this tuning interval it is best for your piano's overall “health.” If pianos are not tuned regularly, it can become harder and harder to keep the piano stable, and could cost you more to get the piano back into shape. Because pianos are so finely tuned, and the pressure is so immense on the strings it can take multiple tuning to get it back to A440. If it has been more than 5 years since your last piano tuning, you can probably count on it taking multiple tunings before it is in proper pitch again. But if you keep up on your piano tunings and regular piano maintenance your piano can last through the ages, just like the 1925 Conover grand that I tune every 6 months and is in great shape.
Schools, churches, and community centers
· Pianos that are in schools, churches, or nursing homes will need to be tuned more often, upwards of 2 to 3 times a year depending on the usage. There really aren’t many ways to get around this except if you have a humidifier system in the piano, I touch on that here. Large facilities and public buildings are notoriously hard on pianos due to the regulations they must keep with air circulation. Why do you ask? Well, public buildings typically have regulations on air control which can be very hard on the piano. Just put the piano tuning cost in your budget for every six months unless your piano tuner recommends differently.
Why is it so important to keep the piano “precisely” on pitch? If you sing with your piano, want to play instruments, or even play along with YouTube you will it will sound like nails on a chalkboard, so regularly tuning your piano will help keep your piano healthy and keep your family on pitch! This is very important for young musicians who are developing their inner ear for pitch. It's hard to develop perfect pitch if your piano isn’t tuned!
Tuning and regular care will ensure that your piano will last through the ages. If your piano isn’t serviced regularly, it will sadly start to decay, and the farther out it goes the harder and more expensive it will be to bring it back if at all.