Maintaining Your Piano – Piano Tuning
As a piano owner, you naturally want your piano to sound and perform at a high level. A properly tuned piano is inviting to a pianist and helps bring out the best from any artist. One question we hear from piano owners is ‘how often should I have my piano tuned?’ This comes down to several factors.
If your piano is new or freshly rebuilt or restrung, do not be surprised if you find that the piano slips out of tune fairly quickly. This is due to the new strings continuing to stretch and the piano acclimating to its new environment. This is a normal part of the ‘settling’ process. We tune our newly rebuilt pianos four-five times before they leave our shop to help ‘kickstart’ that process, but stretching and acclimating still occurs. We recommend waiting at minimum a few days before getting your newly delivered piano tuned.
Humidity Swings = Tuning Fluctuations
Swings in humidity are the primary reason for tuning to fluctuate. Wooden parts are especially susceptible to these swings and a piano kept in a constantly changing environment will have a hard time staying stable. Constant swelling and shrinking combined with the thousands of pounds of string tension allows the piano to quickly slip out of tune. Along with protecting the structural integrity of the piano, tuning stability is one of the primary reasons we recommend the use of whole house humidifier/dehumidifier systems along with a Piano Life Saver System from Dampp Chaser. This helps keep the piano in a regulated state that ensures less maintenance and lasting durability. Consistency in humidity is key to a stable instrument.
Many of our clients have reported that they haven’t had to tune their piano nearly as often after a Piano Life Saver System was installed. This has ended up saving them money over the long run.
Tuning Your Piano in a Home Environment
For normal home use, it is usually recommended that you have your piano tuned by a professional piano tuner twice a year. (Often, piano owners have their instrument tuned only once a year.) This is not a firm rule, however, and many pianists prefer to have their piano serviced more or less frequently. Having a qualified technician service your instrument also allows them to evaluate the piano and perform other basic maintenance and service work that might be required. If your piano has not been tuned in many years, it may require more than one tuning to get it back up to pitch.
Institutional And Academic Use
Institutional and academic use is a bit different. Due to the higher level of performance required combined with increased use, usually, means that the piano will require more tunings. It is standard to have concert instruments tuned before every performance and often halls will have a piano technician on standby during the performance to execute any touch-up or emergency service work required. A properly tuned and prepped piano helps the performer focus on their primary goal – bringing music out of the instrument.
Did you Know: An average Steinway Grand Piano is put under 40,000 lbs of string tension.
It is important to note that tuning your piano does not equal repair or restoration. Having your piano tuned can in some ways be compared to having your vehicle’s oil changed. It is essential to the performance of your car and is considered basic maintenance, however, it does not mean that the engine has been rebuilt or that the mechanical workings function correctly. There are a number of structural reasons that a piano may not stay in tune or hold pitch. The most common reason is a cracked pinblock. This can be repaired utilizing a variety of methods or may warrant the replacement of the block. Piano tuning and service work is a skillset that is learned over years of experience. It is important to remember to utilize the skills of a qualified piano technician for all service work on your prized instrument.
Do you need your piano serviced? Are you interested in the purchase of a vintage, restored Steinway & Sons Grand or a new Kawai piano? If so, get in contact with us today for more information.
Chupp’s Piano Service | Restored Steinway Pianos | New Kawai Grands, Uprights & Digitals | Concert Service
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