For many people, a piano is an investment and an asset that needs to be guarded and protected for many years. A piano requires constant maintenance and it is recommended that the piano players tune the piano at least twice a year. But this depends on how heavily the piano is been used and if it is used more frequently, then it should be tuned more frequently as well. Also by tuning the piano, we are bringing it under professional guidance and attention more frequently.
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What is tuning a piano and why is it required?
The pianos are delicate instruments that require periodic professional attention. While caring for the piano, two professional cares are required, namely piano tuning and piano adjustment. Tuning of the piano refers to the correction of the pitch of every note by re-tightening the strings. Generally, the piano strings are stretched to the pressure of about 198 lbs. It will stretch further with use and it is also capable of losing its tension, resulting in the piano losing its pitch.
The piano adjustment refers to the action of the entire piano and its pedal and keyboard movements. Grand pianos also require a proper adjustment that ensures that the piano will perform properly, depending on how accurate the adjustments are made. It is important that tuning and adjustments should be performed by an expert.
Also read: How Much Does Piano Tuning Cost?
Why do pianos get out of tune?
It is a general conception that the pianos get out of tune when they are being played frequently. Though this is true fractionally, the biggest reason why pianos go out of tune is because of the humidity and the temperature fluctuations it is been subjected to. The main components of a grand piano are its strings, hammers, and soundboard. The soundboard is made of wood and it supports the strings that resonated with each note, giving it a beautiful and deep sound. This soundboard is not flat and possesses a crown, which renders it a slight bump at the center.
When the piano is exposed to extremes of humidity and temperature, it puts more pressure on the strings causing the notes to go sharp. Thus, with each fluctuation, the piano will get out of tune and the strings of the piano can also stretch. Thus, even if the environment is perfect, these strings will stretch over time, thus causing the pitch to go flat.
How often should we need to tune a piano?
How often we should tune the piano, depends on the environment in which the piano is used. The general rule is that; we have to tune the piano to a minimum of two times a year. However, if the piano is exposed to extremes to temperature a humidity fluctuation, it is important to tune the piano more frequently. While buying a new or a used piano, it is important to tune it about 3 or 4 times in the first year, to deal with its humidity and temperature adjustments.
If the living locations of the piano player experiences humidity and temperature fluctuations, then it might require more frequent tunings. If you can maintain a 22 degree Celsius temperature and relative humidity of 44%, then it will be possible to elongate the interval between the piano tunings. In professional establishments such as music schools, one will be required to tune in the piano more frequently.
It is optimal to hold a twice-yearly tuning schedule and if any deviations are observed in the tone or the pitch of the piano, it requires tuning sooner. While playing the piano, if any buzzing or twanging sounds are heard, then we can learn that it is time to tune in the piano. It might also be beneficial to make use of a mobile tuner app, or an online tuner, or any other tuning device to test the piano tunes, once every quarter.
After tuning the piano, it is important to wait for a minimum of three weeks to allow its strings to settle down before tuning the piano. it needs time to adjust to the changes in the tension, before starting to play the notes.
How is a piano tuned?
Generally, a grand piano with 88-keys has about 230 strings. The treble and the tenor notes have three strings for each of their keys and the bass notes will have two strings. Each of these strings will get twisted around a tuning pin, and this controls the tension in the strings, to regulate its pitch. The piano can be tuned by adjusting the tension of each of these strings by turning these tuning pins.
Digital pianos don’t require any types of tuning like the grand pianos and they are easy to maintain as well. Piano brands such as Yamaha, Casio, etc., render exceptional piano sounds and feel, replicating the sounds of the true acoustic piano and they don’t require tuning as well.
What happens if the piano is not tuned for a long time?
People who play stringed instruments such as a violin or guitar will tune the instrument before the stage shows. This is not possible with a piano and thus, it is important to tune the piano twice a year as a mandatory feature, so that the instrument stays in tune. If the piano is not tuned in for years, owing to negligence, then it could cause permanent damage to the instrument, as it limits the intervention of a professional to inspect the minute details of the piano.
On a general note, if you have bought a new piano, then it is important to tune it for every 3 months in the first year. New pianos require regular tuning as their string has never had any tension. For pianos that are older than a year, it is recommended to tune it every 6 months, frequent tuning is not required as it can motivate the piano to lose its pitch and tension. If it case the piano has been recently moved or shifted, it shouldn’t be tuned immediately, as this could damage the strings of the piano.