Why and How Often Do You Need to Tune a Piano? 2023

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 to tune a 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.

Piano tuning is the method of adjusting the tension of an acoustic piano’s strings to ensure that the musical intervals among both strings are in tune. In the frame of reference of piano tuning, the term “in tune” refers to more than just a specific set of pitches. Fine piano tuning necessitates an evaluation of the vibration engagement between notes, which varies from piano to piano, necessitating bit distinct pitches from any conceptual standard.

Pianos are typically tuned to a slight modification of the equal temperament system. The character trait “honky tonk” or beating sound produced by an out-of-tune piano is frequently identified. This variation in sound intensity is caused by the simultaneous playing of two tones with similar frequencies. For example, if a 440 Hz piano string is played alongside a 442 Hz piano string, eventually results in tone beats at a frequency of 2 Hz due to destructive and constructive interference between both the two sound waves.

Similarly, whenever a string tuned to 220 Hz is played with a string tuned to 442 Hz, the very same 2 Hz beat is heard. To eliminate beats, pianos typically have several strings for each piano key. These strings must all be tuned to the exact frequency. 

Defining Tune a Piano and why is it required?

The pianos are delicate instruments that require periodic professional attention.  While caring for the piano, two professional care are required, namely, how to tune a piano and piano adjustment. Tune a 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 accurately 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?

How Do You Know, When to Tune a Piano?

It is not just an awful experience to play on an out-of-tune piano. It can actually stifle your development as a musician. You cannot improve your sense of pitch if you are constantly hearing out-of-tune notes, which is what occurs when you practice on an out-of-tune piano. This is the reason it is critical to tune a piano when it necessitates it. Is there a crucial component on the piano that makes a twanging sound when you press it?

A hammer hit two or three strings tuned at the same pitch to produce most notes on the piano. If one of the strings is out of tune, the note will seem like off. Piano notes should be lovely and evident, not twinkly or jangly. If your ear tells us that something is not right, it is time for piano tuning. 

If an acoustic piano is to function properly, it must be maintained on a regular basis. If a piano has been untuned for five or ten years, tuning it once will not suffice. As pianos age, they develop habits. A piano that has not been tuned in a lot longer will quickly go out of tune. You must seek advice from a piano tuner, but be prepared to have your piano tuned every few months until it begins to retain the correct tuning.

Tune a Piano

Why do pianos get out of tune?

It is a general conception that the tune of a piano gets 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. 

Also check: Top 14 Best Digital Pianos for Advanced Pianist

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 of 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 experience 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 to 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 to the piano. It might also be beneficial to make use of a mobile tuner app, 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 to tune a Piano?

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 a 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.

How quickly do pianos go out of tune? 

Piano strings are stretched under enormous tension, weighing an average of 90 kilograms each. As a result, even when the piano also isn’t played, the strings will slowly but surely stretch with time, causing the piano to go out of tune.

Pianos require constant tuning at least every year in order to stay in tune and play the correct notes. Piano strings, in particular, stretch significantly the first year since purchase, and the piano must be tuned twice throughout this time. Furthermore, tuning is an important method for determining the condition of the piano. Most pianos require tuning at least once per year. If the temperature, moisture, or location of the piano changes, users may need to tune it more frequently.

For example, if you live in a dry climate but use a dehumidification cooler in the summer, individuals should tune the piano a few weeks after users start using the cooler in the spring and again a few weeks after you turn it off in the fall. Keep your piano in tune for longer in any environment by placing it close to an interior wall of the house away from cooling or heating ducts. 

Also check: Top 11 Best Home Digital Pianos of 2023

Does playing the piano makes it go out of tune?

A piano is constructed from hundreds of different parts. A dizzying array of wood, metal and cloth components come together to form one musical instrument. Acoustic pianos are all the same in one way: they all need to be tuned. 

  • Humidity swings are the most significant factor affecting a piano’s tuning stability. Traditionally, the pin block, soundboard, and bridges of a piano all are made of wood. Wood is very sensitive to changes in humidity, which cause it to expand and shrink. The continuous swelling and shrinking of the piano, combined with the hundreds of pounds of pressure created by the strings, causes it to quickly go out of tune.
  • Keeping Consistency: A humidity range of 40% to 50% is ideal for the acoustic piano. The best solution is to use a whole-house or room humidifier control system to keep a constant humidity level in the home. 
  • Acclimation: Latest piano strings will take time to stretch and stabilize if the piano is newer or has recently been rebuilt/restored. It is very likely that you will have to tune the piano more frequently during the first year. If the piano has recently been relocated, the transition in humidity levels will necessitate the instrument acclimating to its new surroundings.
  • The impact of the piano’s hammers against the strings influences regular play. Each time the hammer hit a string; the piano is slightly out of tune. The stress distribution of playing will lead to an out-of-tune piano when played on a regular basis. And the more individuals play, the more often the piano needs to be tuned. 
  • Repairs Required: Structural issues may have a negative impact on tuning stability. A pin-block that is starting to delaminate or a soundboard bridge that has experienced severe cracks are just two examples of issues that will have a significant impact on your piano’s tuning. When you are worried that the piano may be experiencing unusually high levels of stability, we recommend contacting a piano technician. 

How much does it cost to tune a piano?

When it comes time to tune a piano, make sure to hire a professional piano tuner or specialist. Piano tuning is a job best left to professionals. Because your piano tuner travels to the home, spends at least an hour with the piano, as well as provides a high-quality service, you should expect to pay $100 or more to tune your piano. Try contacting a neighborhood piano store, piano school, piano teacher, college with a music program, or a friend or neighbor who owns a piano to find a good piano tuner or technician.

Tune a piano on a regular basis, as a well-maintained piano may last for decades. Get a piano technician to inspect it for you. The piano technician will manage the tuning and will be able to tell you how this needs to be done to get the piano back in working order. Remember that keeping the piano tuned improves the learning experience for everyone. It makes playing more enjoyable and aids in the development of a real sense of pitch. Spend the money and time to properly care for the piano, and it will last many years.  

Bottom Line on How to Tune a Piano

On a general note, if you have bought a new piano, then it is important to tune a piano 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 a piano 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.

A typical piano does have 220 strings. Each string on the piano has a higher range and frequency and needs to be tuned with the other strings. Because these strings ascertain the audio quality of the piano, proper care is essential. Due to tension, these strings can stretch over time, causing the piano to go out of tune. When you tune a piano on a regular basis, they are simpler to tune, remains in better condition, and retains its value.

If you tune a piano on a regular basis, it restricts damage caused by playing overstretched strings. The term “tuning” usually relates to all the technical routine maintenance that must be performed on a piano. These positions are classified into three broad categories. Regulation entails making minor changes to the keyboard but also action. The keys’ touch is adjusted, as well as the keys are leveled.

Tuning is the process of delicately re-tightening metal pins named tuning pins that surround the strings and are spun with a tool called a tuning hammer to correct the pitch of each note. Voicing is the process of adjusting the hardness of the hammer felts with needles using a tool called a picker to balance the volume, tone, as well as the overall sound of the piano.

To ensure that the strings on the piano last, if possible tune a piano, and have it checked every six months to one year. If the strings worsen significantly, or if they are out of tune and not effectively used, the piano may need to be restrung, which can cost as much as purchasing a new piano. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1. What is the consequence, if you do not tune a piano for years? 

If you have not tuned a piano in a long time, its pitch may well have dropped well below the basic pitch that it was meant to be played. It is possible that a “pitch raise” or “pitch correction” method will be required.

2. After how long a piano that is moved should be tuned? 

Tuning the piano right after a move will almost certainly be a waste of money. The wooden components of a piano must also react to airborne moisture. Though there’s no danger in waiting a tiny bit longer, the ordinary instrument requires a three- to five-day adaptation period before tuning. 

3. Is piano tuning a costly process? 

The average cost of tuning a piano range from $65 to $225, with costs rising by many hundred thousand dollars if the piano involves additional tuning sessions or repairs. 

4. What is the life of a piano if tuned regularly? 

The average mass-produced piano has a lifespan of 30 years. Handcrafted pianos have a much longer lifespan, even sometimes exceeding 50 years. The piano will require constant tuning, regulation, and rebuilding, as well as other maintenance over time. 

5. Is it worth tuning an old piano? 

In general, if indeed the piano is much more than 40 years old, pass on it. Owner care is an exception to this rule. If the owner has had the piano serviced once a year, a 40-year-old piano is far superior to a 25-year-old piano that has never been serviced. 

Being in love with music, Larry started this website to help piano lovers get the most detailed and accurate information with his 5 Years of experience of working in a music store.

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