What makes a piano go out of tune?
By far, the single biggest factor that affects your piano’s tuning is humidity changes. And in our part of the country, we see some pretty radical swings in humidity throughout the year!
Your piano is made of wood, and takes on moisture in higher humidity and dries out in periods of lower humidity. If you’ve ever noticed how windows, doors, and drawers react to humidity changes, then you can comprehend what is happening to your piano. The soundboard expands and contracts with humidity changes, literally causing the strings to stretch and contract. In a typical uncontrolled environment, people will notice that their piano tends to go sharp in the summer months and flat in the winter months.
We sell and install a Climate Control System that is specifically designed for pianos. The system dramatically reduces humidity fluctuations and improves a piano’s tuning stability between tunings. Ask us for details.
How often should my piano be tuned?
In the first year, Piano Manufacturers Association International recommends that you have your piano tuned four times. This is a period of adjustment for a new instrument and proper attention is important. After the first year, you should have it tuned at least twice a year to achieve decent stability and sound. Pianos that are used in teaching, performance, or other heavily used settings may require more frequent tunings.
Do I need to tune my piano even if it's not being played?
Your piano goes out of tune whether or not it is being played. At a minimum, plan to have it serviced at least once per year even if it’s not being played regularly. If let go for longer periods, the pitch of the piano may fall to a point that it will require multiple tunings and other maintenance to restore the pitch and stabilize it. In the long run, regular maintenance is a less-costly option, and is less stressful on the instrument, thus helping to preserve it for future generations.
What is the best time of year to tune my piano?
There really is no ‘best’ time, since humidity is constantly fluctuating. If you tune more than once per year, perhaps the best times would be after each major change in the heating/cooling seasons.
What temperature and humidity are best for my piano?
Your piano will perform best under consistent conditions (neither too wet or too dry), optimally at a temperature of 68 degrees F and 42 % relative humidity. Considering the fluctuations that we experience in our climate, achieving a constant humidity level is nearly impossible without the addition of a climate control system in your piano. We sell and install a product called the Piano LifeSaver made by the Dampp-Chaser Electronics Corporation that incorporates both a humidifier and a dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity near your piano’s soundboard at 42% throughout the year. The unit is silent, hidden, easy to care for, and does a great job of stabilizing the piano between tunings!
Where is the best place to locate my piano?
Perhaps the best location would be near a wall, away from windows or doors that are opened frequently. Also avoid direct sunlight and heating or cooling vents if possible. If you live in an older home that is not insulated well, an inside wall would be the preferred choice.
Besides tuning, what else should be done to keep my piano in good condition?
Like an automobile, your piano needs periodic maintenance. Although somewhat dependant on the age and condition of the piano, typical maintenance items might include cleaning, tightening, lubrication, action regulation, and minor repairs. Part of our normal service visit includes evaluation and recommendations for necessary maintenance items.
How can I find a decent, used piano?
Although it might take some detective work, there can be some excellent used pianos to be found. Family members, local classified ads, community bulletin boards, and even garage/estate sales can be good sources. Another source is to contact your Piano Technician. Frequently, they are aware of instruments that are available for sale. Contact us if you’re in the market (either to buy or to sell) and we’ll pass along contact information free of charge.
How do I evaluate the condition of a used piano?
This can be tricky – kind of like buying a used car. If you don’t know what you’re looking at under the hood, you can get your hands on a maintenance nightmare.
If you find a piano that looks interesting, start out by verifying that each key actually works, and that the pedals work, too. Ask the seller when they last had the piano tuned, and if there are any known problems. There are some resources available to help you do a more thorough evaluation. One quick and easy reference is a little book called “How to Buy a Good Used Piano”. You can pick up a copy at local bookstores, or contact us and we can arrange to send you a copy.
Another option is to have a Piano Technician evaluate the piano. For a fee, we will do a complete evaluation and provide a report of maintenance items that the piano will require. With that information, many sellers will adjust the purchase price to allow for some or all of the maintenance to be performed.
What is the best way to move a piano?
Hire a professional mover! The risk of injury to self and instrument is no tradeoff compared to the cost of having it professionally done. Contact us for recommendations.
How soon can a piano be tuned after moving?
It’s usually a good idea to let the piano settle into the new climate for a few weeks. However, if the old location and the new location are of similar climate, and the piano was moved directly from one to the other, it could probably be done sooner. Contact us to discuss your situation, and we’ll be happy to make a recommendation.
Still have questions?
Click on the contact page and either give us a call or send an email. We’re happy to help.