Piano Tuning & Maintenance

      Frequently Asked Questions
 

Q: How often should I have my piano tuned?

A: In most climates, three to four times a year is advised. Frequent piano tuning keeps the proper pressure on the plate, strings, bridge and sound board. This will maintain stability in the piano.

 

  • Tuning variables:

 

  • If your piano is new - Manufactures suggest four tunings within the first year then every three to four months thereafter.

 

  •  If your piano has been restored and restrung - The same as a new piano; four tunings within the first year then every three to four months thereafter.

 

  • Climatic changes - Changes in climate always affect the tuning stability of your piano. Have a Dampp-Chaser climate control system installed to reduce thin affect.

 

  • Playing time or playware- Extended amounts of piano play will affect its tune.


Q: My piano is played up to 4 hours a day, is tuning every four months enough?

A: Yes, in most cases three times a year will be sufficient. However, there are many variables to this rule as mentioned above. Age, climate, amount of playing, a discriminating ear, all play a part in the amount of tuning needed for individual pianos.
Note: If your piano is played 4 hours or more each day, playware will be the biggest factor and quarterly tuning is probably needed. Keep in mind that each piano has characteristics of its own and may require a unique tuning schedule. If you are unsure of the amount of tuning your piano requires, feel free to ask me.


Q: If I move my piano to another location, do I need to tune it again?

A: It depends. Properly moving a piano in the same room, house, city, and state will not affect the tuning very much. Pianos go out of tune due to the weather much more than from being moved. Sure, if you don’t have a professional do the move and your in-laws bounce it around on a pick-up truck long enough it will go out of tune. Remember, when a piano is tuned to the industry standard pitch of A-440 each string holds 197.6 lbs of pressure; overall that’s almost 20 tons! The A-440 pitch has been an industry standard since 1932. Improper moving will upset this tension and de-tune the piano.  But by far, the greatest effect on pitch is the seasonal change in humidity.  Once the piano is moved, let it acclimate to its new location for three weeks.  Tuning the piano before this acclimation time will result in an out of tune piano within a few days. Avoid a costly re-tune by waiting the full three weeks before booking the first tuning appointment.
 

Q: If tuning my piano every three to four months is required, when is the best time to start my tuning schedule? Should it be with the heat on, or off?

A: Either - Within any tuning period here in the northeast, there will be a drastic change in climatic conditions in and out of your home. With regularly scheduled piano tunings, it doesn’t matter when your maintenance schedule starts as long as you service your piano every three to four months. This will ensure you experience proper tone and good tuning stability throughout the year.

Q: The last time my piano was tuned, the tuner said that he did a pitch raise, what does that mean?

A: A pitch raise means the piano hasn't been tuned in a long time and has lost its A-440 stability. If a piano has gone without tuning for an extended period, its pitch may have dropped far below A-440. This means that each of its approximately 220 strings needs to be tightened considerably, adding tremendous additional tension to the piano's structure. The problem is that as each string is tightened, the additional load causes the pitch of previously adjusted strings to change. Thus it is impossible to make a substantial change in pitch and end up with a fine, accurate tuning in one step. Instead, a process called "pitch raising" must first be done, in which all strings are raised to their correct average tension levels. (Likewise, when a piano's pitch is higher than standard, a pitch lowering procedure must be done to reduce string tensions to approximately correct levels.) Only then can the piano be accurately tuned. In other words, accurate tuning is only possible when all strings are so close to their proper tension that only small further changes are needed during tuning. These small changes then do not disturb the tuning of other strings.


Piano Placement and Protection

Q: Where is the best location in my home to put my piano?

A: An inside wall is always the perfect placement for a piano. Keep it away from baseboard heat, direct air-conditioning ducts, and away from direct sunlight.

Q: I have a contemporary style home, and have only outside walls and skylights. Where can I place my piano so that it is protected from sun and drafts?

A: There are a few things you can do to address this issue:

  • If you own a grand piano, you can purchase a piano cover for protection. I can provide you with a piano cover. They are available in all sizes.

 

  • If you own a vertical piano, try tacking a blanket to the back side of the instrument. This will help to shield the piano from wall temperature changes.

  • Direct sun from skylights can be extremely damaging. If this is a problem for you, try using a skylight sun shade or using a piano cover.

  •  As the sun moves from season to season, monitor how the sun hits different areas in the room. If possible, the piano can then be moved accordingly.


Q: Sometimes when I play my piano, a key won't play?

A: It could be a multitude of things. Below are a few examples as to what could be causing this problem.

 

  • The room has too much humidity. Humidity can swell all friction points, making them sluggish.

 

  • Ask about having a Dampp-Chaser Piano Lifesaver system installed in your piano.

 

  • The room is too dry. This can have the opposite effect causing friction points shrink. The results will be the same as having too much humidity.

 

  • Ask about having a Dampp-Chaser Piano Lifesaver system installed in your piano.
     

  • Action (all the movement parts). The action may need regulation and is a common ailment in all pianos. Think of it like this: Not just putting gas and oil in your car and getting that major tune-up every 3 to 5 years.

 

  • Pianos need mechanical adjusting (regulation) every 3 to 5 years to maintain proper playability.


Q: My Piano has a bad odor coming from it and it doesn't play really well, it's sluggish, is this a humidity problem?

A: By telling me there is an odor coming from your piano, there is definitely a problem. It could be your piano has become a home for mold, moths and even field mice.  There is plenty of wood, wool hammers and wool damper felt to accommodate a pleasant nest for little creatures. It even provides fiber for their diets. If you notice an odor, don't hesitate to call me to discern the cause. There probably isn’t a worse invader for your piano than rodents.  If mouse urine gets on your strings, it will cause rust that can ruin the strings thus making tuning an impossible task.  At this point the old strings would have to be removed and the entire piano restrung; a very costly job.  The best ways to avoid this are:

  • Moth Balls - Rodents hate the smell.

  • Play often - Playing the piano daily is probably the best way to keep away unwanted pests.

Call for your FREE consultation today @ 860-478-7482

Here is a collection of what I've been asked the most in my years as a piano technician:

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