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Question: Just wondering when, and how often I should tune my piano?
Answer: When meeting with first-time piano owners, I am often asked how often their piano needs to be tuned.
In my experience, new pianos should be tuned every 3-9 months for the first 2-4 years. This allows the steel strings to “set”, as they are stretching under huge amounts of pressure (approximately 25-30 tons) for the first time. Many people are familiar with putting new strings on a guitar, tuning it up and then strumming it as it goes out of tune almost immediately.
Although a piano is usually tuned many times (in the factory, on the showroom floor and upon delivery.sometimes many times in each setting) the strings will still need to have time to set to the proper tension. It will usually take a couple of years before a tuning will “last” a while.
During this settling-in period, the piano also has a chance to get used to the climate it will be staying in for some time. It is surprising how much little temperature and/or humidity changes can affect tuning. You can have humidifiers, or de-humidifiers installed in your piano to keep everything at a constant humidity level.
Pianos that are older than 4 years old tend to hold their tunings better. Therefore, having a piano tuned every 9 months to a year is not all that uncommon for casual use.
In situations where the piano is being used many hours a day, as in a music school setting, you will find that the piano may need to be tuned every 1-3 months. This can get rather expensive, but is necessary to keep the piano in “good-health”.
Pianos are usually tuned to the A440 concert pitch. If a piano is allowed to drop in pitch too much, it may become necessary to do what is known as a “pitch-raise” to bring it back to A440. This may cause severe damage to the soundboard if left too long. Be sure that your piano tuner understands how to do a pitch raise correctly…for if done wrong, it is like having a cracked slab for a foundation on which a house is built.
About the Author:
Jerry A. Greene is a piano technician in the central Tx area (based out of Houston). He has tuned for such artists as Stevie Wonder, Jim Brickman, Alicia Keys, Josh Groban, Ronnie Milsap, Marion Mcpartland and many, many more. For more information, and to have Jerry tune a piano for you, please visit his website at: