Clark-Wright Piano Tuning. Preserve Your Piano

By: Clark-wright Piano Tuning  09-12-2011
Keywords: piano, Tuning

We Provide Complete On-Site Piano Maintenance:

  • Tuning,
  • Voicing,
  • Regulating,
  • (minor) Repairs

We make sure that your piano is performing at its fullest capacity. If you need more help, such as repair work, we will be glad to help you find the best parts and/or service.

The Facts About Tuning

There has never been a piano made by any company, at any price, that does not require a schedule of regular tunings. It is also a fact that a piano will go out of tune whether it is played or not.

By far, the main reason why pianos go out of tune is due to changes in humidity from season to season, affecting all pianos, new and old, played and unplayed.

In Toronto, pianos go flat in the winter months when dry heat expelled from your furnace or radiator draws moisture out of the piano's soundboard. In the spring, when you turn the heat off, the air is usually more moist. The soundboard absorbs this moisture, expands and causes the piano to go sharp by the summer. These seasonal changes in tuning are often most obvious in the mid-range of the piano.

Fluctuations in room temperature surrounding the piano cause less of a change in tuning than humidity changes do. But, direct sunlight or heat from stage lights can cause rapid changes in tuning.

When you move, it is not so much the transportation of the piano that throws the tuning out as much as the piano acclimatising to its new room environment. Wait about 2 weeks after you move before you get a tuning.

If both humidity and temperature are controlled in the room where the piano is situated, these swings in tuning virtually disappear and your tuning is much more stable. So is the overall consistency of the touch response you'll get from the keyboard.

New strings can cause the pitch to go flat. New music wire is quite elastic and starts to stretch as soon as it is pulled up to pitch. This is why new pianos or pianos that have been restrung need to be tuned more frequently in the first year. Each time the wire is pulled up, the amount of stretching decreases and the tuning becomes more stable.

Slipping tuning pins can cause a piano to go flat. Older pianos that have been exposed to regular seasonal humidity changes over the years can have loose tuning pins and as a result, have poor tuning stability.

The louder and more often you play a piano, the faster it goes out of tune by a small amount. The force of a hammer repeatedly hitting a string can affect the equalization of tension along the string's length, and cause its pitch to be slightly altered.

To put the matter of tuning in perspective, remember that a concert piano is tuned before every performance, and a piano in a professional recording studio, where it is in constant use, is tuned 3 or 4 times every week as a matter of course.

Have your piano tuned as often as you feel necessary, but a minimum of twice a year is the rule of thumb.

Just remember: when you turn on the heat in the winter, and when you turn it off in spring, you're about 2 weeks away from needing a tuning. These are the times of year when the humidity change starts to shrink or swell the wooden structure of the piano, and it starts to drift out of tune. So wait until the room your piano is in gets used to the climate change, then tune your piano!

Manufacturer Quotes

Steinway & Sons

" matter how expertly a piano is tuned, atmospheric variations and the nature of the piano's construction constantly conspire to bring it off pitch"

Yamaha Pianos

"..a piano should be tuned at least twice a year."
" Complete piano service should include periodic regulation and voicing in addition to tuning."

Baldwin Piano Company

" After the first year a piano should be tuned at least twice each year."

Keep in mind that every piano is subject to one or more factors that will make it go out of tune, including:

  • Humidity changes
  • Temperature changes
  • Stretching of strings
  • Slipping tuning pins
  • Hard use

How often you should tune your piano depends on its condition, the environment in which it is located, and the musical demands of the owner.

A piano used mainly as a furniture piece probably won't "need" to be tuned more than once a year. A piano that is played regularly and is in good condition would be better off with 2 tunings per year, each time the seasonal humidity changes. A piano given a daily workout by a professional or serious student might need to be tuned more frequently, maybe 4 times a year or more. At this level of use, it's really up to the individual and at what point the tuning starts to bother them.

Keywords: piano, Tuning

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