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How often should a piano be tuned?

How Frequently Should A Piano Be Tuned?

As a piano tuner, I am regularly asked; “How often should a piano be tuned?” My usual response is, “a new piano should be tuned four times the first year and twice a year afterwards if someone is playing or taking lessons. If no one is playing, it should be tuned at least once a year to keep it from damage.”

Does Piano Tuning Neglect Harm Your Piano?

To my knowledge, all professional piano tuners agree that neglecting regular service does harm pianos. When piano problems begin to develop, a professional piano tuner, who regularly services your piano, can help with advice and solutions. Pianos do not last forever, and those that receive regular tuning and service uphold their value better than neglected pianos.

Even if, no one is playing your piano, the weather is playing it 24 hours a day, and it needs regular tuning.

With over 20 tons of string pressure, manufacturers design pianos to be maintained at A440 standard pitch and when pianos drift off-pitch the curvature of the soundboard changes and the whole structure of the piano shifts. The strings in the piano produce about 18 to 22 tons of tension. The cast iron plate supports this tension, but the rest of the piano is mostly wood, which makes the piano extremely flexible.

Everything in a piano is either made of wood, or depends on wooden parts to function.

In wet, humid conditions, the piano swells; and in dry conditions, it contracts. This bending and shifting is not productive for the health of your piano. In Physics, the piano as a whole is a ‘flexible’ structure.

Allowing the piano to cycle through periods of neglect, or ‘hit and miss’ service, combined with changes in humidity ~ the seasonal bending and changing of the soundboard and overall structure ~ can damage the piano. Allowing it to go through such cycles of neglect, in my mind, is like bending a green twig; at some point, it is going to break.

How Does The Environment Affect Piano Tuning?

If the home environment, equaled that of an environmentally controlled laboratory ~ the customer’s piano would rarely need tuning.

While it is true that hard playing can knock string unison’s off pitch, it is the instability of the home environment tuners battle everyday servicing pianos. Over the years, I have advised customers to buy an ordinary hygrometer to monitor the humidity swings in their home. Simply paying a little attention to the humidity in their home is the first step to being proactive in understanding the affects of humidity and extending piano life.

Regular piano tuning will not ‘fix’ the wide humidity swings we experience year after year in Kansas City; but regular scheduled service will help avoid the potential and unavoidable problems resulting from such swings.

Piano Manufacturers Recommendations

Manufacturers agree ~ after all, who would know better, when a piano should be tuned than the people who make pianos.

Steinway & Sons

Humidity Affects Piano Tuning

… Unfortunately, no matter how expertly a piano is tuned, atmospheric variations, particularly humidity, and the nature of the piano’s construction constantly conspire to bring it off pitch.

Steinway Recommendations For Piano Tuning

Your Steinway piano has been designed and built so that in normal use and under normal conditions it should need only periodic tuning. We recommend that your tuner be called at least 3 or 4 times a year. You, however, are the final judge and should have the piano tuned as often as you think necessary. To put the matter of tuning into 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 each week as a matter of course.


New Pianos Need More Frequent Tuning

In the first year, … have your piano tuned four times. This is a period of environmental adjustment for a new instrument and proper attention is important.

After the first year, the piano should be tuned at least twice each year depending upon the frequency of use and atmospheric conditions. … arrange for a reputable technician to service your piano regularly.


The Importance Of Regular Piano Tuning

Why schedule regular service? … Regular service will keep your piano’s performance (and your enjoyment) at its peak level. It will also correct “progressive” problems early, before they turn into costly repairs. For these reasons Yamaha strongly recommends that you adopt a schedule of regular service for your piano.

Your Piano Tuner Should Be Scheduled At Least Twice A Year

… The strings need to be tuned a minimum of twice a year to restore them to their proper tension.


Bosendorder Recommends Calling Your Piano Tuner 2 or 3 Times A Year

Climatic factors such as temperature or humidity changes may cause the precise tuning of your piano to vary. Also naturally over time the tuning will alter due to the tensions the strings are constantly under.

If your piano receives normal use, we advise you to have your instrument tuned 2 or 3 times a year. Instruments which are being used more frequently, such as concert halls and recording studios, are being tuned before each concert or recording session.

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