Why do pianos go out of tune?
Pianos go out of tune as humidity changes. Here in Maine (and New England in general), humidity is highly unpredictable: Constant small fluctuations in humidity mean your piano can go out of tune even more quickly than in other parts of the country which experience only major seasonal changes.
Major seasonal changes are not the primary reason a piano in our locale goes out of tune.
How often should I get my piano tuned?
I recommend tuning your piano a minimum of once every six months. If the piano is used for performances, is in a high-traffic and high-use environment like a church or a restaurant, or is very new, I recommend a minimum of once every three months.
Why does my piano go out of tune so quickly?
The primary reason for a piano to go out of tune quickly is the environment and humidity changes in the environment the piano is kept. See “Where should the piano be positioned?”
Sometimes, loose pins can cause a piano to quickly sound dreadful, like two keys are being played at once. This usually happens in dry weather. However, some pianos with soundboard or bridge cracks can go out of tune very quickly. These will require more serious repair than can generally be performed in a home.
Where should the piano be positioned?
It should be positioned along on an inside wall away from doors and windows
. Outside walls change temperature (and thus relative humidity) more quickly than inside walls.
Make sure it is in a large enough room. Small rooms change temperature and humidity quicker than large rooms because of the volume of air. The exception would be a small space with very well-controlled humidity.
Control the humidity in the room. Dehumidifiers or air conditions prevent the air from getting too humid in the summer, and humidifiers keep the piano from drying out in the winter. If you cannot control the humidity in the room, then I can install a Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver System™.
How long does it take?
A newer piano that has been tuned within six months will usually take between 50 and 75 minutes. Older or dramatically out of tune pianos can take up to two hours.
Should I wait after I move the piano?
If the piano is in relatively good tune, I recommend waiting two weeks after a move before tuning the piano. However, if the piano is significantly out of tune, adjusting it up to pitch is a bigger change for the piano than the new environment, and it should be tuned as soon as possible.
Will it cost more if it’s been a long time?
It depends. When a piano is dramatically out of tune, pitch adjustments considerably change the tension within the piano. A piano that’s a half-step out of tune will add about one ton of tension. This means the tuning does not last as long because the instrument will settle, and it also means the process of tuning it will take longer. You will want to consider getting it tuned a second time after about a month.
I do not charge extra if I can still tune it in my expected time frame of two hours, and I almost always can.
I want to get my piano tuned, but is it worth tuning?
If you want to schedule a time for me to come evaluate a piano, I’ll apply the cost of that evaluation towards the tuning if you decide to get it tuned at a later date.
It’s free on Craigslist! Do I need to get it evaluated?
Yes! Pianos are incredibly hard to move, and when considering cost, potential for personal or property damage, and the subsequent disappointment of discovering you now need to move it the dump, the cost of an evaluation could represent saving hours of your time and hundreds of dollars.