Amro Music is the leader in providing piano tuning and service to the Mid-South.
Amro has over 100 years of experience tuning, maintaining, and restoring pianos for Mid-South families and hobbyists as well as the area's prominent concert halls, churches, schools, teachers, and professional pianists. Almost every single instrument you own requires some form of maintenance, whether it’s your guitar, your saxophone, or your piano. Just like a car’s oil being regularly changed, instruments need to be serviced from time to time to ensure that they are functioning properly.
Many people think worry about cost to tune a piano. Below we are some FAQ’s we hope will answer the who, what where, and why the necessity of piano tuning including cost factors and what you can do help maintain your piano’s tuning.
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Tuning is one of the most important aspects maintaining a piano unfortunately it is often misunderstood. To help you better understand this page is going to describe exactly what tuning as piano refers to.
Every standard acoustic piano has 88 keys, with an average of 230 strings. When you press a key on a piano it strikes 1 to 3 strings that have been pulled taught to a tension of several thousand pounds that allows for the resonation of a particular pitch. Pianos have a standard tuning of A440. Basically, what that entails is the A above the Middle C should vibrate at 440 cycles per second, otherwise referred to as 440Hz. Our piano technicians will adjust the tension of each string individually to match in intervals of A440.
Over time, the strings in your piano can stretch because of the thousands of pounds of tension pulling on the tuning pins. This, in turn, results in your piano going out of tune; the strings will no longer produce the correct pitch and your playing will sound wonky. This variation can cause damage to tuning pins and sound board over time. Once a piano goes out of tune you will need to have the combined string tension restored to A440.
One of the leading reasons pianos go out of tune is due to a combination of temperature and humidity coming from seasonal changes. The reason for this is because the piano is made from wood. If you’ve ever had hardwood floors installed, you’ll know that contractors will have you place hardwood flooring in your home for two weeks before attempting to install them. This is because the wood is subject to expanding and contracting because of the climate going from hot to cold or from dry to wet. This contracting and movement from temperature changes will influence the tone, pitch, and action response of the piano.
Regular servicing of your piano, including tuning it, will help you maintain your piano and ultimately save on expensive repairs in the future. Putting off regular servicing could lead to major issues such as a cracked soundboard, a full regulation, repining and restringing the instrument. All of which are expensive services due to all the work that needs to be done to bring your piano back to life.
How often you tune your piano will depend on several factors such as the variations in humidity in different environments, how regularly you use your piano, what you use it for and of course your budget.
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to tune your piano at least two to four times a year. This may be more depending on your usage. A piano that is played incredibly heavily, such as the piano in the recital hall of Indiana University is tuned daily. This is because it is in constant use. Whereas someone who plays only 30 minutes a day will only need it done twice a year.
When it comes to new pianos, the recommendation is that they should be tuned a minimum of four times in a year to ‘break them in’ (The reason for this is because of string settling and stretching.) Tuning your new piano regularly in the first year will compensate for this. At Amro Music this is something we take care of while the piano is on our sales floor before delivery into a customers home.
Differing piano manufacturers have various recommendations for how often you should tune, below are recommendations from two of our most popular brands:
Steinway & Sons: We recommend that your technician be called at least three or four 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 three or four times each week as a matter of course. Tuning is an art practiced by skilled professionals and under no circumstances should anyone other than a professional be allowed to tune your Steinway piano.
Baldwin Piano Company: Professional service is the key. In the first year, the National Piano Manufacturers Association recommends that you 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.
As each situation is different, some pianos may need more work than others and, in such instances, the piano technician may suggest an advanced tuning service. This is usually more detailed than the other options and the technician will spend more time with the piano in such a situation.
Apart from tuning, the technician may be required to voice the hammers for a better tone, clean a soundboard might be dirty, or they may need to apply lubrication to certain parts, amongst other things to ensure the health of your piano. The technician will inform you of any work they recommend and ask for your permission prior to completing these services.
But no matter how well it’s maintained, every single piano will experience some internal expansion, contraction, and shifting due to environmental factors such as temperature and humidity. Especially here in the south where both temperature and humidity can change drastically depending on the day. Thusly causing some additional need for tuning and regulation. Although there is little you can do to prevent the changing climate, you can ensure that the environment your piano is in is conducive for it to maintain its tuning. Something to note is that warmer months tend to be more humid and will result in the piano wood absorbing moisture from the atmosphere and swelling. This results in the strings tightening which then raises the pitch. During the colder months, the water will evaporate from the wood if heating is used, and this will result in the strings slacking and the pitch dropping. Your soundboard may crack if this cycle becomes too extreme. You should strive to avoid sudden changes in temperature by maintaining constant values. A temperature of 72 °F and humidity of 45 °RH is recommended. You can help your tuning by keeping air conditioners, and heaters away from the piano. Additionally, you can help control the moisture level in your piano by asking your technician to install a damp chaser which uses a combination of humidifier and dehumidifier to regulate your piano. Make sure to ask Amro’s piano experts for their opinion on having a damp chaser installed.
Most piano manufacturers will mention how often they recommend you tune your piano. It is important to pay attention to these instructions to adhere to your warranty agreement with the manufacturer. Given the rather expensive nature of pianos, we highly recommended that you keep your warranty valid in case you must use it.
Although moving the piano itself within the same room/ building will not alter the tuning, moving the piano to a new environment with different atmospheric conditions such as temperature, humidity, and elevation will result in the tuning changing due to flexing and contracting in the soundboard. If this is the case, then you will need to have the piano tuned two weeks after it is moved so that it ‘settles’ into the new location.