Golden Piano Tuning - Columbus Ohio
Piano Tuning – How Often?
Have you ever wondered how often you should be tuning your piano? First there is the standard “every 6 month” recommendation which we agree with. Here is what some of the piano manufacturers say about frequency of piano tunings (And who knows pianos better than those who build them?).
Baldwin Piano Company – “we recommend three or four tunings and inspection of the piano action in the first service year. Thereafter, we recommend a minimum of two tunings annually”
Kawai Piano Company – “…follow the recommendations of a qualified tuner-technician who knows the climactic conditions of the area and is responsive to the needs of the performer”
Kimball Piano Company – “…we recommend four tunings a year, at regular intervals, for optimal stability and performance”
Sohmer & Company – “A new piano, in particular, should be tuned at least four times during the first year in service. After the piano has settled in, we recommend three tunings a year, whether the piano is used a great deal or not.”
Steinway & Sons – “We recommend that your tuner be called at least three or four times a year.”
Wurlitzer Company – “After the first year, you should have it tuned at least twice a year depending upon the frequency of use and atmospheric conditions.”
Yamaha Piano Company – “…as a matter of standard maintenance, a piano should be tuned at least two times per year.”
Young Chang America – “It is our recommendation that a piano receive at least 4 tunings during the first year of ownership, and a minimum of 2 tunings per year thereafter.”
As you can see, the standard rule is pretty much every 6 months. That being said, here are the factors to consider when deciding how often you should have your piano tuned.
Piano quality – Most pianos in use are of acceptable quality, certainly not great quality. These pianos are subject to going out of tune on a regular basis. Of all the pianos I tune, probably less than 10% of them are what I would call “rock-solid stable.”
My piano is really old – Older pianos are more subject to going out of tune. The material into which the piano wire pins are driven will dry out over time, leaving the pins in a “softer” state for tuning. This leads to pianos going out of tune frequently or worse yet, dropping significantly in pitch.
Seasonal temperature changes – There’s not much we can do about this. The seasons do change and the temperature in our home can change, especially during spring, summer, and fall when we may have our windows open.
Seasonal humidity changes – Pianos are at least 70 per cent wood and you know how wood swells with increased humidity and dries out when the air is drier. Humidity changes are the number one factor for pianos going out of tune and there isn’t much we can afford-ably do about it. Summertime humidity will be in the mid-50 per cent range, on average, and that’s even with the air conditioning running. If you prefer to have your windows open during the warmer months, humidity can rise up into the 70 per cent range during rainy weather.
Winter was really cold and dry – If you have just come out of a time of year when it was really cold and dry, your piano definitely needs tuned. The winter of 2014 was the worst in 20 years in the Central Ohio region – it was a long, cold, dry winter with humidities down into the teens and even as low as 10 per cent in some homes, and many pianos struggled. Preferred piano humidity is around 42 per cent, so you can see what a big toll winter can take on your piano. I carry two hygrometers with me to every piano tuning and record the humidity at your piano each time I tune it.
Summer was really hot and humid – If you have just come out of a time of year when it was really hot and humid/rainy, your piano definitely needs tuned. Even with the windows closed and the air conditioning running, humidity shoots up inside your home, typically in the mid 50 per cent range. It’s still better than back in the old days before air conditioning. Pianos, by the way, like their humidity at around 42 per cent. I carry two hygrometers with me to every piano tuning and record the humidity at your piano each time I tune it.
I open my windows during warmer weather – If you open your windows to air out your house with fresh and usually humid air, you are a prime candidate for regular piano tunings.
My hearing is really good – If you hear music really well, you can probably tell when your piano goes out of tune. When you can hear it, you know it is definitely time. If you enjoy playing or listening to the piano but don’t have as much of a musical ear, just know that your piano is going out of tune on a regular basis.
I have a child who is learning to play piano – This is most important. Maintaining your piano to the correct pitch will help to musically train your child’s ear. You want your child to hear an A as and A. This is part of building a solid musical foundation for your child and will help motivate them to be involved in music in some way. Whether they play piano, play some other instrument, or even sing, they will have their well tuned piano as their musical foundation that will stay with them for the rest of their life.
I have a child who I would like to someday take piano lessons – Even if your child is not presently learning to play the piano, they can still hear the piano and may occasionally play around on the piano a bit. You want to encourage them to play the piano, even if they haven’t started formal lessons yet and even it listening to them play is driving you crazy.
I’m picky by nature, and an out of tune piano bugs me – If this is you, be sure to have your piano tuned every 6 months. I have a few clients who go with 4 to 5 month tuning intervals because they can easily tell when their piano starts to go out of tune and want to keep it in top condition.
I have a family piano with sentimental value, and I want it to last a long time – If you truly want your piano to last a long time, have it tuned every six months. Period.
My piano playing style is forceful and aggressive – The more aggressively you play your piano, the more quickly it may go out of tune. Pianos are designed to be played forcefully, if desired, and they’re also designed to be tuned.
I play my piano all the time – Odds are, if you play your piano all the time, you need at least an every 6 month tuning.
I have an upcoming event where the piano will be played – In this situation, the ideal time to have your piano tuned is 1 to 3 days prior to the event. The piano should not be moved between the time it is tuned and the time of the event.
My son/daughter always plays when home for the summer – The best time to tune your piano is right before they come home for the summer. They will be so happy to be on their break from school and know you took the time to have their piano freshly tuned!
We have family in for Thanksgiving or Christmas and enjoy playing piano and singing – November is the ideal month for catching the holiday season each year. Many clients do either an April/October or May/November tuning interval for just this reason.
I want to protect the investment I have made in my piano – If you are in this category, tune your piano every 6 months without question. This will protect your piano investment and ensure many years of use. Your piano will probably outlive you.
I have a grand piano and like to keep the lid up – Especially if you keep your grand piano lid up, you need at least every 6 month tunings. When the lid is up, your piano strings react more quickly and dramatically to the ever-changing temperature and humidity in your home.
I roll my piano around the room a bit – The vibration from rolling your piano around will cause individual strings to shift or jump, resulting in an out of tune piano. You’ll want to have your piano tuned more frequently if you roll it around often.
I want to move my piano to a different room – If you do this, it is likely that individual notes will go out of tune. You’ll want to wait a couple of weeks before having your piano tuned again to give it a chance to settle into its new location a bit.
And after going through all of these scenarios, if you still struggle with a 6 month tuning interval, don’t go beyond 1 year between tunings in any case. Your piano will thank you and will last longer because you are maintaining your piano tunings on a regular basis.