FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is frequent piano tuning necessary?

1. Children do not learn to enjoy music on a poor-sounding instrument that is difficult to play.  Only pianos that are regularly tuned sound pleasant.

2. Regular tunings avoid the extra time and expense of a large pitch raise.  

3. Your piano acts like a living, breathing thing by responding to its environment.  Its wood expands and contracts with seasonal changes in temperature and humidity, and the string tension and pitch fluctuates accordingly.  Dissimilar tuning pin friction causes differing pitch changes causing unisons to sound out of tune.

4. Regular tunings take much less time.  Huge pitch raises can add as much as an hour  to a tuning.

5. Modern pianos sound best at A440.  They do not sound good at fifty or one hundred cents flat.

6. During tuning, I check many performance functions, some of which I can correct without any additional cost.

7.  Even if no one plays the piano, or someone plays it only rarely, it needs maintenance tunings to maintain its value. 

8.  Bringing long-untuned pianos back to playing condition f can become expensive, and neglecting tuning can also void some warrantees.  

How long does tuning take?  Normally, tuning takes about an hour and a half.  However, tuning a piano that needs repairs and large pitch raises will take longer.  A piano that has not been maintained or tuned in years may take three hours.

How often does my piano need to be tuned? All pianos need tuning on a regular basis, primarily because the piano’s wooden soundboard responds to seasonal changes in climate by expanding and contracting.  Most manufacturers recommend between two and four tunings per year.  Concert halls schedule tunings as often as once a week or even more.  In the home, some people are satisfied with once a year.  I can help you determine an appropriate schedule for tuning your piano, based on your particular type of piano, type of usage, and the humidity variation in your environment.   I’ve just had my piano moved.  Does it need tuning? The answer depends on the kind of move.  If you’ve moved it within the same building on the same level, then it probably doesn’t.  However, pianos are very sensitive to changes in climate and humidity, as well as bumps and vibrations; therefore, moving from building to building or up or down stairs means that your piano may need to be tuned.  Scheduling this tuning for a few weeks after a move is a good idea; during these weeks, the piano has time to adjust to the new environment, especially if it’s in a different climate.  

What is voicing?

While tuning involves the strings, voicing primarily involves the hammers.  For achieving the proper tone, voicing is as important as tuning, because it refines the sound to a higher degree than tuning alone.  When the hammers which strike the strings become overly hard or worn, they can produce discordant sounds.  Reshaping, needling, or aligning the hammers can improve a piano’s clarity of tone.  I often include minor voicing when I tune, and I find that this detail significantly improves the overall sound.  Voicing can also completely change the character of a piano, making it sound brighter or darker with harder or softer hammers.

What is regulation?

Regulation is the act of adjusting and refining the touch of the keyboard mechanism, or the action.  An action that moves evenly and responsively is a joy to play.  An unresponsive action that plays like a truck may frustrate even a beginner.  A good sign that your piano needs regulation is that you try to play very softly, but no sound comes out at all.  Often one or two simple adjustments will drastically improve the action.  More extensive regulation may include cleaning, polishing, lubricating, aligning, tightening, or adjusting the various parts of each of the eighty-eight keys.  A grand piano action may have up to four thousand parts!