A Guide to Piano Tuning

Before learning to play the piano, one needs a quality piano. In addition, a piano needs to be tuned before playing it. I am sure you have heard an out-of-tune piano.

Before learning to play the piano, one needs a quality piano. In addition, a piano needs to be tuned before playing it. I am sure you have heard an out-of-tune piano. It is hard to listen to. The melodies and harmonies don’t sound clear, and your enjoyment is diminished.

Regular piano tunings will guarantee that your piano preserves its beautiful sound for a lifetime. To get your piano tunings right, one has to know the principles involved in how a piano is tuned.

What Is Piano Tuning?

In short, a piano tuning is a professional who makes adjustments to the string tensions through the adjustable pins so that each string vibrates at the proper frequency. Why is this important? So that what you play sounds clear, and when you play a chord, it sounds good. To understand more, you need to understand a bit of the mechanics of a piano.

The piano has a combination of both steel and copper strings. The upper and middle register strings are made of single stretchable steel strings, whereas lower bass notes are made of steel wrapped in single or double copper alloy wire. Since frequency (pitch) is dependent on the number of vibrations/second, higher notes have shorter strings that, when struck, have more vibrations/second (creating a higher pitch). On the other hand, lower notes have longer strings producing fewer vibrations/second when played. These strings are stretched and wrapped over a steel frame with hundreds of adjustable tuning pins with a combined tension of ~ 20 tons! The sound of an acoustic piano is the result of felt hammers striking stretched strings producing vibrating sound molecules creating sound.

The wear and tear of regular playing can take its toll on vibrating strings, and as a result, their tensions may lessen, and their pitches may change. Cue the piano technician.

The Importance of Piano Tuning

When a piano isn’t tuned regularly, its strings become harder to adjust, where even two tunings won’t do much for your piano.

How Often Should You Get a Piano Tuning? 

Your frequency of piano tuning will depend on several factors:

  • Temperature. Since pianos are made of wood and felt, your piano will swell and contract as temperature changes. Competent piano technicians in Waltham, Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Newton and other Massachusetts cities understand this and can competently service your piano.
  • Regardless if you live in Waltham or anywhere else, if you play your piano every day, it is recommended to get a piano tuning up to three-four times a year. Otherwise, tuning twice a year will be sufficient for most people.
  • New pianos should be tuned 3 to 4 times a year. A new piano’s strings will initially stretch more by your playing and the physical act of moving that piano into your home. Eventually, you will be able to reduce tunings to once or twice a year, depending on how much you play. 

There’s a lot of work put into maintaining your piano’s tuning. Should you call an expert? Keep reading to learn who we recommend for your piano tunings.

DIY Vs. Professional Piano Tuning

Can you do your piano tuning yourself? With so many online tutorials on anything, people may be tempted to search Youtube. The short answer is: No. We do not support DIY piano tuning.

Having taught and played for a long time, I have learned that learning to tune a piano takes years of school and practice. There are professional piano tuners and piano technicians who study and perfect their skills for piano tuning. Some are certified, have passed rigorous tests, and have apprenticed with a professional tuner. A piano technician should be able to tune pianos and make repairs and adjustments to hammers, sticky keys, and pedals when they may break. In summary, hire a professional piano technician.

Now that you know the basics of piano tuning, you can take good care of your piano for your piano lessons. Let us know if you need more advice on piano and singing. Happy practicing!

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