Frequently Asked Questions
How often should my piano be tuned?
Your piano should be tuned as often as your needs dictate and your pocketbook allows. Concert pianos are tuned before every performance. Professional musicians and music teachers may have theirs tuned 3 or 4 or more times a year. The average piano in the average South Jersey home should be tuned twice a year to compensate for seasonal humidity changes.
Why does it go out of tune?
Pianos can go out of tune for three reasons: (1) The main reason is because of normal seasonal changes. Your piano is made primarily of wood. Wood expands and contracts with humidity changes (does your wooden front door stick in the summertime?). This expansion and contraction changes the tension of the piano strings, causing them to go out of tune; (2) There is a major
structural problem with the instrument that will not allow it to stay
in tune. A qualified technician can tell you if this is the case. While
not common, this is always a possibility, especially in older pianos; or (3) The last time the piano was tuned, it may not have been tuned
What will happen if I don't have it tuned?
You won't get to meet me! (just kidding). Seriously, if you let it go a year or two and the piano is structurally sound, it's not a big deal- it may take some additional work at a slightly added expense to bring it back to pitch and proper intonation, but that is a fairly routine procedure. If it goes for several years without tuning it becomes more involved (and expensive). After an extended period of time it may eventually reach a point of no return, where it can't be properly tuned, or tuned at all. It is prudent and most economical to have your piano regularly maintained, regardless of how often it is played.
What is Concert Pitch?
Concert Pitch is an international standard to which all musical instruments are tuned. This assures that when any instruments (trumpets, violins, pianos, flutes, etc.) are played together in any combination, the resulting sounds are harmonious to the human ear. A440 has been the world-wide standard for many years. This means that the fundamental tone of the A above middle C on the piano vibrates at exactly 440 times per second. Because of the extremely high tension that the pianos strings are under (from 15 to 30 tons depending on the size and type), a piano cannot remain at Concert Pitch if the the string tension is not regularly adjusted.
But what if I don't play my piano along with other instruments?
Your piano was designed to be tuned at A440 to sound it's best. Allowing the string tension (and resultant pitch) to lower significantly is akin to loosening a drum head- it will still produce a sound- but not as clear, vibrant, and powerful as possible.
What is a Registered Piano Technician?
A Registered Piano Technician is one who has passed a series of rigorous examinations on the maintenance, repair, and tuning of pianos.
Do you tune "by ear"?
Yes, and No. I served my apprenticeship with a gifted blind piano tuner. Under his tutelage I learned to tune pianos aurally (through the sense of hearing). I tuned in this traditional manner for several years. During the mid 1980's, computer technology and Electronic Tuning Devices (ETD's) reached a level of sophistication that allowed a competent technician, incorporating such a device, to achieve a quality piano tuning rivaling, and even surpassing, that of one who tunes strictly aurally. The program that I run on my laptop computer is capable of providing visual feedback that is customized to your piano, but is always aurally verified. In conjunction with my highly trained ears and hands, the result is an even, consistent tuning, which can be duplicated precisely each time the piano is tuned.