Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on how far out of tune the piano is. If it is within normal range, it costs $110.00. If it is a 1/4 step flat, then it takes two tunings to bring it back up to pitch at a cost of $110.00 + $60.00 = $170.00. If it has been several years and it is a 1/2 step flat, (in other words, when you play a C and the piano is sounding a B) then it takes three tunings at a cost of $110.00 + $60.00 + $60.00 = $230.00. The tunings can normally be done in one visit, depending on how much time I have. There is no way for me to know how far out of tune your piano is until I hear it. Normally, I can tell you how much it is going to cost before I start tuning.
Piano manufacturers generally recommend twice a year. This takes into consideration variations from season to season in the temperature and humidity. Pianos also tend to stretch out as they age. As a result, they tend to go flat over a period of time more so then sharp. New pianos require three to four tunings in the first year. This is when the most stretching out takes place. How often the piano is tuned ultimately depends on how stable the environment is around the piano.
In the best of all possible worlds, the room should be kept at 72 degrees and 42% humidity. That being said, the main idea is not to have wild fluctuations taking place. If you can keep the temperature anywhere from 5 degrees less to 5 degrees more than 72 degrees and the humidity anywhere from 5% less to 5% more than 42%, it won't be a big problem. Controlling the humidity is probably more important than the temperature. The first thing to do is get a good humidity gauge, which is called a hygrometer. The digital ones are much more accurate than the mechanical ones. Once you know what the humidity actually is, then you can deal with it accordingly. If it is too high, which usually occurs in the summer, a dehumidifier might be in order. If it is too low which usually occurs in the winter, a humidifier would be good.
To determine the value of your piano I will need to do an Appraisal. This involves checking over the current condition of the instrument. Some of the areas that I check are: the finish, the action, and the soundboard area. Next, I need to determine how old your piano is. The piano has a serial number that is used for this purpose. Once I know how old it is, I can figure out how much it has depreciated. The cost of a new comparable piano when appropriate is also utilized.
"If I move my piano to another room, does it need to be re-tuned? My grandmother had a fine old upright that she never got tuned. Why does my piano need regular tuning? Back home we always kept a jar of water in the bottom of the piano. Does this help keep the piano in tune? How often does my piano need tuning?"
Piano technicians hear these questions every day. Tuning is the most frequent and important type of piano maintenance, but it's often the least understood. Here we'll look at why pianos go out of tune and how you can help yours stay in better tune between visits from your technician.
First, new pianos are a special case; their pitch drops quickly for the first few years as new strings stretch and wood parts settle. It's very important that a new piano be maintained at proper pitch (A-440) during this period, so the string tension and piano structure can reach a stable equilibrium. Most manufacturers recommend three to four tunings the first year, and at least two annually after that.
Aside from this initial settling, seasonal change is the primary reason pianos go out of tune. To understand why, you must realize that the piano's main acoustical structure, the soundboard, is made of wood (typically 3/8-inch thick Sitka spruce). And while wooden soundboards produce a wonderful sound, they also react constantly to the weather. As humidity goes up, a soundboard swells, increasing its crowned shape and stretching the piano's strings to a higher pitch. During dry times,the soundboard flattens out, lowering tension on the strings and causing the pitch to drop.
Unfortunately, the strings don't change pitch equally. Those near the soundboard's edge move the least, and those near the center move the most. So, unless it's in a hermetically sealed chamber, every piano is constantly going out of tune!
The good news is there are some simple things you can do to keep your piano sounding sweet and harmonious between regular service appointments. Although it's impossible to prevent every minor variation in indoor climate, you can often improve conditions for your piano.
Start by locating the piano away from direct sunlight, drafts, and heat sources. Excess heating causes extreme dryness, so try to keep the temperature moderate (below 70 degrees) during the winter heating season.
Get a portable room humidifier, or install a central humidification system to combat winter dryness in climates with very cold, dry winters.
A portable dehumidifier or a dehumidifier added to your air-conditioning system can remove excess moisture during hot, muggy summers.
If controlling your home's environment is impractical, or if you want the best protection possible, have a humidity control system installed inside your piano. These are very effective in controlling the climate within the instrument itself. Besides improving tuning stability, they help minimize the constant swelling and shrinking of your piano's wooden parts. The critical part of such a system is the humidistat, a device that monitors the relative humidity within the piano and adds or removes moisture as needed. Jars of water, light bulbs, or other 'home remedies' have no such control and can actually do more harm than good.
Enjoy Your piano more. Have it tuned.