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Piano Tuning 101

An informational entries of piano upkeep and tuning basics

When should I have my piano tuned?

OFTEN, if pianos have not been tuned for many years, they will go flat in pitch to the extent that the tuner will have to tune the instrument twice. This is called a “pitch raise”. There is no fast way to do a pitch raise. On the first tuning, the strings are raised a calculated amount above normal pitch. This is done to allow for stretch. Then the piano is ‘fine’ tuned to make it stay at proper pitch. All pianos should be tuned to the standard A440. This means that the A 4th octave should vibrate at 440 cycles per second. The only exceptions to this are older pianos that cannot take the strain. These are usually tuned at A435 or lower depending upon the condition of the piano.

Why is my  piano ou​t of  tune?

Factors that can cause pianos to be out of tune such as: loose tuning pins, faulty bridges, loose stagger pins, as well as other factors can contribute. Humidity seems to be the main culprit for causing variations in tuning. As the humidity increases, the wood of the soundboard swells, causing the crown of the soundboard to rise, thus raising the pitch. During the colder months, which is often in Massachusetts; when the humidity drops, a drying out of the air occurs. The crown contracts and the pitch is lowered. this ‘rising and falling’ of the soundboard usually results in a net effect of the piano going flat. This is one of the reasons why pianos should be tuned & maintained continuously. Humidity is one of many factors for a piano to be out of tune, such as: loose tuning pins, faulty bridges, loose stagger pins, and more. It is best to have your piano tuned every six months, no longer than a year's time.

How can I help my piano stay in tune?

Your piano should be located away from drafty windows & doors, garages, heating and AC vents, radiators, direct sunlight, wood stoves, & fireplaces. It is also recommended to not place your fine instrument in storage, as this can cause damage as well.

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