Pianos are truly a mechanical marvel. With nearly 16,000 parts—most of them moving—and roughly 230 individual strings, pianos were designed to be tuned to the international pitch of A-440 cycles per second. Your piano will sound its best and give you and your family the most pleasure when it is tuned regularly and kept in proper playing condition.
As an investment, your piano can bring a lifetime of music, adding immeasurable joy and beauty to your home. Since it is a large investment, it should be maintained with the utmost care. Regular servicing by a qualified technician will preserve your instrument and help you avoid costly repairs in the future.
How often should you tune your piano? Every piano, even if it is not played, should be tuned once per year. Because your piano contains materials such as wood and felt, it is subject to change with climatic conditions, extreme swings from hot to cold or dry to wet cause its materials to swell and contract, affecting tone, pitch, and action response or touch. Without at least a once per year tuning, the piano will continue to degrade in both pitch, tone and playability. This can cause expensive repairs and/or a “pitch raise” tuning, which is considerably more expensive that an annual tuning.
If you are an active player, every manufacturer of pianos suggested tuning the piano twice per year. This will compensate for the changes in humidity and keep the piano at its optimum. As the piano player becomes more proficient, the piano will need to be tuned more often according to the players ability to hear the various changes as the piano goes out of tune. For example, pianos used on stage and in showrooms are tuned before every performance, sometimes every day.
Due to the extreme temperature and humidity changes here in the Phoenix area, we recommend that your piano be tuned at least twice per year.
A little about “pitch raises”. If your piano has not been tuned in a very long time, it is impossible to simply raise a piano’s pitch to A-440 in one tuning. Each string is pulled to about 200lbs of pressure when tuned properly. That means that a piano is designed to hold anywhere from 30,000 to 45,000 pounds of tension in its frame. If the piano is considerably flat in pitch, the tension has dropped thousands of pounds. Raising the tension to where it should be causes the strings tuned only a few minutes ago to be completely out of tune by the time other strings are being pulled up to pitch. “Pitching” a piano requires all the strings to be over-stretched, and then fine-tuned, which requires considerably more time for the technician.
You can reduce the severity of these effects by placing your piano near a wall away from windows or doors that are opened frequently. Avoid heating and air conditioning vents, fireplaces and areas which receive direct sunlight. Your piano will perform best under consistent conditions neither too wet nor dry, optimally at a temperature of 68 degrees F and 42 percent relative humidity. And of course, keep your piano in tune.