The Importance of Piano Tuning

The Importance of Piano Tuning

Piano tuning is an incredibly important maintenance step for your piano. Regular tuning helps you to keep your piano in the appropriate pitch, prevents damage, and enables your piano to maintain its value. There are many reasons that your piano requires regular tuning. Over time, the tension in the strings of the piano may loosen or even tighten, based on external factors that can impact the piano. Piano tuning is the solution to this problem because it ensures that the strings are restored to their intended levels of tension. Our team can help to provide you with the ideal services and guidance to maintain your piano, as well as choose the ideal piano to meet all of your needs. Here are a few important things to keep in mind about the importance of piano tuning.

Why a Piano Needs Tuning

piano tuning

Understanding how a piano works will help you to understand why they need to be tuned on a regular basis. Many people are under the misapprehension that if a piano is only sitting in the room and is infrequently used, there is no need for tuning. However, this is not the case. The tensions of the piano strings will dictate the pitch of the sounds that the strings play at. Whenever tension changes, the pitch will also change. When you press down on the keys of your piano, there will be a corresponding hammer. This hammer then strikes the string (or strings) that it is attached to. This causes the strings to vibrate, which then produces sound. Pitches are dictated according to the frequency of sound waves. When there are variations in the string tensions, there will be corresponding changes in pitches. A string that is tighter will vibrate on a higher frequency, which results in a higher pitch. A looser string vibrates at a lower frequency, resulting in a lower note.

A piano that is in tune will have strings that are at the right tension to produce a determined standard of frequencies. It is most common to use A-440. This means that the A that is located above middle C will vibrate at 440 Hz, which means it vibrates 440 times per second. When tensions alter with the piano strings, they won’t continue to vibrate at their appropriate frequencies, which causes the piano to fall out of tune. It is also important to note that they won’t all change tensions to the same degree, which causes uneven intervals between various tones. There are many factors that can cause tension variations, such as adjustments, wear and tear, temperature changes, and humidity levels. Piano tuning is the ideal strategy to ensure that your piano’s strings vibrate at the intended frequency.

Temperature Impacts Piano Tuning

As the temperature changes throughout the year, it is common for the wood of your piano to expand or contract. This can put different levels of tension on the strings, which will cause them to fall out of tune. When there are these temperature changes, it is extremely common for your piano to stop playing at the right frequencies. This is often why piano tuning is recommended twice a year, so that the impact of temperature can be addressed. It is also commonly recommended to keep your piano in a room where the temperature is fairly regulated, though this may be difficult when you also have to consider the comfort of individuals that may spend time in the room.  

Humidity Variations

Humidity variations have a very similar impact as that of temperature fluctuations. These humidity variations happen throughout the year, even if they aren’t noticeable. Having your piano tuned in response to humidity fluctuations can help to keep your piano in tune. During the winter, the temperature of the air becomes much colder. Cooler air is unable to hold as much humidity as warm air. Due to this, the air in the winter tends to be far less humid than during the warmer months. This can have a huge impact on the tuning of your piano.

It may be useful to use a humidity control system to prevent these fluctuations from causing damage to your piano. You should also consider that heating systems in the winter tend to draw even more moisture out of the air within the building. The humidity variations may be more pronounced in particular climates but tuning your piano regularly should help to offset this impact.

How Often you Need Piano Tuning

The amount of tuning that your piano needs will depend on many factors, including the age of your piano. Your piano typically needs to be tuned more often when it is new, which may seem counterintuitive. Piano tuning often needs to be completed 4 times in the piano’s first year. After this point, most experts recommend that you have the piano tuned 2 times yearly after that. This helps to address the humidity and temperature fluctuations that occur naturally throughout the year. In order to keep your piano in good shape, it will be important to ensure that you have it tuned at least once a year, though twice is often better.

There are several other factors that may impact how frequently you need your piano to be tuned. Not having the piano tuned regularly may actually mean that you have to have it tuned more often when you begin to invest in piano maintenance. The temperature and humidity of the area may also impact the frequency with which your piano must be tuned. The intended use of the piano is another important consideration; a performance piano will often need to be tuned more frequently than one that is intended purely for casual use. Pay attention to how your piano sounds and consider having it tuned whenever you start to notice variations in the pitches. It may also be beneficial to create a set schedule for your piano’s tuning throughout the year.

Strings are Under Constant Tension

Some people believe that a piano that isn’t played frequently won’t need to be tuned frequently. However, this isn’t actually the case. The piano strings are still under constant tension, even if you aren’t playing it particularly often. In fact, they tend to be under enough tension to potentially move a vehicle, if the same amount of force were exerted. This constant tension means that various components can lead to fluctuations in the tension, resulting in an out of tune piano. Every piano needs regular piano tuning, even if the piano isn’t played particularly often. In addition to this, the temperature and humidity variations will still impact a piano in the area, whether the piano is being played frequently or not.  

The Benefits of Consistency

Consistent tuning can actually ensure that your piano stays in tune for much longer. This is actually why a piano should be tuned 4 times during the first year. As the piano remains in one state, the wood of the piano will adjust to different string tensions. By having the piano tuned four times during its first year, you are essentially allowing the piano to adjust to the correct position for an in tune sound. If you aren’t having your piano tuned on a regular basis, it will adjust to the out of tune tension levels. By ensuring consistency for your piano tuning, you will be able to reduce problems and keep the piano in tune for a longer period of time.  

Prevent Damage to the Piano

It is important to ensure that your piano’s strings are kept at the proper level of tension. When the strings are either too tense or not tense enough, they can potentially cause damage to the piano. When you regularly have your piano tuned, you will be able to prevent this damage from impacting your piano. This is usually a much easier and inexpensive process than making repairs after the damage has been done. Regular tuning will adjust the tension of the strings to their intended level. This is also why it is important to work with a professional for piano tuning. A professional will ensure that the piano is tuned properly, rather than accidentally putting too much tension on any part of the piano.

Piano Tuning After Moving

You’ve likely heard that you should always have your piano tuned after you have moved it. This is true, but likely not for the reason you think. While string tensions can certainly be loosened by various bumps during the moving process, humidity changes are a more common culprit of causing a piano to fall out of tune. When you move the location of a piano, it may find that it is in an environment with a different level of humidity. While humidity control can minimize these fluctuations, it is often still incredibly beneficial to ensure that you have your piano tuned after you have it moved. It is also important to have your piano moved by a professional to minimize any damage that may occur to the instrument, as well as the other fixtures of your home.

Piano tuning is an important process to keep your piano in good shape. When you keep your piano in tune, you will be able to improve your playing and be proactive in your piano maintenance. We have excellent piano technicians at the Ogden Piano Gallery in order to keep your piano in good shape. If it’s time for a new piano, we also have the related services available to meet your specific needs. To learn more about why you need to have your piano tuned on a regular basis, contact us at Ogden Piano Gallery today!

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