Why do I need to tune my piano?
Your piano is an investment in your future. It can bring you and your family a lifetime of music. Since it is also such a large investment, it should be maintained with the utmost care. Piano requires regular servicing and tuning is the most frequent and essential type of piano maintenance.
Most importantly the piano will not be as enjoyable to play if it is out of tune.
Why do pianos go out of tune?
Climactic change (temperature and humidity) is the primary reason pianos go out of tune. The strings of a piano are stretched across a 'bridge' that is in turn attached to the soundboard (made of wood, usually spruce) which serves to amplify and add tonal characteristics to the vibrating strings. As humidity goes up, a sound board swells, increasing its crowned shape and stretching the piano strings to a higher pitch. During dry times the soundboard flattens out, lowering tension on the string and causing the pitch to drop. The result is an out-of-tune piano.
Frequency of use is another factor why pianos go out of tune.
What is tuning?
Piano tuning is the act of making adjustments to the tensions of the strings of a piano to properly align the intervals between their tones so that the instrument is in tune. The objective of tuning a piano is to produce an equal temperament scaling with a certain pitch.
How often should I have my piano tuned?
It is highly recommended to tune your piano twice per year or minimum annually depending on how hard and often your piano is in use.
New or recently restrung pianos may need more frequent tunings for the first couple of years, because the new strings are stretching. Pianos with loose tuning pins also may need more frequent tunings.
What happens if my piano has not been tuned for a few years?
1. The piano may need more than one tuning to bring it back up to pitch. Your piano is designed to sound its best when tuned to A-440Hz, the international pitch standard. If a piano has gone without tuning for an extended period, its pitch may have dropped far below A- 440. It is impossible to make a substantial change in pitch and end up with a fine, accurate tuning in one step. Instead, a process called "pitch raising" must first be done and only then can the piano be accurately tuned.
2. The piano may go out of tune more rapidly until it has had subsequent tunings on regular basis.
Helpful hints to keep your piano in tune longer.
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.
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.