Piano tuning is an art and a science. The science comes in the form of physics. If you have ever tuned a guitar you know that when you tune one string (sharpen) the string next to that string changes (goes flat). On a guitar you have 6 strings. On a piano there are about 250 strings. So, imagine how difficult that process would be. And, then you needs to adjust the temperament. Basically, not all intervals are created equal. The thirds, fourths and fifths are slightly different in an equal temperament. The thirds are just a fraction of a beat wide or sharp and the fifths are half a fraction of a beat narrow or flat. This temperament is barely discernible. But, it is what gives the well tuned piano the best sound. It’s what makes the difference between an electronic piano and acoustic piano.
How to Tell If a Piano Is Out of Tune
There are a plethora of reasons you might be asking yourself if a piano is out of tune!
If you have an upcoming performance on a piano, if you’re looking to purchase a new or used piano, or if you want to do some maintenance on your keys at home, you will need to know if your piano is out of tune.
Luckily, checking whether or not your piano is out of tune is easier than you might think!
In this article, we’ll be sharing with you how to check if your piano is out of tune, when you should tune your piano, and how much it will cost.
How To Tell if Your Piano is Out of Tune
When a piano is out of tune, the sound of a note will be distorted.
What does this sound like?
When you press on a key, the note will either be steady or have a “fluttering” or “waving” quality to it. If it sounds like a bad vibrato, then your piano is out of tune.
If you open up your piano, you’ll notice most piano keys require more than one string to produce sound. When you strike a note, the strings will all vibrate in unison to create one steady sound.
The notes might be so distorted that the pitch of a note is either flat or sharp. You are able to check this with a simple tuner app!
When these strings stop vibrating in unison, it is time to call in a professional piano tuner!
Factors that Cause a Piano to Go Out of Tune
The biggest factor that will cause your piano to go out of tune is the climate.
High humidity will cause your piano to swell. This will put a strain on the strings in the piano and cause your instrument to go sharp.
Likewise, low humidity will cause your instrument to go flat since there will be less tension in the strings.
Even if a piano is in absolutely perfect conditions, it will still go out of tune eventually. So you should stick to guidelines recommended by piano manufacturers to keep your piano in tip-top shape!
If you have an expensive piano at home and you want to protect your investment, one smart trick for maintaining the health of your piano is to install a thermostat in your piano room.
This will help you keep an eye on the temperature and humidity of the room to make sure you can minimize any drastic shifts in climate.
Additionally, when finding a place for a piano in your home, try to avoid placing it next to any big windows that get direct sunlight. The heat of the sun has been known to knock your piano out of tune! (It can also fade the finish on your piano, yikes!)
It is also best to keep the piano out of the way of the front door. Since there is a lot of foot-traffic here to the outdoors, you want to protect it from the outside elements as much as possible.
How Often Should You Get Your Piano Tuned
Piano strings are finicky, so it is best to regularly tune your piano so that way you can increase the piano’s longevity!
But, how often should you get your piano tuned?
However, a good introduction is that if you buy a brand new piano to tune it 4 times during the first year. After the first year, it is safe to tune the piano twice a year.
At a minimum, a piano should be tuned once a year.
If you are moving, it is also recommended to tune the piano prior to the move. After about a month of being settled, you should tune the piano once more to maintain quality!
How Much Does Tuning a Piano Cost?
Rates of piano tuning will vary depending on your area.
An affordable price to tune your piano floats around $100. If your piano is in need of a pitch-raising, it may cost an additional price.
A piano is tuned to the standard A-440 Hertz, which is what sound is measured in. It is possible for your piano to fall below that sound measurement. If this is the case, your piano tuner will raise the pitch of the instrument.
The PTG is the seal of approval within the piano community that a technician is qualified to work on your piano. Members of the PTG have undergone rigorous examinations to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform maintenance.
Since pianos are particularly complex instruments, hiring a member from the Piano Technicians Guild will give you peace of mind that you are in good hands. Nick is a member of the PTG.
Get Your Piano Tuned and Make Music!
Have you ever had the experience where you put on your glasses for the first time?
Do you remember looking around you in shock at the incredible details of the world?
Well, something similar happens once you get your piano tuned! Since a piano goes out of tune slowly over time, you probably haven’t noticed the decline in sound quality.
However, in the moments after the piano tuner is all done, you will be delighted at the clarity of the sound coming from your piano.
Now that you know how to tell if your piano is out of tune, how often to get your piano tuned, and the going rates for a quality piano tuner, you can invest in the health of your musical instrument so that you can enjoy music for years to come.
If you have any questions about piano maintenance, please feel free to call me at 785-369-4800.
6 Signs That You Need Piano Repair
Pianos were invented in 1700 by Italian musician Bartolomeo Cristofori. Since that time, they have held a prominent place in many music lovers’ homes.
Like other instruments, pianos require some maintenance and care, especially as they age. Recognizing the signs that your piano needs a repair can help you prevent further damage to your prized piano. How do you know when it’s time for a repair?
Here are seven signs that you can use to identify when it is time for piano repair.
1. The Pedals Don’t Have Tension
A piano has foot-operated pedals at the base. These pedals change the instrument’s sound. Today’s pianos usually have three pedals: a soft pedal, sostenuto pedal, and sustaining pedal.
These pedals need to have proper tension to work. To check the tension on your pedals, press down on them and see if they work. If they have no tension or the tension is lost, they will need repair.
When used a lot, the pedals tend to lose their tension. A good piano keyboard repair shop will be able to fix the issue. Fix this issue promptly. Pedals are important so you can’t allow them to break.
Pedal repair work can be a simple fix and you’ll soon b playing with your pedals again.
2. Your Piano Sounds Tinny
If your piano sounds bright and tinny, there may be a few reasons why. Each time you press a key on your piano, your piano’s strings are stuck with a tiny hammer. These hammers are made of compressed wool felt.
Over time and with use the hammers become harder. They can develop grooves that cause the tone to change. Sometimes your piano will sound brighter and sometimes it will sound harsh or tinny.
New pianos come from the factory sounding overly bright. This is especially true for Asian brands whose hammers are often made from harder felt.
The good news is the sound of your piano can be changed through voicing. This process changes the interaction of the hammers and the strings. The flight characteristics, shape, and firmness all influence the way the hammer strikes the strings. This affects the tone of your piano.
It’s difficult to play a piano that doesn’t sound right. If your piano’s sound is off, a piano repair service can fix the problem, and help keep your piano maintainable.
3. The Keys Don’t Rebound
Sticky keys or keys that don’t properly rebound are a common problem among pianos. It doesn’t take an expert to notice the keys on your piano are sticking. It may be easy to identify stuck keys, but it is another thing to fix them.
A stuck key could signify a greater problem with your piano. Here are some of the common culprits.
A blockage: Sometimes debris or food particles get jammed inside your keyboard. It only takes a small object to jam up the keys.
Humidity: Pianos are made from wood. Moisture can wreak havoc on them. Keep beverages far away from pianos, and avoid temperature and humidity fluctuations. If your keyboard is exposed to moisture it can bloat. This causes spacing and alignment issues.
Tight bushings: If your pianos felt bushings are too tight the pins will move and cause the key to stick.
Warped key slips: Key slips can become warped and cause friction between the key and the slip. Oftentimes this prevents the key from returning to its natural position.
4. Your Piano is Off-Tune
Your piano will need to be tuned from time to time to keep it in good working order. Get your piano on a regular tuning schedule to prevent it from drifting in and out of tune. Track when you have your piano tuned so you can stay on schedule.
Most piano owners have their piano tuned several times a year. However, you do not want to tune your piano too much. Overturning your piano can cause the strings to slip and not hold in place.
5. Your Piano Buzzes
If you begin to hear a rattling or buzzing sound inside your piano it needs to be repaired. First, check and see if any objects have fallen behind the piano. If you are lucky the sound could be coming from a pillow or an object that has fallen behind the piano. Objects behind your piano can muffle the sound.
If that isn’t the cause you could be dealing with a structural problem. It is important to call a repair technician right away when you hear buzzing because it could lead to further piano damage.
Some likely problems could be cracked glue, loose bridge pins, or even loose screws. Your repair technician will be able to quickly diagnose the problem and solve it.
6. The Keys are Dirty of Damaged
A well-maintained piano can be a beautiful centerpiece for your home, but after years of playing your piano’s keys may become yellow. Oil transfers from human hands and can trap dirt inside keys making them appear dirty.
With basic maintenance, you can keep your piano from becoming discolored. Always keep the keys covered when not in use. After playing use a soft rag to wipe down the keys.
If your keys become very yellow call a repair technician to fix the problem. Never use household cleaners on your piano keys. This can dry them out and cause further damage.
Catch These Signs of Piano Repair Early
Your piano becomes apart of your family. You’ll want to keep it in good condition so that you can enjoy it for many years to come. Watch out for these seven signs and you’ll know when it is time for a piano repair.
Nick’s Piano Tuning offers the best piano tuning and repair technicians in the Topeka area. Nick has over 40 years of experience working with pianos.
Call Nicks Piano Tuning at 785-369-4800 to schedule an appointment.