Piano tuning is the act of making minute adjustments to the tensions of the strings of an acoustic piano to properly align the intervals between their tones so that the instrument is in tune. The meaning of the term 'in tune', in the context of piano tuning, is not simply a particular fixed set of pitches. Fine piano tuning requires an assessment of the vibration interaction among notes, which is different for every piano, thus in practice requiring slightly different pitches from any theoretical standard. Pianos are usually tuned to a modified version of the system called equal temperament. In all systems of tuning, every pitch may be derived from its relationship to a chosen fixed pitch, which range from A440 to A442.
Modern acoustic pianos are tuned to a modified version of the system called “equal temperament”. This system ensures individual notes on the piano to interact with with each other to form great harmony regardless what key the music is written in. The act of “Piano Tuning” is the adjustments to the tensions of more than 200 strings inside of the piano. This act is not about tuning the piano to a fixed set of pitches, but to adjust the pitches so the notes can interact with each other in the most harmonic manner. Therefore, the pitches of different pianos differ very slightly both from each other and from any theoretical standard. Majority of the pianos are tuned to standard A-440 to A-442 depends on different scenarios and purpose of uses. To accommodate for special music or special designed feature of a specific instrument, the piano can be tuned below or above the standard pitch.
The pitch of an acoustic piano will change constantly due to normal usage, structural tension and environmental factors. Put aside all the foreign factors, the combine pulling power of more than 20 tons from more than 200 strings will slowly alter the tension within the piano thus changing the pitch. On top of that, changes of humidity and temperature will have significant impact on the intonation of the piano. That’s not all, think about how much impact force the piano sustains from the player that plays on it for hours every day............ To combat all these enemies to piano intonation, it is essential to keep the piano tuned regularly since great alternation of tension within the piano can potentially cause structural damage of the piano. Therefore, hire a professional piano technician to tune your piano! It is a job reserved for the well-trained and attempting to tune a piano without proper training and tools will certainly lead to great deal of frustration and horrifying result.......
Most clients spend $120-$160 for a typical tuning service. The exact cost of the service is broken down into these numbers:
Fine tuning for a piano with concert standard. This procedure takes 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the condition of the piano.
For a piano that has not been tuned for a long time or piano that needs drastic pitch change, pitch raising/adjustment is a must before the fine tuning.
This will cost an extra 30 minutes-45minutes depending on the pitch of the piano. In some extreme cases, a second visit may be necessary.
$200--When the Piano is extremely out of tune, two separate visits at three weeks apart is necessary to bring the piano back in tune. The first visit will include careful pitch raise.The second visit will be fine tuning after the piano is settled after a dramatic pitch change.
Here are some guidelines for how often the piano should be tuned.
“Once a year” for a rarely used piano. The only factor that changes the intonation of the piano is inner tension and room environment. Assuming the change of humidity and temperature is not too extreme, it is good to have the piano checked and tuned once a year.
“Twice a year” for beginner to mid level players that don’t push the piano to its limit everyday. Even though a properly tuned piano can easily stand to most daily challenges, every time a key is played, the piano string will take a direct blow from the hammer. This will definitely accelerate the the change of tension within the piano. Therefore tuning the piano twice a year is highly recommended.
“Two to four times a year” for pianos that are placed in room that is lacking proper climate control. Wide fluctuating temperature and humidity, direct heat source such as sunlight can dramatically change the intonation of a piano. sometimes we see pianos that are out of tuned to an unbearable degree as quickly as few weeks in a room that has a 25 degree Fahrenheit between day and night. Consider it costs a lot of money to keep a piano in tuned under such circumstances, it will be good to have piano checked and tuned more frequent than usual.
“Three to six times a year” for the “advance player” and the “professionals”. For a piano to stay in good shape under heavy uses inflicted by high level players, constant monitoring of the piano is needed. When I was attending professional music schools in my early 20s and late teens, my piano was under such heavy use that it forced myself to learn how to tune my own piano to save money........yup.....you get the idea.... Other than keeping the piano in tune, frequent monitoring can help discovering wear and tear of hammers and action parts therefore adjustments and repair can take place before catastrophic failure can happen.
“Before every major events” for concert pianos and recording studio pianos. To meet the demand of a “perfectly sounding instrument”, concert pianos and recording pianos are tuned before each concert or recording session to achieve the perfect sound. It is also very common to have the action of a piano adjusted to optimum and have the hammer properly voiced prior to a major event such as a piano recital.
“Tune the piano after the piano is moved to a new location” Environment can changed dramatically between two locations therefore the pitch of the piano will change as well! It is recommended to let the piano “settle” for two to four weeks in the new environment before having it tuned for the best result!