Piano Tuning Questions
As I tune and service pianos in Boulder, East Boulder and Boulder County,
I see all makes, models and kinds of pianos, from spinets, consoles to
baby grand and larger grand pianos. To help you get a fuller understanding of
what is involved in tuning your piano, I recommend that you reference the
question that I answer below by viewing
the following videos Tuning a Steinway Concert Grand,
Model D that I am tuning in the video?
Can you describe how to tune a piano?
This is a very general question that can be answered in many different ways
depending on what you specifically have in mind. Suffice to say, whether or not
you tune completely by ear or use an electronic tuning aid, you need to be
proficient and experienced in understanding how pianos are built, how they
behave and what their operational limits are, so to speak.
There are two
very general situations for me when I
tune a piano. If my customer is a repeat
customer vs. the first time or new
customer. If I have tuned the piano
before, it is easier to assess and gauge
what the piano needs in terms of tuning
and service, especially if there is
extra stuff going on, i.e. weird tonal
issues, extreme off pitch, poor
response. Of course, physical
examination of the instrument usually
reveals much about what I need to know
regarding the condition of the
How much does it cost to tune a piano?
Tuning a piano usually takes about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. If
your piano is totally up to pitch at A440, then your piano should only need a
basic tuning. On the other hand, pianos - even in
Colorado, often drop in pitch and if that is the case then unless the drop is
VERY slight (within 2 cents or 1/50th of and equal tempered semitone) your piano
will need what is called a Pitch Raise.
Pitch Raise or Lower is like another tuning
or partial tuning and you should be prepared to cover that extra work with extra $$'s.
My charge for that usually runs roughly in proportion to the amount of time it
takes me to render the pitch raise. If it takes me 50% of the time it takes me
to tune your instrument, then I usually charge for roughly 50% of what my charge
for a regular tuning costs.
Why Tune A Piano Up To "Pitch" At All?
The pitch standard of all music at this time is A440. All the professional
music you hear on the radio, in concerts and on downloads from the internet are
in "Concert Pitch." It is essential that you establish this standard on your
piano. That can only be accomplished by having your instrument tuned on a
regular basis - at least once and preferably twice a year.
What is the harm in servicing your piano only "when it is used?"
Not "tuning your piano "when it isn't being used is a mistake. Sure, you can
ramp back your service regime to some extent but it is bad to stop
periodic service of your piano, period.
What can happen to your piano if you stop periodic service?
- Substandard or destructive ear training when your child plays the piano.
This is because in many cases even when "nobody is playing the piano", the
piano is played intermittently and often out of pitch and with keys working in a less than desirable manner.
- If it is the case that your piano is really not touched at all, all
kinds of things that can compromise your instrument can occur unmonitored by
a piano maintenance professional. Relocating your piano into a harms way -
excessive sunlight, heat vent, for starters.
- Dust and dirt can accumulate inside the piano. Moth's can eat up your
- The conundrum of ceasing professional care of your piano is that
it leads to a vicious circle where the piano becomes less and less used.
Subsequently, the piano sounds and worse and worse and which in turn
discourages you from using it at all. This sad scenario in reality exists
for millions of erstwhile piano owners. If you are one of them, the answer
is quite simple. Call a real professional and get back on track and find
out where you stand!
- Lack of service will lead to lower resale value.
The above are just a few downsides of "not tuning your piano because it
is not being used." Sure, it is hard to justify when there are many other
concerns that we have to pay for day in and day out. But be rest assured, if
you don't take care of your piano, you will pay for it, one way or the
other; in dollars or lost potential for your child benefiting from the magic
of music or unrealized joy of sharing music with your family and friends.