Tuning Your Piano

Piano Tuning Phoenix by Wes Flinn RPT

Mythological Greek Phoenix


2 – Tuning Your Piano

— by Wes Flinn RPT

Not a day passes that someone does not ask me: When should I tune my piano?
There are
simple answers, and a complete answer.

Two simple answers:

(1) Tune your piano every 6 months — this cycle meets most warranty requirements for new pianos, and most general tuning requirements.

(2) Tune your piano every 3 or 4 months
this cycle meets nearly every tuning requirement.

NOTE: All information in this article refers to pianos that are already “broken in” and have had at least 6 tunings. Another article called “Tuning and Your New Piano” covers the needs of new pianos. After 6 to 10 tunings, the information in this article applies to pianos of any age.
Following are the logic and explanations for all the different kinds of piano tuning requirements:

The complete answer:

This solution is complex, and to develop an answer we must refer to these different issues:

(a) Temperature and Humidity. Pianos are affected instantly by changes in temperature and humidity — especially rapid changes — which can “knock” a piano out of tune, or even “knock” it back into tune in an hour’s time!. Steady, constant values are what are needed — an ideal would be to always maintain this condition:

72° F. and a relative humidity of 45° RH.

(b) Warranty Considerations. Most piano manufacturers require new piano owners to tune their pianos each 6 months, and keep records, in order to maintain a warranty agreement — which might last 5 up to 15 years. This is the same as Answer #1 above.

(c) Piano age and tuning history. A piano is not “broken in” until it has had at least 6 or more tunings. [See Article “Tuning and Your New Piano” which gives more detail about the needs of new pianos].

This article here refers to only pianos with more than 6 tunings — the Tuning Cycles below also apply to “new” pianos when they have had 6 or more tunings.

(d) Type of Use Piano Receives. If temperature and humidity requirements are met (see (a) above), the tuning cycles below will keep pianos up to pitch and avoid any “double-tuning” or “pitch-raising”.

The best way to stabilize your tunings is:

(1) Locate your piano in an air-conditioned area;
(2) Set a temperature you like and leave it set all the time — also, avoid opening doors and windows more than a few minutes at a time;
(3) Get a programmable humidifier* ($125 – $200), locate it in same room with piano (not next to, or under piano), set it at 45° RH, keep it running and full of water all the time [* or install a Dampp Chaser climate control system — but be prepared to maintain and service this system year-round, or lose the value of the installation]; and,

(4) Keep piano completely closed when not in use — this stabilizes temperature / humidity best of all !
Typical Tuning Cycles – Based on Type of Piano Use
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