Staying In Tune With Your Piano
Tunings are a common service that all piano owners have heard of but many people have misconceptions concerning the actual work performed and the benefits to the instrument and the player.
All pianos are designed with definite tension requirements. Without proper tension, the note will not move the soundboard efficiently and the tone will be short and considered “dead”. By tuning on a systematic basis, the internal pressures of strings, soundboard and bridges all balance to produce what is a relatively long properly sustained note, as designed in the factory.
A properly manufactured piano has a considerable amount of pressure designed into its structure. A spinet piano has about 12 tons of pressure across the back and a concert grand can hold up to 23 tons of pressure. As a piano drifts out of tune these pressures change and it can take several tunings before the piano will be stable enough to remain in tune and sound pleasing again.
A new piano presents several diverse problems, which diminish with time. The strings are stretching and the pitch sags, making the sound dull. The manufacturer must tune the instrument several times before it leaves the factory. The tuner/technician at the dealers must also tune the piano before delivery. Then the owner takes responsibility for the piano. Most technicians agree that pianos should be tuned at least twice a year. If an instrument is used in a very sensitive area, like a concert hall or recording studio, it may need to be tuned much more frequently, in fact in many cases a technician is on hand at all times.
Tuning a piano adjusts only one of the problems that typically annoy the player. It only services the pitch at which each note plays. The pitch is adjusted by either increasing or decreasing string tension. This can change other characteristics of an instrument and leave the customer disappointed. If a piano has not been tuned on a regular basis, and has dropped in pitch considerably, there will be a noticeable brightness to the strings when they are properly tuned.
The customer may not notice the rise in pitch but the brighter tone may sound “tinny” and surprise the player. While the tuner may have performed his work carefully and with great skill, the player assumes the tuner did a poor job, even though he was asked only to tune the instrument.
Tuning your piano twice a year will keep the piano under proper tension and pressures, as designed by the manufacturer, and will insure a long pleasant relationship between the player and the instrument.