Why Tune a Piano?
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:52PM
david donovan

All pianos should be tuned professionally at least once per year to compensate for the seasonal fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Even in our moderate west coast climate the wood, felt and wire react to the changes causing even the highest quality piano to fall out of tune. If left for too many years  the "pitch" of the piano will continue to drop. This will have many effects. The first and most important one to you, the piano player, is that it will prevent you from developing and maintaining your musical ear. Another effect is that the strings and parts will settle into new and undesirable positions. Therefore when it comes to retuning the piano the strings and parts will have to stretch and move back to their proper locations. In so doing there will be a time of settling and stretching where the piano will then require one or more follow-up tunings to stabilize it.

What changes?

-with an increase in humidity the wood of the spruce sound board swells, increasing the crown (curve) lifting the bridges and strings causing the pitch to go sharp. 

-with a drop in humidity the soundboard crown flattens lowering the strings and causing the pitch to go flat.

-with temperature increase such as direct sunlight, the strings warm up causing a pitch change.

-a cold basement or garage would initially cause the pitch to go sharp.

These are just a few of the effects of climate on your piano.

Moving a piano from house to house may jar the piano out of tune, however, a small move across a room without much jarring should not effect the tuning.

Heavy prolonged playing/practicing may knock the  piano out of tune as well as other potential damaging effects. However, this is what it is made for.

With regular service visits a competent technician will observe and advise you, the owner, of any improvements that could be made to your piano.

Article originally appeared on Donovan's Piano Service (http://www.donovanspianoservice.ca/).
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