Don Rose Piano Tuning
Tuner for the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts 1990-2000
3004 Grant Road
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should my piano be tuned?
The Registered Music Teachers Association suggests tuning twice a year. However, Mr. Lou Tasciotii, technical editor for the Piano Quarterly, did research which showed that if humidity varied between 19% and 65% the pitch change was 29 cents. In Saskatchewan, according to Environment Canada, levels vary between 4% and 84% so pitch variation may be even greater. Dividing 29 cents by the maximum pitch change allowed for a stable domestic tuning (four cents), theoretically the piano would need servicing more than seven times per year!
At any temperature there is a maximum amount of water that air will hold. This maximum is 100% relative humidity. For pianos, 42% is considered ideal, 30% or less may be too dry, causing cracks in the soundboard or other wooden parts of the piano. If the soundboard cracks, the piano will make a buzzing sound when played. Humidity in excess of 60% may cause rusting of strings and tuning pins, and the wood will expand, which may cause the keys to stick in extreme cases. In particular, the soundboard may be sensitive to humidity. In order to be able to vibrate, it is only about 3/8 of an inch thick. It is curved against 1000 pounds of pressure from the strings, and held at the edges by a heavy wooden frame and metal plate. Even a small change in humidity may affect the soundboard. As the wood expands from rising humidity the curve increases, and as humidity lowers the curve flattens. These variations affect the pitch of the piano.
Eventually I want to have a separate page that will be able to deal with this question automatically. For now, e-mail me with the make, model, and serial number of your piano, and I'll be glad to get back to you.
A well-cared-for, quality instrument can last for generations. Certain parts of the piano may periodically need regulation beyond pitch correction and tuning, with frequent use (for example, reshaping of the hammers). In general the better a piano is maintained and kept stable, the longer it will last.
It is ideal for a piano to be at least five feet from any heat source, and eight inches from the wall. Keep the piano out of direct sunlight. Temperature and humidity should be kept constant when possible, so a room with an outside door may not be recommended.
Each key on a piano strikes one, two, or three strings with a set pitch. The strings are wrapped at one end around tuning pins. Turning a tuning pin one way will wrap the string further around the pin, increasing the tension and raising the pitch. Turning the pin the other way decreases tension and lowers pitch. This sounds very simple, but remember thatmost notes on the piano are from three different strings sounding at once - if these unisons are not exactly in tune, striking the note will produce a discordant beating sound! A good tuner technician will also be able to repair minor problems with the action of your piano, advise you on the care of your humidity control system, and regulate voicing.
The dial tone of a telephone sounds the same pitches as the F and A above middle C on the piano. By listening to the dial tone and striking these two notes in unison, you can compare the pitches to determine whether the piano is out of tune. Also, many electronic metronomes will have an option of sounding the A above middle C. Alternatively, you could use a good tuning fork.
Sorry to have missed your question. Please E-mail me with your question and I will gladly get back to you.