Piano Tuning - FAQ
How often does my piano need to be tuned?
It is highly recommended to have your piano tuned at least once a year, preferably twice, to avoid future tuning and voicing issues, pitch-correction procedures, and to check for any potential structural issues that can be easily fixed or remedied when found early.
New and recently-restrung pianos often require 3-4 tunings during the first year or two to properly maintain correct tension and regulation across the instrument during the settling-in period.
Why does my piano go out of tune?
The answer is both humidity and time. During the summer, high levels of relative humidity increase the moisture content in the soundboard causing it to increase its crowned shape. The bridge, which is mounted on the crown of the soundboard, will then put more pressure upward on the strings causing the piano to go sharp in pitch. The reverse is true in the winter when there is less pressure on the strings from the bridge and the piano goes flat. Over many years and season changes, the piano will gradually lose string tension causing the instrument to go flat in pitch overall which is most prevalent with new or recently restrung instruments.
When is the best time to tune a piano?
Each piano responds differently to humidity changes, and every environment is slightly different, so this question is usually best answered on a case-by-case basis. If your piano has been recently moved, it is recommended that you wait approximately 2-3 weeks for the piano to adjust to its new environment.
Is there anything I can do to make my piano stay in tune better?
Dampp-Chaser Piano Life-Saver Systems are highly recommended which can be installed in any grand or upright piano to maintain the relative humidity in your piano at 43% all year-round. This keeps the moisture content of the wood (EMC), and thus the tension and tuning as consistent as possible, and protects the soundboard, bridges, and tuning pinblock from developing cracks prematurely. Adding a room humidifier in the winter, not using a fireplace, keeping the piano away from any direct heating/AC vents and outside walls, and using air conditioning or a dehumidifier during the summer are also recommended.
What is regulation?
Regulation is the process of returning all the aspects of the action, which are the functioning mechanical parts of the piano, to factory specifications including key and hammer height, key dip, after-touch, let-off distance, and damper timing among many other aspects. Proper regulation provides the player with correct touch and repetition at all dynamic levels (piano to forte) for performance and educational purposes and it is a prerequisite for voicing.
What is voicing?
Voicing is the art of bringing out the full potential of the tone of an instrument, evening the tone of the instrument from note to note, or shading the entire piano tone darker or brighter depending on personal preference. As pianos get played, the hammers develop hardened grooves in the felt which cause the tone of the instrument to get harsh and lose resonance and "bloom". Voicing is most often called upon in this situation and a combination of hammer felt reshaping and fine needling of each hammer is needed to restore the intended tone.
Can you help me find a good new or used piano?
Yes, I would be happy to guide you in the right direction and recommend an instrument that would be suitable for your needs and within your budget. I always recommend having a technician check out any used instrument prior to purchase.
How do I book a tuning or service appointment?
Email donnellypianoservice@g,mail.com or call (617) 646-9711 to schedule an appointment.