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Because of the amount of time your piano is in use and because ear training is such an important aspect of any musical education, your piano may require more tunings annually than other pianos. Your piano may also be used to make audition tapes for student scholarship competitions where impeccable intonation is vital for your students to sound their best.
The variations in the relative humidity of a studio or home are generally the most important criteria in determining how often a piano needs to be tuned. Normal homes may experience fairly drastic changes from season to season. Your situation is complicated by constant use which tends to deteriorate a tuning more quickly. A piano functions best under consistent conditions which are neither too wet nor dry, optimally at a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 42 percent relative humidity.
You can reduce the severity of these climatic effects by placing your piano in the room so that it is away from windows or doors which are opened frequently. Avoid heating and air conditioning vents, fireplaces, and areas receiving direct sunlight.
While manufacturers' recommendations on the number of annual tunings vary, they generally agree that a piano should be tuned at least two to four times each year, with additional tunings as needed.
How often should you tune your piano?
In order to keep proper string tension, every piano must be tuned at least twice per year, if moderately used. For heavy of professional use, more frequent piano tuning service is required with experienced piano tuners. In concert halls and recording studios, the piano is typically tuned before each performance.
Both grand and upright pianos are tuned according to the equal temperament, originally invented by baroque musician and composer J.S. Bach, who also wrote the well-tempered clavier for the piano. The purpose of equal temperament is so that the same song can be played in different keys and still sound like the same piece of music, subdividing the keyboard into even half-steps and evening out the relationship between the piano's keys. This is especially convenient for playing with and adjusting to other instruments and vocalists. The string tension of the "A" below middle "C" on the piano is matched to a tuning fork with a frequency of 440HZ, which is the standard for most modern music today. Following that, the first octave is tuned by establishing the correct pitches of the intervals within the middle octave. This completes the temperament, and the matching process begins to reproduce the results of the first octave throughout the rest of the piano's registers.
The tuning schedule of a piano should coincide with the heating cycle of the room in which the piano is located. After the beginning of a heating cycle, in the fall, allow the piano to acclimate to the new humidity level for two to three weeks and then have it tuned. Likewise, after the end of the heating cycle in the spring, wait two to three weeks after the heat has been turned off and then have your piano tuned. If you have a humidity control system installed, don't forget to check and change your filter pads at the same time you have your piano tuned.
Tuning vs. Pitch Raising vs. Voicing:
Although piano tuning is a separate process from voicing, some customer assume that one includes or even stands for the other. Raising the pitch of a piano is a separate process as well, even though it is related to the tuning of a piano. Piano tuning is the pulling of strings to their appropriate pitch, to achieve equal temperament and a good relative tuning. Equal temperament, in short, allows you to play the same song in a different key with an equally proportional tuning, allowing the song to sound just as good. Pitch raising is the process of raising the pitch of the whole piano. Pitch raising can be necessary for some types of contemporary music. For some early music, lowering the pitch is also common. The standard concert pitch today is A=440Hz. In the times of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the standard concert pitch was A=432Hz. Today, some contemporary composers write for pitch A=445Hz and some even higher. Depending on how far the pitch needs to be moved, this process may require tuning the piano several times until it's able to hold the pitch, as the strings stretch out to their new tension. Rising the pitch of a piano is a potentially dangerous undertaking, which should be performed by an expert tuner only. It's often recommended that a piano be tuned in several steps, spaced a few weeks or even months apart. However, it can be done in one day with a set of three or four consecutive piano tunings, if the piano can handle the change in pressure. The pressure from the strings on the bridges and soundboards is always set at thousands of pounds of tension. When a piano is out of tune, the change in pressure is so tremendous that it may cause cracks in the hardwoods of the piano, such as the bridges, soundboard, and pinblock. The technician should inspect the piano and determine whether or not the wood can handle such a stress in one sitting. Voicing is sometimes misunderstood by amateurs and professionals alike. The purpose of voicing a piano is to adjust the hardness of the hammers to help even out the tone of the piano, dampening some imperfections in the quality of the hammers and compensating for some acoustical shortcomings of the instrument. In order to do this job perfectly, two highly-skilled technicians are needed on the job: one person to listen from different angles of the room and another to adjust the hammers according to the directions from the listening technician. This project costs approximately twice that of a piano tuning, but when performed correctly, will make a dramatic difference in the sound of the piano.Our master piano technician tuning a piano to perfection.
How often should you tune your piano?
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