Pianos require tuning; that’s a fact. People often ask: how long does it take to tune a piano? I must tell you that acoustic pianos need care and maintenance constantly, and tuning a piano is no small feat.
Even though piano tuning is one of the reasons that I turned to digital pianos more than twenty years ago, I am still very fond of acoustic pianos. Growing up with a C. Bechstein baby grand piano, tuning was a fascinating process for a child. It seemed a sizeable annual event for the household. Nonetheless, I am still having the baby grand and tuning it regularly.
In this article, we’ll answer your question about how long it takes to tune a piano and explain when you need to do it.
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How Long Does it Take to Tune a Piano?
If an instrument is maintained regularly and not too much out of tune, the piano tuner or technician may complete the tuning in one to two hours.
Tuning a piano is complicated work. A standard-sized piano has 88 keys, and each key connects to a felt-covered hammer that strikes multiple strings to produce sound. The tuning process is that the tuner uses special tools to adjust the tension of over 230 strings. Imagine tuning a violin and you adjust the tightness of the strings to achieve a specific pitch. It is the same concept as tuning a piano, but at a much grand scale; hence it is time-consuming.
When a piano has not been tuned for a long time, it will take the tuner longer to fine-tune it, and sometimes, he or she may need multiple sessions.
Moreover, the technician may uncover some unexpected issues you are unaware of. He or she will discuss the findings with you and explain the time and cost of the repairs.
How Much Does it Cost to Tuning a Piano?
The piano tuning costs anywhere from $110-$250. Many piano tuners charge hourly rates that cover the unexpected time needed to tune or repairs required. Most customers pay around $150.
All violinists can tune their four strings on the spot, not pianists. You do not send your car to anyone on the street for maintenance; you send your car to a dealer or a specialized technician. Likewise, to tune a piano, you’ll need a piano tuner to help you.
Find the Right Piano Tuner
Most piano tuners can do an excellent job of tuning your piano. However, I would recommend looking for a piano tuner certified by the Piano Technicians Guild. These technicians are trained not only to tune the piano but also to fix other issues that the instrument may have. They can also notice issues on your piano that you may not have observed yourself.
How to find a piano tuner?
There are several options for finding a piano tuner. In this age of technology, I am sure you will do an online search. However, some traditional ways are also helpful:
- Word of mouth: if you have friends and colleagues who use local piano tuners, ask for their recommendations.
- Local piano or instrument stores: these stores will have contact information for local technicians, and many may even have one on staff.
How Often Do You Need to Tune a Piano?
The short answer is you need to tune a piano at least annually. On the other hand, many conditions may require the piano to be tuned more frequently.
Humidity and temperature changes are probably having the most significant impact on your piano tunes since they directly affect the tension of the piano strings. When possible, try to put your piano in a space where the humidity and temperature do not fluctuate much, such as avoiding direct sunlight. If a piano is in a room where humidity and temperature swing constantly, you may need to have the piano tuned twice a year.
Another high impact on the piano pitches is the change of location. Moving an acoustic piano from one location to another will cause the piano to be out of tune. This is because moving could affect the string tension; the humidity and temperature conditions vary from room to room, building to building, or house to house.
Therefore, it is optimal to have the piano tuned after a move. The best practice is to wait 3-4 weeks after the move since this will allow the piano to acclimate to the new room condition before tuning. If you have just bought a piano, you need to consider that the piano has been moved from the store to the new place.
Can an Old Piano be Tuned?
Even though a piano has been out of tune for many years, you still can tune it. On the other hand, any seriously out-of-tune piano will require multiple long sessions to bring it to the pitches.
The adjustment to the string tension is made gradually. Because pianos have so many strings, for the initial round, the tuner usually adjusts the strings close to the pitch and lets the strings settle. Then, do a fine tuning to the accurate piano pitch. We call this process Pitch Correction.
When the technician performs multiple sessions to re-tune an old piano, it may cost a bit more initially. Once it is done, the piano may follow the regular tuning schedule, either once or twice a year, depending on the piano location’s humidity and temperature fluctuation.
This article has provided information about how long it takes to tune a piano, how often to do it, and where to find a piano technician. Please keep in mind that tuning a piano is a complicated process. Although it takes 1-2 hours and costs, it is a worthy effort since it will enhance your music enjoyment with the perfect pitch for quite a long time. Having a well-tuned piano is especially important for beginners and their ear training.
The best way to protect your investment in an acoustic piano is to tune your instrument regularly. An excellent acoustic piano can last for generations.
I hope the information about tuning a piano is helpful for you. Should you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact me using the comment feature below.