- Max Kuehn
Pianos are among the most popular instruments globally, and with good reason. They’re versatile, sound great, and are relatively easy to learn how to play. But even if you’re a seasoned pianist, you might not know how to tune a piano. Don’t worry; it’s not as difficult as it might seem. You can tune a piano yourself with a bit of patience and the right tools.
Is It Possible To Tune A Piano By Yourself?
Tuning a piano oneself is a difficult task that requires a great deal of time and talent; for a good reason, piano tuning is a trained professional. Professional piano tuners acquire particular skills and techniques to offer a tune that is both more accurate (in tune) and more stable or long-lasting.
While the process of tuning each pin may appear simple (albeit slow) for even a beginner, professional piano tuners develop specific skills and strategies to produce a tune that is both more accurate (in tune) and Consider contacting an professional piano technician if you’ve never tuned your own piano before or don’t want to spend years practicing.
Tuning Tools are Required
A few simple tools are required to tune a piano:
A piano tuning lever (also known as a tuning hammer, wrench, tuning wrench, or tuning key) is a small, tapered wrench that allows you to individually tighten or loosen each tuning pin. When tuning a piano, a tuning lever is required; any other tool could cause damage to the instrument.
Electronic chromatic tuner: electronic tuning devices (ETD) is a little gadget that can assist you in figuring out what note a key is playing right now and how close it is to the target note.
Professional tuner most commonly uses electronic tuners; however, tuning forks are a less modern option for more traditional tuners. Avoid using simple guitar tuners for piano tuning since they may not be accurate enough.
Mutes are low-cost rubber wedges placed on piano strings to attenuate the sound of individual strings and isolate a single string for tuning.
Some pianos, like upright pianos and grand pianos, have a cabinet or door to protect the strings and soundboard. Keep a screwdriver on hand if your piano has extra hardware like this, so you can remove these pieces and access the strings.
Bring a lantern or spotlight that you can put up for hands-free illumination so that all of your digits are accessible for tuning to observe the inner workings of the piano better.
Dust cloth: Many pianos collect dust over time, so keep a cloth on hand to wipe away dust and grime so you can access the strings.
Where Can I Purchase Tools?
Tools are sold on Amazon and eBay (you were going to go there first, right?) However, be aware that Amazon and eBay listings include professional and low-cost tuning gear. I suggest going to a store that sells piano tuning equipment. They are tiny businesses that are knowledgeable about their products. Pay for quality, as I always say.
Consider Pausing For A Reality Check
Let’s take a deep breath before we start twisting anything now that we have our basic tools. We must recognize our limitations and objectives, or, to put it another way, why a professional piano tuner advises against tuning your piano.
This isn’t only about turning pins. There are two types of “good” tuning: accurate (in tune) and stable (stays in tune). Professional tuners spend these nuanced abilities for years and aim to improve them throughout their careers.
This material is not intended to substitute expert advice. The simplified procedure presented here is intended for the curious owner, people who want to touch up between professional appointments, or performers who want an emergency correction.
I’ve even heard people who had a piano tuner refuse to work on it since it had been ignored for so long. This solution might at the very least make it playable again. If you have something valuable, though, a professional will perform a better job.
Even if you’re serious about learning more, the primary approach outlined here will provide a strong foundation for understanding more in-depth sources.
These are big, complicated instruments. Getting all of the keys to sound correct can be difficult, and the longer the instrument is left untuned, the more difficult it becomes.
If an instrument has been left untuned for a long time, it may require a “pitch-raise” (an extended regimen requiring several passes on the entire keyboard until everything will finally stay.) Voicing and modulating the action may be necessary to restore the best tone.
Misaligned hammers and loose pins, for example, will require repair. Such subjects are outside the scope of this article, but we may recommend books and other resources.
Think about the dangers. Carelessness or inexperience can cause strings to break, pins to loosen or bend, and other problems. For example, too many loose pins can leave the instrument practically untunable and repairable.
Please read the complete tutorial. Professional piano tuners occasionally send me negative remarks on this website. Those suggestions are appreciated, and I will use them to improve the website. However, other people appear to disregard the website without even reading it.
On the other hand, folks who understand my objectives frequently compliment me. (Reader comments can be found in our Guestbook.) Please read the entire webpage to ensure that you know all of the facts, risks, and restrictions of this simplified approach.
Instead of a costly Steinway, I learned myself on an outdated, student-quality piano. I would not risk anything valuable or expensive until I had a lot of experience. Nonetheless, I am pleased with my outcomes. Other proprietors, I believe, can do the same. Let’s get started now that the disclaimers are out of the way.
How To Tune The Piano
Step 1: To remove the piano’s external panels, gather simple equipment.
To tune a piano, you’ll need to disassemble it (partially) to access the strings. Examine your piano to see what kind of screwdrivers and other proper tools you’ll need to disassemble it.
Expect the piano to be dusty on the inside. A feather duster or a few rags will almost certainly be helpful.
You might also wish to bring a powerful flashlight or other light sources. You’ll have trouble seeing once you get inside the piano, no matter how bright the room is where you’re working.
Step 2: Learn how to use the strings and pins.
Play the piano a little without the panels off before you start working on it. Keep track of which strings correspond to which keys to avoid tuning the wrong string later.
Before attempting to tune a piano, you should have a basic understanding of music theory. Because you won’t be able to tune each note to the perfect pitch, you should at least be familiar with octaves and note relationships. Instead, you tune the tones concerning one another using an inharmonicity idea.
Step 3: Begin with C in the middle.
The most common tuning for pianos is A440, which means that the A4 is tuned to vibrate at 440Hz. This is a conventional concert pitch in most Western countries, while European tuning is frequently slightly higher at 442Hz.
A note in the mid-treble range, such as middle A, usually has three strings. Only the third string will be heard if the first two strings are muted. Tune one string to your chromatic tuner’s tone, then tune the other two strings to that string’s tone.
The unisons are the remaining strings. Do not use your piano tuning software or electronic chromatic tuner to tune the unisons; instead, tune them by ear.
Step 4: To tune the string, turn the pin.
Place your piano tuning lever on top of the pin and turn it with a tiny movement. You only want the tiniest motions, or the string will snap, so practice beforehand to ensure sufficient control over your piano tuning tools.
“Righty tighty, lefty loosey,” as the saying goes. The pitch is raised by turning the pin right (clockwise). Lower the pitch by turning it left (counterclockwise).
Wiggling or twisting the pin is not recommended. If it becomes loose or broken, you’ll need a professional to fix it. It’s crucial to have steady hands.
Check the tone after a minor turn. Continue doing so until the string’s sound and the tone from your chromatic tuner or software program are in sync.
Step 5: Set the tuning pins in place.
You’ll need to set the tuning pins once you’ve established the proper tone, so it doesn’t readily go out of tune again. Tighten the pin a hair with a tiny clockwise turn, then loosen it back to correct pitch with a slight counterclockwise turn.
It takes a lot of practice to master this delicate movement. Expect the first piano you tune to remain tuned. You’ll have a better sense of positioning the tuning pins appropriately after tuning multiple pianos (or the same piano several times).
Step 6: Tune in octaves from the first note you tuned.
Use middle A to tune lower A after you have middle A. Then tune the note one fifth above with lower A, and so on. Using these intervals, move along the keyboard until the entire piano is tuned.
Unless you’re working with a piano that hasn’t been tuned in years, you won’t need to adjust all of the notes.
Step 7: Use major third intervals to assess your progress.
Check the intervals as you go to make sure they sound properly. Before moving on, you can adjust anything that sounds sharp or flat.
You’ll be tuning more and more notes by ear as you progress through the notes, rather than using your software or chromatic tuner. If you use your chromatic tuner to tune each note, the original note will sound sharp when you return to it.
As you gain skill, tuning your piano by ear will become easier. Suppose you want to advertise yourself as a piano tuner. In that case, you should put in a lot of practice before attempting to tune for others.
Step 8: When you’re finished, play the piano.
Give the piano a short play before replacing the panels to ensure it sounds well and all the notes are tuned. You may need to go back and do a little more work on it, especially if this is your first time.
Even for expert tuners, tuning some pianos can take several days, especially if they haven’t been tuned in a long time or are heavily used. When tuning a piano, patience is essential.
But Why Are The Notes Out Of Tune In The First Place?
Today’s pianos are tuned in “equal temperament,” which implies that each note is pitched equally to its neighbors. This wasn’t always the case, though.
Until the nineteenth century, when equal temperament became popular, various characters existed, with some notes tuned closer together than others. Some notes sounded good together in this manner.
Non-equal temperaments had the drawback of making some notes sound dreadful when played together. Still, composers could employ this extra dissonance to a great expressive advantage.
All of the notes are slightly out of tune with each other in equal temperament, yet this allows you to play in any key without striking any clangers.
In intervals of a third, the divergence of equal temperament from “pure” or “just” intonation is most noticeable. Significant thirds are much wider than pure significant thirds in equal temperament, and minor thirds are smaller than pure minor thirds.
In theory, both should add up to an octave and conclude on the same note. On the other hand, three pure major thirds fall almost half a semitone short of an octave, while four pure minor thirds overshoot by the same amount.
Vartoukian illustrates why temperaments are needed to fit all of the varied intervals within the octave by playing the two top notes together.
What If I Want To Fix Anything Like A2 Or B6?
Tune the appropriate note (e.g., A4 or B4) in the middle octave to use as a reference. Note that if you have an electronic tuner that can display frequencies or play reference tones for octaves other than the middle octave, you should only use it.
Because of “inharmonicity,” you won’t get a decent result if you use the A2 on an electronic tuner that isn’t explicitly made for piano.
What Is The Best Way To Keep A Piano From Going Out Of Tune?
The main objective is to maintain as stable an environment as feasible. Avoid placing near sunlight, windows, heating ducts, and other sources of temperature and humidity change. The easiest way to maintain your piano in tune after that is to (surprise!) tune it.
It’s easy to keep it in shape with touch-ups and frequent tunings once it’s been tuned. Don’t wait until the noise becomes unbearable. The longer the strings are left untuned, the more the soundboard tension increases, causing a cascade effect in which more and more strings go out.
A complete tuning is typically recommended twice a year, immediately after the heating and cooling seasons begin.
How Much Does It Cost To Tune A Piano?
From $65 to $225
The cost of tuning a piano ranges from $65 to $225 on average, rising by several hundred dollars if the piano requires repeated tuning sessions or repairs. Piano tuning is a technique that trained specialists should only perform.
Is It Possible To Tune A Piano After 20 Years?
A new piano, or one that has never been serviced and is 10, 15, or 20 years old, requires three or four tunings before stabilizing. The sole exception is when a new piano has been on the showroom floor for several months and has had multiple in-house or showroom tunings before being acquired.
How Long Can You Go Without Tuning A Piano?
If an acoustic piano is to function properly, it must be maintained regularly. If a piano has been neglected for five or ten years, a single tuning will not suffice. As pianos age, they develop habits. A piano that hasn’t been tuned in a long time will quickly become out of tune.
To tune your piano, you’ll need to put in a lot of hard work and practice. In order to get good at this, you will have to do a lot of different tunings at first. This isn’t meant to scare anyone away from trying to tune a piano, but there are some things you should know.
It’s not as simple as it looks to be a piano tuner. You have to put in a lot of time and practice to learn how to do this correctly, which takes a lot of time and money. Fidlar hope you found this article beneficial, and let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below.