IS MY PIANO IN TUNE?
If you were to take an A440 tuning fork (to hear a “perfect” pitch) and then play an “A” on your piano at the same time, you might hear a pattern of repeating “beats.” If so, your piano is out of tune! If the “A” note on your piano sounds like a completely different note, your piano may need more than a tuning, it may need a pitch-raise. Contact The Piano Mover of Nassau County for a free consultation with a piano tuner or technician or to schedule an appointment for a piano tuning. We are Located in Bohemia.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD A PIANO BE TUNED?
Normally, it is recommended that you tune your piano twice a year. The reason for tuning is seasonal climate change. The climate of New York and the tri-state area is constantly changing. During a typical year the climate moves from warm and humid in the summer to very dry in the winter. Pianos, being mostly wood, respond to changes in humidity and temperature. If you’ve ever noticed how drawers and doors stick in the summer and free up in the winter, you have seen how wood can “breathe” – which is expand in the summer and contract in the winter. Pianos breathe also, and that movement of the wood is enough to affect the tuning on the piano. Having the piano tuned twice a year is usually sufficient, in most cases, to keep the piano sounding proper and to provide minimum maintenance.
The life blood of fine wood is its moisture content. The dissipation of moisture over time results in the wood weakening as it shrinks, causing problems with tuning, mechanics, and overall piano sound quality. The drier the piano’s environment, the faster the process. If your piano is in a dry area and cannot be moved, consider using a humidifier for the room during dry Long Island winter months. Pianos like 40-45% relative humidity – just like people do.
Pianos in humid conditions, such as basements, or houses near water, are susceptible to excessive moisture. Excess moisture around your piano will tarnish or rust metal parts including its strings, resulting in an out of tune piano and worse, broken strings. Mildew and mold can grow on felt and cushions. If you live on the north or south shore of Long Island NY you may of experienced this. If your piano is subject to excessive humidity, dehumidification is the answer.
If the piano is located near an often used door, the blast of hot (summer) or cold (winter) air that hits it each and every time the door opens will affect the piano’s tuning stability. A piano located near an air conditioning or heating vent will affect the piano in a similar fashion. Dry heat can cause long-term damage to pianos. Furthermore, a piano placed next to a poorly insulated window will not only suffer similar effects, but the direct sunlight will affect the piano’s rich finish and cause discoloration of the piano keys.
The ideal location for your piano is away from outside doors, next to an inside wall, and out of direct line of any vents or heaters, and especially away from fireplaces and indoor stoves.
New pianos need to be tuned up to half a dozen times before it will properly hold a tune. The usual recommendation is to tune it four times during the first year or two, as the piano “breaks in”. Piano strings will stretch and drop in pitch until they become broken in and carry the proper tension they were designed to hold. The soundboard and bridges need to become acclimated as well. After the break-in period has passed, normal maintenance is sufficient.
Older pianos (over 40 or 50 years old) that have been neglected or abused may have tuning stability problems, especially if the piano has been improperly placed. These pianos may require tuning more frequently than twice a year. Many times older pianos have been neglected and may have problems unseen to the eye. To assess the piano, first acclimate the piano to its new environment for a couple weeks before tuning it. String breakage occurs sometimes, although rarely, when a piano is tuned for the first time after years of neglect. The piano will not usually exhibit normal tuning stability until after the next tuning visit, assuming a commitment is made to regularly tune it.
CARE OF YOUR PIANO
Ideally you want to maintain a humidity level between 40% and 60%, with as little fluctuation as possible. A small humidifier can transform a dry space into a properly controlled environment, and it requires no more maintenance than filling the unit every few days. Alternatively a wet space requires a dehumidifier.
Pianos respond the best to a stable environment. The more unstable the environment, the more unstable the piano. Ask The Piano Mover about the best way to stabilize your piano’s environment.