Many piano manufacturers recommend tuning two to four times for the first year of use. After the first year, it depends on how often the piano is used. If the piano is used every day for several hours, tuning every 3 months is reasonable. Generally, for normal usage in the home, the recommendation is twice per year. The bare minimum is once a year, preferably at the same time each year.
Why does my piano go out of tune?
A piano is constructed of wood and felt which respond to changes in the climate. These materials absorb moisture during humid periods and dry out during dry periods. The ideal environment for a piano is an area where the temperature and humidity are relatively stable. The placement of the piano in the home can be a factor. Try to place the piano away from windows where the sunlight can directly shine on it. Direct sunlight can cause localized heating and also damage natural wood case parts. Avoid placement near doors where drafts can cause temperature extremes. Be mindful of heating and air conditioning vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, as these can also contribute to temperature fluctuations at the instrument.
What can I do to stabilize the humidity fluctuations?
Dampp-Chaser has done extensive research on the temperature and humidity fluctuations that pianos experience and have invented a humidity control system which can be installed in your piano. It consists of a humidistat which senses the current humidity and turns on de-humidifier rods if the relative humidity is greater than 45%. In especially dry climates, there is also a humidifier portion to this system which will humidify your soundboard if the relative humidity drops below 45%. I am a certified Dampp-Chaser installer and can measure the humidity and temperature fluctuations at your piano and recommend a system that would be appropriate for your instrument. I also partner with Dawson String Covers to provide a 100% wool custom made string cover for your piano.
Is there anything special I should do before my piano is tuned?
If you have valuables stored on top of the piano, it would be best to remove them to a safe location. Since the piano lid and some case parts have to be opened or removed to gain access to the piano tuning pins and strings, it is best for the owner to do this prior to the tuning appointment.
How long does a tuning take?
If it's the first time I service your piano, I usually do a thorough cleaning and inspection of all the structural components and a measurement of the present pitch of the piano. The internationally accepted pitch standard is A440 pitch. This means the A above middle C on the piano should sound at 440 cycles per second. If your piano is sounding at a different pitch than this standard, a pitch raise or pitch lowering may be needed before the piano can be fine tuned to this standard. If no pitch adjustment is needed, the usual service time is about 2 hours. If a pitch adjustment is indicated additional time would be needed.