I have been in the piano service business since 1980. I have worked on thousands of pianos in homes, schools, churches and entertainment stages. I have contracted work with dealers. I have been associated with Dunkley Music, the Steinway and Kawai dealer for Idaho since 2006 when the Twin Falls branch opened. In 2016 I attended the C. F. Steinway Academy at the Steinway factory in New York City. In 2017 I attended the Yamaha Performance Piano Seminar in Los Angeles California. In 2018 I attended the Renner Academy in Scottsdale Arizona and the Shigaru Kawai Technical Seminar in Los Angeles California.
As a piano tuner, I feel the need to be professional. I think of my clients as my friends. I try to be as sensitive as I can be to their needs. My fees are fair and reasonable, and I never surprise people with a higher bill than what they expect. If I find problems in the piano during the process of tuning that we were not aware of, I give the customer the facts and they make the decision as to how to proceed. I love my work. My goal is for all my friends to be satisfied with their instrument and with me as their tuner.
The question I get asked most is "How often should I have my piano tuned?" The short, easy answer is at least once a year. If you like short answers, you can stop reading now and skip back to my phone number. Having your piano tuned once a year will really keep it in pretty good condition. But understanding the many different factors that cause a piano to go out of tune will help you realize that your piano may need more frequent visits from your tuner.
Among the most important factors to be considered are:
- 1. The age of the piano.
- Pianos less than two or three years old need the most frequent tuning. Almost all manufacturers recommend at least four tunings during the first year after purchase. New steel in the strings is still very elastic. It takes a year or so for them to "settle in" and become stable.
- 2. Placement of the piano.
- Almost every one has heard that you should keep your piano on an inside wall. This in fact, is almost the least important consideration. There are times when an outside wall is in fact the best place for the piano. The piano should be kept out of direct sunlight. Besides the obvious damage to the finish a piano in direct sunlight will go through daily cycles of warming up and cooling down. Strings expand and contract when they heat and cool. Being near heat vents, wood stoves or outside doors or other drafty situations will cause metal parts of the piano to expand and contract. The expansion and contraction is not visible to the eye, and the change in pitch is hardly noticeable, but it is cumulative. So, placing your piano on a inside wall is fine, as long as it is not in a draft or not in direct sunlight.
- 3. How is your piano being used.
- Obviously, a piano being played 12 hours a day by a professional concert pianist, or by several advanced students will not stay in tune as long as one being practiced on a half an hour a day by a beginner. There is truth to the claim that expensive, stage quality concert grand pianos need a lot more tuning and maintenance than small console pianos need in a home. That is because much more is demanded of them.
- 4. Has the piano been moved?
- Actually, moving a piano has little effect on it's tuning. But, changing the environment has a big effect. This explains why the day after the move, the piano sounds fine, but a month later it may sound awful. So, the time to have a piano tuned after a move is after a few weeks, after the piano is acclimated to its new home.
- 5. Is it an expensive piano with a prestigious name on the fallboard?
- This is probably the least important factor of any. The most expensive piano which has gone many years without maintenance will be far less satisfactory to play than a smaller, more moderately priced instrument which has been regularly tuned and maintained. Obviously, the expensive, well maintained grand piano will provide the greatest satisfaction if it receives the attention it requires. If it does not, it is just another piano.
- 6. The human factor.
- The most important factor I believe, is not about the piano at all. It is the human factor. If you are one who has become accustomed to hearing music in tune you will need to see your tuner more frequently. The human ear is very accommodating. It will adapt to hearing a badly tuned piano. Conversely, it will become very discerning if it only hears well tuned music. Very young students develop a very fine sense of pitch if they are only exposed to instruments that are in tune.