How often should my piano be tuned?

Your piano should be tuned several times the first year to help stabilize the pitch. More tunings in the first year help to ensure more stable tunings in the future. 

After the first year, manufacturers recommend that your piano be tuned a minimum of twice a year or more often as your ear or the environment demands. Note: Pianos in concert venues and institutions will often require more frequent service due to greater demands on performance, unique climate and stage conditions, and the frequency of rehearsals and performances

A stable climate is essential for stable tunings.  Avoid positioning your piano in the path of direct air from heating/cooling vents, or in the direct proximity of a humidifier. Try to maintain a climate of 40-60% relative humidity and a temperature range of 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius). Avoid wide swings in your temperature and humidity. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight as it will bleach the finish and affect the performance stability. Monitoring your climate with a hygrometer that measure the relative humidity in which your piano resides.  *from the Steinway & Sons Piano Care and Maintenance Recommendations 

Do pianos need tuning if they’re not played much?

Yes. There’s a tremendous amount of tension in a piano, which is gradually released over time, making pianos go flat. Each string has about 150 pounds of pressure on it. With 220 strings in a typical piano, two or three strings on most notes, there’s about sixteen tons of tension. Pianos that are not maintained regularly may require additional service to bring back to standard pitch and sound good.

Does it harm a piano not to tune it?

Normally No, if brought back to standard pitch by a qualified tuner. Although a piano not tuned for many years may be difficult to bring back to proper pitch. If a piano has not been tuned regularly, it may need what is called a “pitch raise” which is a procedure to properly and safely bring a piano sound back to normal. If a piano has not been tuned for some time, it may need two or more tunings over a period of months for it to stabilize back to standard pitch.

Other than tuning, what other maintenance may be needed?

The most common and over looked service of a piano is cleaning.  A qualified technician has special tools to get underneath the strings to clean the soundboard, action, and keys.

A piano has over 9,000 parts, many in motion repeatedly while being played. Minor repairs may be needed from time to time due to “sticking keys”, broken strings, or other malfunctioning part; this is not uncommon regardless of the manufacturer or age.

Action Regulation will be in order after some years to adjust the myriad of parts back to specifications which greatly affects the touch and responsiveness of your piano.

Voicing (often after a regulation and tuning) may be an option if the sound or tone of your piano is not what it used to be; felt hammers that have experienced years of use may need to be filed or replaced. 

Does moving a piano throw it out of tune?

Maybe. It’s not so much the move but the change of environment; humidity and temperature. A carefully moved piano across a room or in another room may be fine however a distance move by truck will require the piano to be tuned. When the temperature and/or humidity levels change suddenly, the piano will gradually adapt to it, taking at least two to three weeks to adjust to a new environment. You should wait that long before having it tuned.