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The Best Piano Tuners2023Expertise Laurels
2023Expertise Laurels

The Best Piano Tuners

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Introduction

    All pianos require tuning periodically. The strings of a piano are under very high tension and over time, they begin to stretch. A professional piano tuner can tighten the strings, so the piano plays well. Scheduling this type of maintenance regularly will also extend the life of your piano.

    If you’re going to trust someone to tune your piano, you want to ensure you hire a qualified professional who knows what they’re doing. After all, your piano is an investment piece, and you don’t want anything to harm it. Keep reading for answers to all the commonly asked questions about piano tuners so you can make an informed hiring decision.
  • What does a piano tuner do?

    Piano tuners make minor adjustments to the tension on a piano’s strings. These adjustments help ensure the piano’s musical intervals between the strings are in tune. A piano tuner isn't the same as a piano technician, who can do more extensive repairs on the instrument. 

  • How do you know if your piano is out of tune?

  • How does someone tune a piano?

    Tuning a piano is a very delicate process that takes a slow hand and a careful ear. Piano tuners use a tuning lever tool to slowly adjust the piano pins. The pins are turned to loosen or tighten the strings until the piano plays notes clearly.

  • How often do you tune a piano?

    Generally speaking, it’s best to have a piano tuned twice a year as part of regular maintenance. However, if you live in a climate with extreme temperatures or high humidity, you may need to have your piano tuned as many as four to six times a year.

  • How long does it take to tune a piano?

    Most piano tuners will schedule your appointment for two hours, although the actual work should only take around an hour and a half. If your piano is extremely out of tune or hasn’t been tuned in a while, it might take two and a half hours.

  • What makes a piano go out of tune?

    • Age: With age, a piano's steel wires tend to soften and stretch. Manual tuning can retighten the wires.
    • Humidity: High humidity can make the wood of your piano expand, causing the strings to tighten, so it produces high-pitched notes.
    • Regular use: With use, piano strings vibrate more and loosen.
  • Is it hard to tune a piano?

    Yes, tuning a piano is hard. The tuner has to test every string and listen if the sound produced is off-note. Piano tuning requires a good ear, a steady hand, and patience. If done incorrectly, the piano can continue to pay off-note. Or, even worse, the strings may snap.

  • How can you tune a piano yourself?

    You'll need to buy specialized tools to tune your piano. It’s not impossible to do it yourself, but it will take considerable time and patience. If it takes a professional two hours to tune your piano, you can expect it’ll take you twice as long. You can watch some online tutorials to get started.

  • Can you tune an electric piano?

    Electric pianos don't usually require tuning the way an acoustic piano does. However, electric pianos do require other types of maintenance work, usually around the mechanical aspects of the instrument. An electric piano can go out of tune, but it’s rare. If this happens, tuning will be necessary.

  • How does someone tune an upright piano?

    To tune an upright piano:

    • Remove the instrument's external panel.
    • Start with the middle C string. Turn the pin until the string plays the correct note.
    • Set the pin.
    • Continue to tune the rest of the strings, working in octaves.
    • Play the piano to test whether it's in tune.

  • How does someone tune a piano with a tuning fork?

    Start by playing the piano key while ringing the same key on the tuning fork. If the piano is out of tune, there'll be a warble between the two sounds. Keep tightening or loosening the string until the piano plays the same note as the tuning fork.

  • How much does it cost to tune a piano?

    A piano tuning can cost between $65 and $225. The final price will depend on how out of tune your piano is and, therefore, how much work it needs. Additionally, prices can vary based on your location, whether the piano also needs repairs, and if it’s regularly maintained.

  • How much does it cost to tune a grand piano?

    A grand piano is much larger than a regular piano, so it naturally costs more to tune. On average, a grand piano costs $200 an hour to tune. Since piano tuning can take 1.5-2.5 hours, the total cost may be between $300 and $500.

  • Do you tip a piano tuner?

    No, it’s not common or expected that you tip your piano tuner. If you use the same piano tuner repeatedly, you may consider giving them a tip or a gift around the holidays. Or, if you ask your piano tuner to do something extra, such as moving the piano, you might consider tipping them.

  • Why is it impossible to tune a piano?

    Tuning a piano perfectly is technically impossible because no one has a perfect ear. So, even after a tuning, a piano may still be slightly off note. Additionally, a piano’s strings are so sensitive that immediately after a tuning, something may change the string positioning again, such as a sudden spike in humidity.

  • What is the difference between a piano, a tuna, and a pot of glue?

    This is a popular joke:

    • John: What is the difference between a piano, a tuna, and a pot of glue?
    • Jane: No clue.
    • John: You can tuna piano, but you can’t piano a tune.
    • Jane: And the glue?
    • John: I knew you’d get stuck there.

  • How do I become a piano tuner?

    Individuals who want to be a piano tuner will need to complete a training course, usually followed by an apprenticeship. Piano tuners have to practice on thousands of pianos before becoming an expert in their field. It also helps to have a basic understanding of how to play the piano.

  • How much does a piano tuner make a year?

    The average annual salary of a piano tuner in the United States is $48,796. Of course, this can vary greatly depending on the person’s experience, location, and hours worked. Most piano tuners work for themselves as freelancers, so ultimately, they dictate how much they earn by how much work they take on.

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