Why does your piano go out of tune?
Changes in humidity and temperature are the principle reasons why your piano goes out of tune
Why should the tuning be affected by these changes?
The soundboard of your piano absorbs and expels moisture. If there is too much moisture, the soundboard expands which increases the pressure against the strings, causing the pitch of the strings to go sharp. If there is too little moisture, the soundboard contracts thereby decreasing the pressure aginst the strings, causing the pitch of the strings , causing the pitch of the strings to go flat. These fluctuations could result in the piano being as much as one-half tone flat during the winter.
Why is the piano so sensitive to humidity changes?
The soundboard on a piano is a very large and almost flat piece of wood only 1/4" to 3/8" thick. Any deviation in temperature or humidity is reflected almost immediately by a change in the pitch of the strings because of the size of the soundboard. Because of its' position being more open to the air, a grand piano is more sensitive to these changes than a vertical piano.
What is the proper pitch of a piano?
All pianos should be tuned so that the strings of note "A" above Middle "C" will vibrate at 440 vibrations per second. All other instruments are tuned so as to match this frequency. The pitch of a piano tends to go sharp during the summer because of the excess humidity and flat in the winter months because of excess dryness. This requires a special type of tuning called a "Raise Pitch" or a "Lower Pitch" tuning. This type of tuning is a lot more work and more expensive than your basic tuning. Any expense spent to control your humidity will more than make up for the extra expense of extra tunings and repairs caused by a lack of humidity control.
How often should a piano be tuned?
Trying to keep pianos tuned to the A440 frequency is a constant challenge for the piano tuner. Piano manufacturers recommend that a new or reconditioned piano be tuned 3 or 4 times the first year, mainly because new strings and tuning pins stretch a great deal during this time. After the first year, tuning the piano twice each year is ideal, but it must be tuned atleast once each year to maintain it at the A440 pitch. Should your piano require a "Raise Pitch" or "Lower Pitch" tuning, it is Very Important to follow up with another tuning within 3 months. This will help to stabilize your piano's tuning system.
What problems are caused by excessive dryness?
Squeaks and looseness can develop in keys as well as in the pedals and damper systems. Screws that are used to hold the parts in the piano "action" can become loose causing clicks and rattles when the keys are played. Your soundboard becomes more susceptible to cracking and splitting. Excessive dryness will also cause tuning pins to loosen, resulting in the piano not staying in tune at all.
What problems are caused by excessive moisture?
Keys and "action" parts can become stiff and sluggish. They may play only intermittently or not at all. Rust can develop on strings, tuning pins and other metal parts.
What can you do?
Although a humidity range of 40%-60% is acceptable, a temperature of 68-72 degrees and a humidity of 40-45% would be ideal. During the winter months, add moisture to the air either through the furnace system or with a free standing humidifier. During the summer months, moisture should be removed from the piano. Should you need better humidity control, your piano technician/dealer also sells a humidity control system specifically designed to "add or remove" humidity from your piano. Contact us for further information. Purchase a humidity gauge so you can monitor the humidity around your piano. Proper humidity control will protect your investment.
Your piano will sound better, play better and stay in tune longer with proper humidity control