As your piano tuner Wilmington DE, Philadelphia, Eastern Shore MD, Southern NJ and other areas, I’m often asked why a piano needs tuning if seldom played. A little background about piano construction is required for a full explanation.
A piano has over two hundred piano strings, each with a tension of about 150 lbs. Multiplied out, that is a total tension of 30,000 lbs. on a wooden structure that is reinforced with a cast iron plate. The structure cannot maintain that amount of tension for an extended period of time, so the tension and pitch of a piano are are always falling. For concerts, a piano is usually tuned before rehearsal, and then again the same day before the performance. That is what is required in order for the piano to be in perfect tune for both the rehearsal and the performance.
For a home piano, as long as the piano is tuned every 6-12 months, it can be restored to the proper pitch with a normal tuning. If the time since the tuning goes beyond a year, then extra work is required to bring the pitch back up to standard. This time line exists even if the piano is not used. A piano goes out of tune slightly faster if it is used, but the main cause of loss of pitch is simply the high tension exerted over time. Even if the piano is not used, it must be tuned at least once a year, or the pitch drops too much to be brought back up with a normal piano tuning.
There are several reasons why it is important to avoid the extra work needed to raise the pitch of a neglected instrument. One reason is the stress to the strings. When strings are at their correct tension and pitch, they are at about 70% of their breaking tension. Raising the pitch on strings requires that a higher tension be applied to the strings in order to raise the pitch. This will be explained in detail in our next blog post.
If you have other questions about your piano or its care, please feel free to consult with us.