One of the most common questions I am asked, as a Pennsylvania and Delaware piano tuner, is whether moving a piano makes it go out of tune. The answer is a qualified “yes,” and your piano tuner Wilmington DE and the surrounding areas is here to help.

The reason for the qualification of the “yes” answer is that the amount of the tuning change is proportional to the distance of the move, and the variation in climate. In other words, if the piano is in good condition, moving it across the room will change the tuning almost none at all. You will see concert pianos rolled out onto the stage between portions of a concert, and the moving has little effect on the piano tuning. Pianos are reinforced with cast iron, so the jiggling of the move has little effect on the piano tuning. However, a three degree change in temperature will put a piano significantly out of tune. That amount of temperature change is common due to stage lights. For many concerts, the piano will be tuned while the stage lights are on, to minimize this problem. Whether you’re in Philadelphia, Newark, or any of the surrounding areas such as Wilmington, piano tuning is necessary after a move.

Temperature and humidity are the big factors in changing the tuning of a piano. A soundboard is only 5/8” thick spruce, with a slight “dome” or “crown” in the middle. If the temperature and/or humidity rise, the wood expands, and the crown increases. The change of shape stretches the strings in the middle of the piano, making their pitch higher, and out of synchrony with the pitches of the strings at the top and bottom of the piano. Likewise, a drop in temperature and/or humidity will contract the soundboard, lower the crown and ease the tension on the strings in the middle of the piano, putting them lower in pitch in relation to the strings at the top and bottom of the piano.

To summarize, the actual moving of the piano changes the tuning very little, but the change in temperature and humidity of the new environment will change the tuning significantly.

The other large factor effecting piano tuning, is simple passage of time. Every piano maker recommends tuning a piano at least every six months. The combined tension of 225 strings is around 30,000 lbs., which a wooden structure cannot maintain for any length of time, even with cast iron reinforcing. If your piano is not moved, it is gradually going out of tune so slowly you probably will not notice. The wise action is to simply mark your calendar and call us at Delaware Piano Tuning every six months to keep your piano in proper tune. Your Wilmington piano tuner, Kenneth Keith, is ready to take care of your PA or DE piano tuning needs.