As your piano tuner Wilmington DE, I’m often asked why a piano needs tuning if it is seldom or never played. This is a continuation of the explanation from my previous blog post. Previously, it was stated that if a piano is not tuned at least once a year, then the strings will be stressed when the pitch is raised at a later date. There are three reasons for this stress. The first reason was explained in the last post. The second reason will be discussed in this post, and the third reason will be discussed in the next post.

To review, a piano string is attached to a hitch pin at the far end of the piano; the second section, or “speaking length” is in the middle of the piano string and is the portion that we hear vibrating; and the third section goes from the speaking length to the tuning pin. The first reason for stress to the string was due to the friction of the string passing through the bearing point at the piano bridge, the point where the string passes from the silent far portion of the string the the “speaking length” of the string, the part that we hear vibrating.

Similarly, there is another bearing point at the near portion of the string, where the string passes from the “speaking length” to the silent top portion of the string that is attached to the tuning pin.  When piano tuning a string, a piano tuner turns the tuning pin, raising the tension on the silent near portion of the string.  Because of friction at the top bearing point, the tension on the near portion of the string must be raised higher than the tension of the speaking length, so that the tension will be raised on the speaking length.  If the pitch and tension on the speaking length are very close to being correct, then that increase in tension is not very great.

On the other hand, if the piano has not been tuned in years, then significant tension must be placed on the upper portion of string in order to raise the pitch on the speaking length.  You may remember from the previous post, that the pitch on the speaking length must be raised higher than normal, because the tension will equalize over the bridge bearing point over a ten minute period.  Also remember that the normal tension on a string when it is tuned to the proper pitch is 70% of its breaking tension.  When the string is raised to a higher pitch, then the string gets closer to its breaking tension.  Even if the string does not break, it is still subject to fatigue and later breakage.

This sounds serious, but it is even worse.  There is a third cause for even more stress to the strings when the pitch must be raised because of neglect to the piano.  The third cause will be explained in our next blog post.

At Kenneth Keith Piano Services, your Piano Tuning Wilmington DE experts, we are always available to answer your questions and to maintain your piano for long life. We also provide piano services in Philadelphia, Eastern Shore Maryland and the Southern New Jersey areas.