As your piano tuner Wilmington DE, I am often asked why a piano needs to be tuned so often. For example, every manufacturer recommends tuning a piano three times per year for the first two years, and then at least twice a year every year after that. To many people, that seems excessive. In fact, that is remarkably infrequent to be tuning a stringed instrument. The question really should be, why does a piano needs so little tuning?

Tuning Stringed Instruments

If you attend or watch a violin, cello, or acoustic guitar concert, you may notice that the artist will tune the instrument several times during a concert. That frequency of tuning is normal and usual. Most stringed instruments go out of tune quickly and need frequent tuning. The tuning of an instrument can be disturbed by stretching of the strings, or by changes to the shape of the wood of the instrument.  Wood, being an organic material, changes with variations of temperature and humidity. If the temperature or humidity rise, then the wood expands in size, increasing the tension on the strings and raising the pitch. This is the typical situation of a concert, where the lights create higher temperatures, and the number of people in the audience creates greater humidity. If the temperature were to go up and humidity down, then a more complex distortion of the instrument can occur. The important conclusion of all this is that stringed instruments tend to go out of tune relatively quickly compared to other instruments. The question then becomes, “Why does a piano stay in tune so well, compared with other stringed instruments?”

Why Pianos Stay in Tune so Well

There are several reasons that pianos stay in tune better than other stringed instruments. First, the strings of a piano are made of high tension steel, which stretches minimally if at all. This material can be used, since the piano strings are struck instead of bowed or plucked. Second, pianos have cast iron plates reinforcing the wooden structure, so that the instrument does not flex as much with changes of temperature and humidity. Third, because piano strings are under much higher tension than that of other instruments, the tuning pins must be much tighter than in other instruments. Therefore there is less likelihood of piano tuning pins slipping in a piano.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about pianos, please let us know. Kenneth Keith Piano Services is your Wilmington DE piano tuning expert. We also provide piano tuning Philadelphia PA, Eastern Shore MD and the Southern NJ areas.