What causes a piano to go out of tune?

Dramatic changes in temperature and humidity are the main reason a piano goes out of tune. When there is excessive humidity the soundboard takes on more moisture creating more crown and causing the piano to go sharp. Crown is basically the curvature of the soundboard. When there is low humidity the soundboard loses moisture and crown causing the piano will go flat. Excessive playing can also case a piano to go out of tune faster.

How often should a piano be tuned?

It is recommended by manufactures and technicians that a piano is tuned at least twice a year due to seasonal changes. If a piano is played excessively then it should be tuned more often. A lot of people choose to tune their piano about once a year, which is fine as long as the piano is stable and does not drop out of pitch.

What is a pitchraise?

If a piano drops its pitch then it will need a pitchraise prior to a final tuning. A pitchraise is a fast tuning to get the piano back up to the correct pitch before a fine tuning. The piano will hold a better tuning after a pitchraise.

What is regulation?

Regulation is the adjustment of both the keys and action to perform properly. After time felts compress and leather wares causing the action to go out of regulation from its manufactures specifications. Every few years the regulation should be checked and any adjustments made. If a piano hasn’t been maintained properly then a full regulation may be required which can cost more and take more time to perform.

What is voicing?

Voicing includes the changing of volume and tone by manipulating the felt of the hammers. Hammers can be needled, ironed, steamed or treated with a liquid solution to make the sound softer or brighter. The overall tone of the piano should be even, clear and pleasing to the owner of the piano.

What is the best way to care for a piano?

Regular maintenance by a qualified piano technician is necessary to maintain the piano and protect it from damage and ware. Deep cleaning should be done by a technician but the owner can dust and wipe down the case with a soft, clean lint less cloth. Depending on the finish different polishes can be used to clean the surface. On a polyester finish (which is common on most new pianos) the piano case can be cleaned with a polish that can be obtained through the technician. A solution of distilled water and a capful of white vinegar can also be applied to a cloth and used to remove any fingerprints. On a lacquer finish a lemon oil can be used to clean the surface and protect it from drying out and crackling. In all cases no liquids should get on the strings or tuning pins. Keeping a cover on the piano will also help to prevent any damage and can lessen the amount of dust getting in the piano.

Where is the best location for a piano?

It is best to keep the piano out of any direct sunlight and away from any vents that blow directly on the piano. It should also not be placed close to any showers or the kitchen due to the changes in humidity and temperature. The placement of the piano can also change its acoustic properties. Placing the piano on tile or a hard floor can be dramatically different then if it was placed on carpet. A lot of people will put a rug under the piano if it is on tile to help with its overall volume and tone.

What is the best temperature and humidity level for a piano?

75 degrees and 40 percent humidity is around where you would like your piano to be (give or take a couple degrees). If you are leaving over the summer or on vacation the temperature should never be set over 85 degrees. In extreme cases of high or low humidity a humidifier can be placed in the room with the piano or a Damp Chaser can be placed directly on the piano.

What is an RPT? Why should they be considered over a non RPT?

RPT stands for Registered Piano Technician and is the highest level a person can achieve in the PTG or Piano Technicians Guild. They have passed three exams (a written, technical and tuning exam) and have demonstrated their ability to perform quality work. In most cases it is a requirement for performing work at many Schools and Universities. Using an RPT is a good way to ensure the person you are hiring is qualified for the job.