How to Tell if You Need Piano Tuning

Learning to play the piano is so much fun when you are passionate about the music and want to produce your own songs. Once you have started playing fluently and feel that you can begin to practice more by yourself, you might start thinking about purchasing a piano of your own. You could have your pick at affordable instruments with so many to choose from, but the prize for all pianists will always be the grand piano. There is a variety of the original, and one might catch your eye. However, when you decide to go out and purchase one, you will need to be sure about the maintenance plan, and tuning is part of that.

How do you check if the piano is out of tune?

The great thing about repairing your piano if you suspect it needs tuning is that you do not have to call a professional piano tuner right away. You could quickly check to see if the strings need tightening by simply listening to it yourself, and once you have established that it needs repairs, you can call the professional. Here is a quick checklist of things you could look out for by yourself:

  • Out of the 88 keys, there is a single sound that is produced for each one. Older pianos are more relaxed and mature, and the strings could be an indication of that. When the piano is out of tune, you can hear how out of sync the keys are, and this is the first sign that the piano needs tuning. Each key should complement the next and not compete for clarity.
  • There are 66 keys on a tiny piano and 88 keys on a more prominent piano. The A4 and A5 notes above middle “C” have a 440 and 880 Hz frequency, serving as a tuning notation on acoustic instruments. The keys that beginners use line up from A to G, which are the first notes of a 12 note pattern. These are the keys that beginners use repetitively to practice essential tunes like nursery rhymes when reading and playing simultaneously. If you suspect that the piano is out of tune, then you can press the A note and Middle C note together to check if the harmonies are in sync. When the keys sound off and out of balance, your piano is likely to need tuning.
  • The perfect Octave spans 12 semitones, but due to mathematical inconsistencies and the fact that every single piano that is ever created sounds different from the next, the perfect octave does not exist in theory. When you start to test the harmonies in your octaves and fail to synchronize, you should take it as a sign that your piano is out of tune. The perfect pitch and melody for all pianos are said to be concert pitch, and you want your piano keys to hit those notes individually.

What can cause the piano to become out of tune?

The piano consists of layers of wood, and wood is affected by the weather. In warmer weather, it swells, and in colder weather, it shrinks. If your piano has been standing in an area of the home where it is primarily affected by the weather, then the strings will constantly need tuning. The shrinking and swelling will cause the strings to become less stiff over time. Retuning might become a regular occurrence, and damage might become the result. Pianos also lose their original sound as they age, and they become softer to the ear, with a full-bodied sound as time passes. This might be something you enjoy, but if you don’t, it will be time to consider moving your piano to an area where it doesn’t become affected by the elements.

What about secondhand pianos?

Secondhand pianos often go from hand to hand, and without thorough research of its history, you can find yourself with a piano that wasn’t well taken care of by its previous owner. Rusty strings can give off an inharmonious sound and can be pricey to repair, and because of the cost of constant repairs, many people end up selling. There are many secondhand pianos for sale for this very reason, and you could easily pick up a bargain, but go through a checklist before settling. The checklist should include the following:

  • Does the exterior of the piano have any damage?
  • Are any of the parts on the inside of the piano displaying signs of rust?
  • Are the foot pedals worn?
  • Do the keys sound out of tune?

The tricky thing is that a new player might not notice the sound difference initially, so it’s important to do tests like this when you are at a warehouse or secondhand store. If you're able to get to a Kawai piano warehouse, you'll be able to speak to the people responsible for making the piano directly, and you can ask them for advice on how to get the most out of your purchase.

Are you ready to tell if your piano needs tuning?

Remember that as much as you love to play, it is always more rewarding to play on an instrument that has little to no-fault, and if you are at all suspicious of the sound and not sure, then it’s best to call the professional.