The piano may be a large and bulky musical instrument, but they are finely and carefully crafted instrument that feature delicate parts.
These parts can malfunction without proper care as they shift and swell due to climate factors or extended periods of use.
Pianos need regular maintenance, but it is not easy to take good care of the instrument if you are not a regular player and touch the keys only from time to time.
Regular maintenance helps the instrument retain its sound and value for years. So, you need a regular piano tuning service if you want to have a long-lasting, great-sounding, and valuable piano over the years.
As a part of the cost of ownership, you will have to pay a piano technician or an expert to maintain your piano. This is a small investment to keep the value and functionality of a great musical instrument.
The average price for a piano tuning service starts from $60 and goes up to $250.
While this is the regular range for a standard piano tuning, the costs can go up if the instrument needs different kinds of care or repair.
Sometimes the pianos that haven’t been touched for some years require multiple tuning sessions, which can significantly increase service costs.
The price depends heavily on the type of the piano and its condition.
Piano tuning should only be made by experienced professionals as it is a challenging and complex process.
Any other scenario holds the potential of damaging the instrument, increasing the costs, or having an unfixable instrument.
Many experienced professional piano technicians accept credit cards and different payment options.
Why Is It Important To Tune Your Piano?
An average piano approximately has 220 strings, and each string has a different frequency and pitch. These strings decide the sonic quality and performance of the instrument.
As pianos are mainly made of wood, they are affected by the temperature and humidity changes, which alter the tension of these strings.
Besides the temperature and the humidity changes, the tension of the strings and playing the piano often also changes the tension slightly, which results in the instrument going out of tune.
Regularly tuning a piano helps it stay in tune and in better condition for longer. This way, the piano can maintain its value and be protected against any further damage.
For example, if you play overstretched out-of-tune piano wires, you can heavily damage the piano’s strings and mechanism beyond repair.
If a piano has not been tuned for a longer period, every day, it gets harder to tune, which results in a lower-quality sounding instrument and more costly tuning services.
What Are The Types of Piano Tuning?
There are four main types of piano tuning categorized by the maintenance frequency they had.
Regularly Maintained Pianos
If a piano has been tuned every six months to a year, it falls in the category ıf Regularly Maintained pianos.
An annual tuning is pretty standard for most pianos, and 1/3 of the pianos out there are regularly maintained pianos. This is the easiest tuning session, lasting around an hour.
Moderately Maintained Pianos
The pianos that have not been tuned in two or three years are called moderately maintained pianos.
Also, pianos that were moved recently are also considered in this category as they may have gotten small damages.
Almost half of the pianos worldwide fall in this category, and the service takes around two hours.
With these types of pianos, the expert has to realize the tuning process after he manipulates all the tuning pins at once to pressurize the soundboard.
This way, all the potential damage is prevented in the process.
Ignored Pianos are also called “sore arm” pianos by the pros, as the work to bring the piano back to life involves hard work.
Most pianos over 50 years old will require the “sore arm” service, which involves three times fine-tuning. The process takes around three hours.
Around 1/6th of all pianos in the world are thought to be ignored pianos.
There are also some pianos that are simply too old, too much damage, or not well-taken care of, which are beyond any piano tuner’s help.
Extreme temperature and humidity changes, fire, or water damage can kill a piano to the point that it is unfixable.
Only a small fraction of pianos in the world fall into this category. There is simply not much to do about these pianos besides getting rid of them or leaving them as decoration.
What Are The Factors That Affect The Cost Of Piano Tuning?
Often, piano tuning experts charge depending on the hours of work involved. The work duration changes according to the piano’s condition.
When the piano is extremely out of tune and hasn’t had proper maintenance for a while, the workload and the duration significantly increase.
If the piano has not been tuned for a few years, first, the expert has to raise the pitch before the fine-tuning.
By adjusting the string to a frequency above A440, the tuner creates more tension in the piano wires, which eventually settle at A440. Later, the fine-tuning process starts.
Another common issue is unevenly tuned pianos, due to the lack of maintenance and humidity changes.
The soundboard expands and contracts after the humidity changes, which can get to a severe level without maintenance.
The technician tunes the piano to itself in order for the notes at each octave to match. After this rough-tuning process, the fine-tuning process can start to have a properly in-tune instrument.
And sometimes, pianos need different kinds of repairs before the fine-tuning process can start.
Replacing worn or old strings, repairing the soundboard, and correcting tuning pins are some of the most common issues with pianos.
All these common problems lengthen the work process, which increases the price of the tuning and maintenance service.
Great Tips For Piano Care
With some basic strategies you create at home, you can prolong your piano’s life and improve its sound easily.
Locating the piano away from temperature and humidity changes, potential damage, and not moving it often are some of the basic steps to protect your instrument.
You must locate your piano somewhere away from windows; doors that you leave open often are highly important to protect it from humidity.
You must also locate it away from air conditioning and heating vents to protect it from temperature changes. Plus, direct sunlight and fireplaces are also potential damage suspects as they can damage the inner working of the instrument.
The optimal conditions for a piano are 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 42 percent relative humidity.
The hot and cold, as well as too dry and too humid conditions, can damage your piano.
Another important tip often recommended is not to tune a piano the first three months it moved to a new place.
The first three months are considered the orientation of the piano, and it can not hold the tuning well for that three months.
The regular frequency of piano tuning is considered to be at least once a year. This way, you can keep the piano in form and up to pitch.
Especially after the first year of the instrument is purchased, the string tends to stretch a lot. In the first year, it should be tuned twice for optimal performance.
How much does it cost to restring a piano?
The price of the piano restringing service ranges from $1.000 to $10.000. Restring service for upright pianos usually cost between $2.000 to $4.000, while for grand pianos, it is more expensive, around $4.000 to $10.000.
Does not tuning a piano regularly ruin it?
Not tuning a piano regularly can be fatal for an acoustic piano as the strings tend to overstretch with time, temperature, and humidity changes.
When an overstretched string is played, it can severely damage the piano’s mechanism, which can lead to serious problems to fix or simply damage beyond repair.
Tuning the piano and providing maintenance at least once a year to your piano will prolong its life and will make you save money, as serious issues with pianos can be expensive to repair.
What are the costs of other piano services?
Piano experts and tuners often provide many different services for piano owners.
If you think your piano needs more than fine-tuning, you can talk with your tuner service for the additional services they offer.
The average prices for different piano maintenance services are as follows:
Pitch correction: $60
Repairs: $65 per hour
Grand action reconditioning and regulation: $2,500-$3,500
Vertical action reconditioning and regulation: $800-$2,500
Soundboard cleaning: $100-$150
Climate control installation: $450-$800
Installation of under-covers: $250-$350
String cover installation: $250-$350
Grand action rebuilding: $5,000-$8,000
Vertical action rebuilding: $4,000
If you want the rewire your piano strings, you will have to pay between $250 to $400 for the new piano strings cost. The piano strings cost $2 per string on average.
Piano voicing is also important for a piano as it involves manipulating the piano to achieve a different sounding instrument.
To create an even sounding instrument piano voicing is an important service and must be done by an expert.
The instrument must have proper voicing with each note sounding similar to its neighbor and the transitions to be seamless.
Most piano tuning services work as a company and have multiple experts and technicians under the same roof.
So, be sure to learn exactly who will be coming as a technician to take care of your instrument.
Try to check and read reviews about the technician before the day arrives, and ask for a change if you find yourself not trusting the attained technician.
If you want to play it safe, you can look for piano tuners who regularly tune pianos for institutions and residences. These technicians are regularly evaluated by experts making their work more reliable.
If you also need repair service, ask beforehand if the technician also offers repair services.
Find and read reviews about the service company or technician to make sure you are working with a reliable service.