Many families, when deciding to invest in a musical education, opt for purchasing a piano for the home. This investment can pay off with untold hours of enjoyment and music, not to mention the intellectual benefits that come with a musical education. However many new piano owners are concerned about the cost and effort that go into the upkeep of their instrument. A technician may be needed for some maintenance, but tuning a piano at home should be achievable by anyone.
In order to learn how to achieve this, you will first need the proper tools and equipment. Tuning a piano at home can be simple enough, but if you are using pliers or some other kind of inappropriate tool you can cause damage to your piano. It’s important to invest in a high quality tuning wrench before attempting to tune a piano. Even if you think you have a socket wrench in the basement that could surely do the job, don’t risk it. A tuning wrench with a removable head is a minor investment when you consider how much a piano repair will cost.
Tuning a piano at home also requires you to be able to differentiate between different notes. Fortunately, there are many different kinds of software available these days that can help if you happen to be slightly tone-deaf.
Of all the musical instruments in the world, the piano is arguably one of the most popular. After all, who doesn’t love sitting down and tinkering with the keys, maybe playing a little bit of classical music or playing tunes that everyone can sing along too.
Whether you’re a piano playing novice, a casual musician or an expert, you love playing you need to get your piano tuned occasionally to keep it performing at its best.
There are more than 200 strings on the average piano and each of them has a different pitch. That means there’s a lot of work to be done with piano tuning, but it’s worth it. Tuning, whether a piano technician does it or you do it, prevents damage and major piano repairs to the strings and keeps your piano in better overall condition.
Since it’s such a detailed-oriented process, a piano technician may be your best bet for tuning, but you can also do it yourself. You just need a strong ear, a tuner and an eye for detail.
You’ll need a chromatic tuner, which runs anywhere from $500 to $1,000, but will aid you in finding the right piano tone. You’ll also need a variety of mutes for tuning all the strings and you’ll need to get a tuning lever, which help you grip the pins on the strings. It’s important that you invest in quality equipment. If you’re going to be your own piano technician and tune your piano, it pays to have the right tools for the job.
Once you’ve got the right tools, here’s what you need to do to tune your piano:
- Removal the panels: First things first, if you’re going to be your own piano tuner, you need to get to where the strings are. That means you’re going to start the process by removing the piano’s external panels. Be warned that when you do, you’re probably going to encounter a lot of dust, so be prepared with some rags. Get a flashlight too so you can see better as you work.
- Review the strings: Before you get to tuning, take it slow. That means getting familiar with all of the piano’s string and which keys are attached to which strings. Having a basic understanding of the innerworkings of the piano is essential because you don’t want to tune the wrong strings and have to start over.
- Start with C: When it comes to piano tuning, the most common tuning is A440 and each mid-treble note has three strings. In order to tune your piano, you’re going to mute the first two strings in a group of three, so you can hear the third one by itself. Your piano tuner will help you tune that string and then you can tune the other two strings to fall in line with the first one. If you’re really good, you can also tune those by ear.
- Turn the pin for the string: Once you’ve tuned a group of strings, take your piano tuning lever and put it at the top of the pin. Here’s where you need to make the slightest of adjustments. Turning the pin right will raise the pitch. Turning it left lowers it. Remember, you don’t want the strings to break so these are slight adjustments. Make sure your hands are steady and adjust until you’ve got the proper tone.
- Set the pin: Once you’ve found the right tone, you’ll need to set the pin. You do this by tightening the pin to the right just slightly and then turning it slightly back to the left. This step can be a little difficult to master, but keep at it until you’ve got the right tone.
- Tune in octaves: Once you’ve tuned your middle A, you can tune lower A and follow along the keyboard until you’ve tuned your entire piano.
With a little know-how, the right tools and patience, you can tune your piano yourself. Once you’ve done all the steps described above, play your piano for a bit and then make any necessary adjustments by going back through the above process.
If this isn’t for you, your local piano technician or piano restoration shop can help you out.