Piano tuning is an essential skill for any aspiring piano player. A well-tuned piano is not only easier to play, but it also sounds significantly better.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about how to tune a piano step by step so that you can start tinkling those ivories in top-notch condition!
Tuning a piano is actually pretty simple, and with a little patience and some practice, anyone can do it.
Often the most difficult part of playing piano perfectly is the process is simply getting a piano tuned in the first place.
As more and more school music programs drop classical instrument classes, many homes are left without pianos which makes it difficult for the average person to get their Piano tuned.
Why tuning the Piano is so important?
Tuning a piano is an art! The skill and knowledge acquired in the process are a result of years of training.
It is not just for the sake of the Piano that tuning is important but also for the sake of the pianist, the audience, and the listener. A piano that is not well-tuned will not only have a dull, unpleasant, and uninteresting sound but also playing it will be difficult and painful.
Therefore it is always a good idea to have your Piano tuned before you start playing it.
If it was not tuned last time, you could easily be introducing another tone or two into the sound and adding unwanted dissonance to the mix.
It is also important that your Piano is now set up in the best way possible because it will affect your results. The tuning has to be done right, as it has consequences.
5 Steps To Tune Your Piano
- Acquire The Tools Needed
- Tuning The Grand Piano
- Preparing The Piano
- Tuning The Piano
- Finding Overtones
How often should you tune your Piano?
How many times you should tune your Piano each year depends largely on how often you use it.
If your Piano is mainly used for a few big recitals or concerts throughout the year, once or twice a year is usually sufficient.
However, if you play regularly and are part of a band or play on demand for friends and family, you should probably have it tuned every three to six months.
Following are the steps you need to follow in order to tune your Piano:
1. Acquire the tools needed:
You will need a tuner, listening devices, modest amounts of piano tools (a soft doth, a straight-edge steel ruler), and a sheet of blank paper. The first order of business is to acquire the instruments that are going to be used for tuning.
Two main types of pianos are generally used today: grand and upright pianos. Each one has its own unique characteristics, which are important for tuning purposes.
The Grand Piano is generally tuned using a pitchfork, while the upright Piano will use tuning hammers. These both have various features which are important to understand when tuning both instruments.
2. Tuning the grand Piano:
The first step in tuning a grand piano is to take it completely apart.
You will want to find the keys and keycaps which are attached to the hammers; these will be used for quantization and then later re-assembly after tuning.
Once that is done, you will want to open the Piano completely. Parts include the case, soundboard, and strings. These things are very important for the tuning process because they determine how far out of tune you are and help find any problems which may be present.
The first step in tuning should always be to get all of your tools together and make sure that everything is in order; this includes deaning the Piano thoroughly so that there are no scratches or other blemishes on the surface, which could cause unwanted pitches when played.
3. Preparing the grand Piano:
The first step in tuning a grand piano is to get all of the pedals and other sliding devices completely out of the way. You will want to take measurements of each string, and this is done by tuning it over a few different pitches, which helps the tuner determine its true length.
Since strings are generally laid out in two directions across the Piano, you will need to adjust these according to pitch.
You may also need to make some minor adjustments in order to tune each string accurately. You will then want to take the pitch for each key and go back and make any adjustments needed.
Remember that overtightening the strings can result in stiff keys and can actually affect the mechanics of the Piano, so be sure not to overdo it!
Understanding the tuning hammers: Tuning hammers are generally used on upright pianos, and they have a variety of uses during tuning.
First, they determine the amount of pressure that is needed to make a key sound.
This is important because some keys are harder to play than others, and it is often preferable to use more force on a harder-to-reach key in order to give it a more pronounced sound.
Also, the hammers can be used as a means of regulating the amount of pressure that is needed from the player during tuning.
By adjusting how hard or soft the hammer strikes, you can help get to your desired pitch more accurately.
4. Tuning the upright Piano:
As with the Grand Piano, you will want to get your tools and prepare the Piano completely before tuning. When tuning an upright piano, you will generally use the tuning hammers as well as a pitchfork.
You will also need to use a foot pedal to control each note’s duration according to pitch. The first step is to get all of your tools together and adjust them before proceeding to tune each note. You will want to adjust the hammers so that each one produces a clear, distinct note. Once this is done, you will want to use the pitchfork and listen for each note.
You will also need to pay attention to overtones during tuning, and this can be done by lightly tapping on the top of the soundboard.
The overtones should be weaker as you get closer to the desired pitch, and you can use this knowledge in order to help determine how close you are getting.
5. Finding overtones:
You will want to start by getting your tools together and tuning the first note correctly. Remember that pianos have two 1 /7th octaves, and so you may find that you will need to hit more than one note in order to tune it correctly.
You may also want to adjust different pitches in order to help unify the sound of the Piano.
Some people will use piano hammers, while others use tuning forks. Both of these are generally used before re-tuning on specific pitches which are needed.
Make adjustments: When tuning a Grand Piano, you will want to find the pitch that lies closest to the desired note and use that as a starting point.
You will then need to adjust it in both directions, which can be done by sharping or flattening it depending on whether you are making major or minor adjustments.
When tuning up or down an octave, you may need to use your foot pedal in order to give the correct duration of each note and avoid making any mistakes.
Getting music in tune: When tuning, you will generally want to work your way up the keyboard in order to avoid any confusion.
You will also want to have your written notes available for reference, as well as a piano bench or piano bench cushion. The height of the piano bench can also make it easier to play and tune the instrument accurately.
Keeping accurate records: After you finish tuning the Piano, you should keep detailed records of every note so that you can go back and redo specific notes later if necessary.
It would be best if you also recorded any overtones that you experience in order to find the exact pitch of each note. There is no specific way to do this, but you can use a logbook or an old-fashioned chalkboard.
Rebuilding the tone; After you get all of your notes fixed and recorded, it is a good idea for professional piano technicians to rebuild the piano tone by taking apart the entire instrument and reassembling it in a different way.
This will typically reduce noise improve resonance, and make the Piano more responsive. It is also essential that the Piano be maintained in humidified conditions and with the right type of oil inside.
It is important to understand that the more a piano is tuned, the better it will sound. This is because if a piano is out of tune, it will just sound “wrong.” It does not necessarily mean that the
A piano will not keep on working, but rather that it will start to lose its quality and tone as time passes by. However, with a well-tuned piano, you can enjoy an instrument with a beautiful and rich sound for decades.
Getting your Piano tuned can be a lot of work, but it is still necessary depending on how often you play.
You can get this done in many different ways, but it is always important to follow the proper steps or find a professional piano tuning team to do the job for you.
This will ensure that your instrument stays in good condition and that it will last for many years to come.