How Much To Tune A Piano: Complete Piano Tuning Cost Guide

Why do we tune our pianos? How often? How much does it cost? And what happens when we tune the piano? Pianos rely on strings to carry the sound from the keys to the hammers, to make the notes ring out. and these strings loosen with playing and humidity, and distort the sound, so they need to be tightened to give the right note.

Twice a year is the normal time for piano tuning, while new and heavily used pianos need quarterly tuning to keep the sound and the instrument in top form for playing. Concert pianos may be tuned before each use.

If you forget your piano’s routine health checkups and tuning and the piano goes out of tune, then the sound from the piano can be off, and anything you play won’t sound quite right, so if you’re playing a piece for friends or family and the piano is badly tuned, they won’t be impressed, and they might wonder if you can really play at all, it won’t be an enjoyable experience for player or listeners, and it’s terrible for a learner to play on an out of tune piano as they will start off with confusion about their notes.

A piano is an expensive and delicate piece of equipment, and so it is a ‘sound’ investment to maintain it well through regular tuning, checks and maintenance.

piano tuning cost

How much does it cost to tune a piano?

Keep costs down by making sure no food, drink, dirty hands or cleaning products come into contact with the piano and ensuring that children and pets aren’t around the piano unattended. The environment in which a piano lives also plays a major part in its health and the tuning.

A piano should be treated with delicacy and respect in order to prolong its life, keep it in tune, and prevent the need for repairs and replacement parts each time it’s tuned.

How much does it cost to tune a piano? It can depend on whether you have it tuned routinely. If it’s left for years and gets seriously out of tune, it can take longer to tune and cost more, as many tuners charge by the hour and there are over 200 strings to tension correctly.

A piano tuner holding a tuning tool
A piano tuner holding a tuning tool.

If you are a professional player, you may have it tuned more than twice a year and pay more that way, or if you’re expert, you may tune it yourself, but it should only be done by an expert and the average fee for a piano tuner ranges from 50-250 dollars per tuning, with 50 being on the cheap side, maybe someone newly in business or who rushes through a basic tuning. Some tuners offer a flat fee, some start with a minimum and charge according to how long it takes, and there may be a call-out fee.

Unless you are trained, it’s best not to try to tune or repair the piano yourself, as this could lead to it becoming more discordant and possibly damaged, leading to further repairs and expenses. Pianos are complex and specialist pieces of equipment so don’t do anything to the internal workings of a piano unless you are sure you know what you’re doing.

The only way of dodging piano tuning is to get a digital one and that isn’t quite the same instrument. The depth of sound and the feel of a digital piano is very different to a traditional grand or upright piano and it simply isn’t the same class of instrument.

An investment

A piano itself is an investment, costing anywhere from a thousand to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Pianos are the elite of instruments, individually made from luxury and fine materials and complicated to construct due to the intrinsic internal workings.

A cheap or secondhand upright piano would be around a thousand pounds at least and a grand piano would be more, so unless you inherit a piano, expect to pay a fair amount for one. as it’s no secret that they are expensive.

And Pianos need maintaining, so you will continue to pay for a piano every six months or so. to have it tuned, maintained and repaired. So investing in a piano is a commitment. But how much does it cost to tune a piano?

A sillhouette of grand piano inside the building
A silhouette of the grand piano inside a building.

It can depend on the type of piano, the piano tuner and if additional work is required. The basic cost is between $50 and $250 depending on where you are and how long the process takes, so quite a variation, but you can expect to pay several hundred more for any additional repairs and adjustments.

It’s advisable not to try to save money by doing anything to the piano yourself, always leave it to a professional and check their qualifications, experience and reviews first. Find a piano tuner and repair person who comes highly recommended and who is qualified and experienced, you shouldn’t have to replace your piano, and they are rare and expensive, so it is important that your piano is in the best hands.

Expert Tip: If possible, find a local piano expert, or if you bought your piano from a specialist shop or company, they may be able to recommend someone. If you choose someone from a distance away, they may charge you extra for traveling to you to service the piano.

Don’t forget to budget for repairs when your tuner comes. A good tuner will talk you through any necessary repairs in detail and give you a quote. They may show you worn strings, loose pins or damage to the soundboard, for example and break down the costs for you.

Replacement strings are probably the cheapest repair, costing from around 20 dollars upwards per string with hammers next at 25 dollars or more each.

Loose pins may need correcting or the pinblock may get damaged and need replacing, while major repairs include the humidity system which keeps the piano parts from swelling and contracting too much, a repair of possibly hundreds of dollars, while replacing a damaged soundboard or plate effectively is rare and means stripping the piano down and refurbishing it. thousands of dollars of work. So look after your piano and handle it carefully.

How are pianos tuned?

A close up of a man tuning a piano
A close up of a man tuning a piano.

A piano starts going out of tune, slowly, as soon as it is used after tuning, but it can take a long time for the out of tune notes to be noticed. Each piano key has strings which define the pitch, the note and vibration of the key.

These strings have to be adjusted by turning the pins attached, to ensure that the key provides exactly the right sound in relation to the keys around it. Each key on a piano should be tuned to a specific frequency in Hz. and this may be done by ear by some tuners, with a tuning fork, or more frequently it’s being done electronically in recent years.

Tuning normally starts with the A note on a piano, to get an A440 tuning, meaning that the A above Middle C is vibrating at 440 cycles per second, and the rest of the notes are tuned from there.

This is a very sensitive and precise job. which is why it should be done by a skilled person. If a piano is out of tune, the keys will produce a discord, so tunes that you play will sound rather odd at least, or not at all in line with that you’re trying to play.

Expert Tip: A piano usually has over two hundred strings, average 230. and the same with pins, and so as you can imagine, it would be easy to get lost among those, and if you’re an amateur, you could easily end up in quite a muddle.

Each piano is different and unique, some simpler, some more complex, each is a complicated and sensitive machine which needs skilled care.

A modern piano tuner may use technology to achieve perfect pitch but he will know each key and each note intimately and be able to hear the right pitch exactly, he will be able to create the perfect sound in the best time.

Part of the process is raising the pitch of each key higher than normal so that it can be tuned down in line with the other keys. You can also ask for the pitch of the piano to be elevated, another precise and skilled process, which will cost you a bit. starting around 100 dollars.

Tuning a piano doesn’t include cleaning or repair, and if the piano needs cleaning or repair, this may have to be done first in order to avoid hampering the tuning. The piano expert may check the piano over before tuning and advise on any cleaning or repair needed.

Whoever you choose to tune for you. when you contact them, they’ll need to know you piano type, model and whether it’s grand or upright, the age and condition and anything you think might be wrong. That way they can quote and arrange a sufficient amount of time as well as the correct parts if anything needs replacing.

Piano technician Ara Vartoukian explains the art and science of piano tuning.

Can a piano be tuned after 20 years?

Pianos are a joy to hear when they are in tune. But when they aren’t in tune, the buzzing, twang of an out-of-tune note can sound like nails on a chalkboard, an assault on your eardrums.

First, let’s look at has your piano has been regularly tuned? If your piano has gone five to ten years without being tuned, only tuning it once will not be enough. As a piano age, it gets set in its ways. After adjusting for the first time, be ready to tune about every few months until the piano starts to hold the correct tuning on its own.

Here is an outline of the typical life cycle of a home piano:

  • First Year- Pitch of the piano will drop considerably while the strings stretch. Tuning 3-4 times is recommended during this time.
  • Two to Ten Years- The pitch stabilizes, assuming it has had regular tunings.
  • Over Fifty Years-Some well-built pianos can still be playable at this time if advanced care has been given. Sometimes the pianist must judge a piano’s usefulness and if it needs replacing or not.

How to give piano tuners the right kind of appreciation

A piano tuner at work
A piano tuner at work.

Tipping is a subjective decision and favor given to satisfying services done by experts. While tuning pianos need particular expertise and knowledge, so the question of “do you tip a piano tuner?” does not object to any ethical or moral principle.

Expert Tip: Tipping is not even customary, most especially if you paid without any discount. If the piano tuner teaches or instructs you with more knowledge about maintaining the quality and tuning of your piano, you may give him a tip as a symbol of appreciation.

Moreover, you should make sure that you establish a formal or informal warranty where you can call the particular piano tuning expert if some problems arise. Not only about the piano tune, but also some parts relevant to its technical sounding. Extensively, you also ask the piano tuner to check other parts. In this case, there should extra payment can be made by your sidde.

To conclude, you may or may not tip your piano tuner, but you should always give gratitude and welcoming rapport at all times.

Essential Cost

Tuning your piano is an essential expense of owning a piano. If you’re unsure who to choose to tune and repair your piano, shop around, get word of mouth references for good piano technicians, and think about what you can afford.

How much does it cost to tune a piano? You could almost ask how much will it cost you if you don’t tune it. The cost depends on various factors, as discussed, but it’s definitely worth your while to keep your piano tuned.

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About Maggie Holding

Hello! My name is Maggie and I am a proud Editor/Author for PlayTheTunes. Coming From South Carolina, USA, my whole life I've sang and played the guitar and flute! I love music with a passion, and am ecstatic to help others in their own music journey!