YEAH! After over 40 years tuning pianos in the KC area I have retired at last.
Thanks to all my clients over the years. If any of you would like to keep in touch or need advice or recommendations about your piano, I'm leaving this page up 'cause I always enjoy talking about pianos (and because Google is God and I'm afraid to offend Her). Also I'm still online for piano tuning tools and booklets on this web site.
If I'm not in, leave a message or email me.
Common Questions and Answers about Pianos and Piano Tuning
(See my web site Faq Page for more Q's and A's, plus my piano articles on sticking keys, wobbly benches, etc.)
Q. How often should my piano be tuned?
A. Home pianos should be tuned twice a year (spring and fall, for example, to allow for moisture changes during those seasons). Some serious students and professionals may want their pianos tuned more often if they play with others where Concert Pitch is required. Doing floor tunings for Kansas City piano stores over the years, I learned that at least 3 or 4 tunings the first year is required to stabilize string stretching and allow for wood curing in new pianos. Some music stores cover this cost, others don't. If buying a new piano, these "warranty" tunings should be considered in the price.
As a general rule, once a year tuning is about the minimum if you want to keep your piano in reasonable playing condition. Keeping it tuned helps stabilize the string and frame tension and saves your piano tuner time -- and we all know time is money. Pianos that have sat for long periods will drop flat, requiring extra time and charges for pitch raising. Regular tuning is more cost efficient.
Q. I want to move my piano to a another room. Will I need to have it retuned if I do?
A. Probably not. Moving a piano doesn't usually cause it to go out of tune, even in long moves. Moisture changes affect tuning the most, so as long as the place you're moving the piano to doesn't have a different climate than where it's been, there should be no problem. Of course, if you move it from a damp basement to a drier living room (or from Arizona to Kansas City), it will affect the tuning. In that case it will need to acclimate to the new location for a couple of weeks before calling a piano tuner. Be very careful of the piano legs (and your back) if you plan to move it yourself.
See my article on moving pianos for more.
Q. I've heard I shouldn't have my piano against an outside wall. Is this true?
A. With today's tightly constructed and insulated houses it probably doesn't make much difference. Naturally you don't want to place a piano in direct sunlight, in front of a drafty window, or near a heating or air conditioning vent. Otherwise, place it against any wall you want (leave 5 or 6 inches space from the wall to allow air circulation). If you're comfortable standing in front of that wall, your piano will be also.Return to top
Q. Is there anything I can do to help my piano stay in tune between professional tunings?
A. Absolutely. Controlling moisture is the main thing. Installing a humidifier system with a "humidistat" can be of great help. These devices fit inside the piano and maintain a 40% relative humidity level. Though not cheap, they can lengthen the interval between tuning and save you money in the long run. In humid climates such as Kansas City, installing a simple inexpensive dehumidifier is usually sufficient, however.Though neglect usually won't harm a piano, having it tuned regularly will help extend the interval between tunings. If it has been more than a year or so since the last tuning, it's not going to hold as well as it would had you serviced it twice a year. Strings that have dropped flat will stretch during tuning when tension is put on them. So, the longer between tunings, the flatter the piano becomes, the more the strings will stretch when tuned, and the sooner it goes out again. And, of course, the sooner you'll be calling the piano tuner back. Regular maintenance pays!
Q. What should I use to clean my piano keys?
A. To clean plastic, plain old soap and water on a sponge works. It will work on real ivory also, if you happen to have an older piano. The point is to use a SLIGHTLY damp sponge, with maybe a little dishwashing liquid. Don't use so much water that you get moisture into the keyboard. With real ivory, use even less water and wipe off the excess immediately. If ivory remains wet for too long it can cause it to warp. Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaners on either type of key top.
Q. I thought my piano was a console but my tuner says it's a spinet. What's the difference?
A. Spinets and consoles are both small vertical pianos that appear very similar. The difference is technical; spinets are around 6 or 7 inches shorter than consoles and have the action set below the level of the keyboard (called a "drop action"). This arrangement makes spinets a bit lighter than consoles (which have the action setting directly on the keys). Being shorter, spinets also have slightly smaller soundboards and shorter strings which gives them a little less volume than larger models. See Piano Styles for a description of piano models.
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