Here are answers to some frequently-asked questions about pianos.

Why does my piano need tuning?

Pianos go out of tune for a variety of reasons, the main reasons being temperature, humidity, and time. Much of the inner workings of your piano are made from wood; exposure to wide ranges of temperature and humidity over time will cause the wood fibers to swell and shrink. This in turn affects the tension on the piano strings, ultimately making your piano go out of tune.

How often should I have my piano tuned?

To keep your piano in the best possible playing condition, you should have it tuned twice a year. Waiting any longer than this will require many of the piano’s strings to be stretched tighter that usual to bring the instrument up to true pitch. Over the long run, this will cause greater wear and tear to your piano than if you have it tuned regularly.

What is a pitch raise, and when might my piano need one?

A pitch raise is a detailed tuning procedure that is required when a piano is significantly out of standard pitch (referred to as A 440 pitch). Pianos that have not been tuned for five years or longer almost always require a pitch raise, although this condition can occasionally occur in short time spans.

A pitch raise typically requires two service visits, the first one for the initial pitch raise itself, and another one shortly after to adjust and fine-tune the piano. Pricing shown on the standard tuning service package page for pitch raise services cover the cost of both service visits.

Is there anything I can do to help my piano stay in tune between tunings?

It is important to keep your piano in a location where the temperature is stable – not in the basement or garage! Avoid placing your piano near a heating/cooling vent, in direct sunlight, or near a drafty window.

How do I clean my piano?

  • Exterior - use a light furniture polish and a clean cotton dusting cloth.
  • Piano keys - use a damp sponge with a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Do not use enough water to soak the keys, as the water can be absorbed into the wood of the keys and cause them to warp and stick.
  • Interior – I recommend that you do NOT attempt to clean the interior yourself, as you may inadvertently damage the delicate inner workings of the instrument, or cause it to go out of tune. Cleaning of the piano’s interior is included in my standard tuning service package.

What should I look for when buying a used piano?

Like buying a used car, purchasing a used piano can be a risky proposition; the best chance you have of avoiding an expense mistake is to call a piano tuner to check out any prospects you may find before you buy. I offer appraisal services for this very reason; while I do charge a nominal service call fee, having me assess a potential purchase for you could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Here are some things to keep in mind when considering the purchase of a used piano:

  • Check your local piano stores first – buying a used instrument from a reputable piano dealer offers many advantages over buying from individuals. In many cases, some sort of warranty is offered, as well as free delivery. It is important to note that moving a piano to your home can often cost as much or more than the piano itself. However, these advantages usually mean that the total purchase cost will be higher than when buying a used piano from an individual owner.
  • Buy a piano with as “low mileage” (use) as you can afford - The life expectancy of a well-maintained piano is about 60 to 70 years; instruments older than this usually have mechanical or structural problems. Those lovely old pianos with the elaborate carvings may look great, but they are probably just plain worn out. Pianos have very little antique value and do not get better with age.
  • Check the general condition – avoid pianos with missing key-tops, notes that don't play, broken pedals, or that have rattles and buzzes when played.
  • Play it before you buy it – If you don’t play yourself, take someone with you who does. Though you might expect a piano for sale to be out of tune somewhat, it should at least sound like a piano. Beware of pianos that have poor sound, no matter what the owner tells you. Either they have not been tuned in years or they will not hold a tune at all, which may result in a high repair bill - or a trip to the junk yard!

Have a question about your piano that's not shown above?
Contact me for more information about proper maintenance and care of your piano!