The answer is always sooner rather than later.
Nobody wants to play an out-of-tune piano, unless you’re Rowlf the Dog…
“Aha! Just what I was looking for. Look at this little beauty. Whoa ho! Boy is this piano out of tune! I love out-of-tune pianos.”
– Rowlf the Dog, A Muppet Family Christmas
But for us non-Muppets out there, we want our pianos to sound great every time we tickle the ivories. Also, regular tuning is necessary to maintain your piano’s value, sensitivity, and longevity. But pianos don’t suddenly sound “bad.” In most cases, piano owners continue to play their pianos while they continue to slip out of tune, and nobody notices the gradual detuning. So, when is it time to tune your piano? Let’s discuss.
A piano should be tuned at least once a year; however, depending on the customer and the make, it may be better to tune a piano twice per year or even more frequently. Sometimes, pianos are so bad when I arrive to tune them that I recommend another tuning three months down the road, then again in six months, and then yearly after the third tuning. Bottom line: it’s impossible to tune a piano too much, and you should have your piano tuned as often as reasonably possible. For new or newly restored pianos, as many as four tunings in the first year may be required to remove the stretch from the metal strings and to keep the piano at proper pitch while its wood components adjust.
When I arrive at a piano, I can tell almost to the minute how long it will take me to tune once I’ve played just a few sections on the piano. After I tune a piano, I always tell the customer when it should be tuned again, as the pin blocks on some pianos may not feel to me that the tuning will hold for a year. Pianos that receive heavy use should absolutely be tuned more frequently than once a year, and performance and/or recording pianos should ideally be tuned before every performance.
Piano tuning is an art practiced by skilled professionals who can properly diagnose and maintain the instrument. An “app” isn’t going to get you a perfectly tuned piano that stays tuned for as long as possible. But, unfortunately—for you and your piano—anyone with a tuning hammer and an iPad can pass him or herself off as a piano tuner. Make sure the piano tuner you hire has the skills, experience, and proven track record to properly tune your piano.
I tune pianos on the Las Vegas strip for many concerts – in fact, I just tuned pianos for four consecutive days at the MGM. Wayne Newton and Wynonna Judd were performing at this event’s last day! If you need a piano tuned in the Las Vegas area, call me today.