Piano Care

Where to place your piano and when to get it tuned

Humidity affects the tone of the piano.  On damp, rainy days the piano will sound rather dull compared to the crisp, brilliant tone of clear days.

Every home needs to have a humidity controling device installed in the piano by the tuner.  This can be as simple as a heating rod which is manually plugged in to dry out the wood, or a complete humidity control system that includes both a heating rod and a humidifier.

The ideal humidity level for a piano is 40-60%.   Basements with high humidity are not well suited for pianos.

Fluctuations in temperature affect the tune of the piano.  You have noticed, I am sure, that orchestra players arrive well before their performance time.  This is to allow their instruments to come to room temperature before tuning them, as the exposure to different temperatures en route affects the tuning of their instrument.

Pianos hold their tune longer when placed out of drafts created by a frequently opened door.

Placing the Piano
The ideal place for a piano is on an inside wall where it is exposed to a minimum of humidity and temperature fluctuation.  The instrument  will sound better and hold its tune longer if so placed.  If this is not possible, at least keep it away from a frequently opened door.

Another factor in deciding where to place a piano is the acoustic of the room.  Sound absorbing material such as carpet, drapes and upholstered furniture deaden a room while hard surfaces reflect the sound and add a live quality which is very desirable for music.

If the room is too "dead," try moving the piano away from the wall 6 or 12 inches, or consider moving it to another room.

If the room is too "live," the addition of an area rug and a stuffed chair will help tremendously.

When should your piano be tuned and how often?  

Pianos maintain their tuning longer if tuned when the weather pattern is stable.  In the Carolinas, that would be Nov/Dec or May/June.

Ideally, a piano would be tuned at both of these times of the year, but most families find a once a year tuning realistic.  If ;you skip a year, you may find two tunings are needed because the strings have not been tightened in so long, they slip back more quickly.

Recommended tuner
CW Stewart   828-743-5440

Interesting note
When a piano "goes out of tune" it actually becomes out of tune with itself:  the upper register goes sharp, the midline remains somewhat stable, and the bass usually falls flat.  Tuners usually do not tune the piano to be exactly in tune with itself at the time of the tuning, but  rather a little flat at the top and a little sharp at the bottom.  As time passes, it comes into tune with itself, and then, of course, goes out again, much as a hair cut may be too short at first, just right, and then too long!

Some technicians use their ears to tune and others use what is called an electronic tuner called a "strobe."  In either case, tuners prefer to have the house as quiet as possible during tuning.