The average cost to tune a piano ranges from $100 to $200. Your tuner may also discover other issues with your piano that need addressing, though, and fixing them will add to the cost. Read more or get free estimates from piano tuners near you.
Ongoing maintenance and care, including tuning, are all essential parts of piano ownership to ensure the best performance from your piano.
Depending on the quality, age, how long it has been since it was last tuned, the environmental conditions where the piano is kept, and the level of perfection required, your cost could be a flat fee of around $100 to $200. Your tuner may also discover other issues with your piano that need addressing, though, and fixing them will add to the cost.
Most piano manufacturers will suggest that new pianos should be tuned up to four times during their first year, and every six months in the following years. If the piano gets daily use for extended periods of time, you might increase that schedule.
Here are the average costs for piano tuning and repair services:
A Piano tuner makes minute adjustments to the tensions of the strings of a piano to properly align the intervals between their tones so that the instrument is in tune.
A finely tuned piano is a precision instrument, with the majority of modern pianos having 88 strings made up from 52 white keys and 36 black keys to deliver 7 octaves, plus a minor third. Some older pianos only have 85 strings delivering 7 octaves.
Humans can hear audible sounds that fall between 20 Hz–16,000 Hz. The middle A note on a piano should register at 440 Hz, which is where most tunings will start. This was established as a standard practice in the early 1900s and is still widely adhered to today.
With either a tuning fork, a handheld electronic tuner, or phone app, most tuners will set that middle A (which is above the middle C) to 440 Hz. Most tuners use a combination of tuning tools to find the best tone. Then the tuner will begin to tune the notes around it, first tuning the rest of the notes in that octave.
Piano tuning involves adjusting the strings in your piano by tightening or loosening them, and all the strings for each key must be tuned to the same frequency to prevent any interference (known as beating).
The three elements that contribute to the pitch of a string are its thickness, its length, and the amount of tension in the string. The tension on the piano string is the only variable of the three that can be adjusted, and that is what will be worked on during tuning.
If a piano is for stage performance or in a recording studio, those seeking perfection may choose to have the piano tuned before each use to obtain the level of perfection required for either a solo performance, concert, or recording session.
For most pianos, their overall performance lifespan is something that can stretch into decades, but different individual components might have a shorter lifespan caused by the factors mentioned above.
For a piano that lives in a concert hall and experiences frequent use each week but has a regular maintenance schedule, it may see a life of 50 years or more for the soundboard but under five years for the hammers. With professional and frequent tuning and maintenance, it should extend its useful life indefinitely.
Where the piano “lives” will play a factor in the price you will pay because of certain cities charging higher labor costs.
The older the piano is, and the longer it’s been since a tuning, the more likely it is that the piano will require additional work to a tuning. The tuning cannot take place until some of the more significant adjustments or repairs have been taken care of, which can translate to a larger hourly cost and, possibly, some materials cost.
Some piano tuners have learned their craft from years of experience on the job, and others will also carry a certification, such as a Registered Piano Technician (RPT) cert from the Piano Technicians Guild.
The cert does not actually guarantee much beyond the fact that they took a written exam and passed a field test, and you could just as well find someone with 30 or more years’ experience who does not hold the certification. From that experience, they could even be more skilled than some certified tuners who are newer to this field.
The longer it has been since the piano was last tuned, the more difficult it can be to tune properly. Piano tuners have four categories that pianos fall into regarding the amount of effort involved:
Changes can occur in the sound produced by the strings over time. A piano going out of tune is a normal occurrence in the life of a piano, and it’s not an indicator of a problematic or low-quality instrument unless it is out of tune within a few weeks of being tuned.
The following list of factors are all possible contributors to the need to have your piano tuned:
The biggest part of the piano that is made from wood is the soundboard, the component that makes the sound of the strings louder as it vibrates. When this swells, the bridges between the strings and the soundboard rise, creating more tension on some of the strings. This results in a higher pitch in the lower mid-range and extreme treble strings.
If extreme moisture or temperature changes occur repeatedly over time, it will likely damage and possibly cause visible cracks in the soundboard. The other area that moisture can cause issues in is the pinblock—where the strings are held in place with pins.
Through expansion and contraction of the wood caused by moisture, and its absence, the holes the pins sit in will loosen their grip on the pins, resulting in less tension in the strings. Over the course of years, moisture can also cause strings to rust, increasing their risk of snapping during tuning.
- says Richard Bazemore, RPT of Pianos in Tune in Athens, GA.
There are also other areas that affect the sound your piano produces, and this is something your tuner can bring to your attention when he/she has had some time to assess your piano in person.
Piano voicing on average costs $380 - When a piano key is pressed, a hammer (which has the business end of it covered in felt fabric) strikes the strings to produce the note associated with that key.
Over time, because of use and age, the felt can become compressed. This compression will result in both grooves forming and the felt becoming harder, causing a harsher and somewhat brighter tone when compared to that of a new piano.
Your piano tuner can use voicing needles or steam to soften the felt on the end of the hammer.
Across the entire range of possible notes one can play on a piano, not all notes will be played the same amount, and because of this, it will only be a subset of all hammer felt that needs attention.
If the hammer felt has been voiced repeatedly, at some point voicing can no longer restore the desired tone to that note. If so, the tuner can file down the hammer head to restore its shape; but that can only be done a few times, since each filing will make the head just that little bit smaller and lighter.
Once this has become something that filing cannot fix, the last resort would be to replace the hammer entirely.
The goal of regulation is to make both the sound produced by the piano and the experience of playing the piano map to the greatest degree of consistency for all notes.
The need for regulation is not just something that affects older pianos. Some new pianos are not regulated perfectly before shipping from the manufacturer, or they lose their regulation after being delivered to the customer’s home.
The other purpose of regulation is to best position the piano to easily obtain dynamics with the widest possible range and ensure the keys are responsive to any style of playing—from being played gently with subtle movements to something much faster in a more aggressive style.
The adjustments made include anything from sanding down a wood component to tightening or loosening one or more screws. According to Wikipedia, adjustments your tuner might focus on if needed are:
Over the life of a piano, or for technicians working on a project to rebuild or restore a piano, it is not uncommon to have components replaced—including the soundboard, pinblock, bridges, ribs, action, hammers, and strings.
Starting with the least effort and expense, you have maintenance, then repair, followed by restoration and, finally, rebuilding. As the degree of expense increases in line with the level of effort required by the technician, rebuilding work is typically only done on pianos of extreme sentimental or financial value.
When possible, look for a piano tuner who has experience with your brand and, if possible, model of piano. Also, look for a tuner who has good reviews and liability insurance—which is all the more important if your piano is valuable.
Because some tuners charge a flat fee for tuning while others charge by the hour, make sure you are fully aware which fee structure the tuners you are looking at operate under.
Many tuners offer special deals or packages if you have more than one piano (of if your neighbor does), or if you're getting more than one service performed such as a pitch raise or inspection.
With enough research of the different piano tuners on HomeGuide, we are sure you’ll find the service technician your piano needs at a good price.
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