I'm new to real pianos and just having bought an old 2nd-hand one, it's obviously gone out of tune being moved to my house.

I've heard from a few people, including one tuner, that they need to 'rest' for a couple of weeks or even a month before tuning.

But the tuner I phoned today, who came highly recommended, said this was a myth unless the piano had moved between substantially different environments, and a few days was fine - in fact he said tuning the piano was the best way to get it 'settled in'.

So can anyone give a canonical answer about how long a piano should rest before tuning after a move?

  • In my specific case, it's an upright wooden-framed piano which was in decent tune before being moved. It moved about 10 miles from their living room to mine, and spent only about 30 min in transit in total.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 15:00
  • I honestly don't think a 30 minute transit really counts as a move, do I think you should have it tuned, but I'm no expert Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 15:50
  • It definitely needs tuning :)
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 15:52
  • I don't doubt that. I meant to tune it now. That you don't have to wait Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:25
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    Wood will expand and contract depending on the temperature and relative humidity of the environment it is in. So moving a piano next door from my house to your house could easily result in movement of the wood parts due to difference in humidity/temperature. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:59

4 Answers 4


I am a Registered Piano Technician with the Piano Technicians Guild.

Pianos go out of tune during a move due to humidity differences and/or the different shape of the floor. The floor can slightly twist the piano which knocks it out.

Now, let's be reasonable here. Was this piano tuned every four months? Are you going to keep tuning it every four months? If the answer is yes, then you'll want to wait a few weeks.

If this piano is a typical 2nd hand piano, it has not been tuned in 10+ years and is quite far under pitch. The first tuning will not sound great so it's pointless to wait.

A good tuner will be able to get almost anything up to concert pitch. They will not be afraid of breaking strings because they know how to minimize the risk and they know how to replace strings. A piano at concert pitch is always preferred.

  • Thanks for the interesting and pragmatic answer Mark. In this particular case it is a pretty old piano - it says Wilbur so we think about 1930 - but the last 10-12 years was owned by the same guy, the head music teacher at a school who used it, taught his kids on it and had it tuned annually. When I inspected it, it was 9 months since the last tune but sounded pretty nice so I'm cautiously optimistic it's not _too_terrible :)
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 9:08
  • If the shape of the floor is pushing a piano out of tune you're looking at some serious structural issues.
    – Adjwilley
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 5:19
  • Not structural issues. Professional piano technicians who are high level can hear the very small changes in pitch cause by the change in floor shape. Not everybody can hear this or cares.Btw an upright piano should always have all four legs/wheels in full contact with the floor. Commented Jul 29, 2020 at 11:57

I'd leave it for a week or so, as it's in a different environment - may be warmer, colder, more/less humid than its last home. Then get it tuned. You may have a nasty little surprise, especially if it's a wooden frame, when the tuner says he can't bring it back to concert pitch. Maybe he will over two or three tunings - maybe it doesn't matter to you, but if you want to play along with stuff, it's a real boon. Personally, I'm happy for my pianos to be right up at A=440Hz., as it's a perfect reference for other instruments, and it's how they should be, after all. The tuner may want to take a couple of goes anyway, depending on how far out it is. It's not unlike putting new strings on a guitar with vibrato - one thing affects another. Good luck!

  • Out of interest when a piano can't be brought to concert pitch, how much is it normally out? Like a few cents, or are we talking a semitone?
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 17:29
  • Heard some which were nearly a tone out. A plan, if yours won't come up, would be to have it a semitone down. Then at least you could play along to stuff. It'd teach you to play in other keys too!!
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 17:32
  • I'm hopeful it's OK. It was in tune (with itself) before moving and I played one key against my guitar and they were very close. We'll see!
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 17:51
  • No pianos since about 1850 have a wooden frame if you’re talking about the plate. They’re all cast iron. They only reason a tuner would not tune a piano at concert pitch is that they or the customer don’t want to replace strings and there is a higher than normal chance of that happening due to current string condition. (Rust, preciously broken, repaired, or replaced strings.) Commented Jul 29, 2020 at 12:01
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    Right. And I'm a registered piano technician and I'm telling you that not only do they not make wooden plates, but I have heard piano owners say their piano has a wooden frame more than I care to remember when they mean plate. All pianos DO have a wooden frame but the frame has NOTHING to do with withstanding the string tensions. It's all in the plate, the CAST IRON plate. Are you a piano technician? These answers should only be made by people with actual experience in my opinion. Sorry if I offend you. Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 15:25

There's not one right answer, and the biggest factor is the humidity change between origin and destination. 2 weeks is just fine in my experience, and after that the normal seasonal fluctuations in humidity will probably be as big as effect as any remaining acclimatization.


I am an experiênced piano tuner in Brasil. If the piano during the movie suffer a heat it nas to wait at least 3 days. If the piano is moved into the same city, the same region nas in a truck without change about the clime you dont have tô wait .

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