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I haven't tuned my piano in a while, even though the seller said it would have to be tuned once a year. It is at least 5 years old. How do I know when the piano needs tuning? I use it very often (almost every day), so I have gotten used to it and will not be able to tell if something is up.

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Interesting question! You've got used to the sound, but you'd probably hear something amiss. Check each note (name) over all the octaves, check each note against its 4th and 5th, like a tuner does. Play C and G, play C and F. There's a sort of hard sound involved.

There is more likely to be a little bit of out-of-tuneness on notes with two and three strings. It sounds like a chorus effect, oscillating slightly between louder and quieter. If you hear that, especially on the upper part of the piano, it needs a tweak.

Worth looking at it every couple of years, so an expert can spot anything likely to need a look at - sticking keys, poor dampers, pedal adjustment to name a few.

If you need it at concert pitch, it's quite easy to check notes with a tuner or tuning fork.

  • Yep. It's a matter of taste, isn't it? How far out of tune does a piano have to be before you tune it? Hard question to answer. – Scott Wallace Sep 3 '18 at 14:46
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    Possibly also depends on whether you ever intend to play it in a wild west movie ;) – Tetsujin Sep 3 '18 at 15:00
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    @Tetsujin - for a wild West movie, you also need to put thumbtacks in the hammers. – Scott Wallace Sep 3 '18 at 17:12
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    @ScottWallace I would have added that it needs tuning either when the owner (depending on skill level) or a visiting musician can tell it's out of tune. The need for mechanical maintenance on keys, dampers, etc ought to be obvious to everyone. – Carl Witthoft Sep 4 '18 at 12:43
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Regular tuning is healthy for the strings. If they go too long without a tuning it may be difficult for the tuner to get it back to concert pitch. At the very least he may break a few strings.

I get mine tuned twice a year with the seasons. Although sometimes in the summer it can use it twice but I'm okay with it.

Think of a tuning like getting your car's oil changed. It is something you do every three thousand miles or so. Once a year is good.

I don't think you can tune them too often. There is a local theater near me and their piano is tuned every time it is used for concerts which is about four or six times a year. Artists who travel with their own pianos have them tuned for every concert. I think people such as Chick Corea travels with his own tuner.

  • But there is the cost concern for a casual in-home pianist. – Carl Witthoft Sep 4 '18 at 12:41
  • Don't particularly agree with this answer. If the piano is so far out of tune that strings would break on tuning, it's going to be absolutely unplayable, from a musical point of view. Strings can be stretched/slackened by far more than a semitone! Of course concert pianos are tuned often - they also get moved often too. Obviously it's quite dependant on difference in seasons, but in UK and Northern Europe at least, a few years won't make much, if any difference to a good piano kept in the same place (away from heat and humidity sources!). – Tim Sep 5 '18 at 11:00

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