How to Tune A Piano Yourself

April 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm 3 comments

According to a couple stats I ran across, there are 18 million pianos in the world or so, and 4000 people trained to tune them.

I’m checking out how one might go about tuning their own piano {gasp}.  Not that I will, just checking it out.  A good tuner is hard to find around here, and a well-used piano needs to be tuned every 6 months to a year.  Mine’s not had attention in a good fifteen years.  {Piano abuse, I’m sure}.

Checking out some youTube’s from generous self-taught tuners and professional tuners. (Part 1) (Part 2)

These amateur videos show good wisdom on not over-tuning a very out of tune piano.  He only did a few keys every few days to let the strings stretch, and even then, was tuning on a half step at a time.

If you don’t run into a lot of technical problems with broken, old strings, and don’t try to overdo, it seems time-consuming, but not actually that “hard”. 

I found it easier to watch youTube than to read to hear what they are talking about in terms of “beats”.  If you’ve tuned a guitar before, you can hear beat dissonance right away. 

The lower keys (8-10) have one string to tune, the lower mid-range, two strings, and the upper, high registered notes have three strings ALL of these strings have to be tuned to pitch.  That’s somewhere around 250 strings to tune a piano completely, and sometimes, by the time you’ve re-tensioned that many strings, you’ve pulled the tension on others back out and have to re-adjust.  {Whew}. 

Some strings must be muted, therefore, in order to tune others.  All cannot be tuned at the same time.  You tune one string, then tune the others to match it.

A very interesting read here says that the human ear hears the upper register out of tune when it is perfectly in tune.  I professional tuner knows this and will overshoot the upper register to allow for this fault in human hearing.  He says that this is why electronic keyboards were not able to duplicate real piano as of the time of this writing.

Lots of other videos and resources out there.  If I find any truly over the top, I’ll add them here for reference.





Entry filed under: Everyday.

PSA: WordPress Questions Answered Let’s “Entertain” in Our Worship Services Tomorrow?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stacey  |  April 5, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Oh man… my piano has not been tuned since I was… oh… 13 or 14. So, almost the same amount of time as yours. That will be my first mission when I reclaim it from my parent’s house. No room in our cracker box now. 😦

    No need to tune keyboards. 😀

  • 2. Stacey  |  April 5, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Oh, btw… I did know a good tuner in H-town.

    You could call Music Central and they could hook you up, too. I would remember the person’s name if I heard it. 😉

  • 3. Devin  |  July 9, 2008 at 2:50 am

    I am 15, and I am about to begin teaching my friends family piano lessons. They have an old, out of tune piano that probably has not been tuned in years. It has a few sticky keys too. I know it would be much safer to get a professional to tune it, but I think it would be fun to try it out for myself at least once, though it would take hours and hours… Anyway, it really all depends on if my friends parents would rather get a professional tuner, or let me have a shot at it. (I will tell them the risks, and prices of everything) It should run around the same ammount of money for a professional, that it would for a first timers tools. (about 60-80 dollars) Just in case you’re curious about my piano, it is electric, sadly. However, it has the weird upper, and lower range out of tune thingy accounted for. It feels as close, and sounds as close to a real piano as possible. I’m happy with it, until I move out, then I will try for a nice new REAL piano. Anyway, it is much MUCH safer to use a professional, but if you have a mind for engineering, and fixing problems, it could be really fun to try. (only try if you have the money to correct loose pins, and broken strings)

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