Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about pianos.

Why does my piano need tuning?

Pianos go out of tune primarily due to changes in temperature and humidity over time.  Much of the inner workings of your piano are made of wood; exposure to wide ranges of temperatures and humidity over time will cause the wood fibers to swell and shrink.  This affects the tension on the piano strings, causing it to go out of tune.

How often should I have my piano tuned?

Ideally, you should have your piano tuned twice a year to keep it in the best possible playing condition.  At minimum, though, you should have your piano tuned once every 12 months.  Waiting any longer than this will require many of the piano's strings to be stretched tighter than usual the next time it is tuned to bring it up to true pitch.  Over the long run, this will cause greater wear and tear to your piano than if you have it tuned regularly.

What is a pitch raise, and when might my piano need one?

A pitch raise is a detailed tuning procedure that is required when a piano is significantly out of standard pitch (A 440).  Pianos that have not been tuned for an extended period almost always need a pitch raise, although this condition can occur in shorter time spans.

A pitch raise typically requires two service visits: the first one for the initial pitch raise itself, and another one shortly after to adjust and fine-tune the piano. Pitch raise pricing shown on the Services page covers both visits.

Is there anything I can do to help my piano stay in tune between tunings?

Keep your piano in a location where the temperature and humidity are stable - not in the basement or a garage!  Avoid placing your piano near a heating/cooling vent, in direct sunlight, or near a drafty window.

How do I clean my piano?

  • Exterior - use a light furniture polish and a clean cotton dusting cloth.
  • Piano keys - use a damp sponge with a small amount of dishwashing liquid.  Do not use enough water to soak the keys, as the water will be absorbed into the wood, causing them to warp and stick.
  • Interior - I recommend that you do NOT attempt to clean the interior yourself, as you may inadvertently damage the delicate inner workings of the instrument, or cause it to go out of tune.  Piano interior cleaning is included in my standard tuning service.

What should I look for when buying a used piano?

Like buying a used car, purchasing a used piano can be risky; the best way to avoid making an expensive mistake is to call a piano tuner to check out any prospects you may find before you buy.  I offer appraisal services for this very reason.  While I do charge a nominal service call fee, having me assess a potential purchase could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Check your local piano stores first.  Buying a used instrument from a reputable piano dealer offers many advantages over buying from individuals.  While the purchase price might be a bit higher than buying from an individual, most piano dealers offer at least some sort of warranty on used pianos, and may also offer free delivery and setup.  Keep in mind that the cost of moving a used piano from an individual's home can be as much or more than the purchase price itself.
  • Buy a piano with as "low mileage" (use) as you can afford.  The life expectancy of a well-maintained piano is about 60 to 70 years.  Pianos older than this usually have mechanical or structural problems that are costly to fix.  Those lovely old pianos with elaborate carvings may look great, but they are probably just plain worn out.  Pianos have very little antique value and do not get better with age.
  • Check the general condition.  Avoid pianos with missing key tops, notes that don't play, keys that stick, broken pedals, or that have buzzes or rattles when played.
  • Play it before you buy it!  If you don't play yourself, take someone with you who does. Though it's to be expected that a used piano might be out of tune somewhat, it should at least sound like a piano.  Beware of a piano that has poor sound, no matter what the seller tells you.  Either it hasn't been tuned in years or it won't hold a tune at all, which may result in a high repair bill - or a trip to the junk yard!

Have a question about your piano that's not shown above?

Contact me for more information about proper care and maintenance of your piano!