Perfect Harmony Piano Service
professional tuning, repair & appraisals  585-880-6199

Questions customers frequently ask...

How often should I have my piano tuned?

If your piano is new, or has recently been restrung, you should have it tuned every 3 months for about 2 years.  New strings need time to stretch and "settle".  Don't be discouraged if it keeps going out of tune.  This too shall pass.

For a seasoned instrument, tuning is recommended every 6 months.  In that short time span the pitch has already begun to drop and notes are beginning to sound "twangy".  It's very important to keep your piano at international pitch (A440).  The longer you wait between tunings, the farther the strings have to be stretched  to get them back up to pitch.  This  could add to the cost of the tuner's visit, for if the pitch drop is severe enough your piano may require a "double tuning", or multiple "pitch raisings", or both (see below).  It's much better to keep up with it, as it will avoid trouble and unnecessary expense in the long run.  We would say that if it's been 2 years or more since your last tuning, it would be wise to get it done!

Something we hear all the time is: "No one plays it just sits here, so why bother?"  Well, here's the reality: A piano will go out of tune regardless of how often it is being played.  If a piano has fallen into disuse, eventually it will either be sold, or passed along to children or grandchildren.  In either case, it will need to be tuned.  But if it has been many years since it's last tuning,  you could be facing many problems and possibly considerable expense.  Now, while a 6 month tuning interval is probably not going to be of interest to those who have an unused piano on their hands, please save yourself and the piano a lot of headache and have it done at least once a year.  You'll be glad you did!

What causes piano strings to break?

As a piano ages, the strings can become susceptible to breakage.  The primary reason for this is corrosion.  Corrosion renders the strings vulnerable to breakage by causing them to lose their flexibility and elasticity.  It can also ruin the tone of the instrument causing the higher notes to sound "tinny" and the lower ones to sound "tubby".  In order to avoid corrosion, you should not place your piano where it will be subject to excessive moisture levels.  Such a location might be a damp basement, or any space where high  humidity is prevelant for an extended period of time.

What does the term "double tuning" mean?

When the tuner shows up at your house and begins to evaluate your piano, you might be taken aback if you hear the words "folks, your piano is going to need a double tuning".  So, we'd like to explain the reason for this rather curious "blip" in the tuning process.

First of all, it will comfort you to know that if you keep your piano tuned at regular intervals, you are not likely to ever hear those words.  The need for a "double tuning" usually only occurs when a piano has not been tuned for many years.

Here's what happens...

When a piano first starts to fall out of tune, the pitch will drop at a fairly uniform rate across the entire keyboard.  In this state, a normal tuning will suffice to get it back to that sweet sound you've come to enjoy.  This is because you are adjusting the pitch of each note by the same amount.  However, if regular
tunings are neglected, there will come a point where the pitch of some sections of the piano will drop more than other sections.

Here's why a normal (single) tuning won't cure this problem...

When a piano enters this state, the normal tuning process would require raising some sections of the piano a small amount, while raising other sections considerably more.  Logically, it seems as though this should work except for the fact that the uneven stress that is exerted causes sections that have already been tuned to skew back out of tune.  What you have then, is a situation which is much akin to the action of a teeter-totter.  That is, when you  raise one side up, the other side goes down!  If the tuner were to tune in this manner, the tuning could go on for hours without success.

So, what's the fix?

The secret to correcting this problem lies in striking a balance between two extremes.  This involves raising the lower-pitched sections up a little while dropping the higher-pitched sections down a little, thus eliminating the disparity of pitch in a sort of "leveling the playing field" fashion.  This constitutes the first of
the two tunings.  Now the tuner can proceed with the second, or "normal tuning" because the teeter-totter
effect has been eliminated.

Both tunings are usually done during a single visit.

Why and when is "pitch raising" needed?

(Please read about "double tuning" before proceeding with this subject.)

Pitch raising is usually recommended when the pitch of a piano has dropped more than 1/8th of a step below international pitch (A440).  The reasons for this are many, the most important of them being: 1.) as the strings lose tension, the piano does not play as well nor sound as good as it should, 2.) If the piano is accompanying other instruments, tuning them to the pitch of the piano becomes difficult or impossible, and 3.) to avoid a continuous "slide" in pitch to levels from which recovery is difficult.

If the instrument has dropped less than 1/8th of a step, it can usually be brought up to proper pitch with a
normal (single) tuning.  Beyond this, multiple tunings (pitch raisings) are needed to accomplish the task, the number of which depends upon how much beyond 1/8th of a step the piano has dropped.  If the drop in pitch is severe enough, a "double tuning" may be required first.