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So you’ve been putting a good deal of work into your piano practice lately. Everything feels good and you’re really improving, but over time you start to notice things sound a little wonky. That C natural isn’t as rich as it was; actually, it’s really out of tune. If this is your first tuning then you might be wondering just how much it costs to tune a piano.
So, how much does it cost to tune a piano?
The cost of a piano tuner varies. Typically a piano tuner will change around $150 – $200 to tune your piano. These prices sometimes include voicing, lubrication, pitch correction and other minor adjustments to your instrument.
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Is Piano Tuning Really Necessary?
Yes! You should never play your piano when it’s out of tune for a number of reasons. The most pressing concern is that it halts the development of your tonal ear.
Hearing the correct harmonies is important for a pianist, and they’re usually thrown for a loop when they move from an out of tune instrument to a well maintained one.
In addition to all of that the longer you leave your piano out of tune the more work, it’ll need to get back in place later. Leaving it out of tune for more than a year is going to end up costing you more. Here are a few reasons why a piano needs to be tuned regularly.
What If I Found A Cheaper Price For Piano Tuning?
Occasionally you’ll run into a piano tuner who is willing to fix your instrument up for a much lower price. Take $80 for example. Chances are this is a relatively unknown tuner who is looking for clients in the area, so the price will be lower than the competition.
In general though, if you see a price significantly lower than the range I just told you about then it might be a good idea to choose another tuner to avoid a dip in quality.
The more you pay typically the better the service will be. There’s a noticeable difference between a tuner who charges $125 versus one who charges $200.
How long does it take for someone to tune a piano?
Piano tuning might seem like a quick job, but it’s actually quite the opposite. It typically takes anywhere from 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to tune a piano properly.
Whether it’s an upright or grand piano doesn’t matter much in this regard. Tuning requires a detailed ear to get things just right. This involves not just tuning note to note, but also by intervals.
With that said I should stress to you that if you’ve hired a tuner who ends up tuning your piano in less than an hours worth of time that you should probably not deal with them again.
As you play your freshly tuned piano you’ll notice a lot of discrepancies in your instruments sounds. That’s because your piano likely got a partial tuning which won’t hold very long.
How Long Will My Piano Tuning Hold
There’s a lot of factors involved when it comes to keeping your piano in tune. Things like where the instrument is located in the room, the humidity in the air, and how well your piano tuner does on your instrument.
Assuming you have all of those well covered a typical tuning should last 6 to 8 months. This is the main reason why pianists get their pianos tuned at least twice per year.
How do I find a good piano tuner
As you can see a lot of what I’m describing here comes down to the caliber of your piano technician. Finding a good tuner is not always the easiest, and it involves a leap of faith in some cases.
Anytime I hire a new piano technician to work on my piano I usually get their credentials first. Most tuners will have that information readily available on their websites. That’s another important actually.
If a piano tuner doesn’t have a functioning website with all of that information I usually pass immediately (unless they are highly regarded in the community).
The next thing I like to do is compare the prices of their service. If they are too cheap then I naturally associate that with being lesser quality service.
I don’t just want a person that can tune pianos. I like to hire people who are experienced in voicing, regulation and have a wide understanding of different piano brands.
Besides, everyone’s piano is not going to be a Steinway or Yamaha, so it’s nice to have a tuner that understands the big difference between all the brands.
Now, it’s entirely possible you’ll hire an expensive tuner and be dissatisfied with the service. This is why the last thing you should look for is a quality service guarantee. If the service is crappy and they know it then I should be able to get my money back.
In addition to the tuning itself, a good piano tuner will have their paperwork in order. Most tuners I deal with have invoices for me so I can keep records, send me email reminders, and always call me to make sure I’m satisfied with how the instrument is functioning.
My Piano Technician Tunes By Ear, Is That Okay?
Some pianists get a little nervous when they see their piano tuners use their ears to work on the instrument. You might be thinking that it’s doing more harm than good, but it’s actually what tuners are supposed to do!
A good piano tuner has to have a really good ear to pull that off. Some of them will use electronic tools too, and with the way, technology is going that’s okay. However, if you see a tuner using the classic pitchfork there’s no need to be alarmed.
Besides, anyone can tune a piano to what a digital machine does. That doesn’t mean the tuning would fit the character of your particular instrument though. Instead, you should be looking towards a tuner who can bring out the natural characteristics of your instrument the best.
Can I Just Tune My Piano Myself?
Well, in short, yes. But why would you? It’s okay to do something like this from an experimental perspective and just to have some fun.
In the long run, though you have to remember that piano tuners have thousands of hours of training put into their craft. That’s why they can demand the rates because they’re entirely qualified to do so.
As a pianist your job is to worry about performance and practice; not regulating your instrument. It’s more than just grabbing an electronic tuner and a lever and tuning fork.
The one danger you have to keep in mind too is tightening the strings so far that they end up snapping and causing you an injury.
It’s my honest opinion as a pianist that you should leave that up to someone who’s been through the ups and downs of tuning and has learned the ropes. It’ll end up costing you more money in the long run to fix any damage you might cause your instrument too!
Tips To Keep My Piano In Tune
As you can see, tuning your piano can be quite expensive and run you about $400 per year in maintenance costs. To help you cut down on this I’ve put together a list of things you can do to limit the rate at which your piano loses its tune.
- Keep your piano along an inside wall
- Keep it clean
- Regulate your humidity levels
- Don’t move your piano around
- Keep it tuned regularly to avoid additional tunings
- Hire a reputable tuner