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There has never been a piano made by any company, at any price, that does not require a schedule of
regular tunings. It is also a fact that a piano will go out of tune whether it is played or not.
By far, the main reason why pianos go out of tune is due to changes in humidity from season to season,
affecting all pianos, new and old, played and not played.
In Toronto, pianos go flat in the winter months when dry heat expelled from your furnace or radiator draws
moisture out of the piano's soundboard. In the spring, when you turn the heat off, the air is usually more
moist. The soundboard absorbs this moisture, expands and causes the piano to go sharp by the summer.
These seasonal changes in tuning are often most obvious in the mid-range of the piano.
Fluctuations in room temperature surrounding the piano cause less of a change in tuning than humidity
changes do. But, direct sunlight or heat from stage lights can cause rapid changes in tuning.
When you move, it is not so much the transportation of the piano that throws the tuning out as much as the
piano acclimatising to its new room environment. Wait about 2 weeks after you move before you get a
If both humidity and temperature are controlled in the room where the piano is situated, these swings in
tuning virtually disappear and your tuning is much more stable. So is the overall consistency of the touch
response you'll get from the keyboard.
A Dampp-Chaser, also known as the Piano Life Saver System, is the best way to provide automatic
humidity control of the piano. It monitors relative humidity, responding with a dehumidifier when conditions
near the piano are too humid, and a humidifier adding moisture when it is too dry. The system is installed
discreetly in your piano and maintenance is very simple.
In addition, consistent relative humidity prevents damage by preventing cracking, warping, rusting and
deterioration of the piano’s inner parts, felts, glue joints, strings, bridges, soundboard, tuning pins and
wooden tuning pinblock. Dampp-Chasers are recommended by all the major piano manufacturers,
institutions and piano technicians.
New strings can cause the pitch to go flat. New music wire is quite elastic and starts to stretch as soon as it
is pulled up to pitch. This is why new pianos or pianos that have been restrung need to be tuned more
frequently in the first year. Each time the wire is pulled up, the amount of stretching decreases and the
tuning becomes more stable.
Slipping tuning pins can cause a piano to go flat. Older pianos that have been exposed to regular seasonal
humidity changes over the years can have loose tuning pins and as a result, have poor tuning stability.
The louder and more often you play a piano, the faster it goes out of tune by a small amount. The force of a
hammer repeatedly hitting a string can affect the equalization of tension along the string's length, and cause
its pitch to be slightly altered.
To understand tuning in context, a piano used at a concert is tuned before every performance, and a piano
used in a recording studio is tuned 3 or 4 times a week as part of their regular schedule.