The short answer to a surprisingly complex question is… “well that depends”.

A very common answer to that question is “once a year”, which for some people could in fact be the correct answer. But this is not necessarily the right answer for everyone. Confused? Don’t be, just watch my video, and read on – I’m sure things will clear up for you. 

I always find it interesting to get the industry’s answer to this question before analyzing how they came to their conclusion. So what do the major players say?

Here’s one from Yamaha’s website

Tuning and adjustment:
Pianos are delicate instruments that need professional attention periodically. Basically there are two types of professional piano care: tuning and adjustment.

Tuning means correcting the pitch of every note by retightening the strings. Each piano string is normally stretched to a pressure of about 90 kilograms (198 pounds). Eventually though, it will stretch further with use and lose some of its tension, causing the piano to lose its correct pitch. The strings need to be tuned a minimum of twice a year to restore them to their proper tension.

Adjustment involves the entire piano action, keyboard and pedal movements. Proper adjustment is especially important for grand pianos. Whether the piano will perform properly or not depends on how accurately the adjustment is made.

Tuning and adjustment should always be done by an expert. When your piano requires either one, ask your Yamaha dealer or call a specialist. Your dealer can also advise you about the interval between adjustments for your piano under the circumstances in which it is used.

Some other manufactures recommend 4 times a year, so what’s the answer?

It depends how fussy you are and how “in tune “ you want your piano to be. It also depends upon how stable the environment your piano is in. If you can maintain 22 degrees celsius and 44% relative humidity you will get away with longer intervals between tunings. The main reason that your piano goes out of tune is because of fluctuations in relative humidity. High humidity will cause your sound board to take on moisture, expand, and therefore stretching the strings and making the pitch go sharp. Low humidity has the opposite effect. 

Another way to think of it is this. A stringed instrument player like a guitarist or violinist will always tune their instrument before playing it. But that just isn’t practical when it comes to a piano, so as a pianist you need to accept that your piano will never (rarely) really be “in tune”, at least not perfectly “in tune”..  

So let’s sum up. I believe that if you’re very fussy and want your piano in “tip top” shape you should probably tune your piano 4 times a year – just after the change of each season is a good time. If you’re fussy but have some level of acceptance of a less than beautifully “in tune” piano then twice a year is the answer for you. If you’re pretty flexible and not in the “fussy” catagory then the answer for you is once a year.

What happens if I leave it for 3 + years??………. Well that’s a discussion for another post 🙂