Why Tuning Your Own Piano Is A Bad Idea

Why Tuning Your Own Piano Is A Bad Idea

It probably started with a note or two playing off key. Or maybe a single octave doesn’t sound right with the others.

You know the only way to bring it back into key is to have your piano tuned. But do you want to go through the hassle of bringing someone in? Finding the right person for the job, waiting for them to come into your home, and paying for it might not be on your list of to do’s. Maybe you should try it yourself.Why Tuning Your Own Piano Is A Bad Idea

Or should you?

Tuning your own piano is a bad idea for many reasons. And in some cases can do more harm then good.

Tuning experience on other instruments isn’t the same

Maybe you have experience tuning a guitar. It can’t be that much different, can it? Actually, it can. Each piano is unique, and is tuned based on the temperament of the piano. They have different gauges and string lengths, and therefore what sounds great on one piano may not work on the next. A professional uses sophisticated software, as well as aural tests that will help calculate how to tune the temperament of each piano he or she works on.

Tuning stability

A piano’s tuning pin must be set and secured by the tuner. A tuner will move the pin as much as is necessary to achieve the right pitch. Only then will they secure it to make sure it stays put. If its not done correctly, one aggressive song will cause the note to pop back out of tune. Its one of the last things a professional piano tuner will master, and takes most tuners many, many piano tunings to understand.

Strings breaking

Depending on the age of the piano, piano wire can become brittle and be easily broken. If the string is adjusted too far sharp, it may snap. String replacement is another skill that takes practice to develop. A professional tuner will have the appropriate tools and skills to fix or replace the piano wire if it should break during tuning.


If you talk with a piano tuner, they will tell you their first try at tuning took them four, six, even eight hours or more to bring a piano back into tune. And in some cases it wasn’t a perfect job. After years on the job and hundreds of tunings later, many tuners can perform the function in an hour or two. Tuning takes a good ear, and over time your hearing precision becomes more difficult to concentrate on. Especially when you don’t do it on a regular basis.

Proper Piano Tuning Is More Than Listening To The Sound

Proper Piano Tuning Is More Than Listening To The Sound

Have you ever been to a antique car show? The owners take great pride in their cars, shining them up and detailing them to make everything look brand new.

If you have a musician in your life, you probably have experienced the same thing. They take great pride in their instruments, making sure they are at peak playability.

When a piano is freshly tuned, there is no other sound like it. Proper Piano Tuning Is More Than Listening To The SoundWhen someone loves to play the piano, they can get lost in their own music. That’s a feeling most piano players can relate to. Every note sounds perfect. Every chord blends together impeccably.

But the more you play, the more the music loses that preciseness. Its not difficult to know when a piano is out of tune. Even those who are tone-deaf can usually pick up on the cues fairly quickly. It’s a flat note here, and an off-sound there. And when it doesn’t sound right, its just not as fun to play.

Sound is only the first aspect of tuning a piano. Its usually the easiest to pick up on, the cue that lets you know immediately that something is changing. But tuning goes beyond creating a balanced tune.

  • A proper tuning helps the soundboard retain its shape, creating the perfect tension that enhances the sound quality.
  • A proper tuning keeps the strings perfectly taut and kink-free, to keep the notes from sounding “off”.
  • A proper tuning eliminates broken strings.
  • A proper tuning protects the pinblock from receiving too much wear, which can reduce the piano’s pitch.
  • A proper tuning can provide a stable environment that helps keep a piano in tune for longer periods of time. The more regular you are with tuning, the more stable your piano will become.

If you are wondering if its time to schedule tuning for your piano, ask yourself two questions.

When was the last time your piano was tuned?

What is the sound quality of your piano as you play it?

Those two questions can be big indicators of when its time for a tuning. Not only will it improve your playing, but it will keep your piano in top shape as well.