Why Does A Piano’s Pitch Change?

Why Does A Piano’s Pitch Change?

Imagine you’re at a concert, enjoying the music. The violins, the cellos, the flutes and the clarinets are all carrying the tune. The piano fills in the melody. And then it happens. One loud note comes out of nowhere, and its completely out of tune. Ouch.

Its like fingernails on a chalkboard. You just cringe a little, hoping it will go away.Why Does A Piano’s Pitch Change?

Standard pitch is a universal frequency or note that all instruments are set to that allows musicians to play their instruments together in harmony. This standard pitch has been around ever since two individuals decided to play instruments or sing together. Without it, the results would be anything but pleasing.

Your piano is designed to play at a standard pitch of A-440, which means the A above the middle C vibrates at 440 cycles per second. At this pitch, the power and the tonal range are optimum, and your piano will blend nicely with the pitch of any instrument it chooses to play with.

When your piano varies from A-440, pitch adjustments are required to bring it back to the standard. By helping your piano maintain its standard pitch, you are ensuring that it maintains its tonal quality for the long term. The strings and structure maintain its equilibrium. And as a student of music, you will ensure your voice maintains the proper key to learn from and to grow from as you continue to play.

A piano’s pitch changes in two ways.

When your piano is new, the initial stretching and setting of the strings to the soundboard settle over time. The conditions change from the manufacturer to your home, and the pitch can quickly drop from these changes. It is very important to maintain pitch during this process, so the string tension and the piano structure can settle and reach a stable equilibrium. Most manufacturers recommend three or four tunings in the first year, and at least two per year after that.

As your piano ages and begins to settle, pitch changes due to climate variations. Your piano sits in a room that may have dry heat from blowing heat in the winter, humid conditions on and off all year through, and cool airflow in the summer. All of these temperature and climate changes can have a heavy impact on the voice of your piano. As humidity goes up, the soundboard swells, increasing its rounded shape, and stretching the strings to a higher pitch. When the conditions dry out, the soundboard flattens, lowering the tension on the strings, causing the pitch to drop. If you tune your piano after these changes, your piano will continue to hold its pitch. If you don’t, it will continue to drop in pitch for each year the piano is left unserviced.

How long has it been since your piano has been tuned? If you have any questions about the piano tuning process, give us a call. With decades of experience in the piano industry, we can provide you with the experience and the know-how to help you with all of your piano needs.