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Why Does My Piano Go Out of Tune?

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Manufacture recommendations for servicing instruments are great for any piano. These are practices are especially important for new piano owners who might otherwise void warranty due to neglect if a problem develops.

Most manufactures have literature that states the piano should be tuned four times in the first year and two times every year after that. This is because new strings are still stretching and need to stabilize within the first year, resulting in more frequent tuning. However, what is the reason the piano needs to be tuned twice a year after the strings have already stabilized?

Humidity - The piano has wooden components that change along with relative humidity. Think of the piano as taking a breath once a year. It inhales during the summer, moisture is absorbed and wood expands causing the strings to tighten and go sharp. The piano exhales in the fall, the strings relax and the piano goes flat. However, this isn't a perfect balancing act. When the piano is in tune it is under tons of pressure. Literally, the string tension is so great the piano will be holding upwards of 18 tons in a grand piano. Its the tension of the strings that don't allow the piano to go as sharp in the summer than it goes flat in the winter. Therefore the piano will steadily decrease in pitch and tension each year.

If humidity drastically changes it can cause harm to the instrument. Click here to read about the ideal piano climate.

Joseph Raville, RPT

Dallas Piano Tuner

Up to Pitch LLC


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