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Hi!
How long do pianos hold their tune? Do some pianos need more tunings than others? I know every piano is different. So, what is the maximum and minimum number of tunings a piano need in a year? Any help?
Thanks!

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In the first year 4 times, and then 2 times each year.

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It really depends on what is meant by "in tune".

Really! There is a range between "oh, it still sounds fine to me" and "we are recording and need each take to match any other take already recorded".

So the maximum might be multiple times a day, while the minimum seems to be once a decade or more for some owners!

Ron Koval

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I do a lot of concert work and sometimes the piano is tuned 3 times in an afternoon. Recording pianos kept at a high level can be tuned once a week and just before a session.

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Yes every piano is different and the environment plays a role too.

I have a friend who asks me to tune their early-1900’s Steinway A. Usually a year or more goes by since the last time I tuned it and I’m shocked at how in-tune it is every time I go. It’s better than some other pianos even just two weeks after a tune. It’s not in particularly good condition either.

And to repeat what others have said, it also depends on how sensitive the people are who are using the piano. On my previous Steinway I would touch up unisons nearly every day because I don’t like unisons out even slightly and there’d usually be at least one that would drift. On my current M&H I can get away with days sometimes weeks without much unison drift. But a very fine pianist friend I have who grew up in Cuba and had out of tune pianos there doesn’t care nearly as much as I do.

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Originally Posted by RonTuner
It really depends on what is meant by "in tune".

Really! There is a range between "oh, it still sounds fine to me" and "we are recording and need each take to match any other take already recorded".

So the maximum might be multiple times a day, while the minimum seems to be once a decade or more for some owners!

Ron Koval
This is a good explanation. Being in tune isn't a binary thing where a piano either is or isn't in tune. And different people hear any degree of out of tuneness differently.

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Patrick Draine, Registered Piano Technician (PTG)
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After the first 2 or 3 years of a piano's "life", the single most important factor is the environment in which the instrument is kept. I have seen over and over pianos that were absolutely wild in their inability to remain in tune, tamed to the point of near absolute stability simply by strict humidity control of the environment.

IF you can create museum quality environmental control 100% of the time, you will not NEED to tune the piano more than once every few years. The further you depart from this absolute, the more frequently you will need to tune the instrument. It's really as simple as that. I am not kidding.

In New Hampshire where I live, the typical fluctuation from summer to winter is roughly 80% RH down to 20% RH in winter (sometimes even less). Pianos kept in this kind of environment with no auxiliary effort to control the environment are literally on their out of tune the minute I stop tuning. They cannot remain musical in any sense for any more than two months. It doesn't matter if they paid $100 for it or if they paid $100,000 for it. They all do the same thing in varying degrees.

Environment...environment...environment...thats what makes the difference.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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To the already good comments, I would add this perspective that I share with my customers...

All other stringed instruments besides the piano (guitar, violin, harp, harpsichord, dulcimer, etc.) are typically tuned EVERY TIME THEY ARE PLAYED -- OR AT LEAST, EVERY FEW DAYS.
In contrast, a piano-- with many more strings -- will typically stay in tune much longer: often weeks or months.


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Thanks everyone.

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As I understand it, a new piano and all its stresses will settle over the first few years. If it’s done this in a random state of trim, it will settle into that unbalanced state and tuning will be more difficult and need more frequent adjustment into the future.

But if during those first years it has been kept in a tuned state, it will settle into that form and be more stable over its life, environment and original build quality being equal.

I’m sure it’s a simplistic answer and I’m certainly no expert, but it makes sense to me.


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