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How long can I go without tuning?

Posted By: ilovemyKawai

How long can I go without tuning? - 08/29/02 01:17 AM

Don't laugh. I haven't had my Kawai KG-2 grand piano tuned in about 6 years! Reasons: 1) Previous piano tuners have told me that my piano seems to hold its tune very well, and 2)it doesn't bother me, so I figure "Why bother and spend the money if it doesn't bother me?" Besides, I rarely listen to my playing, I go by how it feels. Believe it or not, I'm quite advanced! So my question is this: have I done damage to my piano? I live in the Midwest--high humidity in the summer and VERY cold in the winter. PLEASE reply, if I asked a local tuner, they would just be after my money and wouldn't give me an honest answer. THANKS!
Posted By: Palindrome

Re: How long can I go without tuning? - 08/29/02 03:46 AM

Originally posted by ilovemyKawai:
...I rarely listen to my playing, I go by how it feels. Believe it or not, I'm quite advanced! ...
If you rarely listen, how can you tell?
Posted By: ilovemyKawai

Re: How long can I go without tuning? - 08/29/02 04:57 AM

The reason why I hardly ever really,really listen to my playing is because I have a serious hearing loss as the result of a car accident. I also have tinnitus (ringing in the ears--mine is more like a window air-conditioner that is on full blast 24 hours a day!!) I know how the music "should" sound, and I guage alot by how it feels. It's really quite amazing considering the fact that I'm quite advanced (sudden hearing loss happened AFTER I was REALLY advanced, so that helps tremendously. But let's stick to my posted subject. Peace!
Posted By: bcarey

Re: How long can I go without tuning? - 08/29/02 12:44 PM

With your hearing loss, you may not notice that the piano is out of tune but those who listen to you play could almost certainly hear the difference. I would tune it, if only out of consideration for my audience.

Others can better tell you whether going 6 years without tuning is damaging to the piano.

I think a lot of us play by feel and touch as much as we do by listening! Wasn't it Beethoven that played and composed symphonies after he was totally deaf?
Posted By: ilovemyKawai

Re: How long can I go without tuning? - 08/29/02 01:33 PM

I rarely play in front of visitors, and my family members aren't around when I do most of my practicing, so I can't say that it really bothers anybody else, how can there be an opportunity for that if I rarely play in front of company? Will someone please answer my original question? (I've asked twice) Have I "damaged" my piano in any way by having waited so long between tunings? I really need to know the answer to this from a professional tuner or technician. Remember, I have a Kawai KG-2 grand. I live in an area with high humidity in the summer (very hot, also), and very cold winters. I know that this will affect the answer. Thank you!
Posted By: Pat M

Re: How long can I go without tuning? - 08/29/02 04:40 PM


I tune pianos all the time that have not been tuned in 5, 10, 20 years. They are often 100 to 200 cents flat and can require upwards of 3-4 pitchraises to get up to A440. The damage is to your wallet when you do tune it. I charge $80 to fine tune and $40 for a pitchraise(up to 50 cents). So when I come upon that 200 cent flat piano, it will cost $240 to get it to A440. Additionally, strings sometimes break when pitchraising on old pianos, so that's another $40 a pop. Of course, the piano will not stay in tune long because pianos are stubborn and like to stay at a certain pitch, whether it be A440 or something else. So to stabilize the piano at A440 will require regular tuning(2-4 times a year) for a year or two to stabilize it. Your piano will probably need only 1 pitchraise and a fine tune (and a regulation, but that's ALOT of money).

Anyway, it won't fall apart or anything, but it must sound terrible. A tuning only lasts a short time which is why a piano used for performances or recording will be tuned each time it is used and sometimes the tuning will be touched up at intermission.

My advice is to have it tuned at least once a year(at the same time of the year). This will keep the pitch fairly close to A440. The unisons will be howling after a while, but it will be much better than a flat piano.

Best regards,

Patrick McKenzie
Posted By: SamLewisPiano.com

Re: How long can I go without tuning? - 08/30/02 01:37 AM

Although I dont charge as Pat does, I agree with everything else in his post. Sooner or later, you will tune it, it will require 2 or more tunings to become stable, you will run the risk of broken strings. It's a damn good piano, and it is worth taking care of. If you truly cant tell, at least do right by the instrument and do it yearly. I would ask the tech up front what their charges are for pitch raising...........Sam
Posted By: .rvaga*

Re: How long can I go without tuning? - 08/30/02 06:04 AM

I read somewhere that a grand piano that is a half step flat experiences the effect of taking 3 tons of weight off of the instrument's structure, based on tension of up to 1500 psi across the plate on a large grand tuned to A440.

Since the piano is a pile of wood and glue, and designed to hold the "weight" of the extreme tension, letting it sit "flat" for years causes the entire instrument and all structural components to adjust to the decreased weight or down-pressure. End result can be premature flattening of the soundboard over the years, and other weird things relating to the soundboard, bridge, rim, cross-beams, etc.

Don't know for a fact that the above is gospel, but it was enough for me -- I keep it in tune!
Posted By: ilovemyKawai

Re: How long can I go without tuning? - 08/30/02 06:23 AM

THANK YOU SO MUCH for the advice! I really appreciate it! After reading these posts, I have learned that I definitely have to keep it in tune! As was said, it's a "damn good piano and worth taking care of." The thought never crossed my mind until recently that "hey, I might be damaging my piano by not keeping it properly tuned!" I'm calling a tuner tomorrow! Now, I just need help in getting rid of my tinnitus (listening to the sound of a window air-conditioner all the time is getting old!) Oh well!!--Peace!
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