Mythological Greek Phoenix
If you ask
a piano dealer, or manufacturer,
or piano tuner
when you are supposed to tune your piano, the most common answer is:
“Every 6 months”.
The same is true if you ask most anyone else — it seems most everyone believes this is the correct rule to follow if you take good care of your piano.
The truth is that this is certainly a good rule in a general way for most home piano owners. It is actually a compromise plan that meets most piano makers’ warranty requirements while at the same time generally keeps a piano sounding pleasant and enjoyable to you, the user of the piano.Tuning cycles for pianos actually range from once or twice a day for a commercial recording studio, to once every year or so if you seldom or never use your piano. And, by the way, if you store your piano someday, be sure to keep it in a climate controlled area — a common storage unit or an outside shed may turn a piano into both firewood and a rat’s nest in a very short time.
NOTE: This 6-month tuning idea refers to any piano that is already “broken in” and has had at least 6 or more tunings. Another article called “Tuning and Your New Piano” covers the various needs of new pianos, and explains the “break-in” process needed by new pianos.
Is the 6 month plan good for all pianos?
You can if you want — there is nothing wrong about it — the main advantage of this cycle is related to your piano warranty. Most piano manufacturers require new piano owners to tune their pianos each 6 months, and to keep records, in order to maintain a warranty agreement — which might last 5 up to 15 years.
Why tune a piano in the first place?
Sometimes we forget that the purpose of tuning a piano is to please us, the users and owners, and not the piano! It does not hurt a piano seriously to not tune it every six months — What it hurts is our ears !! The only way to hurt a piano regarding tuning is to not ever tune it — the strings must be kept at a fairly even tension to prevent cracks and warping from developing in the bridge and soundboard. Tunings are very simply for the pleasure of people, and not the piano.Keep in mind, however, that a piano when tuned regularly and often will reward the owner many times over with clear, ringing tones that can only be developed through regular, professional tunings.
Typical tuning cycles based on type of use are shown in the chart below (from article “Tuning Your Piano”).