Pianos are expensive instruments and require a lot of regular upkeep to maintain their sound and value. When buying a piano, you must keep in mind its various upkeep and maintenance costs, not just the cost of the initial purchase.
One of these costs includes the tuning of your piano. This is where you may start wondering ‘How much does it cost to tune a piano?’
Most piano tuners offer different services, from basic tuning to a full service, which has massive variations in pricing.
Whilst some technicians may offer cheaper services, the average price of a basic piano tuning is between $110 to $150 if using a reputable tuner.
A basic tuning service is the cheapest service when tuning your piano. Basic tuning is often offered for pianos that are regularly and consistently maintained, as they won’t have that many issues if given constant upkeep.
What Causes a Piano to Go Out of Tune?
One thing you must keep in mind is that pianos are extremely complex and under constant stress, but the fluctuations in these stresses are what cause them to go out of tune.
Just as there is a multitude of different types or sizes of pianos, there are different elements that can affect them in different ways. Thus, if your piano’s environment is not ideal then you will find the maintenance and tuning costs may be a lot more.
One of the main reasons for out-of-tune pianos is movement in the soundboard. The soundboard is made from spruce, which is a very elastic material, meaning the intense pressure of the strings can cause excessive damage as they weigh down on the wood.
- If you have an older piano, live in a country with fluctuating yearly temperatures, or use your piano a lot, you need to be tuning it a lot more often.
- For older pianos, a common cause of strings going out of tune is the tuning pins becoming loose, either due to general wear and tear over the years or because there are splits caused by the wood drying out.
- Pianos are also very sensitive instruments, especially to changes in temperature and barometric pressure.
- In warmer temperatures, the wood can absorb the excess water that’s present in more humid atmospheres. This swells the wood, tensing the strings and affecting the pitch.
- In the cooler months, there’s less moisture in the air, especially in houses that use central heating, causing the strings to loosen up.
Fluctuations in temperature and atmosphere can also happen if your piano has moved location. If you have recently moved your instrument to somewhere with different conditions, then you should have it tuned within a few weeks of moving.
If either of these issues isn’t addressed quickly, then the repeated tightening and loosening of the strings can cause cracks in the actual piano, which is a much bigger, and more expensive, problem to fix.
If you aren’t controlling the temperature and humidity in the room your piano is in then you need to ensure you are getting it regularly inspected so you don’t end up with bigger, more expensive issues down the road.
Piano players who play more than others will also find their pianos go out of tune quicker than normal, as the constant vibrations loosen the strings over time. If you’re an avid piano player then you may have to up the tuning of your instrument at least 4 times a year.
Other Piano Maintenance Costs
If you want to keep your piano in really good condition, then standard tuning is recommended every six months by a high-standard piano technician.
We recommend hiring only the highest-rated technicians, as a lower-priced tuner may be less experienced, and therefore more likely to damage your piano. Repairing any substantial damage to your piano will cost a lot more than just $150, so you should always choose the safest option to avoid any future costs.
If you don’t maintain your piano with bi-yearly tuning, or you have recently moved it, you may have to pay a bit extra for an entire maintenance service. A maintenance service involves the technician turning all the tuning pins one at a time before they do the actual tuning.
Turning the pins individually before tuning is a long, arduous job, which normally takes up to two hours to complete. This means the maintenance service can be a lot more expensive than just a standard tuning service, costing between $160 to $220.
A lot of the time people unearth long-neglected pianos and buy them second-hand, as it’s cheaper than buying brand new. However, these pianos need an extensive service, which is commonly nicknamed ‘Sore Arm Tuning’.
As the name suggests, it takes a lot of effort and time to tune pianos that haven’t been tuned in years. Restoring these pianos can take up to a full day of inspection, regulation, and maintenance, depending on the condition of the instrument.
This process, on average, lasts between two and a half hours to three hours, costing between $200 and $400 due to the level of work and care that is put into the service. However, for older or rarer models, it could be a lot more expensive, as some pianos may be much more delicate depending on when it was made and what brand it is.
Whilst technicians mostly just tune pianos, sometimes some pianos are damaged in other, more complicated ways, such as split soundboards. In these cases, the technician may offer a full tuning service, where every part of the piano is inspected, repaired, and restored to its full glory.
As this is a very extensive and detailed process, it is the most expensive service a piano technician offers. Normally taking an entire day, a full service can cost between $600 to $1000. More often than not, it would cost less to just buy a new piano, but for pianos that are expensive, or have sentimental value, this is a necessary service.
Importance of Piano Maintenance
A piano is an extremely expensive instrument to get fixed, so if you invest in one then it would be better for you, as the owner, if you also invest in maintaining it regularly. You should be tuning your piano every six months, but if it has been bought brand new you should tune it every three months for the first year.
If you have bought your piano brand new, then you can consider it ‘broken in’ after its sixth time being tuned, but before that, you have to be gentle and attentive in handling it.
You can reduce the upkeep price of your piano massively by taking note of the environment and location of it also.
As previously mentioned, having your piano in a location that is changing temperatures every year is not very good for it, so keeping your instrument in a temperature-controlled room year-round is preferable.
If you can also control the humidity of the room then it will reduce any surplus moisture in the wood, which prevents cracks and swelling. The ideal humidity level for any piano is around 50%, as this also avoids any drying of the soundboard.
Additionally, you should keep your piano out of direct sunlight, as well as far away from any heat sources, like radiators or fireplaces.
Regular maintenance and upkeep will ensure that your piano is sounding beautiful whenever you use it, instead of being out-of-tune and jarring. Regular tuning makes sure that you stay engaged and enthusiastic about your piano, which makes you more likely to play it, and play it well.
It’s difficult to stay motivated to learn, or even play, an instrument, so putting the time and effort into making the whole process a joyful and pleasant experience.
Whilst regular tunings aren’t that expensive, a full service racks up the bill, so hire a piano technician regularly and save yourself the money. If you put the time, effort, and money into tuning your piano regularly, then it can come back to bless you.