There’s nothing quite like hearing a piano. The melodic sounds it makes can be soothing for listeners young and old like and for piano players there are many benefits to tinkering with the keys. It strengthens hand muscles, it keeps your brain stimulated and it’s a great way to relieve stress.
As soothing as it can be to hear the piano, it won’t sound quite the same if it isn’t tuned properly. Whether you love sitting down after dinner to play, you’re a professional musician or just the piano player at your family parties, playing an out-of-tune piano isn’t good.
So what can you do? One solution is to visit a piano tuner or a piano technician at a piano repairs shop and have them come and tune your piano. If you’ve got the time, the right tools and a little bit of patience, you can even be your own piano tuner.
You might be thinking to yourself, that sounds difficult. Make no mistake: it’s a very careful and technical process and that requires care to pull off, but it can also help you get to know your piano better.
First things first, you’re going to need the right equipment. If you’re going to be your own piano tuner, you need the best tools for the job and you can probably find them at a music shop. Make sure you invest in quality tools. You’ll need a tuning lever, which might cost about $50. You’ll also need the right tips for the tuner you get, since the tips grip the pins you’ll be tinkering with. One of your most important tools will be a chromatic tuner, which can run a little high cost-wise, but it’s worthwhile. It gives your piano a proper tone, not too flat or too sharp and you can even download a tuner to your phone if you wish to go that route. Lastly, you’ll need some mutes which help test both the volume and the range of sounds coming from your piano.
Once you’ve got the tools in hand, here’s what you need to do to pull of piano tuning properly:
- Take the panels off: The first step in your piano tuning process is to remove your piano’s external panels. Simply put, if you’re going to get to the strings inside, you need to have access to them. Be warned that removal of these panels is probably going to result in the discovery of dust, so have some dust rags handy. Also have a good light source so you can see what you’re doing down there.
- Look at the strings: Before you dive right in to being your own piano tuner, take some time to familiarize yourself with the layout of your piano; what’s connected to what, how things work, etc. Having at least a basic understand of how things work will help you as you go forward and help you avoid mistakes.
- Start with C: When you’re really ready to start, start with your C tuning and work from there. Essentially what you do is mute two of the three strings in a grouping and find the correct tone for it. Once you’ve done that, you can repeat the process with the other two strings, which are called unisons.
- Turn the pin for the string: Once you’ve tuned in your strings, you can take your tuning level and make slight adjustments. Be careful not to break your strings. Tuning clockwise raises the pitch and tuning counterclockwise lowers it. Make sure you’ve got steady hands as well.
- Set your pin: Once you’ve found the right tone, you net to set the pin. This is done by tuning the pin slightly left to get the pitch. This step can take some practice, so be patient.
- Tune in octaves: Once you’ve turned your middle A, you can then tune your lower A and keep going with the process until you’ve finished tuning your whole piano.
Once you’ve taken the time and care to tune your piano, sit down and test it out. If it’s not exactly the way you want it, you might have to go through the steps again, but ultimately you should have a piano that’s in tune.