In today’s economy, cutting spending is a must. One place to do this is by tuning your own piano. This post will show you, step by step, exactly how to tune your piano in a very easy way. You will need to buy a few tools, but the total cost of the tools should be less than what a piano tuner would charge (assuming you have your own laptop). Once you have the tools and the knowledge, you will be saving every time the piano needs to be tuned.
Most pianos have a full 88 keys, which is 7 ⅓ octaves. It is very rare that the lower 5 and upper 5 keys are used. They still need to be tuned, though if they’re not perfect no one is going to notice.
Here is the basic keyboard layout:
Each octave has 7 white keys and 5 black keys. The different octaves are labeled 0-7.
You will need 3 basic tools in order to tune your piano. A tuning ‘hammer‘ (which is really a wrench), some little rubber wedges called ‘mutes‘, and a windows based laptop with a built-in microphone. If you don’t have a microphone in your laptop, you can plug-in an external microphone. On the laptop you need to download and install AP Tuner. This is the software that you will use to tune each of the notes. It is free to use, but if you are happy with the software, I encourage you to pay the $35 US to help support the person who wrote this awesome application.
The video at the bottom of this page will show you each step in how to tune the piano.
If you have an old piano, like mine, you may find that the tuning pins are very loose, and won’t hold the strings in tune. If this is the case, you can go to my post on replacing tuning pins to see how that is done.
In general, you want to start tuning in one spot and work your way up or down the keyboard, one note at a time. Some tuners start in the middle and work up, then return to the middle and work their way down. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect way to do it, but you want to make sure that all the strings are properly adjusted when you are done.
If your piano is significantly out of tune when you start, you may want to take it up in half pitch steps (half a note at a time) a day or a week apart so you don’t break any strings. Old strings can be brittle, and break if they are overstressed.
On the lower end of the keyboard each note has only one string that is struck by the hammer. As you move up the keyboard, it shifts to two strings per note, and then three strings per note. Where there are two or three strings per note, you need to get all the strings in unison with each other (the exact same pitch), and you need to make sure that it is playing the proper pitch.
The video below will explain it in detail, but the basic method to achieve this is to mute out all but one string on an individual note, and then use a device that will listen to that string to determine if it is the proper pitch. In our case we will be using some software in your laptop. Adjustments are made to this string as needed, and then any remaining one or two strings are adjusted to match the first. Then the process is repeated for each note on the piano.
As each string is raised to pitch, more and more tension is placed on the sounding board of the piano. The combined tension of these strings is somewhere between 15 and 20 tons. That’s 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of combined tension on the sounding board. When you raise the pitch of each string, you are increasing this tension on the sounding board. What you may find when you finish tuning the piano, is that if you go back to the original strings that you tuned, they will be slightly flat from where they were when you tuned them at the beginning. This is somewhat normal because of the tensions involved, and how that tension plays out across the entire sounding board as the strings are tightened in succession. If it is noticeable, you may want to bring them back in tune. If you’re happy with the sound, don’t worry about it. It is next to impossible to get them all perfect.
Here is my video on how to tune the piano:
A piano should stay in tune for about a year. If not, then your piano may need some maintenance. Keep in mind that pianos need a constant humidity. If the humidity in your home changes a lot between summer and winter, that is going to be a long term problem for your piano. Even if it is staying in tune now, it could start to develop problems down the road if the humidity is constantly changing in your house.
If you have found the above information helpful, please comment below. Don’t forget to tell your friends about frugalberry.com. Facebook links can be found at the top of this post.