Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What is tuning?
Tuning a piano is the art of adjusting the tension of the approximately 230 strings
in the piano so each note is in proper relationship with every other note, sort of
like tuning a guitar. Pianos are designed to be tuned to A-440 (concert pitch).

What is A-440 (concert pitch)?
A-440 or concert pitch is a common term among musicians. It means A above
middle C has been tuned to a frequency of 440 Hertz (the A note vibrates at 440
times per second). Concert grand pianos and orchestras are tuned to A-440 for
concerts and rehearsals, hence the name concert pitch.

What is a pitch raise & tune (double tuning)?
A pitch raise & tune is basically tuning the piano twice. The first tuning is a
preliminary rough tuning that sets the piano’s pitch close to A-440 (kind of like
priming), followed immediately by a secondary fine tuning to A-440. Pianos that
have not been tuned for several years or that have undergone temperature and
extreme humidity changes will likely need a pitch raise & tune.

Why do pianos go out of tune?
Pianos go out of tune primarily because of the seasonal change in humidity. In
the summer, high humidity causes the wooden soundboard to swell, making the
strings tighter and causing the piano’s pitch to go sharp. In the winter, low
humidity causes the wooden soundboard to shrink, making the strings looser and
causing the piano’s pitch to go flat. Unfortunately, the strings don’t change pitch/
tension equally. Some strings change more than others, leaving the piano “outof-tune.”

What can I do to stabilize my piano’s humidity?
You can help stabilize the piano’s humidity by having a Dampp-Chaser Climate
Control System installed. It can be installed in any grand or upright piano and it
will help maintain the proper relative humidity in your piano.
Running a room humidifier in the winter, not using a fireplace/wood burning
stove, keeping the piano away from any direct heating/AC vents and using air
conditioning and/or a dehumidifier during the summer is recommended.

What is a Dampp-Chaser Climate Control System?
It is a combination humidifier/dehumidifier installed in the piano. It will
automatically and silently maintain the humidity in your piano at approximately
42% year-round. Just as doors and drawers become tight with high humidity, the
keys and many moving wooden parts of your piano may stick or become
sluggish. When the humidity is low, the keys and wooden parts may seem to
rattle when played.

Sticking keys
Over time, constant changes in humidity, will cause the soundboard and all other
wooden parts of your piano to expand and contract, this may damage the
integrity of the soundboard. You will see this damage in the form of a crack in the

Sticking Keys

Cracked Soundboard
Other wooden parts may twist and warp, requiring extensive and costly repairs
with possible parts replacement.

Cracked Soundboard

Dampp-Chaser Components
A Dampp-Chaser system can prevent damage and maintain tuning stability in
your piano. The Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver Climate Control System
protects your instrument and its more than 9,000 parts from the ravages of
improper humidity levels. This system is well recognized in the piano industry for
its effectiveness in stabilizing humidity within a piano thus improving performance
quality and extending the useful life of the piano. Dampp-Chaser Systems
operate for just pennies a day and carry a 5-Year Guarantee.

Dampp-Chaser Components

How often should a piano be tuned?
A piano should be tuned twice a year. Most manufacturers recommend that a
piano be tuned a minimum of twice a year. Concert instruments are sometimes
tuned weekly or daily. If your piano is played for many hours a day, you may
need to have it tuned more often. A piano that is not used often, can be tuned
once a year as a bare minimum.

How long does it take to tune a piano?
It takes anywhere from one to two hours to tune a piano. It all depends on how
out of tune the piano is, when it was last tuned, the condition and quality of the
piano, how old it is, etc. Usually a two hour appointment is scheduled for pianos
that have not been serviced in many years. If the piano has been serviced within
the past year, a one hour appointment is usually scheduled.

Is there a charge to fix a sticky key?
There is no charge to fix a sticky key if I am already there for tuning or some
other piano service and the repair is quick and easy. However, if the repair is
difficult or extensive, additional charges may apply.

What is piano action regulation?
Piano action regulation is the adjustment and inspection of the approximately
9,000 parts of the piano action, (hammers, keys, felts, etc.), to factory
specifications. A properly regulated piano action will enable the piano to produce
maximum power, speed, control and evenness, allowing the player to have
precise control and maximum note repetition at all dynamic levels.

Cross section of a grand piano action

What is piano action reconditioning?
Piano action reconditioning is the process of cleaning, polishing, lubricating,
repairing, and spot replacement of worn action parts. This allows an older worn
piano action to be regulated as closely as possible to factory specifications
without entire replacement of action parts.

What is voicing?
Voicing is the art of adjusting the piano’s tone or quality of sound. Adjusting the
tone (like adjusting the bass and treble on a sound system) does not affect the
pitch of the piano. Voicing is somewhat of an individual preference. Some
musicians prefer a brighter tone, some prefer a softer mellower tone or
something in between. Voicing can only be achieved within limits of the piano
and is dependent upon the piano’s design and condition. A piano’s voice should
be as even as possible from note to note.

What is piano rebuilding/restoration?
Piano rebuilding/restoration is the complete dismantling, inspecting, repairing
and replacing of all worn, damaged or deteriorated mechanical and/or structural
components, refinishing the cabinet and reassembling the piano to a like new

How do I take care of my piano?
Keep your piano in tune. Your piano will sound its best and give you
the most pleasure when it is tuned regularly and kept in proper playing
Maintain a fairly consistent temperature and humidity in the room
where your piano is located.
Keep it clean. Occasionally, clean the keys and piano finish.
Play your piano regularly. You’ll get the most enjoyment from it and will
be able to identify problems before they reach a critical state.
Keep all drinks and liquids off the piano. Spilled liquids on/in a piano,
can cause severe damage.
Do not attempt to repair, adjust or tune the piano yourself. Tuning,
repairing and adjusting of the inner workings of the piano should be
performed by a professional Piano Technician.

What do I use to clean the keys?
Newer piano keytops are made of plastic, and can be cleaned with a commercial
glass cleaner. Lightly spray a clean rag and wipe off the keys. Older pianos may
have keytops made of ebony and ivory and the ebony wood stain may smear on
the ivory keytops if you use glass cleaner. If this happens, only use mild soap
and water on a rag.

How do I clean the piano finish?
The piano finish can be cleaned just as you would a fine piece of furniture by
using dusting sprays that do not have oils, waxes or silicones. Polyester piano
finishes can be cleaned with a commercial glass cleaner or a polish/cleaner
designed especially for polyester. Do not use furnisher wax on polyester

Should I move my piano myself?
No. You should only use a professional piano mover. Pianos can weigh
anywhere from approximately 300 pounds to 1,500 pounds or more depending
on the size and age of the instrument. Pianos may be damaged if not moved
properly and personal injury and/or property damage may occur.

Does it matter where I put my piano in my home?
Yes. Placement of the piano is important. Pianos should be placed away from
heat sources. Especially, forced hot air, wood/pellet stoves, and fire places.
Placing a piano next to a heat source and constantly subjecting the piano to dry
heat, may damage your instrument as well as cause the piano to quickly go “out
of tune.”