Retuning your piano may seem like the last thing on your mind during the hustle and bustle of your move.
Once the dust settles, however, it’s vital to retune the instrument for use. After all, nobody wants to practice with or listen to an out-of-tune piano.
We spoke to a representative from Steinway and Sons, and they said, “Moving your piano might have an impact on its tuning stability, but the other thing that makes your piano go out of tune when you move it is the change in weather.
When you move your piano from a heated, dry area to a cooler space or vice-versa, the piano’s soundboard shrinks which then changes string tension and pitch. The reason behind this is because pianos are made from wood making them extremely sensitive to humidity fluctuations.”
We spoke to a representative from Steinway and Sons, and they said, “Moving your piano might have an impact on its tuning stability, but the other thing that makes your piano go out of tune when you move it is the change in weather. When you move your piano from a heated, dry area to a cooler space or vice-versa, the piano’s soundboard shrinks which then changes string tension and pitch. The reason behind this is because pianos are made from wood making them extremely sensitive to humidity fluctuations.”
Learn more below on how moving affects a piano’s tune, how to tune it, and what’s the best way to keep it in-tune during a move.
How Moving Affects Your Piano’s Tune
Contrary to popular opinion, moving doesn’t throw off a piano tune. Pianos are built to be durable and are capable of handling heavy use.
Aside from excessive shaking or a catastrophic bump, the main culprit behind a piano going out of tune is the weather.
Humidity, dryness, and temperature have a direct effect on a piano’s wood and its parts.
For example, with not enough air moisture, the piano’s wood can shrink, causing the pianos’ parts to loosen, shift, or crack.
Hence, if you plan on moving your piano to Tampa, Florida, when you come from a cold place like Minnesota, expect that your piano will inevitably go out of tune.
When to Tune Your Piano After Moving
Pro tip: Don’t tune the piano immediately after moving.
The piano experiences several changes during a move and will have to acclimate to its new environment first.
Tuning it too early may only cause you more work later on as the piano adjusts to its new surroundings.
To save time and effort, give the instrument some space first.
It usually takes three to five days for the average instrument to adjust. However, you can wait for longer, especially with bigger pianos.
Let it be for two to three weeks, which will give you enough time to settle into your new home.
After the acclimation period, you can get to work on having your piano tuned.
How to Tune Your Piano
Tuning a piano takes a lot of work and skill.
Not only do you have to be careful in handling tools and parts but you also need to have a good ear for distinguishing different notes.
Thus, most people hire a professional tuner who can accomplish the task effectively.
That said, if you would still like to give it a try, prepare the following tools for the tuning process:
- Piano tuning lever
- Rubber mutes
- Orchestral tuner/chromatic tuner
With all of these prepared, here’s a quick guide on how to tune the piano:
Tune One String in the Middle Octave
Pick a string (A) to work on in the middle octave (the section between C4 and C5).
Lift the dampers, and isolate string A by putting rubber mutes on the strings surrounding it. Tune string A using a chromatic tuner.
Tune the Other Strings in the Middle Octave
From this point onward, you’ll have to tune by ear alone. Using string A as a reference, tune the rest of the strings in the middle octave section.
As before, use the rubber mutes to isolate the sound of a string and work on them one by one.
Tune by Comparing Octaves
After finishing the middle octave section, work on the rest of the strings. Use the middle octave strings as a reference.
Afterward, you finish by tuning the strings outward (e.g. A5 to A6, A6 to A7, and so forth.)
Clearly, tuning a piano is no walk in the park. To have your piano tuned properly, seek a professional tuner near your new place.
It will make it easier for you to settle and have your piano ready to use at the earliest possible time.
Keeping Your Piano Tuned While Moving
Considering the amount of work that goes into retuning a piano, you may be wondering if there are ways to stabilize its tune for the move.
Fortunately, there are few ways you can achieve this. Some of these include:
Scheduling the Move in Cooler Hours
In the early morning or near evening, it’s not as hot or as humid.
Thus, the instrument’s internal moisture won’t evaporate quickly, preventing the wood and parts from shrinking and shifting.
Use a Humidifier
If you can, place a portable humidifier within the instrument before wrapping it for the move.
The humidifier will help ensure that the piano gets the right amount of moisture, making it more likely to stay in tune.
Ask the mover if their truck has an auxiliary power supply to attach with the humidifier.
Hire Piano Movers With Climate-controlled Vans
To make things significantly easier for you, look for piano movers who use climate-controlled vehicles.
Not only are they experienced in moving pianos, but they will also have the necessary tools and equipment to ensure that your piano remains in tip-top shape.
In conclusion, there’s a lot of monetary and emotional value attached to a piano.
Instead of letting it go, a lot of owners would prefer to bring their pianos with them.
Ensure a beautiful sound by hiring the right piano movers and having a professional piano tuner retune it properly.