You can have the most wonderful piano in the world, but if it is not tuned, it will not produce the quality of sound that you paid and trained for. Furthermore, if you are a professional, it may make sense to tune your piano to be in line with other instruments that you are performing with on any given night. Piano tuning is something that is not talked about much because we don’t think of tuning it in the same respect that we do with most other instruments like violins or guitars. This is because it is so big and the strings are stressed at such a high tension (plus it is harder to do).
Thankfully, there are piano tuners who can be hired to come to your piano in order to tune it to your preference. The industry standard is to tune a piano twice a year, but many professionals opt for much more frequent tuning services. For newer pianos, a greater rate of tuning is recommended so that the strings can be broken in. There are many things that can impact the soundboard and pitch in a piano- everything from changes in humidity and pressure in the room in which it is to physical variables that many impact the piano.
So what exactly consists of tuning a piano? It really all comes down to adjusting the tension on the strings to get the desired pitch. A piano differs from conventional instruments in this regard in that the pitch can’t easily be increased or lowered in a performance, so the tuning is especially important to the effect of a performance. With a piano, it is also important to keep in mind the scales in which the music will be played and which should be optimized in the tuning process. This is because if you tune to perfection for some scales, others will naturally be out of tune. Traditionally, some are tuned to perfection while others are disregarded. Eventually, people also began to tune in a way that distributed errors evenly across all scales- something is known as equal temperament.
Acoustical tests are used to verify that the octaves are correct and that a tempered scale has been registered to the piano after a tuning session. It is also important to make sure that the hammers are adjusted properly so as to keep the desired sounds of the piano. The humidity level of the soundboard is also important as it acts as an amplifier and the humidity levels can drastically impact how the sound gets amplified. This is why it is important to note what type of wood the soundboard is made out of.
There are many components involved in a piano which can be complicated and hard to manipulate. Piano tuning can be an intensive process but one that is very important to the quality of sound that your instrument produces. Thankfully, many professionals can help you tune the piano to perfection so you can focus on the most important part- playing.
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