Piano Tuning FAQs

What kinds of pianos do you tune?

Jim tunes all types/brands of pianos except:

  • Square grands – these are pianos that are square with horizontal strings, mostly from the last half of the 19th century.
  • Birdcage  verticals – these pianos were built in England or Germany during the  latter part of the 19th century and are a favorite of antique dealers  because of their beautiful woodwork. However, the mechanics of these  pianos were so poorly designed that it is almost impossible to tune them  or keep them in tune.  They are called birdcage because of the long  damper wires in the action.

How often should a piano be tuned?

 There  is a common misconception that you tune a piano when it starts to sound  bad. Some people wait so long that the piano can be as much as a whole  step flat. They think this is economical but in fact what happens is  that the piano never gets conditioned to stay in tune. The reality is  that the piano starts to go out of tune as soon as the tuner is done  tuning. This is because so many factors can affect the tuning. If your  piano is really out of tune, put it on a 6 month schedule for 18 months to 2 years. A reputable tuner will tell when it  is OK to reduce the frequency. But after a year, just because the piano  sounds “OK”, don’t postpone the tuning. Keep it on a regular schedule of  at least  1 tuning every year.

It depends. If  it is a new piano, it should be tuned every 6 months for the first 4-5  years. If it is holding a tune well, then it can go on a yearly  schedule. 


If  you are a teacher or musician, you will want to tune your piano every 6  months so that it always sounds good. This is also true for  churches. At a minimum, the piano should be tuned in December so that it  sounds good for the Christmas season. 


December is the month  with the highest demand for tunings. Do not wait until the last minute  to schedule your tuning. It is best to call right after Thanksgiving.

If  your child is taking lessons, you will want to make sure your piano  stays in tune so that your child’s ear is properly trained so tune your  piano every 6 months.


Schools should have their pianos tuned  every August just before the start of school and again in the Spring  before any spring concerts are held.


If you have a premium brand  of piano such as Steinway, Baldwin, Yamaha, Kawai, Mason Hamlin,  Schimmel, etc, you will want to protect your investment and tune every 6  months.


What if your piano is one of the less expensive models?  It is still a good idea to tune it on a regular basis because an inexpensive piano, if broken in properly, can settle down and become a good instrument. But this can only happen with regular tunings.


We  have a customer who bought a nice Baldwin Spinet. She was never told  why she should have regular tunings during the period of time she first  bought it. During the first 22  years she had the piano, it was only tuned 3 times. It has taken  several years of tunings every 6 months to get the piano to finally  settle down. 


A piano that is never tuned from the time it is new can be permanently damaged to the point that it will never hold a good tuning.


 There  is a common misconception that you tune a piano when it starts to sound  bad. Some people wait so long that the piano can be as much as a whole  step flat. They think this is economical but in fact what happens is  that the piano never gets conditioned to stay in tune. The reality is  that the piano starts to go out of tune as soon as the tuner is done  tuning. This is because so many factors can affect the tuning. If your  piano is really out of tune, put it on a 6 month schedule for 18 months to 2 years. A reputable tuner will tell when it  is OK to reduce the frequency. But after a year, just because the piano  sounds “OK”, don’t postpone the tuning. Keep it on a regular schedule of  at least  1 tuning every year.

What do you charge?

 

  • The basic tuning fee is $150.00 for any piano that is at pitch or  less than 10 cents flat (this term is explained below). Piano more  than 10 cents flat require a pitch raise (a double tuning) which adds  $100 to the base price. In addition, cleaning out the inside of the piano  and most minor repairs (sticky keys, etc.) are included in the base  tuning price.
  • A  service call to repair something that has gone wrong since the tuning  is $100.00 plus any additional parts or labor that might be required.
  •  The appraisal fee is also $100.00.
  • The fees for reconditioning are dependent on each piano's condition and typically range from $500 to $1000 or more.

When do you have appointments?

 We schedule tuning appointments Monday through Friday between 9 AM to 5 PM. 

Do you work weekends and holidays?

We  do not schedule tunings on weekends or holidays unless it is an  emergency for an existing customer.  However, you are welcome to call  with your questions any day from 8 AM to 9 PM.


When  Jim arrives to tune a piano for the first time, he will evaluate the  piano and make sure it is structurally sound enough to handle being  tuned. If he determines that the piano is in a grossly deteriorating  condition, he may decline to tune it. This happens rarely.


Jim  is a traditional aural (by ear tuner) using the equal temperament  method that has been used for centuries. When he arrives he will use an  electronic tuning fork set at A-440 to get the starting note and  determine what the pitch of the piano is. Since the tuning process from  this point on involves listening to and matching various harmonics, it  is important that the tuning environment be very quiet. Playing the TV, running the vacuum, birds or barking dogs  or even moderate conversation levels can make it impossible for the  tuner to hear what he needs to hear. Children are often very curious  about the inside of their piano and what the tuner is doing. Jim  welcomes their questions and curiosity. Anyone is welcome to watch  quietly as Jim tunes. 

Each half step on the piano (e.g. going  from C to C-sharp) is a semi-tone and is divided into 100  divisions  called "cents", just like the dollar. So when the pitch is off by 10% or  more (e.g.10 cents or more), the tuner will recommend doing a pitch  raise.

What is the cost of asking questions?

 You  are welcome to call or email your questions. There is no charge for  conversation and imparting knowledge. While in your home, please ask Jim  all your questions – we want our customers to be as well educated about  their pianos as possible. 

When you are buying a piano, we want  to make sure that you get the best piano possible for your money.  To  help you, please send us an email and ask for our free report “How to  Buy a Used Piano”. 

Do you know any good piano teachers?

 There  are many excellent teachers in the greater Sacramento area and if you  click on the tab on the left of this page, you can download a PDF of our list.