Ask the Experts !
If you have a specific question not listed below, use the Contact Us form to send us your question and an ARPT will answer you if possible.
Q: How often should my piano be tuned?
A: As a general rule, a piano should be tuned twice per year as changes will occur because the pitch is dependent on changes in humidity. In some regions the pitch will rise in summer and fall in the winter whilst in other regions the opposite will happen - falling in summer and rising in winter. Unfortunately the fall in pitch exceeds the rise causing the pitch to drop over time. It also depends upon the amount of use your piano gets as the more use it gets, the more frequently it needs to be tuned. For a more comprehensive answer to this question (and many others), click here.
Q: What is 'Concert pitch' or 'A440'?
A: A piano is designed to perform and sound at its best when tuned to A440 concert pitch (international standard pitch). This pitch enables you to play with other instruments and is essential for the pianist’s ear training. A 440 - the 5th 'A' up your piano's keyboard, or 'A' above middle 'C' - should be tuned to vibrate at 440 hertz (cycles per second). Some old pianos won’t withstand the tension of Concert Pitch. Your ARPT tuner should tell you if your piano can't be tuned to 'A440'. Click here to explore this subject thoroughly.
Q: What is pitch raising?
A: If your piano has not been tuned for a long time the pitch may have dropped below Concert pitch or A440. If that has happened it will need additional tuning or "pitch raising" before it can be tuned and remain stable at the correct A440 pitch. It is impossible to achieve a fine tuning if the pitch has to be raised more than about 3 cycles per second. There is an additional charge for pitch raising and if the pitch raise is large it may require additional follow up tuning to consolidate and stabilize the pitch at A440.
Q: Where should the piano be positioned in the home?
A: Careful consideration should be given to the placement of the piano in the home. It is best for the piano to be at a consistent temperature away from direct sunlight, moisture or draughts. This will prolong the tuning stability and protect the exterior finish of your instrument. If in doubt ask your piano tuner.
Q: Tuning new pianos?
A: New pianos often require more tuning to stabilize the pitch.
Q: How does humidity and temperature affect my piano?
A: A piano is constructed using high quality timber. This adds to the richness of the tone, however a piano is greatly affected by humidity. Seasonal or even daily changes cause the wood to swell and shrink. This affects the tuning ability and touch. As the moisture level increases, the crown of the soundboard expands, pushing the bridge harder against the strings, resulting in a rise in pitch. If the soundboard shrinks the opposite will happen and the pitch will fall.
Q: My Grandmother always kept a bowl of water in her piano because "Australia is too hot". Is this recommended?
A: This technique has been commonly used in the past but is not highly recommended today. In some cases, severe damage can result from the loosening of vital glue joints, not to mention rust and oxidation on metal parts, such as strings and springs.
Recommendation: If you live in a dryer climate, it can be beneficial to place a pot plant (preferably with larger fronds) within the vicinity of the piano, as this will keep some moisture in the room. If you need to stabilize the climate for your piano, ask your ARPT tuner to recommend a solution relevant to your local area. Sometimes a device specifically designed for piano climate control can be beneficial.
Q: My Grandmother always kept a light bulb in her piano because "New Zealand is too damp". Is this recommended?
A: Again, this technique has been commonly used in the past but is not highly recommended today. Split bridges and severe damage to glue joints can result from the heat, in some instances completely ruining the piano. As above, consult your ARPT tuner to recommend the best solution relevant to your local area.
Q: New piano dealer preparation and guarantee?
A: All new pianos need to be unpacked, tuned and thoroughly checked mechanically by the dealer prior to delivery.
Q: How should I clean my piano?
A: New pianos: Use a soft clean cotton cloth or a feather duster to remove dust. For built up grime use a damp cloth or a good quality non silicon furniture polish. Older pianos: To restore some of the finish a furniture oil may be useful. To clean the keys just use a damp cloth. Keep food and drink away from your piano at all times.
Q: What if my piano been affected by flood water?
A: Follow this link for unformation: Water Damaged pianos.