5. Piano Strings are steel wires under a tremendous amount of pressure, and they stretch.
The piano has 88 notes, but many of the notes have more than one string. In fact, an average piano has approx. 240 strings. All these strings add up to around 10 or more tons of pressure. (That’s enough to lift your garage off its foundation!) Over time, and with the added pressure of being struck to sound a note, the strings will stretch and go out of tune. This is especially true of new pianos, and pianos that have been re-strung or rebuilt.
4. Wood reacts to Humidity changes. When it is damp it swells; when it is dry it shrinks.
All these tightened strings rest across a piece of wood called a “bridge”, which is glued to the soundboard. This is how the sound of the strings is amplified. The soundboard is slightly arched, and is glued tightly to the perimeter of the piano. When the ambient humidity increases, the arch increases and stretches the strings more, making the pitch sharp. When the humidity decreases, the arch decreases, making the pitch flat.
3. The pitch of a Piano (the tension of the strings) is not arbitrary.
The Piano must be kept at proper pitch in order to sound the way that the manufacturer intended. The pitch of a string (the note it sounds) is determined by three factors: the thickness of the string, the length of the string, and the tension. If you look inside a piano you will notice that the strings are all a different length. This measurement cannot be changed, nether can the thickness of the string. These two factors were set by the manufacturer, therefore, the only variable is the tension. As the piano goes out of tune, each string will not only be off pitch, but off-tone as well.
2. A Piano that is tuned regularly stays in tune longer.
Your piano was designed to be at a specific pitch: “Concert Pitch” or A:440 (This means that the note A above middle C vibrates at 440 beats per second). If you let your piano cycle through more than one season change, the above factors will cause it to go so flat, that the piano tuner will have to stretch the strings sharp before tuning it at A:440. This is called a pitch raise. It is usually twice the cost of a normal tuning, is hard on the piano, and results in a tuning that is not as stable. A piano that is regular tuned will stay close to pitch and will not need a pitch raise.
The Most important reason of them all:
A well-tuned piano is essential for good musicianship.
Young students will be greatly hampered in their studies if their piano is not kept in tune. They will notice the difference between their piano and their teacher’s piano, and it will confuse them. It will also interfere with ear training. Worst of all, you may become accustomed to the sound of an out-of-tune piano, so that the sound of a good piano, in concert or recording, may sound strange. One thing is certain: It will be impossible for your children to progress far in their studies if they have to practice on a poor instrument, or even a good instrument if it is not in tune.
Remember: Out of all the things you possess, your piano is one of the few things that will outlast you, and be lovingly passed down from generation to generation.
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– Jamie Musselwhite