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Tuning basics


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Tuning basics

  1. 1. Tuning: The BasicsWhy does a piano need regular tuning? Why does it go out of tune? Whatdoes tuning involve?A piano is a complex assembly of metal, wood, felt and cloth parts. More than two hundredsteel “strings” varying in length and thickness, and with the lower ones covered with copperwire, are secured at both ends and stretched very tightly over a wooden bridge whichtransmits the strings’ vibration to the sound board.Metals parts expand and contract with changes in temperature. Wooden parts expand andcontract with changes in humidity.As the weather changes and as the seasons change, tiny amounts of expansion andcontraction take place in the materials of the piano. Strings change in tension by almostinfinitesimal amounts, and settle in new positions. This affects the pitch of the sounds theyproduce.At one end, each string is coiled round a tuning pin, and using a special tool called a TuningLever, the piano tuner adjusts the position of the tuning pins so that the strings are at theright tension.The arrangement of all the notes in the musical scale, and of all seven octaves of the piano,is complicated, both in theory and in practice. For more information on this, see the moredetailed information sheet on this page.
  2. 2. Regular tuning – generally twice a year for pianos in the domestic situation – helps yourpiano to become more stable and keeps it sounding as it was meant to sound.