The wonder of a piano lies in the sentiment that it’s the delta where the rivers of percussion and string instruments meet.
You won’t be able to find another instrument whose existence lies in swapping between these two genres. Percussion and string instruments hit different chords of the heart, and the magic of the piano lies in fusing the two.
Even watching a piano player go about his usual jumps, skips, and dashes over the keyboard is a sheer treat to the eye. And in a way, one can’t help but wonder how it’s possible to move both hands in entirely different styles and yet in perfect tune and rhythm!
Tune and rhythm are the operational words here and very few things in the world are worse than an out-of-tune piano, not to forget rhythm, which you can master with practice.
So, today we’re going to talk about the nitty-gritty of tuning pianos and everything that comes along, including how much it may cost. Let’s get started!
How long does it take to tune a piano?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions in online forums apart from ‘How much does it cost to tune a piano?’ Well, looking at the vast number of keys, and then finding the tune to be off, takes away any amateur’s peace of mind. And if it’s a double-layered piano, even the thought of tuning it will make your head dizzy, and abandon the hope of learning it in the first place.
Yeah! Whatever is beautiful in this world comes with a price. And for anything as beautiful as a piano, the cost is your time, patience, and perseverance. Anyway, if you’ve just dipped your toes into the fantastic world of music, it’d be challenging for you to get a piano tuned up to the perfect chords and notes.
In the preliminary stages, you would require a tuner expert, a professional whom you can hire to hit up the exact notes of all the octaves. To the heart of tuning a piano lies an expert ear that can recall the flat and sharp notes accurately without even an inch of distortion. It’s a pretty difficult job!
An expert usually takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to tune a piano and if it’s a piano that has missed its annual servicing for 2 or more consecutive years, the tuning time increases a bit. Quite a bit, rather. In that case, it would take somewhere between 3 to 4 hours to completely tune the piano afresh.
What happens when the keys break? Are there replacement piano keys available?
It really feels like a cloud-burst when you see your piano break. Or any musical instrument that you’re trying your hands on. That’s because (and this is what most musicians would relate to) you develop a strange friendship with your instrument. Those who haven’t felt the yearning won’t understand what it means to feel life in an inanimate object of strings, chords, and skins.
So, yeah, keeping in mind your heartbreak for those times your favorite piano breaks, there are replacement keys available on the market. You can find them online or just hit the nearby music store, and you will get keys for all the octaves, and the cost varies between USD 4 to 20 for each set.
And if you’re looking for ivory keys that are more pleasing to the fingers, the cost gets considerably higher. Let’s say for each key, the price could vary somewhere around USD 5 to 10, but it’s a sheer treat playing the piano with ivory keys. The hands simply slide from one key to another to give you celestial sounds that long to take you miles away…
How do you learn to tune?
To begin with, tuning is a difficult task, and it takes quite a bit of time to get the hang of it. Theoretically, you can get a grasp over tuning a piano if you know the notes by heart. This, in essence, means that you gotta train your ear with all the octaves and notes that exist, and this is just the introductory part.
The difference between tuning a piano and any other stringed instrument is not just arranging a whole lot of keys and strings. It’s also taking out each component of the piano, and tampering with the strings until each note hits the perfect pitch. It’s basically a step by step process, and if you’re able to reach the right tone of a single note, the ones next to them get really easy. That’s the thing with symphony, once you get the hang of it, you’ll simply drift along!
That being said, we’d like to remind you that tuning a piano is one of the toughest tasks, after which comes tuning a harp. Most professional tuners take piano tuning courses and after trying out their hands with different tuning forks, tuning wrenches, and wedges to isolate the strings.
How much do piano tuners cost?
Taking a piano tuning task as a DIY project sounds exciting. However, if you aren’t careful in the process, you may end up with snapped strings and damaged components, and the repair work will cost you way more than a simple tuning session.
So, if you’re an amateur, calling up a tuner will actually be a cost-effective option and what’s better than getting into playing it right away!
Well, a piano tuner will come down to your place, check your piano for any other issues, and finally sit down to tune it. Depending on its condition, it may cost you somewhere around USD 120 – 150. And there are some other factors as well that could affect the sound of your piano apart from incorrect tuning.
In case you didn’t know, there’s a concept called piano voicing. When a key is struck, the hammer associated with it hits the felt fabric to make the corresponding sound. And after using a piano for long, the fabric, as well as the grooves, can become compressed. That’d result in a harsher and brighter tone.
For such times, your tuner will mend the hardened fabric with voicing needles or passing parts of it through steam. All these methods come at a cost, and we agree it’s a bit high, but once you’re done with it, the sound that’d come out will mesmerize you!
Some tips for you to remember
Instead of worrying about ‘How much does it cost to tune a piano?’, perhaps, it’s a great idea to take care of it so that its tuning doesn’t go off, or that its hammer doesn’t get jammed.
Here are some points that you could keep in mind to avoid detuned pianos.
Regulating humidity, sunlight, and temperature
You gotta remember that the sound of a piano totally depends on how the strings work up the hammer and how it vibrates the felt. Therefore, you need to ensure the inside of the piano remains dry at all times, especially during the winters. So, get yourself a piano heater and leave it on most of the times when the temperatures go below 10-degree Celsius.
However, saving from the cold doesn’t mean you should keep the piano exposed to direct sunlight. Remember, you are dealing with hammers and strings here, and the sound could get hampered with their expansion when subjected to direct sunlight.
Try NOT to move the piano much
The position of the soundboard changes every time you shift the piano, and along with it, the pins holding the strings turn as well. Once you tamper with the tension of the strings, the whole sound arrangement gets disrupted, so you must try as little as possible to move the piano.
We hope we could help you out with your doubts regarding piano tuning and the cost that comes along. Pianos are really some of the most beautiful inventions of humankind because unlike any other instrument, the ranges and effects they can hit you with are endless!
If you’re a learner who’s reading this piece, we’d like to tell you there’s an incredible musical world that awaits between your two hands. Our final tip for you is, press a key, and breathe with the sound that comes out. Remember, music is nothing more than hearing your feelings!