Pianos have massive amounts of string tension. Their construction is such that they acclimate to whatever string tension is present in order to be stable. This is what makes them both a solid piece of furniture and a musical instrument.
However, the tuning of every stringed instrument, including pianos, slips and becomes flat over time. Occasional re-tuning by a professional technician are part of the cost of owning a piano.
1. How Will You Know When Your Piano Needs to Be Tuned?
Listen for a solid, unwavering sound when you press the keys. If the piano is out of tune, the pitch will waver after you press the strings. Also, if you have another instrument handy, you can see if the pitches match up for the individual notes. However, whatever instrument that you have will likely not be able to match the full range of notes on the piano.
2. The Piano Has Sat for a Long Time. Can It Still Be Tuned?
Most pianos can be tuned unless they also need some repairs. However, if the piano has been out of tune for a long time, then it has in all likelihood "settled in" to being out of tune. When this happens, it may take several tuning sessions to re-establish the piano's tuning stability.
3. What If Your Piano Needs Other Repairs?
If your piano has other issues, like dead keys, for example, your piano technician will be establish what caused the problem and what needs to be done in order to repair it.
4. Will an Old Piano Still Tune to Concert Pitch?
Most pianos can be tuned back to concert pitch. However, if the strings are very old and the piano has been out of tune for a long time, tuning the piano back up to the concert pitch can cause the strings to break. If your technician suspects that this might happen, they will usually tune the piano back to being a little flat of concert pitch. This keeps the older strings from being overwhelmed
5. What Else Can Be Done to Improve the Sound?
Changing the strings will undoubtedly improve the tone of the piano, at least slightly. However, to really improve the piano's tone, the hammers may need to be reshaped or replaced. Doing this can be expensive, but it should really make your piano sing!
Final Thoughts on Piano Tunings
Playing an instrument that's out of tune is not nearly as enjoyable as playing a properly tuned instrument. Plus, if you play with other people, playing out of tune becomes really confusing and difficult because you or the other players have to compensate on the fly for the out-of-tune player.
Contact a piano tuner in your area to learn more.