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#2041898 - 03/02/13 03:09 PM When to tune a piano
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 389
Loc: Ohio
Hi gang,


I live in the climatologically variable Midwestern USA, with hot humid summers, and bitterly cold winters. In the winter, my home is very dry and on the cool side. In the summer is is somewhat humid.

In the past, I've noticed that my piano shifts a bit in tuning as the seasons change from dry inside to humid inside.

My question is this: My piano needs tuning right now (I get it tuned about once a year, irregularly), but the season has not yet changed to one in which my HVAC has gone from heating to neutral to cooling. Should I wait until the humidity in my home has shifted before tuning? I'm concerned that a tuning now will simply be erased when the conditions in the house change. I'm thinking that by waiting until late April or so, I'd get a longer lasting "tune."

I realize a DampChaser would obviate this issue, but that's not really in the budget at the moment. Perhaps someday.

Any thoughts?
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Chopin Etude op 25 #2 and op 10 #5
Schubert Op 90 #2, #3
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes

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#2041908 - 03/02/13 03:41 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: Brad Hoehne]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Thoughts?

You seem to know the answers. A neglected piano will go out of tune - that's a given. The choice to have it tuned, or not, is entirely up to you.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2041910 - 03/02/13 03:44 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: Brad Hoehne]
terminaldegree Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 3482
Loc: WI --> GA
Hi Brad,

There's more info about this at ptg.org, but I figured I'd chime in as someone from the upper midwest.

If the piano is stable (not brand new, and not failing in some way), I usually like to get mine tuned in May and again in November. I add a little humidity in winter via a room humidifier to get things above 35% and also use a full DC system. My A/C is just an in-wall unit, which takes some humidity out of the air but not much in summer. With the humidifer and a/c here, the annual relative humidity indoors is anywhere from 35-65%, and I let the DC system take care of the rest for the piano. Without the humidifier and a/c, it would probably swing from 20-70%, which is not very nice for the instrument or the people living here.

If you're only getting tuned once a year, then anything will seem like an additional cost. I don't think I'd be able to stand the sound of any piano after the seasonal swings in this part of the country without a couple of tunings a year and/or some sort of humidity control (either in-home and/or in-piano). I do agree that the tuning will likely change markedly as things thaw out between now and May (or perhaps April, depending on where you are in Ohio). What's the humidity situation in your home?
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer

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#2041947 - 03/02/13 04:59 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: terminaldegree]
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 389
Loc: Ohio
Right now the humidity in my home is 31%. It fluctuates between 20-35% for most of the winter. In the summer we have between 50-60% or so. The piano is pretty stable (though nothing compared to my Baldwin Acrosonic, which would hold its tune in a monsoon.)

I might get the piano tuned twice a year (I've only had it for about 2 1/2 years) in the future. Having had it tuned last May, after it seemed to "go out" a bit over the previous winter, and then "snap back" somewhat in about April, I'm just now getting to the point where it feels needed.

Will a DampChaser help?


Edited by Brad Hoehne (03/02/13 05:00 PM)
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Chopin Etude op 25 #2 and op 10 #5
Schubert Op 90 #2, #3
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes

Top
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#2041957 - 03/02/13 05:20 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: Brad Hoehne]
terminaldegree Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 3482
Loc: WI --> GA
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne

Will a DampChaser help?


Given those extremes, yes, I think it would help, though it wouldn't be a perfect solution given an annual swing of 20-60% RH. If you figure on roughly $400 for an installed upright system, and you keep an eye on it (don't let the tank run dry, refresh the pads when they look cruddy), it could improve things over the course of a year. By the same token, you could take that $400 and buy a large console humidifier plus an extra tuning a year for the next 2-3 years.

Either solution is preferable to what you're doing now, but it depends on your expectations for the instrument and your budget. My expectations border on insanity, so I employ an "all of the above" strategy...given my profession, good maintenance is a tax write-off at the end of each year, anyhow.
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer

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#2041997 - 03/02/13 06:42 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: Brad Hoehne]
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 389
Loc: Ohio
Alas, I can't write off the expense.

Thanks for the advice. Haven't decided what to do yet. I'll call up my piano tuner friend and ask if he can work me a deal on a DampChaser.

Brad H.
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Chopin Etude op 25 #2 and op 10 #5
Schubert Op 90 #2, #3
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes

Top
#2042069 - 03/02/13 11:19 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: Brad Hoehne]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1510
Loc: Michigan
As an upper midwest tuner, here's my prescription . . .

The ideal is not to tune your piano but keep it in tune. The more you deviate from that ideal, the less stable it will be and the shorter amount (including possibly never) will it actually ever be in tune. I have one customer with a climate control system who still wants his piano tuned every 6 weeks.

OK, with that said, if you tune the piano once a year, you should tune it the same month every year. It will still be off a good bit of time, but it will be more stable than randomly tuning it whenever the mood strikes.

If you tune the piano twice a year, they should be exactly opposite each other seasonally and spring and fall would be best -- or, say, 1 mo. after heat goes off and one mo. after it comes back on.

Yes, Dampp Chasers make a HUGE difference. Once stabilized, they "might" save you 1 tuning a year but in any case, will keep the piano much more on between tunings.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
Editor, Piano Technicians Journal
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2043443 - 03/05/13 03:38 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: kpembrook]
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 389
Loc: Ohio
Thanks!
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Chopin Etude op 25 #2 and op 10 #5
Schubert Op 90 #2, #3
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes

Top
#2043471 - 03/05/13 04:36 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: kpembrook]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
As an upper midwest tuner, here's my prescription . . .

The ideal is not to tune your piano but keep it in tune. The more you deviate from that ideal, the less stable it will be and the shorter amount (including possibly never) will it actually ever be in tune. I have one customer with a climate control system who still wants his piano tuned every 6 weeks.

OK, with that said, if you tune the piano once a year, you should tune it the same month every year. It will still be off a good bit of time, but it will be more stable than randomly tuning it whenever the mood strikes.

If you tune the piano twice a year, they should be exactly opposite each other seasonally and spring and fall would be best -- or, say, 1 mo. after heat goes off and one mo. after it comes back on.

Yes, Dampp Chasers make a HUGE difference. Once stabilized, they "might" save you 1 tuning a year but in any case, will keep the piano much more on between tunings.


I second this!

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#2043475 - 03/05/13 04:47 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: Brad Hoehne]
Steven Y. A. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 292
Loc: Toronto
how much to install dampp chaser for upright? (everything)
_________________________
PLEYEL P124

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#2043480 - 03/05/13 05:02 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: Steven Y. A.]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
Originally Posted By: Steven Y. A.
how much to install dampp chaser for upright? (everything)


It depends on whether or not an in-piano system can be installed, or if a backside system can be installed. Somewhere between $500-$600 for an in-piano system and somewhere around $700 for a backside system, maybe a little more or a little less, depending on your technician's hourly rate.

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#2043593 - 03/05/13 09:09 PM Re: When to tune a piano [Re: Brad Hoehne]
malkin Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 3778
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Happy consumer of Dampp Chaser here!

When our piano came home to us, home was a small condo. The natural humidity in Utah is always about as dry as can be, but our inside humidity changed with every kettle I boiled for tea. Cooking dinner or reducing stock about created a monsoon. The new piano was far enough out to make us crazy. (YMMV; we're pretty picky about intonation!)

Anyway, we LOVE the piano, LOVE the DC, and still engage the tech quarterly!
_________________________
Everything in moderation, including moderation. --Oscar Wilde

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