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#2159304 - 09/28/13 07:10 PM Piano not holding tune
terry_ljh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/08/12
Posts: 3

I've had a 1982 Yamaha C7 for 10 months now, which won't stay in tune. It's been tuned 3 times since it arrived, the most recent one a week ago. On the second tuning the tuner said it was going sharp as the room was too cold at night- and I should use a heater to heat the room during winter. The original pitch of the piano was A442 but it was lowered to 440. The room isn't air conditioned and the temperature fluctuates quite a bit as the room is heated by direct sun in the afternoon- I've bought an awning/kept blinds down to try to prevent that though.

I'm just curious if anyone knows the most likely cause- and if a humidity control system is likely to help the problem at all. Thanks.

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#2159349 - 09/28/13 08:40 PM Re: Piano not holding tune [Re: terry_ljh]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3932
It would be helpful to know what part of the country you are in. Humidity changes will change the pitch and tuning of the piano - high RH usually takes the piano sharp...low RH Usually takes the piano flat. Temperature changes have a lesser, but measureable effect on tuning as well. Your piano may have been neglected, and never tuned. Piano strings stretch and need about 7 tunings to become stable. Your strings may still be stretching.

It sounds like you need to control the temperature and humidity in the room, and perhaps install a Damppchaser unit, and add a piano cover and maybe undercover to create a micro environment. Once that's done, a couple of tunings be a good tech will stabilize the piano, assuming pins are tight, and no other issues exist.

#2159367 - 09/28/13 09:17 PM Re: Piano not holding tune [Re: Bob]
terry_ljh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/08/12
Posts: 3
Sorry I should have said, I'm about 150km North of Sydney in Australia. Both an independent tuner and the tuner from the dealer I bought the piano seemed to think the good piano was in good condition. I had a smaller upright in my room before which stayed in tune for a year, and this is already going out of tune after a week... I was going to try the damp-chaser first as that's cheaper than air con- just trying to figure out if the problem is the piano or my room. Thanks for your help.

#2159515 - 09/29/13 07:48 AM Re: Piano not holding tune [Re: terry_ljh]
Hedahl Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/25/13
Posts: 14
Are the unisons going out of tune or is mainly the octaves going out of tune? Is it going out of tune in the bass to tenor area break?
Piano Technician

#2159517 - 09/29/13 07:59 AM Re: Piano not holding tune [Re: terry_ljh]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014

Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1910
Loc: Conway, AR USA
You mention that the pitch was changed from A442 to A440. Presumably the technician is responsible for this and not changing RH? If the former, then what Bob mentions above will be the case. It may take a few more tunings for the instrument to stabilize. If it does not respond favorably, then a humidity control system could be the answer. However, since the piano is in the same locale as your former upright that did not have the problem, RH should not be a factor in this, that is provided no changes have been effected in your home air systems. You might acquire a digital hygrometer and record daily RH in the room before going that route.

Also, sometimes an older C7 may require a special tuning technique* to compensate for rendering. You might ask the tech about this as well.

*Without which the piano tuning will not be stable.

Edited by bkw58 (09/29/13 08:28 AM)
Edit Reason: *addition
Bob W.
Retired piano technician

#2159524 - 09/29/13 08:15 AM Re: Piano not holding tune [Re: terry_ljh]
Withindale Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 2172
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: terry_ljh
I had a smaller upright in my room before which stayed in tune for a year, and this is already going out of tune after a week...

Was the same tuner responsible for tuning both pianos?
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

#2159525 - 09/29/13 08:18 AM Re: Piano not holding tune [Re: Hedahl]
jim ialeggio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 797
Loc: shirley, MA
Originally Posted By: Hedahl
Are the unisons going out of tune or is mainly the octaves going out of tune? Is it going out of tune in the bass to tenor area break?

I second this question. More specifics reagarding the "out-ot-tune-ness" are necessary.

Jim Ialeggio
Jim Ialeggio
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA

#2159550 - 09/29/13 09:08 AM Re: Piano not holding tune [Re: Hedahl]
terry_ljh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/08/12
Posts: 3
I'm not sure how to tell, I think it is the octaves- playing a melody doubled in octaves is when it sounds most painful- individual notes don't sound too bad. The worst notes are in the octave above middle C- the octave below is also bad. Each time it is tuned I always notice the B and G naturals above/below middle C go out quickly. Lower bass notes and higher treble don't sound as bad- but this might just be because my ear can't detect it as easily.

Bkw- Yeah the technician lowered it to A440. I hope it stabilizes, the tuner said that bigger pianos were much more sensitive to conditions- I'm just surprised how sensitive. I'll ask him about it but I'm not really sure how it works.

Withindale- Yeah the same tuner tuned both pianos.

Thanks for the tips.

#2159679 - 09/29/13 02:22 PM Re: Piano not holding tune [Re: terry_ljh]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
lowering induce instability way more than raising.

ANd if the piano was always tuned to 442 I would have left it at that pitch.

Strange choice from the tuner.

Yes direct sun is a definitive no, as too large fluctuations, but a piano installed in its "long term stability" may accept all kind of conditions assuming you are not expecting a concert tuning at every hour of the day.

I tune a piano in a veranda : glasses all around and above.

There are curtains but the heat raise to the point some white keys have slipped while the pianist played (the key top moved 1- 2 mmm ) due to the glue softening.

Despite that the piano is staying in a playeable condition, I tune it every 6 months, sometime more, without huge problems.
It is a small grand 1.80 from Shimmel.

At some point the metal of the wire simply do not move anymore unless brutalized, it change tension due to soundboard motion with moisture, and change pitch with heat, but come back to prior situation usually.
Of course , large changes create more trouble and the best thing is to avoid them, but scales are computed to keep the tuning despite heat change.

Lowering the pitch also move a small part of the wire that is more fragile because turned around the pin, and is put in the active system, possibly creating more instability.

Often the pitch is written somewhere on the keys or in a visible place on the piano so the tune knows where he need to tune it.

Once the piano "learned" that pitch, the best thing is to keep it, or consider any change as a repair.

May not change "quickly" after being tuned anyway. Or the tuner is not experienced with pitch lowering techniques. ( and is not sensitive enough, as we perceive, feel, when a string/tuning pin, is in a stable condition)

Edited by Olek (09/29/13 02:27 PM)
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