Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to tune a piano?
The cost for a piano tuning is currently $200 (plus taxes). See the Services page for pricing on other services.
How often should a piano be tuned?
The simple answer is: At least once a year. A piano is affected by seasonal changes, and tuning a piano every years helps to ensure that it does not fall flat in pitch. It is also an opportunity to detect and address any maintenance issues that may come up. Pianos are more stable when they are tuned and serviced regularily.
What causes a piano to go out of tune?
Changes in humidity and temperature are the greatest factor in causing a piano to loose its tune. Because a piano is made of natural materials, such as wood, felt, and even metal, these materials react to the environment. When the humidity levels rise in the spring, the wood soundboard and bridges expand, causing some of the strings to rise in pitch. In the fall, when the humidity drops, the piano likewise tends to fall in pitch. These changes can also affect the regulation of the instrument.
What can I do to protect my piano from seasonal changes?
The best way to prolong the life of a piano and keep it in good tune is to maintain the instrument at a steady humidity level and temperature. Having a humidity control system in the house is optimal. In addition, it is a good idea to get a system that can be installed directly inside the piano. Piano Life Saver System is an ideal way to protect your piano and prolong its life. All the technicians at Frostad Piano Services are certified installers. Contact us or see our products page if you would like more information about this system.
Is it better to tune a piano aurally (by ear) or electronically?
There is an ongoing debate between those technicians who tune aurally (by ear) and those who use an electronic tuning aid. The biggest drawback with an electronic tuning aid is that it can be used as a crutch, and a novice could buy one and claim to be a piano tuner without ever having developed a good ear or tuning technique. But a technician who is well-trained can use either method effectively. It is important to note that one method is not necessarily more accurate than the other. A well-trained ear and a high-quality electronic tuning device are both capable of producing an outstanding tuning job. What determines accuracy is the tuner's ability to manipulate the tuning hammer on the tuning pins in such a way that the strings stay exactly where they are supposed to. This requires years of training and experience to develop. All the technicians at Frostad Piano Services are fully trained in aural tuning, and use the highest quality electronic tuning device for optimum accuracy alongside aural techniques.
What is "regulation," and how do I know if my piano needs it?
Regulation is the term used to refer to the adjustments and maintenance of the piano action, affecting the touch of the instrument. Or, to put it another way, regulation involves everything between one's fingers and the strings. There are thousands of components inside a piano action, and each of these must be adjusted and positioned exactly in order for the piano to function properly. A well-regulated piano will have a good, even touch from one note to the next. If you find your piano feels uneven from note to note, if it is hard to play very loud or very soft, or if you hear notes that "bubble" or double-strike, your piano may be in need of regulation.
What is "voicing," and how do I know if my piano needs it?
Voicing refers to adjusting the tone of a piano. This is done by optimizing the way the hammer hits the strings, needling the hammer felts to make them softer (to produce a more mellow sound) or occasionally using a chemical hardener to harden the felts (to produce a brighter sound). Voicing a piano also helps to ensure that the tone is even from one note to the next. A well-voiced piano will have a wide range of colour and dynamic capability, but overall will have a warm pleasant sound and will be neither harsh nor dull. Of course, the voicing potential of an instrument depends on its age and condition. If you find your piano is unpleasantly bright or "pingy," if the tone is uneven from one note to the next, or if the piano just doesn't sound good even if it is well-tuned, your piano may be in need of voicing.
How can I find a good used piano to buy?
The best way to know if a piano is worth buying is to have us asess it before you purchase it! Buying a used piano is similar to buying a used car. A piano may look good on the outside, but that isn't always an indication of what is going on "under the hood." And the price that the seller is asking for may or may not be a good deal. Even some old uprights that are being given away for "free" may not be worth the price or effort of moving them. If you are considering buying a particular piano, it is always best to hire a technician to take a look at it first. Aside from that, be sure to do lots of research and see what is available. If you can, try to play a number of different pianos (including new ones to get a sense for what a good piano feels/sounds like), and make sure that the piano has a touch and tone that the pianist likes. For a more detailed answer, see our article on how to buy a used piano. An excellent book that every person who owns or intends to buy a piano should have is Larry Fine's The Piano Book.
Where should I keep my piano?
A piano should ideally be kept away from any sources of heat, cold, moisture, and excessive airflow (including air vents or heating ducts). Also, avoid placing the piano in direct sunlight.