Pianos generally become out of tune due to humidity changes. Exposure to central heating in the winter dries out the soundboard which causes a drop in pitch, and in the summer months the moisture lost during the winter is reabsorbed which raises the pitch. Regular tuning ‘evens out’ these variations and ensures the piano is pleasurable to play throughout the year. Having your piano tuned every six months, and sometimes more frequently when conditions indicate, is the recommended interval. If a piano is ‘dormant’ it should still be tuned. A technician can pick up the early signs of any deterioration or moth infestation - normally an annual tuning is recommended in these instances.
Pianos, like any mechanical device, need regular adjustment and maintenance, known as regulation or servicing. This needs to be carried out from time to time to ensure the piano is playing properly and that the touch is even throughout the instrument.
Buying a Second-hand Piano
If you are thinking about buying a second-hand piano I offer an inspection service to check the integrity of the instrument for sale. Sometimes a piano that plays well will have major faults which are not immediately apparent. The Pianoforte Tuners' Association has some useful information and advice regarding buying a used piano - visit www.pianotuner.org.uk.