Should My Piano Be Tuned to A440?

Why should I pitch raise my piano? I am asked that question almost daily as I explain to my clients what I have found upon arrival at their home, and I set up for a tuning job. It is important to understand that pitch corrections before the actual tuning is always the clients option. Let’s consider what tuning is. A simple definition is: the strings of a piano being adjusted so that when the instrument is played, the intervals such as: thirds, fifths octaves, and any other interval that is played will sound pleasing and musical to the ear. It is important to note, I did not include in the definition, the pitch of the piano. That is simply because a piano, like any stringed instrument can be tuned at any pitch that is desired. (all stringed instruments can be damaged if tuned to sharp/to much tension, or if tuned to low can sound dull and lifeless) So if all this is true, why should a piano owner have the pitch corrected on their piano? Quite simple; first, modern pianos were designed to sound their best when tuned at a pitch referred to as, standard pitch or A440. Second, if the piano is within the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty, the piano must be kept at A440 to avoid voiding the warranty. In my opinion all modern pianos should be maintained as close as possible to standard pitch…simply; they sound best when tuned to A440.

When a piano is allowed to set un-tuned for a long period of time the pitch will drop. It is common to find pianos a quarter step flat, a third step flat, and in some cases as much as a whole step flat. This condition brings an option to the table. You; the piano owner must decide what you want done. The piano can be tuned a quarter step flat, or it can be tuned a whole step flat, or you may decide to have the pitch corrected and tuned to A440.

Piano manufactures recommend tuning a piano every six months or more often depending on use and demand. Pianos that are tuned often require very little change in over-all tension of the piano. This one fact helps produce solid and stable tunings, and will help prevent the pitch from dropping. Pitch corrections of one half step can effect the tension on your piano by thousands of pounds. The piano structure will react to this change, making it necessary to make two or three passes through the key board to get the piano to stabilize. Pitch corrections can, and should be avoided, by tuning regularly. If your piano needs to be pitch corrected before tuning, know this: it is a common procedure and all care is taken to avoid damage to your piano during the process.

Craig Cole is a piano technician serving piano owners in Oakland County, Michigan as well as many surrounding communities. Call for your piano service appointment today: (248) 647-6810