How Much Does It Cost To Tune a Piano? 2022 Update

Article Summary:

Piano tuning is necessary to keep the piano’s strings tight and the soundboard in good condition. A piano typically needs tuning a couple of times a year; however, this can vary depending on the age of the piano and the condition it’s been kept in, among other factors. In addition to these two main factors, the location of the piano, the expertise of the tuner, the type of the piano, and whether the tuner charges a flat or an hourly rate will influence the price of piano tuning services.

There’s nothing like the sound of a piano. The way the notes seem to flow into one another, the experience of attending a symphony, the mastery of the musician behind the keys — it all adds up to a magical experience. However, if the piano is out of tune, these notes will not hit quite as they’re supposed to.

Piano tuning is a necessary part of the maintenance of any piano. Although the price can vary depending on a number of factors, you can generally help maintain the sound of your piano by keeping it in good condition and making sure it stays away from windows and heat sources. Regardless of how well you maintain it, it’s a good idea to get your piano tuned at least a couple of times a year.

How do you tune a piano?

Tuning a piano is a delicate job that should be carried out by a piano technician. To tune a piano, the technician adjusts the tension of each of the piano’s strings until they vibrate at the proper pitch. Piano technicians often use an instrument called a tuning fork to find the correct tune, but they may also use a handheld electronic tuner.

The standard piano tuning is A440. This means that the A note above the middle C note vibrates at a rate of 440 cycles per second. The A note in the next octave higher vibrates at 880 cycles per second, and the A note in the next octave lower vibrates at 220 cycles per second.

Why does a piano need to be tuned?

A piano needs to be tuned as part of its regular maintenance. Regular tuning can help prevent the tension in the piano strings from loosening too much. Pianos generally are easier to tune, stay in better condition, and maintain their value more easily when they are regularly tuned.

Piano strings can stretch over time due to tension, which causes the piano to go out of tune. A basic tuning job allows a technician to inspect the piano for signs of similar wear or damage.

How often does a piano need to be tuned?

In general, standard tuning on an acoustic piano — whether an upright or grand piano — should be carried out at least twice a year. That said, the condition of the piano you have will determine if the instrument needs to be tuned more or less frequently.

Brand new pianos

New pianos may need as many as three or four tunings each year to give the strings an opportunity to stretch and settle appropriately.

Regularly tuned pianos

Regularly tuned pianos are those that are tuned every six months to one year. They are typically well cared for and in good condition, and tuning jobs on these instruments usually don’t take much longer than an hour. It’s estimated that about one-third of all pianos fall into this category.

Moderately maintained pianos

Moderately maintained pianos have either been recently moved or have not been tuned for at least two years. Tuning jobs on these pianos typically require the technician to manipulate all the tuning pins before carrying out the tuning itself and can take upwards of two hours to complete. About half of all pianos are classified as moderately maintained.

Neglected pianos

An ignored or neglected piano is an instrument that needs to be brought back into working order. Pianos that are over 60 years old will typically require this higher level of care, which consists of three fine-tunings at once and takes about three hours to complete. Only one-sixth of pianos are considered to be in this category.

How much does it cost to tune a piano?

The average cost to tune a piano can vary from $65 to $225 per tuning session, depending on a variety of piano tuning cost factors. For example, your piano may need additional services beyond a simple tuning, or the type of piano you have may require a certified expert to work on it.

Regardless of the price, regularly tuning your piano can extend the instrument’s life and keep it in the best possible condition.

Flat rate vs. hourly rate

Whether the piano tuner charges a flat rate or an hourly rate will be a major factor in determining the piano tuning cost. Generally, more expensive piano tuners charge a flat rate that includes extra services like small repairs. In contrast, less expensive tuners might charge extra for additional services, such as unsticking sticky keys or installing replacement strings.

Hourly rates for piano tuners average about $100 per hour nationwide. For large grand pianos or other expensive instruments that require a high level of expert care, tuners can charge as much as $200 per hour.

Type of piano

The type of piano that needs to be tuned can be another factor in the price of tuning services. For example, concert pianos that are played in symphonies and orchestras will likely need to be tuned by an expert technician, who will likely charge more for tuning services. Tuning a grand piano will also typically require a higher level of tuning expertise.

Conversely, a simpler instrument like an upright piano won’t need as much attention to detail and, therefore, will typically be cheaper to tune because it won’t require work by an expensive, highly skilled technician.

Location of the piano

Where the piano is located plays a role in determining the cost to tune it. For example, piano tuning companies will charge more for a piano located in New York City than they will for a piano located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Additionally, some piano tuners charge more if they have to travel to where the piano is located. Regardless of whether they charge an hourly or a flat rate, you will likely also be charged for their travel time.

Age of the piano

Newer pianos typically need to be tuned more frequently than older pianos, which is why age is another determining factor in the costs of tuning pianos. For example, most piano tuners recommend tuning a new piano three or four times in its first year to help the strings settle.

That said, if you have an older piano that’s been neglected for an extended period of time, it may require more extensive repairs and refinements before it can be tuned, which will increase the overall cost for a standard tuning. In addition, the further out of tune a piano is, the more the tuning will cost.

Experience of the piano tuner

Certified tuners, such as those with a Registered Piano Technician certification from the Piano Technicians Guild, will likely charge more than tuners who are not certified. The Piano Technicians Guild is a worldwide organization that requires technicians to pass a written exam and a field test to achieve the Registered Piano Technician certification.

A more experienced piano tuner may also do a more comprehensive job than simply tuning piano strings. For example, they may investigate if the piano is also having other issues, such as sticky keys or faulty foot pedals.

Pro Tip

Piano tuners who provide tuning services for music institutions and residencies are regularly evaluated by experts, meaning they are more likely to provide quality services.

How can I save money on getting my piano tuned?

If you’re planning to move or otherwise change the location of your piano, it’s recommended you wait at least three months before seeking tuning services. Because the changes in temperature and humidity that often occur during a move can affect the piano’s tuning pins and string tension, it’s best you don’t rush to get it tuned.

Keeping your piano away from windows and heating sources can also help preserve the condition of the piano, meaning you won’t have to get it tuned as often. Heat can lead to cracking in the piano’s soundboard, and excess moisture can cause issues with rust.

Pro Tip

Climate control installation costs can range from $500 to $700; however, investing in climate control can help drastically extend the life of your piano, thus saving you money on piano maintenance costs in the long run.

What other costs can add to the price of piano tuning?

There are other factors that can affect the sound of your piano, which will add to the overall price of tuning services. Tuners may bring these to your attention during a tuning session, and they may offer to complete these services for you if they have the required skills.

Piano voicing

Piano voicing typically costs an average of $380. This service is needed when the piece of fabric that covers the hammer, which is the part of the instrument that strikes the piano strings, becomes too compressed due to repeated use.

When this happens, a tuner can use tools called voicing needles to steam or soften the fabric covering the hammer, which will allow it to produce a truer, clearer sound when it strikes the piano string.

Piano regulation

Piano regulation is a mechanical adjustment of the instrument that makes the sound produced by the piano and the experience of playing the piano as consistent as possible. This service is mostly needed for older pianos, but in some cases, it can be necessary for newer pianos.

A minor piano regulation will cost around $400 on average. However, this cost can be as high as $3,000, depending on the level of work required.

FAQ

How often does a piano need to be tuned?

A piano needs to be tuned at least twice a year. However, this frequency can vary depending on the condition and age of the piano. For example, a brand new piano may need tuning as often as four times a year to calibrate the strings and correct the sound, while a piano that has recently been moved or hasn’t been tuned in some time may need a more comprehensive service beyond the tuning itself.

Can a piano be too old to tune?

If it’s stored properly and kept in good condition, a piano won’t necessarily be too old to tune. It can, however, be too damaged to tune. Some highly damaged pianos, known as DOA pianos, are considered to be beyond the help a tuner can provide.

Issues such as water or fire damage, drastic fluctuations in humidity, or prolonged neglect can push a piano into this category.

Why is piano tuning so expensive?

The cost to tune a piano depends on a number of factors, including whether the technician charges an hourly or flat rate, the location of the piano, the age of the piano, the type of the piano, and the experience of the piano tuner. Piano tuning doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive service; however, it can become expensive if your piano requires an extensive level of service.

Can you tune a piano after 20 years?

You can tune a piano for as long as it is playable and remains in usable condition. While older pianos may require a bit more tuning than newer ones, as long as they are cared for and maintained properly, they should be serviceable by a piano tuner.

Key Takeaways

  • A piano needs tuning as part of its regular maintenance, as this helps keep tension in piano strings that stretch over time.
  • As a general rule, a piano should be tuned at least twice a year. However, the frequency with which a piano needs tuning also depends on the age of the piano, as well as the condition it’s kept in, and how much time has passed since the last tuning.
  • The type of piano, the piano’s location and age, the experience level of the piano tuner, and whether the piano tuning technician charges a flat or hourly rate are all factors that determine the cost of piano tuning services.
  • You can save money on getting your piano tuned by waiting at least three months after the piano has been moved to seek tuning services. It’s also recommended to keep your piano away from windows and heat sources.
  • Piano voicing and piano regulation are two additional services that can add to the overall cost of piano tuning.
View Article Sources
  1. What does a Piano Tuner do? – Berklee
  2. How Much Does A Piano Tuner Charge? – MozartProject.org
  3. What is a Registered Piano Technician (RPT)? – Piano Technicians Guild