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How To Properly Tune Your Piano

Do you have a piano in your home? Are a master musician who can play Beethoven and Mozart with ease? Are you a more casual player who likes to play for a while after dinner?

Regardless of your level of musicianship, if you love to tinker with the keys you want to make sure it’s performing as it should. That means it’s got to be tuned.

You could visit a piano repairs shop or piano restoration shop and pay a piano tuner to get your piano sounding its best, but if you’re waiting to tune your piano yourself it can also be done. If you’re going to do it, it requires time, patience, attention to detail and a strong ear.

If you’re going to be your own piano tuner, here’s what you need to do. Let’s start with equipment you’ll need:

  • Get materials: When you’re tuning a piano, much like any sort of handyman job, you’re going to need the right tools. The problem is that you probably won’t find piano tuning tools just anywhere. Unless you’ve got a piano shop or a music shop in town, you’re going to have to find tools online. Do research to find quality tools.
  • Get a tuning lever: As you search for tools, make sure you get a piano tuning level. It’s the most important tool you’ll need to be your own piano tuner. A good lever might run you about $50. When you get a tuning lever, make sure to get the right tip for it. Different number tips grip the pin tighter or looser depending on which one you get. If you’re not sure, get a standard No. 2.
  • Get a chromatic tuner: A chromatic piano tuner runs anywhere from $500 to $1,000, but it can be a worthwhile investment. It helps give you a proper tone so your piano isn’t turned too flat or too sharp. If that short of thing isn’t in your budget, look for tuning software or a tuning app. If you do get software, get an external microphone too.
  • Get mutes: A variety of mutes will help you test out the range of sounds and volume of the piano.

Now that you’ve got the tools, let’s get to piano tuning:

  • Removal the panels: If you’re going to play piano tuner, you’re going to need to remove your piano’s external panels because you’ll want to get to the strings. You’re going to need some dust rags since your piano is probably going to be very dusty. You’ll also need a flashlight so you can see what the heck you’re doing.
  • Review the strings: Before you get to tinkering, get familiar with all the strings and which keys are attached to them. You need to have a basic understanding of what goes where because you don’t want to end up tuning the wrong strings.
  • Start with C: When it comes to tuning a piano, the most common tuning is A440. Keep in mind that mid-treble note has three strings. To tune, mute the first two strings so you can hear the third one. Use your tuner to tune that string and then tune the other two strings to match the first one. With the other two strings—called unisons—tune those by ear.
  • Turn the pin for the string: When it comes to tuning, you’ll want to take your tuning lever, put it at the top of the pin and make slight movement. You don’t want the strings to break. Remember that turning the pin to the right (clockwise), raises the pitch. Turning it left, lowers the pitch. You want to make sure you’ve got steady hands and make slight turns to check the tones until you get the right one.
  • Set your pin: Once you’ve found the right tone, you’ll want to set the pin. This is done by tightening the pin to the right slightly and then turning it slightly left to get it to the perfect pitch. This might takes some practice to get right.
  • Tune in octaves: Once you’ve turned your middle A, you can tune lower A and follow along the keyboard until the whole piano is done.

Once you’ve done all those steps, sit down and play your piano. If it’s not exactly how you want it, have some patience and go through the tuning process again.

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