There's nothing worse than sitting down at a piano, an exciting new piece of music in hand, only to discover that your piano is out of tune. This is especially frustrating when the music you play calls for precision and tonal clarity, but your piano sounds like a dust-collecting player in a honky-tonk that's been dropped down a flight of stairs.
As you know, all instruments go out of tune periodically. You must remember that your piano is under tremendous tension at all times. Still, there could be other factors that could be contributing to unexpected de-tunings:
- temperature fluctuations
- high or low humidity
- improper maintenance schedule
Any one of these conditions is enough to cause the strings of your piano to behave erratically. It doesn't take to make much to create that "wobbling" sound between two pitches of the same class. Additionally, if your piano's old, you can't forget about the effects of aging on strings and hammers. Perhaps, they need to be replaced or re-shaped in the case of the hammers. Whatever the case, it's time to call a piano tuning technician.
Changes in temperature cause the wood in your piano to expand or compress. This can actually cause the tuners within the wood to loosen to the point that they don't hold the tune very well. To protect your piano, make sure it's located in a room that's temperature is well controlled. You may want to consider installing a thermostat in your piano room.
High or Low Humidity
Again, the importance of maintaining stable atmospheric conditions can't be said enough. This is especially true in regards to your piano room's humidity. High humidity will cause the strings to go sharp over time, while low humidity tends to make the strings go flat. For best results, keep the room's humidity between 45% and 75%.
Improper Maintenance Schedule
For new pianos, most manufacturers recommend that you have them serviced and tuned three or four times during the first year of ownership. Then, for every year afterwards, you should have them serviced twice per year.
Unless you are a trained professional, do not attempt to tune your piano yourself. As previously mentioned, the strings of your piano are under huge amounts of tension. Failure to follow proper safety precautions could lead to mutilation, even death.
The best bet is to call someone who does piano maintenance and tuning every day. They've worked with every type of piano on the market, from full-uprights to baby grands and everything in between. Plus, they may have special digital tools that allow them to get your piano's pitches precisely correct.