How To Tune A Piano

Learning how to tune a piano is a very useful skill, but until you perfect your skills it is not recommended that you tune your piano yourself. There are professional piano tuners out there who can help you with your piano-tuning needs until you're ready to try it yourself. When you do tune your own piano, concentrate, eliminate outside noise and take your time throughout the process.

To tune a piano, you will need:

  • Rubber tuning wedges (also called "mutes")
  • A tuning hammer
  • A lever or wrench
  • An electronic tuner
  1. Start with middle C and tune one string at a time. To tune a piano, you must note that each piano key strikes anywhere from one to three strings. If the key you are trying to tune strikes more than one string, then use your rubber mutes to stop the vibrations of the other strings while you tune each one. If there are three, begin with the middle string.
  2. Slowly tune the piano. Once you've chosen your string and stopped the vibrations of any others attached to the key, slowly use your tuning wrench (or hammer or lever) to turn the pin while striking the key repeatedly with a firm hand. Turn right to tighten the pin and raise the pitch; turn left to loosen the pin and lower the pitch. Do this until the electronic tuner displays that you are in tune. Make sure you turn slowly to avoid breaking the string; this is important when tuning a piano.
  3. Set the pin. This is the part of piano tuning that takes the most practice in order to get it right. How well you do this will determine how long a piano stays in tune. To set the pin, tighten the string just a bit above pitch, then loosen it just a bit to move into pitch.
  4. Tune the unisons. Now you must tune the other strings in the set if the key is attached to more than one string. If there are three strings, silence the third with a mute and leave the first free while you tune the second. To tune the third, mute the second and leave the first and third strings free. Ignore your electronic tuner for this part; merely follow the same procedure as above to tune the strings, but instead of using the tuner to know when to stop, wait until it sounds like one note when you strike the key (remember, strike it firmly) rather than two notes in disharmony.
  5. Finish tuning the middle octave and move to the next one. You may now ignore your electronic tuner and tune the higher and lower octaves on your piano by ear, matching A to A, B to B, C to C and so on. Continue to tune one string at a time, but to tune your first string, strike that key along with the corresponding key in the freshly tuned middle octave and compare the sounds instead of using the tuner. To tune the second and third strings, follow the exact same procedure as above.
  6. Tune the rest of the piano without the electronic tuner. Continue to follow this procedure, using the adjacent octaves to tune each octave on the piano. This is much easier than dealing with the tuner each time and will ultimately sound better.
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