A younger Tim and his father, Peter Jackson, tuning one of only 3 Pleyel double grands ever built
There was a time, not so long ago, when it was recommended by manufacturers that your piano be tuned four times a year to keep within the terms of the guarantee and to ensure your instrument be kept in the best possible condition. Today, fortunately, as most houses have central heating, twice yearly tuning is recommended for an average piano in a domestic setting. However, every piano should be tuned at least once a year to give it any chance of being maintained to a reasonable standard without any loss or lowering of pitch.
There are several important factors that affect the tuning stability of a piano regardless of how often it is played. The main factor being the immense tension the piano strings are under, which can range between 15 to 20 tons. The strings are held in place by the tuning pins in the wooden wrest plank and the hitch pins which are attached to the iron frame and are stretched across a wooden soundboard. This is basically a large, flexible diaphragm that vibrates to amplify the sound of the strings. Due to the changing moisture content of wood, the soundboard is constantly undergoing movement. This causes the strings to be moved up and down, which coupled to the considerable tension already mentioned, results in the instrument going out of tune.
Another consideration is that older pianos were not built for modern, centrally heated homes. Consequently the wood dries out over the years leading to the tuning pins becoming loose which directly affects tuning stability. Positioning adjacent to heat sources or in direct sunlight can also have adverse effects such as loosening of the piano action. Regardless of age, heavy and/or prolonged usage will inevitably cause the strings to be ‘knocked out’ of tune more readily.
Along with tuning there are other servicing elements which need periodic attention. In the same way we have our cars serviced, the mechanism of a piano, a system of up to 5000 moving parts, needs regular maintenance. Failure to do this can lead to poor operation of the piano action and keys. Regular tuning of the piano will enable these issues to be addressed before they lead to anything more serious.
Although we are based in Co. Waterford, we travel to surrounding counties including Cork, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Wexford.