Acoustic pianos are rather delicate instruments. As such, they require regular maintenance for them to deliver optimal performance—for them to be in tune.
In this regard, you are supposed to have a professional make the right adjustments to the string tensions.
Such adjustments are aimed at aligning intervals between their respective tones (Source).
Since pianos are made of felt and wood, they are subject to expansion and contraction in accordance with the weather change. As you may have noticed, extreme temperatures will affect the tone, action response and pitch of a piano.
This being the case, you need to have your piano checked and maintained by a skilled and experienced professional from time to time.
This brings us to the main question, how much does piano tuning cost? Basically, having your piano tuned by an expert will cost you between $100 and $120.
However, the much you spend on piano tuning and repairs will depend on many things. For instance, a piano that is regularly played needs to be maintained once every few months.
Such an instrument may cost a little more to tune that one that is only played occasionally. Discussed below are some of the main factors that will affect piano tuning cost.
What Does Piano Tuning Entail?
Table of Contents
- 1 What Does Piano Tuning Entail?
- 1.1 1. Type of Tuning Required
- 1.2 2. Tuning Cost Estimates
- 1.3 3. Hourly Vs. Flat Rate Quotes
- 1.4 4. Age of the Piano
- 1.5 5. Level of service
- 1.6 6. Additional Services
- 1.7 7. Replacement parts
- 2 Our Final Verdict
Piano tuning is essentially the adjustments carried out on its tuning pins. The objective of professional piano tuning is to retain the right tension (pitch) of the strings. This, in turn, allows the instrument to produce the right sounding musical intervals (Source).
In order to achieve this, a piano technician will adjust the tension of each of the strings in the instrument in accordance to the A440 standard tuning.
This is to say that the equipment needs to be tuned until the A above its middle C can vibrate at about 440 cycles per second. If not regularly tuned, a piano tends to lose its pitch.
When this happens, the pitch has to be raised before the unit can be tuned, which will definitely cost you more money.
The cost of tuning a piano is dependent on an array of aspects, including the type of piano, piano age, how well the instrument has been maintained in the past and whether or not it has some strings broken.
While tuning can be fast and cheaper in some cases, it can also be expensive and time-consuming. So, how can you tell the much you should expect to pay for piano tuning?
To be able to ascertain the cost of piano tuning, these are some of the factors you should consider:
1. Type of Tuning Required
Depending on the amount of work that needs to be done on a piano, piano tuning tasks may be categorized into four types.
The much you will end up paying for piano tuning will partially depend on the type of tuning carried out on your instrument, as elaborated below:
Regularly Maintained Piano
These are the pianos that are tuned at least once every six months to one year. Based on statistical findings, a considerable number of pianos in the country are regularly maintained—about a third of the pianos to be precise.
For such a unit, the tuner will have fewer adjustments and repairs to carry out. As such, he or she should take less time to tune the piano; hence charge less.
Moderately Maintained Units
Such are the pianos that have either been moved in the recent past or have not been tuned in the past two years. For such an instrument, the professional will have to alter all the tuning pins before carrying out the actual tuning of the piano.
The initial manipulation of the tuning pins, in such a case, is aimed at pressurizing the soundboard. Such a service should take about 2 hours and will be costlier than tuning a regularly maintained piano.
Pianos That Have Been Ignored
Such pianos are commonly referred to as “sore arm” tuning jobs by the professionals. This may be attributed to the fact that an ignored piano needs a lot of work to for it to be restored. This is particularly the case for instruments that are older than 60 years.
In such a case, the professional tuner has to carry out three fine-tunings at the same time. Essentially, such a tuning requires about three to four hours of work and will be costlier.
When it comes to piano tuning, this is the worst-case scenario you can ever encounter. Such are the pianos that are simply beyond restoration.
Such damage may have been caused by a fire or water. Massive humidity changes can also cause permanent damage to your piano, if not checked.
2. Tuning Cost Estimates
In order to offer you a precise quote for piano tuning, a piano tuner will ask you a few questions. Some of these questions are aimed at ascertaining the amount of tuning work your piano needs. For an accurate quote, the professional has to see and play the instrument.
In cases where the piano cannot be tuned, a considerable number of professional tuners will offer you a free inspection.
Other professionals will charge you a fee for the inspection. You also need to consider this as it will also affect the much you will have to pay for piano tuning.
3. Hourly Vs. Flat Rate Quotes
While some professional piano tuners will charge you hourly for their service, there are those that will only charge you a flat rate for their service.
In this regard, some of the leading piano tuners will charge a flat rate of about $85 for standard tuning on your piano.
Regardless of the case, the cost will include additional payment for small repairs. This is because most piano repairs cost more than just standard tuning.
Most of the most expensive tuners today are known to charge a flat rate, including charges for minor repairs on the instrument.
While this is the case, there are other professionals who may charge you more for such additional services as installing new strings and repairing sticky keys. On average, hourly tuners will charge you about $100 per hour.
If you own a large grand piano or any other expensive instrument, you should expect to pay about $200 per hour for piano tuning. For concert pianos, you should expect to pay even more.
4. Age of the Piano
As you can imagine, newer pianos require minimal tuning and only need to be tuned less frequently. As the instrument advanced in age, the strings will start to stretch. However, a new piano need to be tuned about three to four times for the first year.
This is done to allow the strings to settle. If you recently moved the piano, it is advisable to wait for about 3 months before having it tunes.
This will give the instrument time to adjust to its new environment. Older pianos need to be tuned more regularly than new ones, making them more expensive to tune.
Additionally, pianos that are more neglected or older may require more extensive refinements and repairs prior to the actual tuning.
Such aspects also make older pianos costlier to tune than newer ones. You also have to bear in mind that the more the instrument is out of tune; the costlier it will be to tune it.
5. Level of service
As you might have realized already, different tuners charge differently for their services. This is mainly influenced by the professional’s skill level and experience. Basically, the lower-priced tuners are not as skilled and experienced as expensive professionals.
In most cases, the cheap tuners will only readjust the strings in your piano. The more expensive professionals, on the other hand, tend to look into other tuning aspects like sticky keys and squeaky foot pedals. That said, not all the professional tuners offer such services as part of the quote.
As such, you need to let the professional know of any other maintenance and repair tasks that your piano may need, beyond tuning.
Telling your tuner this upfront will help him or her price the job accordingly. To have such spiff jobs carried out on your piano, you should expect to pay an extra $250 to $350 for about 4 hours of work.
In addition to standard tuning, older pianos may also need to be regulated. In such a case, you should expect to pay a regulation fee of between $200 and $600.
So, how can you tell whether your piano is poorly regulated?
A poorly regulated piano will display such symptoms as:
- Cannot repeat a note quickly
- Requires you to strike the keys harder to get a tone
- Produces squeaks and clicks as you play
- Produces a double-strike sound when keys are stricken just once
- Uneven key heights on the piano
In order to alter the tone in your piano, some tuners may also offer hammer voicing. In this regard, there are two main types of voicing techniques that may be used, including:
- Needle Voicing – a rather conventional method of reshaping hammer felts. While using this method, the professional tuner will prick the hammer felts using a needle to reshape them. Such a service will cost you about $250.
- Steam Voicing – this is a noninvasive technique that uses steam to soften the hammer felts. This method is less expensive and will cost about $125 on average.
6. Additional Services
In addition to the above-mentioned tuning and repair services, your piano may need more work. During routine piano tuning, a professional may recommend certain additional services to restore the instrument to its former working condition.
If your piano requires additional services, beyond tuning, you must check to see whether you referred tuner charge for each of the services separately. The amount of additional services that your piano requires will also affect the tuning cost.
In this regard, here is the national average cost for piano repair and tuning services:
- Tuning – $130
- Pitch correction – $60
- Voicing – $175 to $600
- Repairs – about $65 per hour
- Vertical action regulation and reconditioning – $800 to $2,500
- Grand action regulation and reconditioning – $2,500 to $3,500
- Climate control installation – $450 to $800
- Soundboard cleaning – $100 to $150
- String cover installation – $250 to $350
- Under-covers Installation – $250 to $350
- Evaluations – $100 to $250
- Vertical action rebuilding – $4,000
- Grand action rebuilding – $5,000 to $8,000
7. Replacement parts
A tuner may tell you that he will try not to break piano strings. However, you must bear in mind that piano strings actually do break during tuning. As a matter of fact, an average piano string only has a life span of about eight years.
As the piano advances in age, the strings tend to become weaker and more vulnerable to braking during tuning. If a string does break during piano tuning, it has to be replaced. When that happens, the tuner may include the cost of replacing the string in the quote.
This will definitely increase piano tuning cost. As such, it is advisable to ask your tuner what would happen if he or she broke a string while tuning your piano. This way, you will be prepared to pay for such replacements, when they are required.
Again the sturdy frames on the piano plate may develop weak points as time goes by. If your piano is that old, you should seek to understand who will be liable for a broken plate. This is because a broken plate during tuning can render your instrument DOA.
Our Final Verdict
As you can see, piano tuning cost can vary greatly from one case to another. To ensure that you do not spend a lot of money on piano tuning and repairs, you need to maintain your instrument properly.
Regardless of the much it will cost, regular maintenance and tuning will enhance your piano’s sound and durability.