Your piano has approximately 220 strings under 18-20 tons of tension. Tuning is the process of adjusting the tension, and therefore the pitch, of each string so that all notes sound well when played individually or together as intervals and chords.

Regular piano tuning service is important for keeping the instrument at its intended pitch and critical for proper ear training when learning to play the piano. Most manufacturers recommend pianos be tuned 2-4 times per year.

Brisson Piano Service takes a more comprehensive approach to a tuning service call. In addition to an expert tuning, the whole piano is carefully examined and time is reserved for any necessary minor repairs and adjustments, such as adjusting and lubricating pedals, refining a portion of the action regulation, fixing a tight or sticking key, and/or minor adjustments to the pianos voicing or tone.

A detailed estimate for future service and repair recommendations will be provided and carefully explained at the end of the appointment.

Colorful painted piano

Appointment Info and Fees

Standard Tuning Service $200

A tuning service appointment lasts 1½ - 2 hours.

Pitch Adjustment +$50

This fee will be added if your piano requires a pitch adjustment. A pitch adjustment is an additional full tuning that takes about a half hour to perform and is necessary prior to fine tuning if the pitch has drifted sharp or flat more than 3-5 cents from pitch (A440). This service is likely needed if your piano has not been tuned regularly by a qualified technician at least once in the previous year or longer.

Broken Strings (Price varies)

Proper tuning hammer technique, and lubrication when necessary, is used to minimize the chance of strings breaking while tuning. Despite these precautions, strings may break for reasons beyond the control of even the most seasoned expert technicians. Broken strings will be replaced at the expense of the owner.

Please see “Why do piano strings break?” under Repair FAQs for more info.

Repair Estimate $125

If the piano is determined to not be tunable at the time of a tuning service appointment, then the appointment will become a Repair Estimate.

The $125 repair estimate will apply towards any repairs made, not tuning. The appointment takes about an hour to carefully examine the piano, explain, and discuss the repair estimate. See Repairs for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

My piano is used for... My piano needs tuning...
  • Average, regular home use
  • Once every 6 months
  • More discerning home players
  • New pianos
  • Teaching studios
  • Performance venues with weekend use
  • Once every 3 months
  • Restaurants and performance venues with regular, more frequent use
  • Once per month
  • Performance venues and recording studios
  • Immediately prior to artist event
  • Pitch raise follow up
  • Within 6 - 12 weeks

Additional notes on frequency:

  • Most manufacturers recommend tuning a new piano 4 times within the first year. This is due to string stretching and settling, and the effects of climate as the piano acclimates to its new environment.
  • After the first year or two, most manufacturers recommend at least two tunings per year, and no less than at least once per year.
    Here is a link to various manufacturers tuning recommendations.
  • More frequent tuning is determined by the use and location of the piano. Institutional pianos used for teaching, especially when ear-training is important, and performance locations, like churches, synagogues, restaurants, or smaller venues should tune every three months or even as frequently as monthly.

A pitch adjustment is the process of quickly tuning the piano so that the pitch is within a close range of A440. This is a necessary process before the piano can be fine tuned in order to stabilize the string tension across the soundboard and the tension of the various string segments as they pass through different bearing points.

The end result of a pitch adjustment is a piano where all strings are closely tuned to their proper pitches, within a range of less than 5 cents. Just as there are 100 cents in $1, we use 100 cents to measure a half step, the distance from one note to its neighboring note in either direction, flat or sharp. Once a piano is tuned within this extremely small pitch tolerance, the fine tuning can proceed. A piano that has been pitch adjusted should be tuned again within several weeks of a pitch raise for long term stability.

Stability. A pitch adjustment is stressful to the system of the piano as a whole. Simply put, the piano will fight back against the changes in tension as the strings stretch and settle and the wood acclimates. The follow-up tuning appointment will prevent the piano from falling out of pitch again and will greatly improve the tuning stability in the long run.

The piano goes out of tune because of the atmospheric changes in the relative humidity (RH) and temperature of the air. These changes have an effect on how the wooden structures of the piano, primarily the soundboard and pinblock, interact with the tension of the strings. These atmospheric changes are more noticeable between the annual cycle of seasons, as winter months generally will have drier colder air, and summer months will have hotter, more humid air.

The change in RH causes swelling or contracting within the wooden soundboard and pinblock as they absorb or shed moisture respectively, which in turn increases or decreases the string tension. The altering of the string tension changes the pitches of each string, causing the piano to be out of tune.

A440 is recognized as International Pitch, the standard reference pitch at which we use to tune concert instruments since 1955. A440 defines the pitch of A4, the A above middle C, at 440hz, or cycles per second. Using just one note, A4, with its pitch set at 440hz, piano tuners can then set a temperament using different intervals to then tune the entire piano.

Temperament refers to the distribution of the 12-chromatic notes within an octave, and equal temperament divides the octave into 12 equal intervals.

Modern piano tuning, as well as Brisson Piano Service, assumes the use of equal temperament and A440 as the standards for temperament and pitch. However, historical temperaments do exist, such as Pythagorean, mean-tone, and well temperament. They are less commonly used and reserved for purposes such as performing period pieces of music. A piano tuned with a historical temperament may sound pleasing in only a handful of keys. We therefore use equal temperament in order for music to be performed and sound pleasing in all twelve keys, so there is consistency amongst scales, intervals, and chords from one key to the next.