For the piano owner who wants to maintain his / her piano but doesn't want to throw good money
away on work that's unnecessary, the question of whether or not the piano needs to be tuned is an
important one. As a responsible owner you would like your piano to sound its best, especially if
children are taking lessons on it. A piano that is in tune will invite one to play, even when the
music is on a beginner's level. A piano that is out of tune will discourage even an avid student
from sitting down to practice. So, as a non-technician, how do you know if your piano is out of
tune and needs the attention of a tuner? Fortunately, you don't need to be a technician or an
accomplished piano player to be able to decide whether or not your instrument need to be tuned.
Apply the following 4 basic tests to your own piano and you will know whether it is in tune or out
of tune. If it is out of tune, it's time to call your tuner / technician to schedule a service
appointment.
Test I: Is your piano at the correct pitch? Whether or not a piano is at the correct pitch
depends on the vibration rate of test notes and how they compare to a standard rate of vibration.
One commonly used test note is that ofA-440 (known as A4) which refers to the A in octave above
middle C. When in tune, this note vibrates at a rate of 440 times per second. This is an important
measure of whether your piano is in tune and is something you can easily check first.
(The reason this is important is because a piano that is either noticeably flat or sharp will not
be as pleasant to play as a piano that is set at the correct pitch.
The further flat a piano is, the less musical it will sound. If the tension on the strings is too
low, the vibrancy of the strings will have decreased along with the pitch. A piano that is
noticeably sharp is no better, in that it will not match other instruments, and will sound off to
people trying to sing or play along with it.)
Test: To see if your piano is at standard pitch you need to compare it to an accurate refer- ence,
such as the tuning fork shown at left. If you don't have a tuning fork handy for use but you do
have a computer with attached speakers try going online at www.onlinetuningforKcom . The middle
tuning fork in the online picture is A-440. Click it
for the correct tone, then compare that to A4 on your piano.
Helpful hint: If your computer is in one room and your piano in another, try humming the tone in
between the two locations. Strike the A in the center of keyboard (photo) to see if the tones
match. If your piano is either noticeably flat or sharp, it's not as musical as it should be.

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