Masters Music Piano Services   PITCH RAISE  
Tuning and Repairing Acoustic Pianos.

 

 

What’s Pitch Raise:

Your piano is made to sound its best when it is tuned to A-440 (the A above middle C vibrates 440 times per second), which is the international standard for pitch. When the pitch is set to this, tonal range and power are optimum and other instruments will match the pitch of your piano. When your piano’s pitch varies from A-440, adjustments are needed to bring it back to the standard pitch. When a piano is properly maintained and tuned regularly (keeping it at A-440 pitch), its’ strings and structure stay in equilibrium, which creates long-term stability in the tuning. Ear training is easier, as well, since you can always hear your music in the right key.

Why does the pitch in a piano change?

Piano pitch changes for two main reasons: In new pianos, the pitch drops rapidly since the strings are stretching and wood is settling, which is why it’s imperative to maintain it at proper pitch. A new piano owner should keep the piano in tune so the tension on the strings and the structure of the instrument can establish a stable equilibrium. (Most manufacturers agree that tuning is needed three to four times the first year, and at least two each year after that).

In an older piano, pitch change is caused by a change in climate. The soundboard (the main acoustical structure) is made of wood that produces great sound, but at the same time reacts to climate changes. When the humidity rises, swelling in the soundboard occurs and stretches the piano’s strings to a higher pitch. Then, when it is a dry season, the soundboard flattens out and lowers the string tension, making the pitch drop in the instrument. The drop in the dry season usually exceeds the rise during humid months, causing a drop in pitch each year that the piano is not maintained.

Won’t tuning restore my piano’s pitch to A- 440?

When a piano goes without tuning for a long time, its’ pitch will have dropped way below A-440. When this happens, every one of the 220 strings needs to be tightened a great deal. This adds tremendous tension to the structure of the instrument. As each string is tightened, the extra tension makes the pitch of previously adjusted strings to change.

When each string is tightened, the extra load causes previously adjusted strings to change pitch, making it impossible to both substantially change the pitch and end up with a tuning that is accurate in one step. Instead of this, a ‘pitch raise’ must be done first, which is where the strings get raised to their accurate tension levels. Then the piano can be tuned accurately. A fine tuning is possible only if all of the strings are so close to having correct tension that small changes are all that is needed at the time of the tuning. These changes are small enough that they do not cause change in the tuning of other strings.

 

 
 
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