The modern piano is designed to deliver the best sound at a pitch of A-440 or C-523.3 Hertz (cycles per second), Piano tuning fork at A or C, an octave above middle C, which is called standard or concert pitch. A string produces the best sound quality when it is at 70% tension in relation to its breaking point or a minor third below breaking point, which is why it is important that a piano’s pitch should be maintained. At standard pitch, the piano has an optimal power and tonal range, and it will match the pitch of other instruments. The same applies in situations where a piano is played in concert with other instruments. As a result of this many instruments are maintained at a particular pitch while others simply need small adjustments up or down when it is being tuned. When the pitch of your piano varies from A-440 Hertz, pitch alterations will need to be made to bring it back to standard. Proper ear training is ensured, because you always hear your music in the correct key. By always maintaining your piano at standard pitch, you create durable tuning stability because the strings and structure stay in equilibrium.
Piano Pitch And Climate
Pianos usually go quite flat during long dry seasons, and do not rise completely back up to where they were before during the wet seasons. A change in climate is the main cause of pitch change. That’s because the piano’s main acoustical structure, the soundboard, is made of wood. despite the fact that wooden soundboards create a magnificent sound, they also react continuously to climate changes. As the relative humidity rises, the soundboard swells, increasing its crowned shape and stretching the piano’s strings to a higher pitch. Then for the duration of dry times the soundboard flattens out, lowering tension on the strings and causing a drop in pitch. The drop in the dry season normally exceeds the rise during humid times, so the effect is a major drop in pitch each year that the piano isn’t tuned and serviced.
Piano pitch alteration and structure
If the piano is not regularly tuned, every year that passes by, the pitch will drop further and further away from standard pitch where it should be, and it becomes extremely hard for a piano tuner to pull it back up to the required tension levels of standard pitch. A piano technician has to raise the tension of over 200 strings, which put a lot of strain on the piano’s structure. It’s impossible to make such an enormous adjustment to the pitch and have a stable tuning in one pass. So what has to be done is to first raise all the strings up to their proper average tension levels, and only then can the piano be accurately fine tuned. This will help keep the tension level of the strings more stable at the level it should have been. If a piano has gone without tuning for quite a while, its pitch may have dropped far below A-440. This means that each of its, more or less, 220 strings needs to be tightened considerably adding great extra tension to the piano’s structure. The difficulty is that as each string is tightened, the additional load causes the pitch of previously adjusted strings to change. Therefore it is impossible to make a large change in pitch and end up with a fine, accurate tuning in one step. A pitch raising must first be done, in which all strings are raised to their correct average tension levels. When a piano’s pitch is higher than standard, a pitch lowering procedure must be done to reduce string tensions to approximately correct levels. Only then can the piano be accurately tuned. Accurate or fine tuning is only possible when all strings are so close to their proper tension that only small adjustments are needed during tuning. These small changes then do not disturb the tuning of other strings.
Pitch raising is the process followed to reset a piano’s tone back to standard pitch. When a piano has not been tuned for a long period of time while being exposed to climate and seasonal changes, or it sounds out of tune, or below pitch when used together with other instruments, and cannot be played in concert for that reason. It is necessary to do a pitch raise before a final tuning can be done. Pitch raising and tuning is carried out over two separate and reasonably spaced sessions so that the strings and structure of the piano have time to adjust to the new level of tension. Please note that strings might break during a pitch raising, and that the account for replacing strings is for the client. The cost of a pitch raising is the same as that of a tuning even though it can be carried out during a shorter period of time than is required by regular tuning. A piano needs to be re-tuned three to six months after the initial pitch raising and tuning, after which it is only necessary to tune the instrument once or twice a year to maintain its stability.
Older pianos sometimes require a pitch lowering when the piano tuner feels that the frame or strings can no longer withstand the tension created by being tuned to standard pitch, or it sounds out of tune, or above pitch when used together with other instruments, and cannot be played in concert for that reason. It is necessary to do a pitch lowering before a final tuning can be done. Pitch lowering and tuning is done over two separate and reasonably spaced sessions so that the strings and structure of the piano have time to adjust to the new level of tension. The cost of pitch lowering is the same as that of a tuning even though it can be carried out during a shorter period of time than is required by regular tuning. A piano needs to be re-tuned three to six months after the initial pitch lowering and tuning, after which it is only necessary to tune the instrument once or twice a year to maintain its stability.
Do You Need A Pitch Raising Or Pitch Lowering?