This is one of the most common questions we get asked. You might think how fickle some musical instruments can be with tuning and assume that a piano would probably have to be tuned after it’s moved because of the potential stress the strings exert on the structure.
Conventional wisdom states that you would need to tune a piano after it’s moved; some people might even insist on tuning a piano if you roll it across a room. Is this really the case?
Pianos are much more robust than many people might imagine. After all, pianos used to be transported across the country on horse and buggy, they are very rugged instruments and a simple move across a room or even across town is not going to necessarily knock it out of tune. It would take a tremendous amount of force to knock a piano out of tune just by moving it.
For longer moves – let’s say across the country or hundreds of miles – unless the piano is shipped in a climate controlled truck it could possibly need to be tuned once it arrives at it’s new location. The move itself is not what will make the piano go out of tune however, it’s something much more important.
The climate of the room where a piano is kept is the determining factor in whether or not a piano will have to be tuned once it’s moved. Pianos need a stable environment in order to stay in tune and unless you are moving a piano in a climate controlled truck it may need to be tuned once it reaches its destination and becomes settled to it’s new home. Just moving a piano across town will probably not make the piano go out tune as long as the climate in your home is similar to the climate where the piano was previously. So how long should you wait before you decide to tune the piano after a move?
I always recommend letting a piano sit in it’s new location for at least a couple of weeks before performing its first tuning in its new location unless there are some issues with the piano that need to be addressed sooner. This will give the piano time to settle and acclimate to it’s new home. You shouldn’t wait too long after a move to tune your piano though as there is a potential danger to be aware of.
Many people might not know this but neglecting to tune a piano could be damaging to the instrument. The piano can shift up or down in pitch – and it’s something you might not even notice – and it can take a number of tunings before you can get the piano back up to the standard A440 pitch and keep it stable. So after a few weeks (2-8 weeks) tune the piano and keep tuning it on a regular schedule.
Thanks again for joining me. If you have any questions about this topic or any others relating to pianos or music in general please feel free to ask: Robert Estrin, Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729.