Piano Tuning Service

How much does piano tuning cost?

Denver, CO and Front Range Piano Tuning Services

At the Denver Piano Company, we pride ourselves in being a full service shop.
Aside from sales, we also offer a wide range of piano related services.
Piano tuning is a very large part of what we do.

It is recommended that your piano should be tuned twice a year for optimal tone and stability.
It is also recommended that your piano should be tuned every time that it is moved. Two weeks after the move to be exact. The soundboard and pinblock will need time to settle and adjust from the swelling and contracting that takes place after the introduction of a new humidity level in order to reach ideal piano humidity.

Our piano tuning service cost breaks down into two categories:

-Piano Fine Tune: $125

A fine tune applies to pianos that are within reasonable tune.
Meaning, that they have been tuned within the last 2 years.

-Piano Pitch Raise: $75

When a piano has gone several years without a piano tuning, the steel strings can lose their tension beyond what can be brought back by a standard fine piano tuning. If a fine tuning is applied to a piano that needs a pitch raise, the tuning will have fallen before the piano tuner has left the home. The remedy is a pre tuning called a “Pitch Raise”.

Essentially, the piano tuner tunes the piano above the A440 standard pitch. The goal of this is that when the strings stretch back to a lower tension, they are closer to a standard pitch. The tuner can then apply the fine tuning, and it will hold. We will never offer, or charge for this service, unless it is absolutely necessary.

Below is a brief technical description of piano tuning courtesy of wikipedia,
we hope this aids your understanding of the process.

Piano tuning is the act of making minute adjustments to the tensions of the strings of an acoustic piano to properly align the intervals between their tones so that the instrument is in tune. The meaning of the term ‘in tune’, in the context of piano tuning, is not simply a particular fixed set of pitches. Fine piano tuning requires an assessment of the vibration interaction among notes, which is different for every piano, thus in practice requiring slightly different pitches from any theoretical standard. Pianos are usually tuned to a modified version of the system calledequal temperament (see: Piano key frequencies, for the theoretical piano tuning).

Below is a technical description of piano tuning that we pulled from wikipedia.
We hope you can find this information helpful to further your understanding of piano tuning.

Reference Wikipedia Piano Tuning

Overtones and harmonics

Schematic of a vibrating string, fixed at both ends, showing the first sixnormal modes or harmonics
A stretched string vibrates in different modes, or harmonics. When a piano string vibrates, all the harmonic modes are excited simultaneously. The first harmonic (or fundamental frequency) is usually the loudest, and determines the pitch that is perceived.[12] Theoretically the higher harmonics (also called overtones or partials) vibrate at integer multiples of the fundamental frequency. (e.g. a string with a fundamental frequency of 100 Hz would have overtones at 200 Hz, 300 Hz, 400 Hz, etc.) In reality, the frequencies of the overtones are shifted up slightly, due to inharmonicity caused by the stiffness of the strings.[13]

The relationship between two pitches, called an interval, is the ratio of their absolute frequencies. The easiest intervals to identify and tune are those where the note frequencies have a simple whole-number ratio (e.g. octave with a 1:2 ratio, perfect fifth with 2:3, etc.) because the harmonics of these intervals coincide and beat when they are out of tune. (For a perfect fifth, the 3rd harmonic of the lower note coincides with the 2nd harmonic of the top note.)

The term temperament refers to a tuning system that allows intervals to beat instead of tuning pure or “just intervals”. In equal temperament, for instance, a fifth would be tempered by narrowing it slightly, achieved by flattening its upper pitch slightly, or raising its lower pitch slightly.
Tempering an interval causes it to beat. Because the actual tone of a vibrating piano string is not just one pitch, but a complex of tones arranged in aharmonic series, two strings that are close to a simple harmonic ratio such as a perfect fifth beat at higher pitches (at their coincident harmonics), because of the difference in pitch between their coincident harmonics. Where these frequencies can be calculated, a temperament may be tuned aurally by timing the beatings of tempered intervals.

An A440 Tuning Fork
One practical method of tuning the piano begins with tuning all the notes in a “temperament” octave in the middle range of the piano. A beginning pitch is tuned from an external reference, usually an A440 tuning fork, and the tuner successively adjusts each note’s tempered intervallic relationships to other notes in the scale. During tuning it is common to assess fifths, fourths, thirds (both major and minor) and sixths (also major and minor), often in an ascending or descending pattern to easily hear whether an even progression of beat rates has been achieved.

Once the temperament octave is tuned, the tuner tunes the other notes on the piano using octave intervals to align them, first to the tuned notes in the temperament octave, and lastly to the already tuned notes below and above.

The followings table lists the beat frequencies between notes in an equal temperament octave. The top row indicates absolute frequencies of the pitches; usually only A440 is determined from an external reference. Every other number indicates the beat rate between any two tones (which share the row and column with that number) in the temperament octave. Slower beat rates can be carefully timed with a metronome, or other such device. For the thirds in the temperament octave, it is difficult to tune so many beats per second, but after setting the temperament and duplicating it one octave below, all of these beat frequencies are present at half the indicated rate in this lower octave, which are excellent for verification that the temperament is correct. One of the easiest tests of equal temperament is to play a succession of major thirds, each one a semitone higher than the last. If equal temperament has been achieved, the beat rate of these thirds should increase evenly in the temperament region.[14]

Equal temperament beatings (all figures in Hz)
261.626 277.183 293.665 311.127 329.628 349.228 369.994 391.995 415.305 440.000 466.164 493.883 523.251
0.00000 14.1185 20.7648 1.18243 1.77165 16.4810 23.7444 C
13.3261 19.5994 1.11607 1.67221 15.5560 22.4117 B
12.5781 18.4993 1.05343 1.57836 14.6829 21.1538 A♯
11.8722 17.4610 .994304 1.48977 13.8588 19.9665 A
16.4810 .938498 1.40616 13.0810 18.8459 G♯
.885824 1.32724 12.3468 17.7882 G Fundamental
1.25274 11.6539 16.7898 F♯ Octave
1.18243 10.9998 15.8475 F Major sixth
10.3824 14.9580 E Minor sixth
14.1185 D♯ Perfect fifth
D Perfect fourth
C♯ Major third
C Minor third

The next table indicates the pitch at which the strongest beating should occur for useful intervals. As described above, when tuning a perfect fifth, for instance, the beating can be heard not at either of the fundamental pitches of the keys played, but rather an octave and fifth (perfect twelfth) above the lower of the two keys, which is the lowest pitch at which their harmonic series overlap. Once the beating can be heard, the tuner must temper the interval either wide or narrow from a tuning that has no beatings.

The pitch of beatings
Interval Approximate frequency ratio Beating above the lower pitch Tempering
Octave 2:1 Octave Exact
Major sixth 5:3 Two octaves and major third Wide
Minor sixth 8:5 Three octaves Narrow
Perfect fifth 3:2 Octave and fifth Slightly narrow
Perfect fourth 4:3 Two octaves Slightly wide
Major third 5:4 Two octaves and major third Wide
Minor third 6:5 Two octaves and fifth Narrow
Unison 1:1 Unison Exact

The tuning described by the above beating plan provides a good approximation of equal temperament across the range of the temperament octave. If extended further, however, the actual tuning of the instrument becomes increasingly inaccurate because of inharmonicity, which causes harmonics to run slightly sharp, as increasingly higher tones in the harmonic series are reached. This problem is mitigated by “stretching” the octaves as one tunes above (and to an extent below) the temperament region. When octaves are stretched, they are tuned, not to the lowest coincidental overtone (second partial) of the note below, but to a higher one (often the 4th partial). This widens all intervals equally, thereby maintaining intervallic and tonal consistency.

All western music, but western classical literature in particular, requires this deviation from the theoretical equal temperament because the music is rarely played within a single octave. A pianist constantly plays notes spread over three and four octaves, so it is critical that the mid and upper range of the treble be stretched to conform to the inharmonic overtones of the lower registers. Since the stretch of octaves is perceived and not measured, the tuner is aware of which octave needs “more” or “less” stretching. A good tuning requires compromise between tonal brilliance, intonation and an awareness of gradation of tone through the compass of the instrument. The amount of stretching necessary to achieve this is a function of string scaling, a complex determination based on the string’s tension, length, and diameter.

In small pianos the inharmonicity is so extreme that establishing a stretch based on a triple octave makes the single octaves beat noticeably, and the wide, fast beating intervals in the upper treble—especially Major 17ths—beat wildly. Of a necessity the tuner will attempt to limit the stretch. In large pianos like concert grands, less inharmonicity allows a complete string stretch without negatively affecting close octaves and other intervals. So while it may be true that the smaller piano receives a greater stretch relative to the fundamental pitch, only the concert grand’s octaves can be fully widened so that triple octaves are beatless. This contributes to the response, brilliance and “singing” quality that concert grands offer.

A benefit of stretching octaves is the correction of dissonance that equal temperament imparts to the perfect fifth. Without octave stretching, the slow, nearly imperceptible beating of fifths in the temperament region (ranging from little more than one beat every two seconds to about one per second) would double each ascending octave. At the top of the keyboard, then, the theoretically (and ideally) pure fifth would be beating more than eight times per second. Modern western ears easily tolerate fast beating in non-just intervals (seconds and sevenths, thirds and sixths), but not in perfect octaves or fifths. Happily for pianists, the string stretch that accommodates inharmonicity on a concert grand also nearly exactly mitigates the accumulation of dissonance in the perfect fifth.

Other factors, physical and psychoacoustic, affect the tuner’s ability to achieve a temperament. Among physical factors are inharmonic effects due to soundboard resonance in the bass strings, poorly manufactured strings, or peculiarities that can cause “false beats” (false because they are unrelated to the manipulation of beats during tuning). The principal psychoacoustic factor is that the human ear tends to perceive the higher notes as being flat when compared to those in the midrange. Stretching the tuning to account for string inharmonicity is often not sufficient to overcome this phenomenon, so piano tuners may stretch the top octave or so of the piano even more.

Frequencies of the audible range on a twelve and eight equal tempered scale
Tools and methods[edit] Some common piano tuning tools: From top to bottom: a tuning hammer, a felt mute, a rubber mute, a felt temperament strip (left), and a Papps mute.

Common tools for tuning pianos include the tuning hammer or lever, a variety of mutes, and a tuning fork or electronic tuning device.[15] The tuning hammer is used to turn the tuning pins, increasing or decreasing the tension of the string. Mutes are used to silence strings that are not being tuned. While tuning the temperament octave, a felt strip is typically placed within the temperament (middle) section of the piano; it is inserted between each note’s trichord, muting its outer two strings so that only the middle string is free to vibrate. After the center strings are all tuned, the felt strip can be removed note by note, tuning the outer strings to the center strings. Wedge-shaped mutes are inserted between two strings to mute them, while a Papps mute is sometimes used for tuning the high notes in upright pianos because it slides easily between hammer shanks.

In an aural tuning a tuning fork is used to tune the first note (generally A4) of the piano, and then a temperament octave is tuned between F3 and F4 using a variety of intervals and checks, until the tuner is satisfied that all the notes in the octave are correctly tuned.[16] The rest of the piano is then tuned to the temperament octave, using octaves and other intervals as checks.

If an electronic tuning device is used, the temperament step might be skipped, as it is possible for the tuner to adjust notes directly with the tuning device in any reasonable order.