How Much Does It Cost To Tune A Piano?
Pianos are a staple of many homeowner’s decorative tastes. Not only are they gorgeous and add class to the room they are in, but first and foremost, pianos are powerful instruments. Just like a car needs an oil change to keep running smooth, a piano needs regular tuning to stay sounding its best.
The average cost to tune a piano is $180 and professional piano tuners charge you $100 per hour. Grand pianos take longer to tune and cost $200, on average. You can expect to spend an extra $375 for piano voicing every 5 years.
If your piano is old and large, such as an old grand piano, tuning gets more expensive because repairs may need to be done before tuning. For the most part, professionals charge $60-$70 an hour for repairs. Pianos that are regularly tuned only take 1 hour to 1 ½ hours to tune, but unevenly tuned, older pianos can take as long as 4 hours to tune.
Let’s take a deep dive into the cost of tuning a piano.
What is Standard Piano Tuning?
The standard tuning for a piano is A440. When a piano is out of tune, it creates a tone often described as a “honky tonk”. You can often identify that your piano is no longer in A440 tuning when the sound coming out of it becomes percussive.
There are several other ways to tell your piano is out of tune, such as:
- Wavering, distorted tone
- “Twang” sound when pressing keys
- More than 6 months to 1 year has passed
- Octaves do not sound matched up
- Harmonies can’t be achieved
Some concert pianists keep their pianos tuned to A442, which is higher pitched and has a distinct sound of its own. However, most casual pianists and piano owners tune their pianos to A440 as it has been the standard for 100 years.
Hourly Rate of Piano Tuning
The average hourly rate that professionals charge for piano tuning is $100, but some tuners charge as little as $60 an hour. Once you get into large grand pianos or even concert pianos, however, that hourly rate can jump to $150-$200. For new pianos, it is recommended that you have 4 professional tunings done within the first year.
In that first year, those tuning sessions will be shorter, i.e. 1 ½ hours, as the piano is new. That short tuning session could cost between $100 and $250 depending on the hourly rate.
How Often Should You Have Your Piano Tuned?
Once you’ve had your piano for over a year, you need to have your piano tuned twice a year. If you forego the recommended two piano tunings a year, at least get it tuned once a year. Even if you do not play the piano very often, you still need to have it tuned.
That is because there are several factors that cause a piano to go out of tune beyond simply playing it, such as:
- Temperature fluctuation
- Wood swelling/shrinking
- Soundboard movement
Sometimes, piano owners who do not actively play the instrument assume that it won’t need tuning. However, the above factors cause a piano to go out of tune just as much as regular playing does.
What is the Longest Time a Piano Can Go Without Tuning?
The absolute longest that you should allow your piano to go without tuning is 10 years. However, even allowing it to go more than two years without tuning can cause string damage. If you go more than 2-10 years without a proper, professional tuning, the piano will be rendered unplayable.
How Much Does it Cost to Restring a Piano?
Having your piano restrung can cost between $800 and $1,200 depending on the rate of the professional. Generally, it is recommended that you restring your piano between 3 and 10 years after a fresh set of strings. If the piano is clearly falling out of pitch quickly after tunings, it could be a sign that it is time for new strings.
There are 230 strings on a piano. Those 230 strings are “hammered” by the 88 keys on the piano’s keyboard. Low-pitch bass notes, for example, only strike one string at a time. As you move from left to right, the higher bass keys begin striking two strings.
High pitch treble notes are played by key striking three notes a time. There are 18 tons of pressure on the 230 strings of a regular piano. Concert pianos, however, can have as much as 30 tons of pressure on the stretched strings. Because of that, the strings are put under a lot of stress, and as such, regular restringing is just as important as tuning.
How To Keep Your Piano In Tune Longer
While pianos are always bound to go out of tune eventually, there are a few things to consider for keeping them in tune longer.
- Temperature: The best temperature to try to keep your piano at is 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 20-21 Celsius. To achieve this temperature, many piano owners will keep the air conditioner set to that temperature in the room that the piano is in. In the heat, supplement using fans if need be.
- Humidity: It is encouraged by manufacturers that you try to maintain 42% humidity in the space that the piano is located. With that said, as long as you stay within the 42% to 70% percent range, it should not affect the tuning too drastically. However, going below 42% or above 70% can cause the wood to swell or shrink and the strings to go out of tune quickly.
- Location: Positioning your piano in the right room in your house is key to keeping it in tune. Avoid putting the piano near windows or doors that let drafts in. If possible, keep the piano in a room that does not experience high humidity and is well sealed. Once your piano is placed in a room, it takes the wood and strings 2-3 months to “settle” and acclimate to the environment.
If your piano is located somewhere that is vulnerable to the above risk factors, consider having it moved.
How Does a Piano’s Age Affect the Cost of Tuning?
The main way that a piano’s age affects the cost of tuning is that it may need repairs before it can be tuned. Pianos are known for having a long life, with many of them able to last over 100 years. However, a piano cannot last that long without maintenance.
Some of the parts of a piano that require maintenance are:
- Corroded keys
- Damaged key cover
- Swollen/shrunken wood
- Faulty pedals
Piano repairs often cost $60-$70 an hour. The cost of the tuning itself can cost more with old pianos because it can be more time consuming. When a piano is severely out of tune or has been neglected, it takes longer to tune which adds up quickly no matter what the hourly rate is.
Does the Size of the Piano Make a Difference in Cost of Tuning?
There is no set standard for how a piano size affects tuning costs but tuning a grand typically costs more than tuning a baby grand. With that said, for some tuners, their hourly rate is the same whether it be a baby grand or a full concert piano.
Generally, however, high end piano tuners may charge $200 an hour for a grand piano as opposed to the $100 they may charge for a baby grand. Some tuners will simply apply the same hourly rate across the board. The overall cost will be more with grand pianos even with the same hourly rate because it will take slightly longer than a small one.
What is the Difference Between Piano Tuning and Piano Voicing?
Piano tuning refers to bringing the strings to pitch, whereas voicing refers to how the felt-covered “hammer” hits the strings. When you push a piano key, the hammer strikes the strings creating a tone. After lots of playing or years of a piano sitting there, the felt attached to these tiny hammers becomes worn and hinders the “voicing” of the piano.
Voicing costs roughly $350-$400 on average. Without having your piano voiced, you will not be able to achieve proper tone even if the strings are fully in tune. As long as you have your piano voiced every 1-5 years along with regular tuning, you should be able to achieve your desired tone.
Does a Piano Need a Pitch Raise Before Tuning?
If your piano has not been regularly tuned or it is old, it may need a pitch raise before tuning. A pitch raise is where the tuner will raise the pitch of each string across the board. The purpose of pitch raising is to avoid having strings that were already tuned go back out of tune before the tuning is completed.
Essentially, pitch raising makes it so that there is even, and appropriate tension exerted on all of the strings during the tuning. Generally, pitch raising does not cost extra, however, it adds to the time it takes for completion so it will fluctuate based on the hourly rate of the tuner.
Piano Tuning and Maintenance Cost Breakdown
Tuning and maintenance fluctuates in price. Various parts of necessary piano maintenance vary in cost as well as how often they need to be done for a piano to stay in proper shape.
|Tuning||2-4 times per year||$80-$300+|
|Repair||5-10 years (replacing hammers)||$60-$70 an hour|
|String Cover Replacement||As needed||$200-$400|
|Soundboard Service||2-5 years||$100-$200|
|Rebuild||When piano is not playable||$3,500-$8,000|
|Restoration||20 years (or less if needed)||$800-$3,500|
|Professional Voicing||1-5 years||$350-$400|
The older a piano is, the more often many of the above maintenance services will need to be done. When repairs at $60-$70 an hour get to be quite frequent, it may be time for a restoration, rebuild, or even a new piano entirely.
How to Choose a Piano Tuner
When trying to figure out who you should hire to tune your piano, there are several things to consider, including:
- Hourly/fixed rate
- Customer feedback
No matter what your budget is, you should compare hourly and fixed rates between tuners. One local piano tuner may be $60 an hour whereas another may be $150 or more an hour. The location of the tuner matters as well because it could factor into pricing, especially if they charge for mileage, for example.
Inquire if the tuner you are considering has any certification. Many professional tuners are part of the Piano Technicians Guild, which upholds standards and often indicates the tuner is qualified. And finally, check out what other customers have to say about their experience with the tuner in question.
How to Save Money On Piano Tuning
The only real way to save money on piano tuning is by keeping it regularly tuned. If you get your piano tuned twice a year every year, the tuning process will go quicker and be easier for the tuner. No matter what, expect to pay maintenance costs at some point or another in your piano’s life as doing so will also help keep your piano from going too out of tune.
Other than that, you could always opt for an electric or digital piano over an acoustic piano. Digital and electric pianos do not require tuning at all which can save you between $120 and $600 a year or more in hiring tuners. Digital pianos typically cost between $200 and $3,000.
Piano Cost By Type
There are many types of pianos available that differ greatly in cost. Piano size is determined by height, with the width often varying depending on the manufacturer.
|Baby Grand||$3,000-$8,000||5’-5’5” tall|
|Pro Grand||$7,000-$30,000||6’-6’4” tall|
|Living Room Grand||$15,000-$30,000||5’8”-5’11” tall|
Of the above varieties of pianos, tuners may charge more for baby, pro, and living room grands for a tuning than the other options. That is because of the size of grand pianos and their complexity. However, even a basic console piano that is undermaintained or ignored can cost more for tuning due to prep work.
Common Piano Tuning and Maintenance FAQs
It is fairly common for strings to break during a tuning. Consider asking the professional beforehand whether or not you are the one who will have to pay for broken strings, or if it is covered by their hourly or flat rate.Can you tune a piano by yourself without the help of a professional?
You can tune a piano by yourself, but it involves a lot of work. Because there are 230 strings on a piano, it is very time-consuming to tune it. It can take between 1 and 4 hours to tune a piano and requires tools such as a tuning wrench and felt strips.Is it ever not worth having your piano tuned?
If your piano simply cannot hold a tuning or the tuning pins themselves are faulty, it may not be worth having it tuned. That is because those two factors are indicators that your piano is on its last leg, so to speak. Instead of spending the $60 to $300 or more on tuning, many tuners will recommend that you simply invest in a brand new piano.Can you choose to have your piano tuned to a pitch other than A440?
Yes, you can choose to have your piano tuned to A442. However, it is not generally recommended unless you have a large concert grand piano.
Summing it Up
It costs anywhere from $60 to $300 to tune your piano, or even more depending on the complexity. That average cost is based on the general $60-$100 per hour piano tuning cost. If a piano is well maintained, regularly tuned, and in proper humidity and temperature conditions, tuning may only take 1-1 ½ hours.
Severely out of tune or old pianos may take up to 4 hours which could cost between $240 and $400, or more, for a tuning. Make sure to tune your piano 4 times in the first year. After that, decrease it to 2 tunings a year.
The best way to keep your tuner bill low is by regularly maintaining and having your piano tuned so that it takes less time to tune. Having your piano restrung can cost up to $1,200 and should be done every 3-10 years depending on rust and condition.
If you want your piano to stay in the best shape, you should:
- Hire certified tuners
- Keep your piano at 70 degrees Fahrenheit
- Have your sound board serviced every 2-5 years
- Limit piano’s exposure to elements
Keeping your piano in tune is something you won’t soon regret!
Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.
More by Nick Durante