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“If you move a piano it will need tuning” …. or will it?

Is it true that after a piano has been moved it will need to be tuned? And does it need to “settle” first?

These are both questions with no simple answer. We need to consider what it is that makes a piano go out of tune – is it playing, or movement, or changes in temperature?

The main cause is change in humidity. A modern piano frame is very solid and rigid, but the strings pass over a wooden bridge which is mounted on a thin wooden soundboard. Wood expands and contracts with changes in its moisture content – just as wooden doors tend to stick in wet weather, so a soundboard expands and stretches the strings, causing the pitch to rise.

As far as “settling” before tuning is concerned, the time needed depends on the amount of change in humidity, so again there is no simple answer. Generally two to four weeks would be advisable.

If a piano is moved from one place to another with a different humidity condition, then it will go out of tune, but may take some time to do so. Moving a short distance within the same room normally has no effect – unless it moves close to a heat source or a draughty or sunny window. There are however some cases where moving an upright on an uneven floor may cause alteration to the tuning – due to changes in stresses in the body of the instrument.

If you want any help or further advice please get in touch!