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Does humidity really affect when your piano should be tuned?

Considering that pianos are made from wood, it goes without saying that they are affected by humidity levels. This leads to the question, can tuning be affected by how much humidity is in the air? If you have a piano that is not electric, then there are many materials inside of your piano that can be affected by moisture content in the air. If there are regular, extreme swings in humidity the wood in your piano can even crack, and glue joints can fail. This is why temperature and humidity regulation is so necessary for keeping your piano sounding great.

How does humidity affect a piano and how can this affect tuning?

The soundboard is one thing that can be affected by humidity, and the change will be noticeable and immediate. The soundboard is a piece of wood around 3/8 inch thick. Strings pass over top of the soundboard which is connected by the bridge. The crown of the soundboard presses the bridge down against the strings. If moisture gets into the soundboard and expands it, the bridge is pressed harder against the strings. When this happens, the strings are stretched tighter, and so the piano’s pitch will be higher. If there is low humidity, then the soundboard will shrink, which makes the pitch drop.

These shifts in pitch, thanks to humidity, is why it is important to keep a piano in a temperature controlled environment: the relative humidity needs to remain reasonably constant, or you will have inconsistencies.

Humidity does affect the tuning of a piano, and if you get your piano tuned when humidity is affecting it too much in one direction, it will mean that your piano is out of tune when it returns to a normal range. If your house is not climate controlled, then you may run into problems if you were to tune your piano at the height of summer or during the middle of winter. If you have a climate controlled home, though, then you do not have to worry about the season. The most important part is that your piano is regularly tuned so that it remains in top condition.

Climate control is also important because it means that when you do get your piano tuned, the technician will not have to make a radical pitch adjustment before doing the fine-tuning. The balance will be maintained between the frame and the strings of the piano, which allows for more accurate tuning to be done. Tuning is not the only thing that is made easier by humidity control. Wood parks, metal parks, glue joints, and even your piano’s finish will be maintained for longer if it does not go through excessive humidity swings.

If you are looking for a piano tuner in Toronto, then the team at Piano Boutique is here for you. We provide tuning services and both sell and rent pianos. If your piano needs tuning or if you are interested in renting or purchasing a piano, contact us today or come into our store.