How to Tune a Piano

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Mutes
  • Electronic tuner
  • Tuning wrench
Tune a Piano

How to Tune a Piano. While the nuances of professional piano tuning need to be learned over years of study and practice, an emergency tune of the piano can be a useful thing to learn. With a few simple tools and techniques you can get the tune back to a playable level until the piano tuner can get there.

Get to Know the Inside of Your Piano

Empty the room of distractions. This will help you eliminate mistakes which can cause you to break a string or cause other bodily harm.

Open up the piano cover. Blow the dust away. Sneeze.

Hit middle C. If you don't know where middle C is, you have no business tuning a piano.

Locate the hammer for the middle C key. See if the hammer is hitting one, two or three strings.

Find the pin for the strings. Do this by following the string all the way from the hammer to the pin that it is wrapped around.

Tune a Piano String

Hit the piano key firmly to actuate the hammer. Tune one string at a time by placing the rubber tuning wedges against the other vibrating strings.

Loosen the string you're tuning a little before trying to tune it. With your tuning wrench, loosen it a bit.

Set the tuner to C and tighten the peg slowly. Over-tightening can cause strings to break, and then the piano will sound much worse than when you started. You may even want to turn the peg, let the string rest a minute, then turn again.

Tune to just slightly sharp. Tuning the rest of the strings will tend to put tension on everything and put a bit of slack on those strings first tuned.

Remove one of the tuning wedges, hit the key and listen. Tune the second string until it matches the tone of the first string you tuned.

Continue by repeating these steps with the rest of the middle octave. Then you can tune the higher and lower octaves to the middle one. If you don't know what an octave is, you have no business tuning a piano.

Tip

Turn the wrench slowly. Stretching a string can cause it to break. Twist pins gently. Working roughly will cause your pins to loosen, then your piano will be permanently out of tune.

Warning

You can break a string if you don't know what you're doing and this can cause severe injury. Enlist a professional tuner to avoid such injury. Don't practice on an expensive model while improving your technique. You may loosen pins or cause other damage while perfecting your technique, so avoid doing this on your grand piano.