Whether it’s moving to a new house or buying your first piano, moving a piano isn’t an easy job. Because pianos are very delicate, it’s usually advisable that you take extra caution when moving the instrument to avoid damaging it. The biggest concern, however, is whether pianos need tuning after being moved.
The answer to this is yes—you should schedule piano tuning after moving. While most people know a piano should be tuned after being moved, they don’t know when or why. But first, you need to understand what we mean by moving. Moving your piano within one room or from one room to another within the same building doesn’t require it to be tuned. If you take extreme precautions in these cases, chances are, your piano won’t go out of tune. However, you must test your piano to know if it sounds different once you move it. Testing the piano will let you know whether or not you should schedule piano tuning.
The type of piano moves that demand tuning are the moves where you move the piano from one building to another. Generally, several factors can cause a piano to detune when moving it. Here are three major reasons why your piano is out of tune after moving it.
Stretching of the strings
The strings of your piano can stretch, just like a rubber band. Now, as the strings become old, they tend to become more uniform and less flexible. This is the reason why new pianos detune more regularly. Also, it’s the reason why you shouldn’t think of buying a brand new piano out of the box.
Professionals recommend that you get your new piano tuned at least four times during the first year, and then two times in the following years. However, you might need to tune your piano more often if you move it regularly. Please note that failing to tune your piano after moving cannot damage it. However, it can make your piano unable, until it’s tuned.
Shifting of the soundboards
Soundboards made out of spruce have cellular material in between the grains. Now, these materials are like a sponge—meaning they swell when the humidity levels increase and shrink when the humidity levels decrease. The swelling and shrinking of the cellular material cause the soundboards to shift, and this affects the overall tension of the piano strings. This, in turn, can make the tuning pins slide or the strings shift along the pins’ bridge.
The shifting of the soundboards is very common when you move a piano from an area with high humidity to another with low humidity and vice versa. When this happens, your piano will sound more flat or sharp. And, since these changes happen slowly, beginner players hardly notice the changes until someone tells them the piano is out of tune.
Slipping of the tuning pins
The piano tuning pins are fixed to the piano using a pinblock, also known as wrest plank. The tuning pins are made out of different hardwood laminations. When moving the piano, it can get jerked, thus making the tuning pins loosen. If this happens, the piano won’t be able to hold the required string tension, meaning the pitch will either go flat or sharp, and you will need to tune your piano to rectify this problem.
How to make sure your piano doesn’t detune when moving it
Piano relocation is not what makes the instrument lose tune. Mostly, what happens after moving the piano is what causes the piano to lose tune. Interestingly, when done properly, a long-distance move will not detune your piano. And, while most people believe that moving a piano is what makes it lose tune, there are few things that you can do to prevent the instrument from detuning while on the move.
The first thing to do is to schedule the move very early or late in the day. Early mornings or late evenings have lower temperatures, which means the moving truck will have low humidity levels. Also, make sure that you hire professional piano movers, rather than a general moving company. The moving trucks of specialist piano movers are climate-controlled, and this prevents the piano from detuning because of changes in humidity.
Moreover, when moving your piano, make sure that you place a humidifier with the piano. And, if the truck is fitted with an auxiliary power supply, the humidifier will help to regulate humidity in the truck. When you use a humidifier, it will ensure that the piano gets the required moisture, meaning it’s less likely to detune. After moving a piano to your new home, don’t forget to use a humidifier too, as this will help to reduce the acclimation time before you can retune your piano.
Although pianos are very resilient instruments, they are very sensitive to movements, and changes in temperature and humidity. With that said, your piano should be tuned after moving it to a different location and you need to factor this in your cost of piano moving. Mostly, moving your piano from one room to another in your home will not bring any issue, unless the rooms have a different climate, like a garage, patio, or den. Lastly, always let professionals move your piano for the stability and safety of your piano.