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Signs & Reasons Why Your Piano Is Way Out Of Tune

Key Takeaways:

  1. Playing the piano is a soothing experience that can be ruined if the piano is out of tune.
  2. Several signs of your piano tuning have gone haywire, including bad sound, A’s that don’t match, unstable temperament, and unequal volume.
  3. There are five reasons your piano might be out of tune: poor quality tuning pins, temperature changes, string stretch, lack of regular maintenance, and incorrect setting of the tuning pins.
  4. You can DIY-tune your piano by getting the necessary equipment, establishing a pitch reference point, tuning one note at a time, and checking for octave mistuning notes.

Playing or listening to the piano is a soothing experience. There is no feeling like being surrounded by its majestic yet soothing sounds. Each key pressed fills the room with relaxing notes that seem to have taken on a life of their own. Each keynote combines with the other as if to harmonize into a story carrying emotional depth and detail. Whether playing a classic piece from Mozart’s finest or taking a hit on a modern-day composition, there is something special about playing the piano.

But that experience can change if your piano is out of tune. What do we mean by that? Do you hear discordant notes when you play your piano? Are some chords sounding off-kilter or even totally lost in the noise? If so, it might be time to check and see if your beloved instrument is out of tune — there are several signs and plenty of reasons why it could be happening.

PianoCraft is here to help. Read on from our guide to identifying the warning signs that your piano tuning has gone haywire. We’ll also look at some common reasons why it happened and recommend you some tips to help you with your piano tuning yourself. 

4 Signs of an Off-tune Piano

While playing a musical instrument, its tuning can make a lot of difference. Tuning involves adjusting the sound of an instrument so that all its notes are on the pitch. An out-of-tune piano can make it challenging to practice or even perform. So, how do you know if your piano is off-tune? Here’s a list of five key signs to look out for:

1. Piano Sounds Bad

Well, this one is quite obvious. If you’re confident in your skills, but the tune doesn’t seem right could indicate that your piano tuning is off. Try playing some different pieces. If you can sense that some chords are off-key and some notes don’t match, then chances are the piano is out-of-tune.

2. The A’s Don’t Match

The frequency irregularity of musical notes can also indicate that your piano tuning is out of whack. The musical notes on a piano are identified by the first seven letters of the English Alphabet (A-G). These notes repeat over and over; with each repetition, the frequency of the note doubles.

To test out piano tuning, you can use a tuning app. The application can detect sound waves and can estimate their frequency. Most piano tuners use A=440 tuning systems to indicate tuning. The A=440 tuning system Involves checking the As on the piano from above the middle C to the highest A (usually two octaves above the middle C).

If the frequencies are irregular, the notes may not sound in harmony, and your piano tuning will be off. When testing this method, it’s important to remember that pitch accuracy differs on each note. But a tuning app can help determine if your piano is out of tune.

3. Unstable Temperament

The temperament of a piano refers to its ability to hold a tuning over an extended period. Suppose you have recently tuned your piano and notice that it sounds differently within days or even hours. In that case, chances are you have an unstable temperament issue on your hands.

4. Unequal Volume

When playing chords or intervals on your piano, you’ll want the notes to sound similar in volume. If they sound off-balance and unevenly distributed, it’s a sign that your piano is out of tune. The most common reason is an incorrect setting of the tuning pins, leading to an unequal tension distribution on the strings.

4 Reasons Your Piano Is Way Out Of Tune

1. Poor Quality Tuning Pins

Tuning pins are small metal rods mounted onto the bottom side of your piano’s soundboard. Over time, these pins can become worn down from regular tuning sessions and eventually cause tuning instability due to poor contact between the pin and string. Replacing the tuning pins is an effective way to ensure that your piano remains in tune for longer.

2. Temperature Changes

Temperature and humidity changes can affect the tension of a piano’s strings, causing them to go out of tune. Pianos are sensitive instruments; even slight temperature fluctuations can impact their sound quality. It’s essential to keep your piano stored in a climate-controlled area with consistent temperatures throughout the year.

Related: How Climatic Changes Affect My Piano?

3. String Stretch

The wound metal strings will stretch over time as they are tuned and played upon regularly. This stretching will cause a decrease in string tension, leading to pitch instability and going out of tune more quickly.

4. Lack of Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance and tuning are necessary for keeping your piano in good condition. Tuning should be done at least once a year, depending on the instrument’s use. A professional tuner will inspect the strings, hammers, and other parts of the piano to prevent major damage from occurring and keep it sounding great!

Piano Tuning DIY

Now you might wonder what you can do to keep your piano in tune. If you’re feeling confident and want to save a few dollars, here are some tips for DIY tuning:

1. Get the Necessary Equipment

You’ll need an electronic tuner and tuning hammers or wrenches to tune your piano correctly.

2. Establish Your Pitch Reference Point

It is best to use an A4 (440Hz) tone generator or tuning fork as a reference point for all notes on the piano. It will ensure that each note is adjusted relative to one another in proper intervals.

3. Tune One Note At A Time

Start at the bottom notes & then work your way up, adjusting one key at a time. You may also want to tune all the A’s first, then move on to the B-flats.

4. Check for Octave Mistuning

Pay special attention to octaves, as these are often mistuned due to false beats caused by improper tuning of individual notes in the middle range of the piano.

5. Look Out For Notes That Are Out Of Tune

Once you’re done tuning each note, check to ensure everything is still in tune. If any notes seem off, adjust them one at a time until they match your pitch reference point from earlier.

6. Skip Steps 1 to 5 and Hire a Professional Tuner

Or, if you’d rather avoid the hassle of manually tuning your piano, call in a professional tuner. They can give your instrument a full-depth, “concert-level” tuning, bringing it back to perfect pitch.


In conclusion, tuning your piano can be a complex process. Still, you can restore it to its original sound with the right tips and tricks. If you’re unsure how to tune your instrument, call in a professional. In any case, frequent tuning is essential for keeping your piano sounding great for years to come!

Let PianoCraft Take A Look At Your Out-of-Tune Piano in Alexandria, VA

If you’re in Alexandria, VA, and your piano has gone out of tune, PianoCraft is here to help. Our team of experienced technicians can help you restore the sound of your instrument quickly and efficiently.

Contact us today to learn more about piano tuning.