There's a piano tuner in my house! What should I do?

Posted by Sarah Czarnecki on

Unlike pianos, piano tuners and technicians are low maintenance. Just give them time to work in a quiet, well-lit space, and they’ll give you a happy piano.

Need more etiquette tips than that? Here’s everything you need to know about your first piano tuning appointment.

Book your appointment in advance.

Just like you, your friendly neighborhood piano technician is a very busy person, especially around the holidays. Ask your tech how long the appointment will take, then make sure to set aside plenty of time. Booking early helps both of you plan ahead and avoid disappointment. 

Make sure there’s adequate space and lighting.

Your piano tech isn’t there to judge your housekeeping skills, but do make sure there’s enough clean space for them to get to your piano and work on the instrument. If, like many people, you use your piano to display knickknacks, picture frames, and piles of random household stuff, clear it off first. Bring over a lamp if the area isn't well-lit.

Shop In Tune Piano Supply cleaning supplies

Put pets and kids away.

Most technicians are used to cats and friendly dogs hanging around, but it’s polite to put them in another room during the tuning. Kids should be quietly occupied, too, so this is a great excuse to break out the iPad (with headphones) or send them to a friend's house.

Make a list of problems before they start tuning.

Just like when you go to the mechanic, your piano tuning appointment will go a lot smoother if the tech knows what they’re in for. Tell your technician about broken or missing parts, things stuck inside the piano, or any other known issues. 

Ask your questions early.

Pianos are cool! The way they work is super interesting! But please don't quiz your piano tuner while they're trying to work. We're confident they'll be happy to talk shop with you... just not during the tuning.

Go find something to do.

Piano tuning takes 90 minutes or more, so find something to keep yourself busy. You don’t have to leave your home, but don’t hover over your technician’s shoulder, either. Just give them space to work and think.

Quiet, please!

Whatever you decide to do with your time, choose something quiet. Tuning a piano requires a lot of unbroken concentration and careful listening. Turn off your television, radio, and vacuum cleaners. Repetitive, buzzy, or musical sounds are particularly troublesome for tuners. Move to another part of the house if you need to.

Eavesdrop if you’d like.

The sound of a piano being tuned is really weird. There’s seemingly-random plinking on the keys, a crazy sound-bending thing that happens when the tech turns the pins, and loads of other interesting sounds. If you have a really good ear, you might even hear what musicians call “color.” This is the sound of two strings playing the same note at ever-so-slightly different frequencies. Your tech will gradually adjust the frequencies until the note sounds crisp and clear. Cool stuff.

Listen for the play off song.

Technicians typically end their appointments with a few scales to check their work. Some even play a favorite song. This is your cue to come out from wherever you’ve been hiding and check in with your technician. They will tell you how the tuning went, when you should schedule your next appointment, and answer more questions.

Pay your bill on time.

As far as we know, almost every piano repair business is a solo or family operation. These folks are the very definition of a local small business, so this is a great way to support your friends and neighbors. You and your piano technician will have discussed services and pricing before your appointment, so there should be no surprises when you receive your invoice.

If you’d really like to go above and beyond, you can make friends with your piano tuner by offering simple refreshments. We've never known one who turned down a polite offer of coffee, water, or snacks. But what they really love is word-of-mouth referrals to family and friends.

In short, just show the tuner where you keep the piano and let them do their magic!


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