Can a piano become Untunable?


As a piano owner, you may have wondered if your instrument can ever become untunable. After all, pianos are delicate and complex instruments, and over time, they may experience wear and tear. In this article, we will explore the factors that can affect the tuning stability of a piano and discuss whether a piano can truly become untunable.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Understanding Piano Tuning
  • Factors Affecting Piano Tuning
  • Preventing Untunability
  • FAQs
  • Conclusion

Understanding Piano Tuning

Piano tuning is the process of adjusting the tension of the piano strings to ensure that each note is in tune with the others. A piano tuner uses specialized tools to tighten or loosen the strings, bringing them to the correct pitch. Over time, the tension in the strings can change due to various factors, such as changes in temperature and humidity, and the piano needs regular tuning to maintain its proper sound.

When a piano is tuned, the tuner adjusts the tension of each string so that it vibrates at the correct frequency. This frequency is determined by the musical scale, which divides the octave into specific intervals. If the piano is not tuned regularly, the strings can go out of tune, resulting in a dissonant and unpleasant sound.

Factors Affecting Piano Tuning

Several factors can affect the tuning stability of a piano. Understanding these factors can help you prevent your piano from becoming untunable:

1. Climate and Environmental Conditions

The climate and environmental conditions play a significant role in the tuning stability of a piano. Changes in temperature and humidity can cause the wood and metal components of the piano to expand or contract, affecting the tension in the strings. Excessive humidity can cause the soundboard to swell, while low humidity can lead to the drying out of the wood, resulting in cracks and warping. It is essential to keep the piano in a room with stable temperature and humidity levels to minimize the impact on tuning stability.

2. Age and Condition of the Piano

The age and condition of the piano can also affect its tuning stability. Older pianos may have worn-out parts, such as hammers and strings, which can make it more difficult to keep the piano in tune. Regular maintenance and repair can help improve the tuning stability of an older piano.

3. Frequency of Use

The frequency of use can also impact the tuning stability of a piano. Regular playing can cause the strings to stretch and settle, requiring more frequent tuning. Conversely, a piano that is rarely played may go out of tune more quickly due to lack of string movement.

4. Quality of Piano Tuning

The quality of the piano tuning itself can affect its stability. A poorly executed tuning may not hold for long, especially if the tuner does not have the necessary skills and experience. It is crucial to hire a professional and experienced piano tuner who can provide high-quality tuning services.

Preventing Untunability

While a piano can experience changes in tuning stability, it is rare for a piano to become completely untunable. With proper care and maintenance, you can prevent your piano from reaching that point:

  • Keep the piano in a stable environment with controlled temperature and humidity levels.
  • Have the piano tuned regularly by a professional tuner at least once or twice a year.
  • Address any issues or repairs promptly to prevent further damage to the piano.
  • Consider investing in a humidity control system for the room where the piano is kept.


Can a piano become permanently untunable?

A piano can become extremely difficult to tune if it has severe structural damage or if it has been neglected for an extended period. However, with proper maintenance and repair, it is possible to restore the tuning stability of most pianos.

How often should I have my piano tuned?

It is recommended to have your piano tuned at least once or twice a year. However, if you live in an area with extreme climate conditions, more frequent tuning may be necessary.

Can I tune my piano myself?

Tuning a piano is a highly skilled and complex task that requires specialized tools and training. It is best to leave piano tuning to a professional tuner who has the necessary expertise and experience.


While a piano can experience changes in tuning stability due to various factors, it is unlikely for a piano to become completely untunable. By understanding the factors that affect tuning stability and taking proper care of your piano, you can ensure that it remains in tune and provides beautiful music for years to come.