What is the Average Cost of Piano Tuning?

Piano tuning is not, as some people believe, an expensive drain on a piano owner’s budget; nor is it something that should only be done when preparing to sell one or pass it down to a friend or family member.  Tuning should be accomplished at least annually, with most manufacturers recommending twice a year, regardless of the type of piano owned (especially if you have an electric stage keyboard that you use to perform live).  The longer an owner exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendations, the longer and more expensive a tuning will be.

First, understand that tunings and repairs are not the same work.  Replacing hammers, hammer surfaces, strings (or anything else) will not be needed as part of a tuning.  An experienced and reputable piano tuner will do a quick inspection and explain, usually for free, if there are any repairs needed before a tuning can be accomplished.  This is rare, unless the piano is very old or has suffered some type of water or smoke damage.

Second, piano tuning and a pitch raise are also not the same thing.  A piano will begin to lose or drop pitch the longer it is out of tune.  Once a piano begins to lose pitch, it will have to be brought back or “raised” before a tuning can be accomplished.  This is more likely to happen over the colder winter months, which is why having a piano tuned as part of a household “spring cleaning” is recommended at minimum every year.

The cost of a good tuning will depend on the training and experience of the individual hired.  Some technicians starting out will charge as little as $75 an hour for a basic tuning.  They are looking to build their client base and encourage repeat customers along with good word-of-mouth advertising.   Once that tech has enough experience and develops a more efficient work method, he will begin charging more.  Most tunings will take around 1 hour to one-and-a-half.

Average cost in the U.S. is about $100 per hour.  As with every specialty field however, there are individuals who stand out.  For a very experienced tuner with a sterling reputation, $150 to even $200 an hour is not unheard of.  Generally though, technicians that skilled are only called on when someone has a very expensive instrument such as a Nord Stage 2 SW73 or large Grand Piano.
Regardless of what type you personally own, annual tunings are necessary to maintain not just a good sound, but also to protect the investment you have made in purchasing a piano.  This is not a sofa or a dining room table that goes out of style.  A well-cared for piano survives generations and can be the centerpiece of family gatherings for many decades to come.

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