- how well a piano holds its tune
Everybody's expectations are different when they have their piano tuned. It is generally accepted that the tuning will hold well for many months and that further tunings every twelve months thereafter will be sufficient. After all, this is what most tuners generally recommend. If your expectations are similar to that of most people, you will be happy with the sound of your piano over a good part of that period, but will become less so, as the yearly servicing date becomes due. The fact is, the components in any piano will start to move, the moment there is even a small change in humidity. For those of us whose expectations are higher, it doesn't take long before the sound of the piano is not to our liking and we become disappointed, thinking that perhaps the tuner did not do a proper job. This would certainly be justified if the tuning pins and strings were not set correctly at the time of the tuning. In most cases however it is more likely to be the humidity or other factors that are beyond the control of your piano tuner.
The benchmark of tuning every twelve months is a compromise which takes into account the cost the customer has to bear in having the piano tuned. My own piano would be tuned (or at the very least "tweaked up"), every month. My guitar is tuned every time I pick it up!
If you are one of the second group of people whose expectations are high, but are understandably reluctant to bear the cost of very frequent tunings, I offer the following advice: Follow the recommended guidelines regarding placement of your piano - that is, where it is least likely to be exposed to changes in humidity (for information on piano care, see my website). When bad notes start to develop, phone me and I will call and attend to the problem. If there are just a few notes, I will not charge. If some months have passed and the tuning has deteriorated, you may be able to get away with a partial tuning at a reduced fee, although this option is usually not satisfactory.
The important thing is that you contact me so we can discuss any problems, rather than put up with a bad piano for months on end. On the back of my invoices there is a notice explaining this overall matter of servicing and my obligations in ensuring your satisfaction. It is repeated here:
Thank you for the opportunity to service your piano. To ensure satisfaction and understanding, the following matters are drawn to your attention.
It can be appreciated that the age/condition of your piano and the frequency of playing affects the tuning and consequently no guarantee can be made. However, prompt notification of any reasonable complaint with regard to tuning will be acknowledged accordingly. All other workmanship is guaranteed for a period or 24 months unless otherwise stated. The work carried out on your piano is done with the utmost care and without compromise, unless the age/condition of the piano is such that a complete repair should be uneconomical.
IMPORTANT: If you are not satisfied with any aspect of the servicing done on your piano, notification must be made at the earliest opportunity. The matter will promptly attended to at no additional charge provided that the complaint relates to the work previously done.