Off Key: How To Tell If Your Piano Is Out Of Tune

Have you ever played your piano, but something just doesn't "feel" or sound right? Here are the ways to tell if your piano is out of tune.

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Miller Piano Specialists February 8, 2020 3 Min Read

Have you ever played the piano, and, in the middle of a piece, you felt something was just off? It might be that your piano is out of tune. In this article, we discuss how to tell if your piano is out of tune.

Playing an off-key piano is never a delightful moment. If you’re a beginner, being able to detect a piano that is out of tune is a skill that you haven’t developed yet. And that is a problem because it hinders your progress and development. Imagine if you’ve been practicing with an out of tune piano for years. The horror! That’s why, whether you’re a piano newbie or have been playing or years, it’s important to learn how to tell if your piano is out of tune so you can know when to call a professional piano tuner.

Tip No. 1 – If It Doesn’t Produce a Crystal-Clear Sound

Try hitting each of the piano keys to see if there are notes that have some twangy or buzzy sound. If you hear that, you know that it’s time to get your piano tuned. When it hasn’t been tuned for a while, there’s a big chance that some of the keys are out of tune. Most piano notes have a hammer that strikes up to three strings tuned to the same pitch. If one of those strings doesn’t sound right, then it’s going to ruin the whole set.

upright piano with bench

Tip No. 2 – Do You Tune Your Piano Regularly?

Most piano experts and piano technicians recommend having your piano tuned at least once a year. When you hear something’s off when you play the piano, try to remember when was the last time you had a piano tuning (and always keep track). If it has been more than a year since you last had your piano tuned, trust us, even though you may not be able to hear a difference, it’s going to sound so much better when you tune it.

Tip No. 3 – Use Apps and Online Tools

One way to tell if a piano is out of tune is to compare the different notes on your piano to a reference note. Many piano technicians use a tuning fork as their reference note. But most of us don’t know how to use it. Not to worry, here’s a reference tool you can use easily. Simply go to or use the Tuning Fork app available in Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

grand piano top

Tip No. 4 – If You’ve Moved

When you’ve moved to a new location, and that location has a different temperature, humidity, and weather, there’s a big chance that the piano keys can get out of tune. So for example, you used to live in Canada, and you recently moved to Miami, you need to have it tuned as soon as you settled in the tropical city. That way, you’re be able to adjust your piano for the humid weather.

Tip No. 5 – Changes in Weather

Here in Tennessee, most of us run a heater during the winter and air conditioning during the summer, and the indoor temperature and humidity can change quite a bit. Constant changes in temperature and humidity are one of the bigger enemies of piano strings. If you are unable to keep your indoor air at a constant temperature and humidity, it would be advisable to get a regular tuning done at least twice a year.

And these are the ways on how to tell if your piano is out of tune. Always remember that tuning is an act of caring for your instrument and not just some sort of vanity. If you want to have your piano tuned by a professional, call Miller Piano Specialists at (615) 771-0020 .

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