Secret Life of a New Piano

This is about new acoustic pianos. I’m talking brand new, fresh out of the crate, never been played NEW. Not second hand from Gumtree, Craigslist, or some guy down the street.

Here’s the thing, brand new acoustic pianos need time to adjust to their new surroundings, ie your home. A super big part of this is their strings. New strings are going to stretch, new strings need to stretch. Ain’t no getting around it, ain’t no shortcuts either. This means your new piano will go out of tune faster than you can play The Minute Waltz. Yep it both sucks and blows. But guess what it’s normal and the quicker it happens the quicker your ugly duckling will become a beautiful swan. (Aww)

The standard ugly duckling phase for most new pianos is three to four tuning cycles, but every piano is different. If your budget allows by all means spread those first initial tunings across its first year. If you need to wait longer between tunings that’s fine too and won’t do the piano, or the strings, any harm. All it means is that the strings will take longer to stabilise. The great news being the more you play your new piano the better as playing helps your piano settle in. Want to record with your new piano in it’s ugly duckling phase? Not a problem, just record after a tune, no one will know the strings are still stabilising. (Unless you record an out of tune piano... but ya know, don’t do that.) 

Lately there’s a lot of inexperienced folk out there giving false impressions of new acoustic pianos... dare I say it millennials. In any event I keep finding stuff like this:

”I paid a fortune for this and it went out of tune on the second day! I’ve been ripped off, this is horrible! I don’t recommend this piano to anyone!”

Then they probably call the showroom who tells them it’s normal. But they unfortunately don’t go back and rectify their panicked, misleading review. It’s not the poor piano’s fault. Showrooms typically include a complimentary tuning as part of the purchase. Either an in store tuning or in home. But even with this in place a new piano will still go out of tune fairly quickly. It’s actually a good thing, stretching strings means durable strings. So if you’re in it for the long haul, a new piano is too.

Other secrets new pianos can harbour include clunky/heavy action, sticking keys, buzzing strings/notes. Also normal, most likely the piano adjusting to natural temperature and humidity fluctuations in its new home. Provided you don’t keep your piano in the bathroom over a heater in direct sunlight with the cat shitting in it a new piano should sort itself out within a couple of weeks. In the unlikely event there’s a fault most new piano warranties cover all parts for the duration of the warranty, this excludes general maintenance and upkeep...you know, like tuning.

People who say their new piano never went out of tune typically bought floor stock. So their piano had been regularly played and received multiple tunings whilst in the showroom.

If you can’t stand the prospect of having a piano tuned for goodness sake stop leaving jaded reviews and get a digital. Acoustic pianos aren’t for everyone but those who love them understand it’s a marriage with equal give and take of unconditional love.

-Sky

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