by Gjermund Sivertsen
How To Tune Your Piano
I tune my piano, and I have been doing that for years. In this blog/video, I'll show you how you can do the same. Also: Why is it important to keep your piano in tune? Can anyone tune their pianos? Why would anyone tune their own pianos? Let's find out!

If you liked this video, please subscribe here:

Divider Text


INTRO (The tutorial starts under the headline "HOW TO TUNE YOUR PIANO (TUTORIAL)"

Warning/disclaimer: This tutorial will only work if your piano is tuned regularly. If you try using these methods on a piano that (almost) never gets tuned, you might break a string. Please proceed with caution.

If you own an upright or a grand piano, consider yourself a lucky person. I
remember when I got to buy my first Schimmel piano. I started as a student
and had worked hard and saved about $9000 to buy a real piano. Until then, I
had just owned digital pianos.

My first piano was an upright piano made by Schimmel.

I worked for a long time, saving enough money for the grand piano.
Once I got the piano, I felt fortunate. Since my grandmother had a Schimmel, I felt connected to the brand. Later, I upgraded to a more expensive Konzert model before getting my Yamaha C3 that I still use.

As a piano player, I have always been fascinated by the fact that we can call someone (the piano-technicians) to tune and tweak our instruments. If you play the drums, there are no techincian that you can call.
As a jazz piano student, I regularly hired a piano technician. They came at least twice per 6 months. Usually, after two weeks, I could tell that the piano was
no longer in tune. That was always a disappointment. Then, I had to live with a piano that was out of tune until I could afford to hire a piano technician the next time.

The piano technician said that I could install a piano humidifier. It can reduce the need for tuning the piano by up to 50%. Indeed, it helped a lot.

Another tip that I got was to keep the room at the same temperature and level of humidity. That is easier said than done. I installed a humidifier and put it in the corner of my living room. Every time I traveled somewhere, there was nobody to refill the humidifier, so my piano became out of tune again and again.


Each time the piano technician came to my home, we had a friendly chat, drinking some coffee and discussing the pianos. Most piano technicians I've met seem to be very dedicated and interested in what they do.

Let me be clear: I don't want to influence anyone to take over the job of the piano-technicians. I have massive respect for what they can do and the magic they can create.

However: I believe we must keep our pianos in tune at all times. You need to hire a piano technician multiple times per year to keep your piano at the level of excellence your music deserves.

My old piano teacher told me that he had a regular deal with the piano-technician
to tune his piano once per month. If you have a good tone with your piano-technician, you can probably negotiate an agreement where they charge less per instance. (There is not that much to do if you tune your piano that frequently.)

I tune my piano about 6-8 times per year, and I do it primarily by myself. I also make sure to keep my room at approximately the same temperature. Fun fact: I like to practice when it is warm to make my muscles relax more. (Around 23 C.)

The main reason I tune my piano is to
keep control over when the piano is in
tune. Now I can plan to get my piano
100% in tune before I record a new video for The Jazz Piano Step-by-Step Course or a YouTube video.


But WHY is it so important to keep your piano in tune? Because the piano is the source and tool that we utilize to create the music that we have inside.

Let me explain: When you play, you use the instrument (the piano) to create sound waves that we perceive as music. The sound waves also go through our bodies and ears and are eventually interpreted by our brain. (Or soul, if that exists.)

If you don't keep your piano in tune, it is like a cyclist that doesn't put oil on his bike, like a painter who is painting in the dark, or like a chef cooking with out-of-date ingredients. They can all get by, but none of them thrive.

Once you play on a piano that is out of tune, you cannot play to your full potential as a musician.


If you are serious about your music, I encourage you to take this seriously. I've met people who say that their piano is in tune or "not that bad."

Then, when I test their instrument, I quickly realize that they don't know the truth to their claims.

There is also a moral question: Should I tell them a big "No" when they think their piano is "not that bad," or should I let them live on in their delusion?
What would you have done?

If it were one of my students, I would tell them gently that they might consider tuning the piano. Maybe, I could take them to my place and demonstrate what a tuned piano sounds like.

If a person is not that much into music, I would probably not try to influence them.

I often say, "Take care of your music." I sincerely believe that I can increase my skill-level as a pianist by doing four things:

1. I Practice smart and consistently.
2. I Play primarily on an acoustic piano.
3. I Keep my piano in tune.
4. I Perform and record. (I also compose, arrange, teach music, etc.)

If you want to step up as a musician, I encourage you to consider doing all the above. Only you can tell how much desire you have for utilizing your potential as a musician.


Should I stay with my electric piano if it is so much hassle with the acoustic pianos?

I would say it depends. You can be a great musician and mostly practice and perform on electric keyboards just as you can become a great Hammond B3 organ player.

I played for years on an electric piano before buying my first acoustic piano.

Still: There is a reason why there are no (as far as I know) piano-trios, where the pianist plays deliberately on an electric piano. When I recorded with my trio in 2011 (The recording was called Existence, you can find it in your streaming service), the piano technician tuned the piano three times over two days.

What is why any professional pianist prefers playing on an acoustic piano over an electric piano? What is the reason why Keith Jarrett got three Steinway pianos shipped to his concert
hall, where he decides which to play that night?

They have felt the difference. The difference is significant. Once you've realized that, you cannot go back.
(Imagine Keith Jarrett playing an electric piano on all of his concerts)

There are many ways I could have put it, so let's come up with a fun analogy:

1. Playing on an acoustic piano (in tune and technically up to date) is like doing your favorite activity with your spouse.

2. Playing on an electric piano is like watching a picture of your spouse.

Please don't be intimidated by my analogy. I know that there are many reasons why some cannot get an acoustic piano. They are big, loud, can be expensive, and heavy. Still: If you have a dream of getting an acoustic piano at some point, I encourage you to keep your plan alive. (It used to be my dream before I had the chance to get a real piano. Happy ever after!)

Once you get your piano, make sure it is in tune. To lower the expense, you can tune your piano. It is both fun and easy if you do it my way.


To tune your piano, you need three things:

1. A tuning wrench. *
2. Two rubber mutes. *
3. A professional app made for piano-technicians.

In addition, I recommend:
1. Ear plugs.
2. Headphones with noise canceling.
3. Entertainment. (YouTube, Netflix, Podcast, etc.)

I schedule three evenings for about one hour each when I tune my piano. (In total, usually 3,5 hours).

* You can buy a Piano Tuning kit on Amazon for as little as $14.

Sample your piano in the app. I use an app called PianoMeter for iOS.

Previously, I used Dirk's piano tuner for my
computer. OK app, but I had a lot more issues
with this app.

You need to record a one-by-one key, and the
app calculates the stretch. You only need to do
this the first time you start your app. The next
time, continue!


I always start on C-4. Then, I go up to the very
top. Once completed, I go from B-3 and

Keep your phone close to the piano. You don't need special microphones.

1. Block string 2 and 3 with one rubber mute and tune the left string.
2. Hit the piano key (Mezzoforte. Let the note sustain.)
3. Aim for 0.0 on your tuner. It does not take much effort, but it will require time and technique. Just be patient.

Note: The indicator in the piano app can show first +2, then -1, and so on. You should aim for 0.0 after a couple of seconds. Don't use your sustain pedal when you tune.

Repeat STEP 1, but block strings 1 and 2. (Tune the rightmost string.)

Repeat STEP 1, but block both strings with two mutes. (See the picture.)

Note: You may have to block some strings by hand.

When you tune the brightest keys, you should press the keys repeatedly. Now
the indicator will jump all over the place. I find it hardest to adjust the top
keys. It is also usually not that important to get 100% accurate since you
don't use those keys that much.

These are the bonus strings. You do the same, but you only have two or one string per key.


You can make your tuning sessions more fun by watching a video. I use both earplugs and headphones with noise.

Tip: Don't tune for more than one hour and 15 minutes in one sitting. The great thing about tuning the piano yourself is that you don't need to do it all simultaneously. That's why I always block three hours spread over three days.


You made it!

Once you have made it, I recommend practicing for at least one hour. I usually practice more than that. Except for my love for my family, there is no more incredible feeling than playing on a recently tuned piano.

Warning: You can get addicted to the great feeling, and it can give you a lot of inspiration when you play.

Stay TUNED and take care of your music!