Does moving a piano affect the sound of the piano?

By ยท April 21 2019
Does moving a piano affect the sound of the piano?

Does moving a piano affect the sound of the piano? The question is very interesting, and if you are looking for the answer, this article is specifically written for you. Pianos are unique and temperamental musical instruments with over 200 individual strings and thousands of moving parts. As well as the question is concerned, it depends on the movement of the piano and circumstances as well. To put the piano in tune, each string must be painstakingly adjusted even the smallest variation in a string's tension can be heard by a practiced ear.

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Movement of Pianos

The most important and prior thing that relates with the movement of pianos is, you have to take in account whether you are moving a piano on small distances, like in a room from one point to another or to an entirely new location and environment. Moving a piano across a room on small distances by pushing it apparently won’t need to tune it right away.

Pianos Movement and change in climate

Pianos are extremely sensitive to climatic changes and change in climate makes pianos go out of tune. A considerable distinction in humidity between its old location and its new home will change the shape of the piano’s soundboard, varying tension on the string. The reason for these changes is the construction of a fine piano is of wood. Woods stay hygroscopic long after they are not “living” or after being made into something wonderful like Pianos.

Piano Soundboard

Let’s have a look at the piano soundboard. The piano’s soundboard is basically a piece of wood and is the largest single component of the marvelous instrument. The piano sound is a consolidated phenomenon that involves the structure itself, steel and copper strings, felted hammer, soundboard, and wood bridges. A complex activity delivers hammers to steel and copper wrapped strings which then in response vibrate. Hardwood bridges then carry the vibrations to the soundboard. The soundboard has a curved crown and loaded with pressure from the strings and energy responds in the form of vibrations. Ribs are positioned on the back or underside of the soundboard; those not only help to give strength and maintain the crown, but also assist to distribute tone across the whole soundboard. What is the purpose of soundboard? Soundboard is not really to amplify sound but to receive vibratory pulses generated by different parts of sound generating systems of the piano and convert them into air movement.

Dryness and Moisture Affects Your Piano


Dryness puts some damaging effects on the piano. How? Let’s have a look at it. A soundboard becomes smaller when it gives off moisture. When the soundboard is given off so much moisture that it sinks below an acceptable normal level, it will crack. This is a very common condition in pianos. Without a maintained and controlled environment cracks are almost certain in this instrument. Dryness also causes the pitch of the piano to flat. Extreme dryness may become a reason for weakening the glue joints that hold wood portions and soundboard of the piano together.


Moisture may result in rusting the strings of your piano and all of the woods expand. Many felt parts do as well. With moisture, soundboard becomes larger in size and flattens in scope. With this, the pitch rises as strings are stretched more tightly across the bridges which are interconnected. This also results in getting everything larger and the pitch goes up. What happens to the friction? It rises as parts which are calibrated to work with minimal necessary friction, now must fight additional resistance to movement and becomes a cause in increasing the weight. Some common conditions include less defined tone, sticking or slow keys, higher pitch, and slower action response.

One more interesting thing is that tone color and tone quality also change with lower readings or higher in relative humidity. What does the piano hammer absorb in moisture? It absorbs moisture from the air and produces the low brilliant tone. They are less focused and heavier because of moisture and extension within the hammer. The extremely complicated texture of wool fibers within the hammer are altered often resulting in compromised tone.

What could be the possible reasons; those make a stable piano out of tune?

There are three reasons for this

  1. Soundboard move
  2. Strings stretch
  3. Tuning pin slips

Soundboard Move

All spruce soundboards have cellular matter between the grains. These parts act like a sponge, swelling when they take on the humidity in the summer. Our dry homes in winter season change the piano’s overall string tension that may cause the tuning pins to slip or the string to move along the bridge pins. Such changes will make the entire piano sound more flat or sharp. What could be helpful in such conditions? Furnace humidifiers and air conditioning can minimize these effects, but would unable to completely eliminate the seasonal changes in humidity. Deserts and higher elevations or tropical areas have less dramatic changes in humidity, creates a more stable environment for pianos.

String Stretch

The strings of piano actually stretch out, throughout the life of the piano like a rubber band. The older the strings, the more consistent they become but less flexible. This is the reason; the new pianos require more tunings early on and why you should never buy a piano "new out of the box."

Tuning pin slips

The third reason that could make your piano out of tune is, tuning pin slips. Gradually a ‘pinblock’ can constrict and dry out which may cause to lose the tuning pins. When this happens, the instrument is no longer able to hold the proper string tension and the pitch will go flat shortly after tuning.

Let’s assume, a well-tuned piano moved fifty to sixty miles from a dry, heated home to humid, cool home will sound fine immediately after this movement. But after a few days when adjusting to the higher humidity levels, the piano would sound out of tune. Whenever you move a piano from one room to another in the same building, it will definitely affect it if air conditioning or heating patterns are different.

Vertical pianos have some exceptional case. The reason for this is they are constructed with four legs; they periodically flex enough to deform their tuning pattern instantly if they moved to an uneven floor. If we move the pianos back to some flat surface, the normal tuning will return.

What you should do in order to move the Piano?

Do you want to move your piano? You should be more careful in this concern because my article has complete information regarding the movement of the piano and its tune that goes out. If you do this procedure without knowing the nature of pianos, an unsafe movement could make your instrument cracked or damage and can affect its tune. So what should need in order to move your instrument? You will need a professional piano mover. The movement often requires three or more people, who load it onto a truck, securing it to the wall of the truck and wrapping in blankets.

How often your piano should be serviced fully?

The components of musical performance that need to be adjusted periodically are touch, tone, and pitch. Tuning piano is basically the adjustment of the tuning pins so that all the strings are the proper tension (pitch), to have the accurate musical intervals and surrounding. Experts or manufacturers recommend a minimum of four tunings the first year and twice a year thereafter. Mostly, the initial tuning is done by the dealers before the piano arrives at your home. This will keep the piano sounding great and will work perfectly each time you play it. This is particularly important for the first year of your piano’s life. In case of those pianos, those have gone a long time without tuning may require extra work in pitch rising. But the most important thing is, you should be sure about regular service of your piano by a qualified technician.

How should you care for your piano’s wood finishing?

New piano finishes require only periodic cleaning with either damp or dry cotton cloth. Older or used piano finishes may benefit from a periodic polishing with a high-quality polish, but persistent polishing is never recommended for this.

Some Tips

The best thing that can greatly benefit your piano is to monitor the conditions near your instrument and try to create the most comfortable conditions for you and your instrument. You should avoid having direct sunlight on your piano and avoid placing all sorts of heat sources near your piano. Close proximity to radiators directs air from your air conditioners and hot air from floor vents are not suitable for your pianos. Pianos in hotels, halls, school clubs, and other places perform poorly when the environment is changed by altering or by moving around frequently.

If you want to keep your piano healthy and your technician also very happy to see you, control the environment for your piano as carefully as you can.

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