Tuning can take up to two hours. The house needs to be relatively quiet in order for your technician to be accurate. Normal house noises like mild conversation or doors closing are perfectly OK. Constant sounds like a vacuum, leaf blower, music playing or a loud TV will restrict the tuner’s ability.
If the piano hasn’t been tuned in many years it is likely to have dropped in pitch significantly. In about 5 years, a neglected piano can drop as much as a half step (C will sound like B, G will sound like F# and so on.) In this case, you have a choice. You can bring the piano back up to standard A440 with two tunings, or you can have the piano tuned “to itself”, meaning having the tone balanced and making it sound good, albeit very flat of normal.
Some incentives to having it brought back up to A440 are:
- You will be able to play along with other instruments
- It will be brighter and have a more pleasing sound because the strings are at their intended tension
- For the developing ears of students, they will become accustomed to hearing the notes the way they are supposed to sound
Keep in mind that having to raise the pitch of a piano is not ideal. Since the pins are being turned dramatically, it can cause the piano to lose its tuning very quickly, requiring further service to achieve stability. Neglecting a tuning for many years can cause permanent damage to the strings. Also, if your strings are rusty, the tuner will likely recommend against raising the pitch since some strings may break in the process. If you have your piano tuned once a year you will never have to deal with raising the pitch and you will ensure the value and tone of your piano for many years to come.