Keeping Your Piano and Other Musical Instruments in Tune for Cheap

by Debra Karplus

Related Articles

Turning Your Hobby into Extra Income

11 Frugal Hobbies

According to, over 37,000 pianos were sold in the United States in the year 2014. That doesn't count the thousands of pianos already existing in homes around the country that were purchased in previous years. Perhaps you have a piano at home that you bought new or used at some point in time. Your child is in school now and shows motivation to learn to play piano either with private piano lessons at home or school or maybe he just wants to learn to play by ear. That's exciting. But if you want to facilitate his dream to learn piano, it's in everyone's best interest to keep the piano tuned.

Tuning the Piano

Pianos need tuning for a number of reasons. You may be proud of the fact that you're frugal with your utilities use, keeping the house as cool as tolerable in the winter and holding off on air conditioning in the summer. Unfortunately, extreme changes in temperature are tough on items that are made of wood like pianos. Humidity is also not good for keeping musical instruments like pianos in tune. If you move your piano, either within your home or to another house, that gets a piano out of tune as well. And just like our aging bodies, pianos are tougher to keep in tune as they age. If you minimize these factors, you can keep your piano in tune longer.

For between $100 and $200 depending on where you live, you can bring in a professional who works independently or at a local music shop who can keep your piano tuned with a visit to your home annually or as needed. This can add up. Next time the piano tuner comes to the house, stand behind him or her and pay close attention to how they tune your piano. Because, for about $40 to $60, a non-professional can purchase piano tuning tools online at places like as well as other vendors. There are instructions and even online videos that show you exactly what to do to tune your piano. The purchase of these tools will more than pay for themselves the first time you tune your own piano!

Keeping Your Piano and Other Musical Instruments in Tune for Cheap

Tuning Other Instruments

Musical instruments are basically in one of four categories, namely woodwind, brass, string, and percussion. If someone in your family plays a musical instrument, you will want to keep it maintained. If your instrument is rented from a nearby music shop, be sure to ask who is responsible for taking care of or tuning the instrument. If you own the instrument, it's entirely up to you to keep it in its best condition possible to create beautiful music.

Woodwind instruments that include the saxophone, clarinet, oboe, flute, bassoon, and piccolo are very sensitive to hot and cold. Be careful about keeping them in the car when it is extremely hot or very cold outside because wood swells and shrinks.

Brass instruments that include the trumpet, trombone, tuba, French horn and bugle are not particularly sensitive to hot and cold because they are made of metal. Simply be sure each part stays clean and dry and that all movable parts can be moved.

String instruments like violin, viola, cello, bass, mandolin, guitar, ukulele, and harp are tuned by the person playing the instrument each time before playing. If you attend a performance of classical music, listen and watch before the concert begins because the players are tuning up. Like all musical instruments, keep your string instruments clean and dry, and since they are made of wood, be careful when storing them and avoid extreme temperatures. Strings from these instruments snap at times (often at inopportune times) and can easily be replaced by the player. Expect to pay under $15 for an entire set of guitar strings at a music shop near you or purchase them online.

Percussion instruments like drums, cymbals, bells, xylophone, and marimba should be stored carefully in a clean and dry place and so that they don't fall onto anything or that nothing falls on them. They are sometimes large, unwieldy, and oddly shaped and often don't come is a protective case like most other musical instruments.

Get advice on caring for your musical instruments from a music shop or online.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

Take the Next Step:

  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book