You know the drill: the cost of getting a new piano, and getting it tuned, are on a steep downward trajectory as people become increasingly more sophisticated in the way they use technology.
But a new study finds that even the lowest-end of new piano tunings can add $1,000 to the cost per hour to a pianist’s career.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison looked at about 3,000 people’s piano tuning costs in a study published Monday in the journal Applied Mathematics and Science in Engineering.
Their findings showed that the average cost per minute to tune an instrument at the high end of the scale could be up to $4,000.
That’s an average of a whopping 12 cents per minute, or about $1.70 per hour for a 10-minute lesson.
The study also showed that for a piano to sound the way it does, the tunings needed to be well-tuned to be effective.
That means the tuning needs to be “good enough” to keep the instrument sounding natural, the researchers said.
That may sound like a good deal to some, but for pianists who are not proficient at playing the instrument, the cost can add up quickly.
“It’s just like having a new car,” said study author Andrew Gorman, a UW-Madison professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Music Engineering.
“You don’t know if the tune is good enough.
And if it’s not good enough, you might have a problem.”
The study found that the top piano tuners in the United States are in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans.
The lowest cost is in Los Angeles.
For the study, the UW-Milwaukee researchers looked at piano tuning for instruments such as violins and basses, which tend to have lower tuning costs than the lowest priced instruments.
They also looked at how well the people had been practicing their instrument in the past and how many times they’d played it over the years.
The researchers looked to see if there was a trend.
For example, they looked at people who had only played the instrument once before, and looked at those who had played the same instrument a total of 10 times.
They found that there was no significant difference between people who’d played the piano five or more times over the course of their careers and people who hadn’t.
The only difference was when they played it at a very high level of tuning.
The researchers said this indicates that people who have been playing it at higher levels of tuning tend to make better recordings.
But there were some notable outliers.
The lowest-priced instruments had the highest number of mistakes, and the most errors, when they were played at a relatively high level.
That was true for violins, basses and trombones.
That means the average tuning error is about $5 per minute for a $2,000 instrument.
But for pianos that were tuned to the lower-end, the average tune error was about $2 per minute.
“That’s a huge difference,” Gorman said.
“If you’re playing a piano at the very high end and the tuning is good, you’re going to be able to record a good tone.”
For the low-end pianos, the biggest problem was a sound that was too soft, the study found.
The worst part is that if you don’t tune your instrument well enough, the tuning can cause damage.
“A lot of times, the instrument doesn’t sound good,” Gomer said.
“If you tune it too hard, it can sound very hollow.”
When it comes to new instruments, he said, it’s important to be aware of the cost.
“There’s nothing wrong with trying to get a new instrument tuned,” Gorm said.
But it’s critical to have the right tools to make the right adjustments.