Piano Tuning For Dummies
Piano tuning can be a complete mess when you do not know how to get it done, where to go, or what is involved. Being properly tuned is an important part of keeping your piano in working condition. It's like a car - if you don't get a tune-up or an oil change every so often, your car may not run well, and it won't last as long as if you keep up with regular maintenance.
Regular maintenance and piano tuning will extend the life of your piano's parts, as well as keeping your ears from being assaulted by a bad note. Most piano manufacturers recommend having your piano tuned at least twice each year.
Things like humidity greatly affect your piano's string quality, so if you are in a more humid environment with large shifts in temperature and humidity throughout the year, you may want to tune more often.
Piano tuning makes minor adjustments to the tensions of the strings in order to align the intervals between their tones - in other words, put it in tune. Tuning your piano to the correct notes can be different for every piano, and focuses mostly on the interaction of notes rather than tuning to a set pitch.
There is also a process of tuning a piano to what is called "Concert Pitch" - a standard also known as A440 that ensures correct pitch when you are playing with more than one instrument, but most people with single pianos in their homes (not concert pianists) would be alright with just a regular tuning.
There are likely many piano tuning services in your area, including independent piano technicians, rebuilders, and hobbyists. Most piano tuners will charge $80-$100 depending on your area, and is a fairly simple process as long as your piano does not have loose tuning pins or other structural malfunctions.
It is not recommended that you tune your own piano at home if you have not taken a course in tuning, though there are a few websites out there that could give you some pointers if you are so inclined, and sell you the necessary tools.