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Piano Tuning Series: Do I Need Perfect Pitch To Tune A Piano?

A short and snappy answer: no!


Perfect pitch is in itself a greatly contested argument. Does perfect pitch even exist? Or is it all relative and learnt when the brain is at it's most malleable?


This is not the post for that although we might take a deep dive in to the studies of perfect pitch at another time.

For our purposes lets define perfect pitch as:


The ability of a person to identify any musical note after hearing it.


Again, the argument for whether this ability makes someone more or less naturally accomplished in music is open to debate, but in terms of tuning it actually makes very little difference.


When a piano tuner listens to the piano they are not listening to the note. They are listening to the 'wobbles' within those notes.


In simple terms, there are 3 strings which sound the same for most high notes, and 2 for some bass notes. For a piano to be in tune each of these strings needs to vibrate or 'wobble' the same as its neighbours.


For example, for the note A - which if you remember vibrates at 440Hz per second - to sound correct, the three steel strings which are played when you press the A note, must all vibrate together and identically at 440Hz each.

If one string is not the same as the other then the piano tuner will hear a wobble. The faster this wobble the more the two notes are not the same. A piano tuner moves the tuning lever in a certain way to decrease that wobble until it disappears. When the wobble has disappeared, the two strings are in tune with each other.


Thus, a piano tuner is not listening to the note which is played they are infact listening for any wobbles to remove. Perfect pitch might be helpful in identifying the note and the approximate tuning of the octave above or below, but for the tuning of those notes it is the wobbles in the strings that matter.


Please note that this is a very simplistic explanation of piano tuning and perfect pitch to help you understand the basics.


We hope that this blog on Do I Need Perfect Pitch To Tune A Piano has helped your understanding of these two complicated topics. There are a couple of links below if you would like to read more, or find our Technical Series.



Piano Do Re Me. Do I Need Perfect Pitch To Tune A Piano
Piano Do Re Mi




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