Caring For Your Piano
With a little care your acoustic piano may offer many years of musical enjoyment. Here are some tips on how to extend the life of your instrument.
Placing Your Piano
Piano location is critical to both the performance and longevity of the instrument. While pianos require ventilation it is important that they get the right kind of ventilation. Avoid exposure to outside weather conditions such as exterior doors and windows. Most modern homes have adequate insulation where the piano may be placed on an outside wall.
Direct sunlight, humidity and sudden temperature changes are detrimental to the instruments and may damage them both internally and externally. Sources of heat such as radiators and hot air registers should also be avoided. They may cause damage to the finish and internal parts affecting tone and performance.
Effects of Humidity
Acoustic pianos use felt, cloth, leather and precision wood parts in their construction. Some of the action parts are extremely sensitive to humidity. Too much humidity may cause unclear tones, sluggish key action, rusting of internal parts, and sticking keys.
The Inland Northwest’s weather generally results in low humidity. If you are moving to a location that has excessive moisture such as coastal areas, older concrete structures, or maybe placing a piano in a dark moist basement then there are some basic steps that may be taken to help preserve your piano. On cloudy or rainy days keep the windows closed in the piano’s room. Close the piano's lid and key cover. Many pianos include a thick cloth cover to lay over the keyboard to help absorb moisture. Make sure to air-dry the cover as needed.
Lack of humidity is an even more serious problem. Air conditioning/heating systems, fireplaces, and wood stoves tend to dehumidify rooms. If the air becomes excessively dry the wooden and felt components in the piano will shrink. In extreme cases the soundboard, joints, and other laminated surfaces could separate. As the parts shrink you may experience distortion of sound and tuning issues.
If a piano is going to be placed in a dry environment consider installing a humidity control system on the piano. We can assist you in recommending the proper system for the type of piano and installation.
Basic Piano Care
Some basic directions for care of your piano include keeping it clean. Not only does regular dusting keep your instrument looking good it can make it perform better. Grand pianos with their exposed strings and open cabinet design can have their key action affected as well as having unwanted noise generated by excessive dust.
It is also a good idea to not place objects on top of the piano. Many times the vibrations from the instrument will create noise through the objects. It is also important to never place a plant on the piano. Not only will water destroy the finish of the piano it may also get inside the piano causing rust or damage to wood and felt parts.
Tuning and Maintenance
The strings of a piano are under a tremendous amount of pressure. Even if a piano is not regularly played there are changes taking place in the piano that are going to degrade its tuning. A piano should be tuned a minimum of once per year. Most manufacturers will recommend at least two tunings. Depending on type of piano, environment, and use a piano may need to be tuned even more often.
From time to time a piano will also need to have adjustments made to its keyboard action and pedal system. It is important to use a qualified technician who will be able to recommend when adjustments need to be made.
These are some basic guidelines but there are many scenarios that may require additional information. With a small amount of care you should be able to enjoy many years of music making with your acoustic piano. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about your piano and caring for it.