Piano Care: Most Frequently Asked Questions
When you own a piano, regular maintenance and proper care are the keys to making your piano last for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of piano owners who are unaware of the proper techniques required to keep a piano working properly and in the best possible condition. We receive thousands of questions about pianos, but these four questions are the ones we most commonly see about caring for a piano.
Does My Piano Require Regular Maintenance?
Simply put, yes. If you want to enjoy your piano years into the future, you must seek regular and proper servicing of your piano from a qualified piano technician. Having your piano tuned regularly will prevent it from sounding flat and allows the technician to do minor action and voicing adjusts after tuning is complete. In addition, with typical home use your piano will need to have the keyboard complete re-regulated every few years. Having this service done regularly will allow your piano to perform and respond correctly during each use.
Even more so, your piano will need to have the hammer felts adjusted, also known as voicing, to keep the original sound of your piano. This is necessary because every time you use your piano, the hammers will begin to harden and will continue to do so over time. When you do not have then periodically adjusted it can significantly cut the quality and lifespan of the pianos hammers. Resulting in you having to replace the hammers years before you would normally have to with regular maintenance.
Furthermore, it’s important to have all of your pianos maintenance and repair needs done by a qualified piano technician. Poor quality work from someone who is not experienced or qualified to work on pianos can diminish your pianos quality and cause it to fail more often. In some cases, it can cause significant damage that will need a lot of time and money to repair.
How Do I Clean My Piano?
One of the best ways to keep your piano clean is by implementing certain preventive measures. The main way that dirt gets on our piano is by way of our hands. It’s important to always wash your hands before playing or touching your piano. A quick 30 second scrub down can prevent heavy build up. In addition, you should always cover your keys with the lid when you’ve finished playing. This keeps dust and dirt from getting on the keys and into the cracks.
Even more so, never place anything on your piano that may spill or scratch it including vases, drinks, books, and even paper. You should place your piano in an area that keeps it away from sun exposure. Sun exposure can cause unwanted fading and discoloration.
However, despite applying these preventive measures, your piano will still accumulate dirt and dust. You should use a feather duster or damp cheesecloth to wipe down the exterior of the piano frequently. Preferably, two or three times per week. Be sure to use a white cheesecloth or flannel for wiping to avoid any discoloration of the keys. Never use a rough cloth, paper towels, or a dry cloth to wipe down your piano because it can cause scratching and minor imperfections.
Even more so, its important to avoid using mineral water, sprays, perfume, polish, or aerosol on your piano because it can alter your pianos color and appearance and cause undesirable markings. Lastly, only clean the exterior of your piano and have a professional clean the interior often. The interior has hundreds of fragile parts that needs cleaned by someone who has had experience in cleaning these delicate pieces.
How Often Should I have My Piano Tuned?
One of the most common questions we see on piano care involve piano tuning. According to the Piano Technicians Guild, as well as most manufacturers, they recommend that a piano gets tuned twice every year. Typically once every six months for the life of your piano. However, new pianos need more frequent tuning at four times for the first year of use and then twice per year afterwards.
Every piano string has a high amount of tension and will stretch with each use. As the strings stretch, the pitch of the piano goes flat. Even when the piano is not used very often, the strings will gradually stretch over time and eventually become flat. In addition, Most pianos made to carry a concert pitch which means it’s tuned at A above middle C with vibration at 440 cycles per second, also known as A440.
If the strings stretch too much, it will require a lot more effort on a technicians part, aside from just tuning the piano, to get them back to the A440 concert pitch. Plus, aside from keeping your piano from going flat, tuning a piano properly is extremely important for prolonging the lifespan of your piano.
How Do Minimize The Effects Of Humidity and Temperature Changes On My Piano?
Humidity and the constant fluctuation of hot and cold temperatures are disastrous to your piano. It can cause tuning pins to slip, wreck the finish, discoloration and fading, failing glue joints, and several other ailments. One of the best methods to avoid this type of damage to your piano is placement and steady temperatures. By keeping your piano in a room with a constant steady temperature that does not change drastically is vital.
However, where you place your piano is just as important as consistent temperatures. First off, keep your piano away from any direct sunlight and avoid putting potted plants or drinks that could spill on top of your piano. In addition, never place your piano near a heating vent that will blow direct heat on the piano. If there is a heating vent near the piano, either move it or completely seal off the particular vent.
Furthermore, there are some addition items that you should never put your piano next to including fireplaces, radiators, drafty windows, air conditioners, and gas heaters. Anything that will expose your piano to extreme temperatures. Never keep your piano in an area that does not have heating or anywhere that may expose it to the elements.
Lastly, piano technicians can install a device of many pianos called an internal humidity control system. This systems equipped with both a humidifier and dehumidifier that will properly maintain humidity levels. It is fairly cost-effective and has saved hundreds of pianos throughout the years.