Mar 25 2021
How should I look after my piano?
Have you seen the inside of a piano before? The sleek exterior is protecting the most beautiful and clever interior…
In celebration of #WorldPianoDay, we’ve got some top tips in an super useful article from Take it away music shop member Piano Warehouse on how to maintain your piano and keep it at its best!
Read on to find out how to look after your piano 🎹
Piano maintenance and tuning are important factors to remember for the longevity of your piano. Pianos can behave differently when delivered or moved. Changing environments, temperatures and humidities can all affect the piano in different ways.Pianos are delicate instruments which need professional attention periodically. Basically there are two types of professional piano care: tuning and adjustment. Tuning means correcting the pitch of every note by retightening the strings. Each piano string is normally stretched to a pressure of about 90 kilograms (198.5 pounds), but eventually it will stretch further with use and lose some of its tension, causing the piano to lose its correct pitch.
How often should you tune your piano?The strings need to be tuned once or twice a year to restore them to their proper tension.
Adjustment involves the entire piano action, keyboard and pedal movements. Proper adjustment is especially important for grand pianos. Whether the piano will perform properly or not depends on how accurately the adjustment is made. Tuning and adjustment should be done by an expert. When your piano requires either one, ask your dealer or call a specialist. Your dealer can also advise you about the interval between adjustments for your piano under the circumstances in which it is used.
Caring for you piano
The piano is among the most versatile of musical instruments, but it is also one of the most complex and delicate. Pianos are extraordinarily rugged-built by a combination of traditional craftsmanship and advanced acoustic technology. But even the finest instrument needs proper care to give long life and dependable service. Please read this article carefully and follow its instructions, and you will be rewarded with years of pleasurable satisfaction.
Provide enough ventilation
Pianos need ventilation, but the wrong kind of ventilation can damage them. The best location for your piano is in the centre of the room or against a wall, which divides two rooms. If possible, avoid placing it next to an exterior wall where outside weather conditions might cause tone quality and volume to suffer. If there is no other choice, however, at least make sure that the piano has adequate ventilation on all sides.
Try not to place the piano near a window. Its cabinet is made of wood and must be protected against direct sunlight, humidity and sudden changes in temperature. Windows that open to the outside offer the least protection. If you must place the piano near a window use a heavy curtain over the window for protection.
Keep the piano away from sources of heat such as radiators or hot air registers. They may damage the finish and internal parts causing tone and balance to deteriorate. Make sure that no radiant heat or hot air draft strikes the piano directly.
Proper conditions = better sound
Pianos work best and sound best when the temperature and humidity are right. Proper ventilation is also important. Generally speaking, a relative humidity of between 50 and 60 percent is ideal for pianos. The use of materials such as wood, felt and cloth in piano construction means that many parts are quite delicate. If not properly cared for, they can be damaged easily. Therefore we are unable to assume responsibility for damage resulting from abuse or harsh treatment.
How does humidity affect a piano?
Felt, cloth, leather and the precision wood parts – some of them machined to tolerances as fine as 1/100 mm – used in such critical parts of the piano as the action are extremely sensitive to humidity. Too much humidity will result in dull hammer action and unclear tones, rusting of internal parts and sticking keys. Before this happens the piano should be repaired.
How to protect again excessive moisture
On cloudy or rainy days close all windows in the piano room. Also, be sure to close the top board each time after playing. The piano’s thick cloth cover absorbs moisture in damp or rainy weather and should be taken off and dried on clear days. Be especially careful about excessive moisture if you live in one of the following places:
- Along a seacoast or in a rainy or humid region.
- In a valley, in a house facing hills, or in an area with poor drainage.
- In a concrete building not more than one or two years old.
- In an area where air exhausts are directed into a room or in a dark, dank room.
But also beware of excessive dryness
Too much humidity is a problem, but excessive dryness is an even more serious one, especially where heating or cooling systems are used to create artificially dehumidified rooms. Used in naturally dry climates the piano has enough natural moisture to prevent excessive drying. However, if the air becomes too dry the wooden and felt components will shrink. In extreme cases, the soundboard, joints and other laminated sections may even come apart, even though they have been glued together carefully. Slight distortion of the parts may cause noise, and the tuning pins may work loose, making it difficult to keep the piano in tune. To avoid excessive dryness it is best to keep some kind of leafy plant or a humidifier in the piano room. 🌱
Avoid sudden temperature changes 🌡
When a cold room is warmed suddenly, moisture will condense on the piano strings and other metal parts, causing them to rust. Felt parts will absorb moisture, dulling their action and resulting in unclear sound. Be especially careful about sudden temperature changes when moving your piano into a room in a cold climate or into an airtight room in a concrete building.
Put your piano where it sounds best
The piano should be placed in a room where the sound will be evenly distributed. A room where all the sound gathers in one spot will produce sound lag and echoes. The best room for your piano is one in which its sound will reverberate to produce pleasant, full-bodied tones without harsh echo.
Don’t place objects on top of the piano
A heavy object may cause poor tone or noisy vibrations if placed on the piano. A vase of flowers may look attractive on the piano but if it should spill and water enter the piano serious damage can result. Water will rust the metal parts of the piano and damage the hammer and action. Avoid costly accidents and never place anything except sheet music or a metronome on the piano.
Avoid placing or spilling any of the following on the piano
- Plastic products (except polyethylene)
- Vinyl products
- Anything containing alcohol
- Liquids such as cosmetics, insecticides, any kind of aerosol, paint thinner or petroleum-based products
Remember to dust and keep the keyboard clean!
Dust can dull the hammer action and cause noise. Dust the piano frequently with a soft cloth or feather duster and wipe the finish with a soft cloth.
The keyboard should be wiped periodically with a soft, dry cloth. Never use cleaners containing alcohol as the keys will become cracked. If the keyboard is very dirty, wipe it with a cloth dipped in a solution of soap and water and wrung out well. The same cloth should not be used for cleaning the surface of the piano, however. A good habit to cultivate is never to play the piano with dirty hands. That way the keyboard will stay clean for a long time.