Piano Care and Maintainence

Care and maintainence of a piano

Pianos need regular tuning to keep them up to pitch, which is usually the internationally recognized standard concert pitch of A = 440 Hz. The hammers of pianos are voiced to compensate for gradual hardening, and other parts also need periodic regulation. Aged and worn pianos can be rebuilt or reconditioned. Often, by replacing a great number of their parts, they can be made to perform as well as new pianos. It is often felt, however, that older pianos are more settled and produce a warmer tone.

Piano moving should be done by trained piano movers using adequate manpower and the correct equipment for any particular piano’s size and weight. Pianos are heavy yet delicate instruments. Over the years, professional piano movers have developed special techniques for transporting both grands and uprights which prevent damages to the case and to the piano’s mechanics. Learn how to move a piano the right way.

Humidity

Much of a piano is made of wood, and pianos are therefore extremely sensitive to the fluctuations in humidity. The piano’s wooden soundboard is designed to have an arch, or crown. The crown increases or decreases with changes of humidity, changing the tension on the strings and throwing the instrument out of tune. Larger fluctuations in humidity can affect regulation, and even cause parts to crack. If humidity changes are extreme, the soundboard can warp so much that it collapses and loses its crown, which may require rebuilding or replacement of the instrument.

Piano owners can prevent these problems by controlling humidity. Most technicians recommend an indoor relative humidity in the range of 30% to 50%, kept as constant as possible. Keeping the piano away from air vents, heaters, open windows, open doors, direct sunlight, and the kitchen can help prevent damage, since all these are potential sources of sudden changes in humidity. However, even with these precautions, changes in weather will affect indoor humidity. Ideally, a piano owner would use a hygrometer in conjunction with a humidifier and dehumidifier and/or air conditioner to keep the humidity of the room housing the piano constant year-round. In cases where controlling room humidity is impractical, an in-piano humidity control system (such as the Dampp-Chaser) may help, though there is some controversy among technicians about the efficacy of these systems.

Contaminants

Pianos are easily damaged by liquids. Liquid spills may only damage the exterior finish; however, a spill which reaches the inside of the piano can cause costly damage to the action or soundboard. Piano owners should protect their instruments by keeping liquids away from the instrument. Dust in between the keys can interfere with the action but can be minimized by keeping the lid closed when the instrument is not in use, however, the lid should be opened at times to ensure air circulates to prevent mould from growing. If a spill occurs, immediate action should be taken by removing the keys, cleaning them in a grease cutting solution and allowing them to dry. Careful disassembly, and reassembly should be taken if done by anyone other that a technician

Appearance

Pianos are fine furniture, and in this role they benefit from cleaning and polishing, done carefully to avoid introduction of any fluids into the piano’s interior. For many piano finishes, dust removal is better done with a feather duster than a cloth, which minimizes the abrasive effect of the dust. A piano technician should be consulted for recommendations on cleaning and polishing products suitable for a piano.

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