13 Oct How to best care for your piano?
How best to care for your piano?
Whether you own a grand, or an upright, there are quite a few ways you can ensure that your piano stays in prime condition for years to come. It is so much better to play on a well-maintained instrument – if your instrument sounds bad or feels unresponsive you will not be encouraged to play. I wanted to share some important ways you should take care of your piano to keep it sounding amazing and working at its best.
The optimal temperature for storing a piano is a year-round temperature of 68°F (20°C). Pianos are made principally from wood. Therefore all the wooden parts will shrink or swell depending upon the temperature of the environment. This shrinking and swelling can cause many issues, so making sure your piano is consistently stored at a safe temperature will reduce your repair costs in the long run. Of course, minor changes in temperature are fine, your piano just hates extremes!
Humidity is a factor that can significantly impact your piano’s health, as too much humidity can cause the wood to swell and loosen the glue on delicate parts. Prevent issues by maintaining the humidity of your piano room between 45-70% year-round.
In practical terms, this means what might be common sense advice such as not placing your piano next to a steamy kitchen or bathroom. Otherwise, your piano will be fine in a normally centrally heated room. Modern pianos in particular are happy with central heating. As long as the piano is not placed too near a radiator. Grand pianos ( and to some extent uprights) also do not like underfloor heating very much. This problem can be rectified by buying a special carpet that goes directly under the piano. ( or if you have zoning ensure that that zone is turned off)
Avoiding Direct Sunlight
Direct sunlight can fade a piano’s finish and cause significant cosmetic damage. Harsh sunlight can also increase the temperature inside the piano . If your piano is situated in a room with lots of direct sunlight, make sure you have blinds and curtains that can be closed to prevent the sun from hitting the piano directly. Piano dust covers can also be used to prevent sun damage on the piano’s finish.
Avoiding Damage to the case
Try to keep small children and pets from playing on or near the piano to avoid scratches, dents, and other damage from occurring. Never place food, drinks, potted plants on top of a piano. If something spills inside your piano, the repairs could be very costly, so do your best to avoid this.
At a minimum, have your piano tuned twice a year, preferably when the seasons change . This ensures that your piano is always close to the correct pitch, no matter the time of year.
Never attempt to tune a piano yourself; always hire a qualified professional to tune your piano. Pianos are delicate instruments filled with thousands of moving parts. Qualified technicians have professional designations and have many years of experience tuning and repairing pianos, so they’ll know how to care for your instrument properly.
Regulation and action repair
Regulating a piano is the process of examining the piano’s action to make sure it’s working properly and doing any necessary repairs. Think of it as checking the fluids and changing the oil in your car. Many piano owners overlook this important step in maintaining their instrument.
How often should a piano be regulated? It varies widely depending upon the brand of the piano, how often it is played, and in what condition the instrument is. If possible try to get your piano regulated and checked every 5-10 years.
What are the indicators that your piano needs professional regulation? First, if your piano isn’t making a sound when you play very softly (pianissimo), that’s an indication that your piano’s action needs regulating. Other indicators include keys that aren’t working, or that are sticking when played.
At Suffolk pianos we ensure that all our pianos are regulated properly. This is why we have a high degree of customer satisfaction.
Proper voicing can make a huge difference to the sound of a piano. This is a delicate process during which the density of the hammer felt is altered to produce a richer (more mellow) or brighter (harsher) tone. Unlike tuning, which is mathematically exact, voicing is quite subjective, and can completely change the tone of your instrument.
How do you know if your piano needs to be voiced? If you like the sound of your piano, there’s no need for it to be voiced. However, if you think your piano sounds tinny, harsh, or too soft, a voicing is needed.
As with any maintenance and repairs, do hire a professional piano technician to voice your piano. It’s important to make sure that your piano’s action is working at its best before voicing is done, and only an expert can accurately perform these delicate procedures. If you want your piano voiced we can send our trained technician to do so.
Again Suffolk Pianos ensures that all pianos that leave our premises are voiced, if need be. And, if a customer likes a particular piano but feels it is a little too harsh or bright our technician can voice it down so it is softer/more mellow.
Cleaning the Keys
It is so much more pleasant and sanitary to play the piano with a clean keyboard! Whether you’re a teacher with dozens of students or the only one who plays your instrument, it’s important to keep the keys free from dust, dirt, and oils from your skin. Make sure to never use harsh chemicals, disinfectants, or abrasive cleaners on your keys, regardless of their material.
Most newer pianos and digital keyboards will have plastic keys, while older pianos (usually pre-1930s) have ivory keys. The cleaning procedures for these two types of keys can differ, so make sure you know what kind of keys your piano has before cleaning them.
Dust holds excess moisture, which can cause issues with the action or even rust the strings. You can mitigate dust accumulation inside of your piano by keeping the lid closed when you’re not playing, covering the strings of a grand with a felt cloth, and by gently vacuuming the interior once a year.
Moving a Piano
Save yourself a lot of pain and trouble by hiring professional piano movers to move your piano. If your piano is equipped with casters, you can make small adjustments to the piano’s position yourself, but if you’re moving the instrument to a different room or to another location entirely, hire professionals. Not only is this the best way to prevent damage to the piano, but it also will prevent you from injuring yourself.
Play your piano!
One of the best things you can do for your instrument is to simply play it on a consistent basis. Believe it or not, your piano will sound better with age if you play it frequently and keep it properly maintained. Make sure your piano is being played for a few hours (preferably 5-10 hours) per week.
Finally….Don’t Turn It Into A Shelf!
Yes, that lovely instrument you now have in your living is not a piece of furniture alone, (even though it may look lovely) or a repository for all your picture frames!