April 09, 2015
Tips for Keeping a Piano in Great Shape
Whether you’ve just enrolled your child in piano lessons or are taking lessons yourself, a piano is an investment in your future. It can bring you and your family a lifetime of music and, if properly maintained, can be passed down from generation to generation. Just as you keep your car and home maintained, the same mentality should be applied to your piano. Although regular service from a qualified piano technician will help preserve your instrument and prevent costly repairs down the line, there are quite a few things you can do in between service to keep your piano in tip-top shape.
Keep Your Piano Tuned
Think of this as your first and last line of defense: if you don’t regularly tune your piano, it simply won’t perform to the best of its ability. If piano tuning is overlooked, as it so often is, you’ll start to notice a degradation in sound and pitch. Although you can tune your piano on your own, it’s a difficult and time-consuming process. It is usually recommended that a professional handle the job, especially for those who may be new to the instrument. Most pianos need to be tuned at least twice a year, once mid-autumn and once in mid-summer, but some pianos need to be tuned more often. If you prefer to avoid the hassle of tuning altogether, electric pianos and keyboards are an option, just keep in mind that they won’t produce quite the same sound as a traditional piano.
Get a Professional to Move Your Piano
Whether you’re moving into a new house or are moving your piano into storage temporarily, entrusting a professional piano moving company with your piano will give you the peace of mind you need. Pianos can be difficult to move for a variety of reasons–they’re big, they weigh hundreds of pounds, and one bump or drop can send your piano into total disarray. Since professionals know what they’re doing (and know the right way to treat your piano), you won’t have to worry about everything that can go wrong. Plus, piano movers know how to protect your floors from damage. Although the wheels on a piano are designed to make it portable, those wheels can really damage your floors. Piano movers have special dollies they use that won’t scratch or dent your floors, so it’s a win-win.
Pay Attention to Location
Your piano should be located in a room where there is a fairly even temperature and the humidity is controlled. Changes in climate can affect the tuning, warp the wood, and cause long-term damage, while fluctuations in humidity can can cause warping and rust. Ideally, your piano should be kept in a room that hovers around 70 degrees, and humidity should be maintained at about 40 percent. Although placing your piano in direct sunlight may help you read your sheet music better, it’s not a good idea–it can destroy its finish and cause damage to the soundboard, pinblock, and other parts of your piano. Finally, never place your piano directly against a wall. Believe it or not, the extra reverberations can cause problems, so try to keep at least a foot of space between your piano and the wall.
Keep it Clean
When it comes to cleaning your piano, there are two parts you should pay attention to: the cabinet and the keys. Depending on the finish of your piano, cleaning the cabinet is the same…but slightly different. Lacquer finishes require a polish that has been designed for delicate furniture, while pianos with a polymer finish can be cleaned with water and a mild detergent. As far as keeping the keys clean goes, remember to keep the lid closed whenever it’s not in use, and to always wash your hands before use. No matter how clean you are, dust and oil from your fingers can cause a grime to build up on the keys of your piano. Although most technicians take care of this during regularly scheduled maintenance, you can always clean your keys with a lint-free cloth in between.
Use Your Senses to Diagnose Issues
As you become more accustomed to your new piano, you’ll become used to its sound and feel. If you ever notice that something seems “off”, don’t hesitate to ask your piano teacher or a qualified technician for advice. In many cases, you can tell that a piano is “sick” by its feel–do the keys feel strained and tight? Are there dead notes or sticky keys? Can you audibly hear the pedal whenever you release it? Here’s a short list of what certain issues with your piano can mean: a saloon piano sound is usually caused when your strings are out of tune, dead notes are often caused by broken action, and if several adjacent notes are dead, something is likely blocking the hammers from striking them. Regardless of what you think the issue is, if you see or feel something that’s a little bit off, contact a professional who can help diagnose (and fix!) the issue.
Enrolled in piano lessons? Here’s Six Tips for Making the Most of Your Piano Lessons.