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How To Look After Your Acoustic Piano

Search How To Look After Your Acoustic Piano:

The finest pianos require proper care and maintenance to ensure dependable service. Chappell of Bond Street presents you with a guide to caring for your instrument, ensuring years of satisfaction.

Ventilation

Pianos need ventilation but ensuring you have the right kind is tricky. It is best to position the piano in either the centre of the room or against a dividing wall between two rooms. Placing a piano against an exterior wall can affect tone and pitch as the piano reacts to changes in the temperature.

Windows

Try to avoid placing the piano near a window as the sunlight can cause discolouration to the finish and the changes in temperature (via sunlight) can affect the tone and pitch.

Heat

Try to keep the piano away from heat sources such as radiators, including against a wall with a radiator on the other side. Heat may damage the finish or the internal parts by drying the piano out excessively.

Humidity

Humidity levels can be read with a hygrometer and 50-60% is ideal. To protect against excessive moisture ensure windows are closed on rainy days and keep the keyboard fall closed in between playing sessions. Excessive humidity can rust parts and dull hammer action, as well as causing keys to stick. To protect against excessive dryness it is best to keep a leafy plant or humidifier in the room. Excessive dryness can cause wooden and felt parts to shrink and in extreme cases can cause the soundboard and joints to come apart.

Temperature changes

Try to protect your piano against sudden changes in temperature. If a cold environment heats up suddenly, moisture can lay on the strings and other metal parts causing them to rust. The felt parts will also absorb moisture, dulling their action and producing an unclear sound.

Placing objects on the piano

As a general rule do not place anything on top of a piano as this can cause unwanted vibrations, affecting the sound, and put the piano at risk of spillages etc. Sheet music and metronomes (if necessary) are the exceptions.

Cleaning

Dust the piano with a soft cotton cloth or feather duster regularly as dust can dull the hammer action and cause unwanted noise. Never use wax, furniture polish or oils to polish the casework. Only use specialist piano products and even then do not put them directly on to the piano but on to the cloth. The keyboard should be wiped periodically with a soft dry cloth. Do not use the same cloth for the cabinet and the keyboard as you will move the dust/dirt from one place to another.

Tuning, Voicing and Regulation (Technical Maintenance)

Pianos need to be tuned regularly to ensure they produce a pleasing sound. In general, domestic pianos should be tuned about twice a year. This is because well established pianos tend to go out of tune on a seasonal basis. In late spring, when the central heating has been switched off, the climate in the house becomes more humid and the pitch will rise. In late autumn, when the central heating is being used regularly, the climate in the house becomes drier and the pitch will drop. For the professional pianist practising at home tuning is likely to be needed three or more times a year and in a concert venue the piano will need to be tuned prior to every concert.

Additional technical work that may be required includes voicing (to ensure a uniform tone quality across the whole piano) and regulation (the re-alignment, re-adjustment and synchronisation of the action, keyboard and pedal movements to ensure optimal precision of the action and consistency of touch). How much and how forcefully the piano is played is a factor in how often a piano is voiced and regulated - for the domestic piano this may be necessary every ten or twelve years whereas professional pianists may require this type of maintenance every two or three years.