If you have taken the money and time to invest in an acoustic piano, you probably want it to stay with you for a good part of your life. Buying a piano is not about keeping up with the new technology, or splurging on an unnecessary piece of art, but is rather an investment that will continue to give to you the gift of music. If you want to have a piano that lasts, you need to continue to put in the money and effort necessary for a reliably crisp sound. If you are a serious piano owner, you’ll need to keep your piano in shape. The piano requires various forms of maintenance to produce its best sound. Read on to find out how you can keep your acoustic piano in its peak form for performing and practicing alike.
- If you prize your piano, you should tune it once every six months. If you are less serious about your piano but still want to keep it in decent shape, once a year should suffice. If your piano is going to be used in a performance, make sure you get it tuned before the concert. The longer a piano remains out of tune, the more time and effort it will take for a technician to restore it to proper pitch, which usually translates into more money that you must pay. When a piano is only slightly out of tune, it loses the glowing tonal quality characteristic of a freshly tuned piano, especially because each note in the middle and upper range is sounded by more than one string, and these might get slightly out of tune with each other. To tune a piano, call on a registered piano technician with the right tuning hammer and tuning mutes to find the tonal center of the instrument.
- Pianos go out of tune primarily because of changes in humidity. Tuning can be made more secure by installing special equipment to regulate humidity, inside or underneath the piano. A long-term low-humidity environment could eventually cause the soundboard to crack and the keys and other wooden parts to warp. Houston features a dynamic humidity level and, thus, a Houston piano owner might need to get his/her piano tuned more frequently than a person in another climate. If you have a digital piano, you will never have to worry about tuning.
- Pianos also must be “voiced.” The felt hammers of the piano tend to harden over time, as the felt becomes compressed upon repeated impact. They also form grooves at the points of contact with the strings. Piano technicians can soften hammers using special tools called voicing needles. It is important to uniform tone quality across the piano, since the hammers are not used with equal frequency and therefore tend to wear unevenly.
- Another thing that must be regulated is the performance of the piano’s action. Over time, the performance of a piano's action tends to decline, due to the compression of felt, warping of wood, and other adjustments. A skilled technician can restore it to optimal precision in a process called regulation, which involves adjustments ranging from turning a small screw to sanding down a wood surface.
- Keep your piano clean and looking good. Wipe it with a damp cloth every once in a while. I would definitely have a technician look at it at least once a year. And never move your piano by yourself. Make sure that you employ a qualified piano technician to take a look at your instrument as the integrity of your piano depends on it.
In order to live with years of continued pianistic happiness, I would highly suggest maintaining your instrument. It isn’t hard and will make a world of difference.
If you have a new or used piano, you probably don’t want it to break anytime soon. Actually, you would probably rather your piano never break or need a technician ever. While it is unrealistic to expect your piano to stay in perfect condition your entire life, there are steps and precautions you can take to extend the longevity of the piano. Any lifetime investment requires some degree of periodic servicing to provide adequate performance over the years. Taking care of the piano requires an understanding of the nature of the instrument. The sound of the piano is due to the blending of certain materials, namely wood, metal, buckskin, and wool. It is through these natural material that an acoustic piano produces an irreplaceable sound.
- The piano’s wood finish is the first part of a piano that must be given treatment and also the easiest. Keep drinks off of the wooden surface. They will leave rings behind, which are unsightly blemishes. Newer pianos require only occasional dusting and cleaning with a dry or slightly damp cotton cloth. If the piano is older, it could benefit with an occasional polishing done with a high quality wood polish. Depending on whether you have a lacquer or polyester finish, the polish used must be different. Most American pianos are lacquer while polyester finishes are usually Asian or European. Polyester finish is usually much glossier and rarely, if ever, requires polishing. Lacquer finishes can use a glossier polish than polyester finishes, but regardless of which polish, make sure you avoid common household polishes and tend towards polishes made specifically for pianos.
- Maintenance for the piano’s action should not be overlooked. Inside the piano is a complex system of levers, springs, and hammers connected to the keyboard, which is called the action. Since the action is connected to the keyboard, it must be responsive to every intricacy of the player’s touch. When the piano leaves the factory, its parts are adjusted to perfection. After moving and playing the piano, many parts of the piano may loosen and need maintenance occasionally over time.
- Humidity is something that must be paid attention to. The most important thing in terms of where you keep your piano is consistency in terms of temperature and humidity. If the air is too dry, your notes may go flat. If the air is too moist, your notes may go sharp. If the humidity swings back and forth continuously, the soundboard can crack or distort. If very dry, the glue joints that hold parts of the piano together can weaken. Extreme moisture can rust the piano’s strings. Keep the temperature and humidity of the room your piano is in relatively stable. The optimum temperature is 68 degrees F at 42 percent humidity.
- Over time, the felt tips of the piano may wear, so some keys strike louder than others. "Voicing" the piano is when you service the piano to have even decibels of volume throughout the keyboard.
- The last key to servicing your piano is tuning it. Tuning your piano is the adjustment of the tuning pins so that all the strings are of the proper tension. The proper tension allows for the right pitches to be sounded and all of the musical intervals the right distance. Regular tuning is important. If you do not tune your piano enough, it runs the risk of needing special tuning, or even breaking a string.
- I recommend servicing your piano two to four times a year to keep the piano sounding beautiful and functioning properly. The first year of a piano’s life requires the most maintenance because new strings tend to be more unstable then others.
Make sure that you keep your piano in tune and continually service by a certified technician. If the technician works for a piano company or is a member of the PTG (Piano Technicians Guild), they’ll probably do you piano justice. Whatever you do, don’t neglect your piano and make sure you keep it in good condition. Continual servicing allows for your piano to live on for years and years.
While everyone loves to hear a live grand piano played well, there are relatively few people that have the confidence or skills to perform on a regular basis. Maybe you have an old grand piano in the home that hasn’t been played in years. Maybe the kids moved out years ago and the grand piano has been just a piece of furniture for as long as you can remember. We can install a new state of the art player system in it to enjoy for years to come. Or maybe you would love to have a beautiful, new baby grand piano with a state of the art digital player system.
Some people prefer the old pneumatic player piano with the paper rolls. Maybe that is what you grew up with. Times have changed, however... a lot. Now you have the option to control the piano with your iPhone, iPad, or iTouch. You can even interface it with your tv. We can do it for you!
Our player piano service and installation staff is the finest in the south and we like to think even the entire nation. Our manager has been restoring and rebuilding old player pianos and pump organs since he was 12 years old and even has a college degree is in electronics. He is quite capable of making parts for obsolete player instruments or designing custom digital player piano installations. Fun fact: He has helped design apps for player pianos for your Apple products.
Houston Piano Company is your headquarters for player grand pianos and player vertical pianos. Sales, service, installations, and maintenance of player pianos are our specialty. We have repaired many player grand piano installations done by other companies.
Your phone call to Houston Piano Company is all it takes! Because our player piano sales and service is done right here on our campus there are no long waits for your piano to be sent out of town for installation.
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 moistened in a solution of soap and water. The same cloth should not be used for cleaning the surface of the piano, however. A good habit to cultivate is never play the piano with dirty hands. That way the keyboard will stay clean for a long time.
Pianos are delicate instruments that 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 re-tightening the strings. Each piano string is normally stretched to a pressure of about 90 kilograms (198 pounds), but eventually it will stretch further with use and lose some of its tension, causing the piano to lose its correct pitch.
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. The piano's performance depends on how accurately the adjustment is made. Tuning and adjustment should only be done by an expert. When your piano requires either one, call a specialist.
Don't forget to visit HoustonPianoCompany.com
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 unclean sound. Be especially careful about sudden temperature changes when moving your piano into a room in a cold, northern climate or into an airtight room in a concrete building.
Just as Piano Care Tip #6 says to be careful about excessive moisture, excessive dryness can also cause problems, and wreck havoc on your pianos!
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.
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 the coast 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 exhaust is directed into a room or in a dark, dank room facing north.
Felt, cloth, leather, and the precision wood parts are machined to tolerances as fine as 1/100mm. Used in such critical parts of the piano as the action, these are extremely sensitive to humidity. Too much humidity will result in dull hammer action, unclean tones, rusting of internal parts, and sticking keys. Before this happens the piano should be repaired.