Tuning Your Piano
TUNING YOUR PIANOPianos need regular maintenance, just like your car. The frequency of tuning they require depends on the environment the piano is in, how often it is played, and how new it is. I tune some pianos every week or two! I tune others every month. For the average piano in the home, tuning once, twice, or three times a year is adequate. Restaurants or piano bars require tuning every 1-4 weeks. Schools/churches 2-4 times per year. You must tune your piano at least once a year, or it will slip flat in pitch and will require more than one tuning to raise the string tension back up. A piano not tuned for several years usually needs one tuning for every three years it hasn't been tuned. These tunings can take place over a period of several weeks or several months. If you tune your piano once a year, tune it the same month every year. Try to avoid very humid or very dry periods when scheduling a tuning.
You must control the humidity in the room where the piano is located. Changes in humidity will change the tuning on the piano by raising or lowering the pitch of the middle notes. If the humidity changes are extreme, the entire piano will change in pitch. Controlling the humidity will double the life of your piano. It's that important! Call me to have a piano dehumidifier installed. Temperature changes will change the tuning as well, but to a somewhat lessor degree.
YOUR PIANO MAY NOT HOLD A TUNE IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING EXIST:Heat vent, radiator, or other heat source within 3 feet of the piano, in the wall behind, or under a piano. Cold air return within 3 feet of piano or located in the wall behind a vertical piano. A fireplace in the same room. An outside door in the same room. Piano in direct sunlight. Piano in front of window. Pianos on a non-insulated outside wall. Piano exposed to dry heat in the winter. Piano exposed to high humidity in summer. Room temperature higher than 72 degrees in the winter. Piano has loose tuning pins or other structural problems. Piano is newly purchased or recently re-strung and the strings are still stretching. A pitch raise has been performed. Piano is tuned, then moved to a new location with a different climate.
If any of the above exist for your piano, you should try to eliminate them.
Pianos like humidity levels of about 40 % to 45%. Changes in humidity levels can cause sticky keys and structural problems such as cracks. Do not allow air to blow directly on any piano. Higher quality pianos will be more resistant to temperature/humidity changes than lower quality pianos. Use air conditioning on humid summer days. For Florida pianos there are systems available for installation on your piano that help control the humidity. (Piano dehumidifiers - call me for one)
Other MaintenanceFrom time to time, pianos need other repairs in addition to tuning. The felts inside compress with wear, resulting in poor key touch or response. The adjustment for this is called regulating the action. The hammers get louder with wear, due again to compression of the felt. They should be filed and voiced occasionally. Most pianos need additional repair every few years. Pianos under heavy use require an annual adjustment, hammer filing and voicing. Quality pianos can last 25 years before needing major repair or rebuilding. This type of work might include replacing hammers, dampers, and other felts, new strings, key tops, and refinishing. I many cases it is cheaper to rebuild a good piano than to buy a comparable new instrument. Some cheaper grands and most uprights are not worth major repair.
Cleaning your cabinet and keys
Always use a soft
cloth when cleaning or dusting your piano. Never rub hard. Move the cloth
in the direction of the wood grain, or rubbing scratches if they exist.
There are various polishes and cleaners designed for pianos. You will
need to know if you have a varnish, lacquer, or polyurethane finish. Cleaning
the inside parts of the piano can be accomplished by very lightly using
the brush attachment on your vacuum. Do this as often as needed, once
dust builds up, it is sometimes hard to clean. If you do any remodeling,
cover the piano with a sheet first, then with plastic. Seal it well with
tape. Wallboard dust is very hard to remove from inside a piano. Cleaning
under the strings of a grand piano is best left to the technician.