Whether you’re an accomplished pianist or a promising student that has decided to take the plunge and purchase your first piano, it’s essential that you understand how to take care of your piano. Always remember that in addition to being an instrument, a piano is an investment. Just as routine maintenance is required to keep an automobile running smoothly and safely, regular maintenance is important for your piano’s sound and appearance.
The following information should give you an understanding of what steps you’ll need to take care of your piano and keep it sounding good and looking good.
Maintaining Your Piano’s Sound
- Piano Technicians Guild – On average, registered technicians and non-registered technicians the same amount of money for a tune-up—usually anywhere between $50 to over $200. The average price seems to run between $75 and $125. It’s a good idea to ask for references with any piano tuner, registered or not.
- Piano Regulation – Tuning corrects the pitch of a piano, but it is only one component of piano maintenance. A piano’s performance tends to decline over time due to the compression of felt, warping of wood, and other types of normal “wear and tear,” or even moving a piano from one home to another. A piano technician can restore the piano to optimal precision with a process called regulation. Regulation involves adjustments ranging from turning small screws to sanding down wood surfaces.A piano does not have to be regulated as often as it has to be tuned. A piano that is subjected to normal will most likely need to be regulated every five to ten years. Pianos that are played very often may need to be regulated more often than those that endure normal “wear and tear.” New pianos and used pianos that have been rebuilt will probably need regulated after the first six months to a year of use because the new felts will still be settling. A “touch-up,” or “partial regulation” usually runs between $50 and $200 while a complete regulation may cost several hundred dollars or more.
Keeping Your Piano Safe From the Elements
- Keep Your Piano in a Safe Place – Because temperature and humidity affect pianos, it’s important to place your piano in the right spot in your home. Try to locate your piano near an inside wall and away from heating or cooling vents. Drafty windows and bright sunlight can cause severe damage to your piano on the inside as well as the outside.
- Pay Attention to the Air and Temperature in Your Home – Warm, moist and dry air all affect pianos differently, which is why piano technicians recommend tuning when the seasons change. Moisture can cause the piano’s strings to rust while heat can draw moisture from the wooden components of the piano and cause damage, so it’s important to pay attention to the air and temperature. Experts recommend that the optimum humidity of the room should fall between 45 to 60 percent while the temperature should fall between 18 to 21 degrees Celsius / 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Maintaining Your Piano’s Appearance
- Your Piano is Not a Shelf – Many people make the mistake of displaying decorative items on top of their piano. Not only can this can cause unsightly scratches by damaging the finish, it can alter your piano’s sound or damage the lid if the object is heavy enough.
- Dusting and Polishing – Pianos are furniture in addition to instruments, which means they benefit from periodic cleaning and polishing. Treat your piano like you would treat any piece of valuable furniture and clean it very carefully. It’s usually best to use a feather duster to remove dust from your piano instead of a cloth, which may cause the dust to be abrasive and cause faint scratches. Be sure to consult a piano technician for recommendations on which cleaning and polishing products are safe to use on a piano because most traditional furniture polishes can cause considerable damage. Avoid getting any fluids or polishes inside the piano.
- Cleaning Piano Keys – New piano owners often make the mistake of wiping down their piano keys with a damp cloth or worse yet, spraying the keys with cleanser or water before wiping them. Again, avoid getting any fluids inside the piano—any tiny bit of fluid that trickles down inside the keys can harm the instrument. It can also make the keys slippery when you’re trying to play!