So what about that piano tuning? Have you scheduled one? A piano can bring many years of enjoyment to a home. For that to happen, it’s important to understand that a piano is more than just a piece of furniture. Sure, it’s what’s on the outside that is readily seen. However, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts (sound familiar?). In all too many homes, the concept “out of sight, out of mind” has been subscribed to when it comes to that piano sitting in the corner of the living room. The result? Well, it’s kind of like your car. You don’t usually see what’s under the hood but neglecting to regularly take care of what’s there will lead to disappointment. The same holds true for a piano. Avoidance of regular care of its internal mechanisms will, more often than not, lead to costly issues that could have been easily prevented with regular maintenance.
You want your investment to perform to its potential. This is not possible without giving it the attention it requires and deserves. Also, the surest way to decreasing the value of a piano is to not take care of it. Consider the fact that your piano is constructed of mostly wood. This applies to its largest structural components as well as its tiniest intricate mechanical parts. Since wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity, a piano’s tone and intonation are affected along with these changes. In addition, the action of the piano, which consists of way too many parts to mention here, is also susceptible to modifications with these climate differences.
Although it is virtually impossible to put a halt to environmental changes having an impact on your piano, there are some things you can do to help minimize the harmful effects they can have. A most important you can do is this: if your piano must go alongside a wall, be sure it’s an outside wall instead of an inside wall. After all, the closer your piano is to the outside, the more directly it will be affected by changes in outdoor climate. Also, since sunlight can have a negative affect on your piano, place it is an area where the least amount of direct sunlight is likely to occur. Remember, too, that heating vents and air conditioners can also have undesirable effects on your piano. Of course, never place your piano near a fireplace!
By the way, when it comes to the outside of your piano, regular dusting will keep it happy. As far as the keys go, you can keep them clean with a cloth that has a very mild soap and is only slightly dampened with water. That cloth should not be wet to the point where it is dripping. You do not want water to be seeping in the cracks between those keys.
The frequency of service calls you schedule for your piano will likely depend on a number of factors, some of them being the climatic environment of your home, how often your piano is played, its general condition, and its construction. You will want to put yourself in touch with a piano tuner/technician who can provide you with the kind of service needed, including tuning and taking care of mechanical parts. The two basic services that will result in the ultimate care of your piano are tuning and regulation. A tuning is generally performed more often than a regulation. A piano is usually tuned between one and three times a year, where a full regulation is generally not needed as often.
A common error made by piano owners is that the piano only needs to be tuned if it is being used. This is simply not true. The strings that run across your soundboard help to maintain a certain curvature of your piano’s soundboard. The total tension that exists is many tons (about 22!). When a piano is tuned, these strings are generally tightened, which is conducive to this curvature maintaining its integrity. So, yes, if you’re playing a lot and want your piano to be sounding its best at all times, a few tunings a year may be preferable. However, if you’re not giving that piano at least one tuning each year, you’re cheating it out of the care it needs.
So, yes, a piano can bring much beauty to a home (although an old piano that doesn’t look all that wonderful can be a superb musical instrument, too). Keep in mind that what you don’t see on a regular basis is still there. The inside of your piano needs regular care just like your car. Treat it well and it will certainly return the favor by bringing you many happy returns!
Learn about having your piano tuned