Your Piano: Instrument, Owner & Technician

Your piano is an amazing combination of art and machine. It is capable of producing beautiful music to excite the senses and soothe the soul. It is a very specialized machine made of wood, steel, cast iron, felt, buckskin, and paper. It needs routine maintenance and service to keep it happy. As a piano owner, if you commit to routine service your piano will keep its value and last for many happy years.

NEW OR NEWLY-RESTRUNG PIANOS should be tuned and serviced three to four times their first year in your home as strings stretch and cloth and felt compact. Your piano will take about a year to settle down. Multiple tunings the first year assure a more stable instrument over time. After the first year, All Pianos should be TUNED and SERVICED at least Twice a Year, to maintain proper pitch and to fix any minor problems before they become big, expensive problems. Performance or recording pianos will need to be tuned more often. Piano service falls into four major categories: tuning, regulation, voicing, and rebuilding.


TUNING is adjusting the piano strings to the correct tension.

REGULATION is the adjustment of the mechanical aspects of the pianos to compensate for the effects of wear, the compacting and settling of cloth, felt, and buckskin, as well as dimensional changes in wood and wool parts due to changes in humidity.

VOICING is to adjust the tonal quality of the piano for evenness, power, and quality.

Piano technicians also REPAIR and RENOVATE broken, worn, or old action parts. Some technicians are also REBUILDERS who can REPAIR or REPLICATE major structural parts of the instrument.

Other elements to consider when caring for your piano:

Direct sunlight harms a piano's finish (causing it to bleach and crack), while the heat that it causes destabilizes the piano interior. Therefore, if a piano must be placed in a spot where there is direct sunlight, a window shade and/or a piano cover is essential.

Extremes of humidity as well as large changes in humidity are both harmful to pianos. Ideally, a piano will be maintained in a room in which the relative humidity remains constant year-round. A Dampp-Chaser unit that is properly installed helps maintain constant humidity in a piano year round at roughly 42% relative humidity.

Pianos are damaged by extreme heat as well as extreme cold. Ideally, a piano is kept in a room in which the temperature is normal and constant (around 68°F). The temperature should not be allowed to fall below 45°F and should not exceed 90°F.

Keep fluids away from the piano. Juice, soda, even water spilled into a piano can do severe damage. Never touch the bass strings. Residue from hands and fingers causes corrosion, which can cause the bass strings to buzz and to lose clarity and power. Remove dust with the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner. If you live in a city, grime may accumulate over the years. Only a specialist should clean the interior of a piano.

The fallboard should always be open to allow free circulation of air around the keys. Keys should be cleaned only with a soft cloth, dampened very slightly with water or club soda (or Windex if the keys are really dirty). Never put fluid directly on the keys.

The case should be dusted with a lambs-wool duster (available in many hardware stores). To remove smudges, use a soft clean cheesecloth or an old clean cotton tee shirt (with the seams removed). Ten percent de-natured alcohol in water or Windex may be used if necessary. Do not rub across the grain and do not apply fluid directly to the piano.

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