Piano Maintenance

The care and feeding of your new piano is actually much less involved for you than you would think for so delicate and precise an instrument.

First of all, let me say, congratulations! If you just purchased a new acoustic piano from Bayfront Music, you are living a charmed life! This piano will bring you joy and entertainment for years to come, and you deserve it!

Maintaining your piano starts with the very first day the piano is delivered to your home. Before you put a single piano foot to the floor, choose its location carefully. Where you place the piano will affect how it performs as it ages. Place it too close to a heat source or in direct sunlight and you risk damage to a wood finish that could fade or crack. Place it where the air is too dry or too moist, you risk failing parts and sound degradation. So choose a location wisely, away from the pool or other humid areas and out of direct sunlight. Choose a location that is somewhat out of the way of things that could scratch or bump your new piano. Consider getting a piano that locks to keep children from pounding away at the keys

Be sure to avoid placing potted plants on top of the piano or anything that will mar its surface or has a potential for a liquid spill.

Monitor temperature and humidity

Your piano prefers a moderate climate, so monitor the temperature and humidity of your home to determine if and when you need to use a dehumidifier or humidifier; and this could vary by season in some areas of the country. A piano likes 65–72 degrees as a good temperature range, and a constant humidity level of near 45%. Don’t forget, if your piano is made of wood, expect some expanding and contracting with changes in temperature and moisture which can make your finish crack or separate. Some pianists time their piano tuning with the change in seasons when temperature and humidity vary the most.

Tune ‘er up and tuner ‘er up often!

The next most important part of maintaining your piano is tuning. This should be done by one of the professionals here at Bayfront Music and how often you have your piano tuned depends again on the temperature, humidity, and of course the extent of use. Your tolerance for a change in sound is also a factor. If you have sensitive ear, you may notice a change and feel tuning is needed every six months. Others may notice the piano going out of tune after a year of use. The general guideline is to have your piano tuned at least once or twice a year to maintain stability.

When tuning your piano, the professionals here at Bayfront Music have the know-how and the experience to tune your piano to maintain optimum sound and keyboard action. From cleaning the internal parts to “needling” the hammer to restore the cushion, a professional piano tuner has to make a significant investment in tools to do the job correctly. A piano tuner has an excellent “ear,” listening for the proper frequency and resonance of each key and adjusting accordingly and as needed. It’s a rather long process and the entire tuning session could take a couple of hours. So what is your job? Relax and have a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

After “voicing” or aligning, shaping, needling or hardening the hammers, in order to restore the proper tone, your piano tuner will regulate the “action” of the piano. Each key can be adjusted in multiple ways. “Regulating” corrects the relationship between every moving part so that each key functions perfectly with no clicking or sticking.

What can you do to maintain your piano?

While leaving the piano tuning to the professionals, you can play a role in preserving the instrument as well. If you clean and properly care for the finish of your piano cabinet, the instrument will enhance the décor of your room as any well-cared-for piece of furniture should. Clean pianos with a satin finish and polyester finish (this finish is hard and brittle) by using a glass cleaner that doesn’t streak and isn’t ammoniated. To clean the keys and cabinet, be careful not to use wax on a piano because it builds up and can smear. Wax is also difficult to remove when it is restored. So just stay away from polishes and waxes.

Don’t forget that dust itself is abrasive and can scratch the finish. So you may want to remove the dust with a feather duster first, then take a soft, slightly damp cloth and rub lightly over the exterior of the piano. Wipe it dry immediately after you wipe with a damp cloth.

Clean the keys with a damp rag to remove any black grease buildup. Don’t use solvents, just water and mild soap. Be extra careful not to spray any liquid on the keys. For ivory keys, use even less water because ivory is a porous material that will absorb the water and destroy the keys. If you have black painted wood keys for sharps, use separate cloths so the black paint doesn’t rub off onto the white keys. Sounds like common sense? It is, but worth committing to memory.

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!

If you have an older or used piano, the cleaning may become more substantial job in scope. Quite a bit of dust and even foreign objects can end up inside a piano over the years, under the keys and around the soundboard. A professional will do a lot more than wipe the dust off in this case. In a thorough piano cleaning, our professional may take apart the keys and vacuum underneath to remove debris that has built up over years of use. Next is to blow air into the instrument where the vacuum can’t reach to blow any leftover debris out.

Professional cleaning can also include further internal maintenance like vacuuming the springs and the soundboard using a brush attachment, being careful not to damage the dampers.

What else can I do to protect and maintain my piano?

The biggest enemy of the piano, besides temperature and humidity are humans, both drink- spilling adults and children. Supervise children and caution them not to pound the keys or stomp the pedals mercilessly, and ask them to wash their hands of sticky candy and fast food before playing the piano. If this doesn’t work, you may consider buying a piano with locks to protect the piano’s inner workings from prying hands.

If properly placed and maintained, a piano that is well cared for is an object of beauty that will last you a lifetime.

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