Piano Care

 

  1. The atmosphere surrounding the piano must be of stable humidity and temperature--as near to 50 percent and 68 degrees, respectively, as possible.  Damage occurs with sudden humidity or temperature shifts, such as when the piano is subjected to high summer humidity and suddenly cold weather appears and dry heat is substituted for the summer humidity.  The soundboard will crack in severe cases; in less severe cases it will move or contract, taking the strings with it because the bridge which supports the strings is glued to the soundboard.  This causes a slackening of the tension on the strings and the pitch falls.  Also, screws will loosen in the action and cause parts to move around.  Hammers will strike the strings at different places than they were adjusted to and in some cases glue joints will separate, causing structural damage.  The next summer the soundboard will swell and return to its original position and actually come back in tune but usually not in really good tune.  However, the damage has been done.  The hammers won't return to their original positions and cracks won't glue themselves back together.  They will close somewhat but will still be cracks. 

    ♫  Solution--three necessary items:
    ​     ♪  Humidifier
    ​     ♪  De-Humidifier
    ​     ♪  Humidistat​

                ♫  The humidistat must be of a good design that allows the humidifier and de-humidifier to be plugged into it so that when the humidity goes above 50 percent the                  de-humidifier will start and when the humidity goes below 50 percent the humidifier will start.  The humidistat is a control unit that supplies current to the                              humidifier and de-humidifier.  Any system that can maintain a constant 50 percent is fine.

  2. Tuning:  It is imperative that the piano be tuned at a minimum of once per year, preferably the same time every year so that each time it is tuned the soundboard and strings will be in the same location as they were at the last tuning.  In addition, the technician can check the piano and detect anything that might need attention.  The piano will be out of tune to some extent during some parts of the year but will come back in as it approaches the usual tuning time.

  3. Voicing Tone Regulation or Voicing Action Regulation:  The tone of the piano can be changed by conditioning the hammers, softening for a mellow tone or hardening for a bright tone.  The action can be regulated to produce the proper response as the keys are played.  These items should be discussed at length with a skilled technician to determine the needs of the pianist and the possibilities and limits involved in this work.

  4. Cleaning:  The inside of the piano should be cleaned by the technician or someone who understands how to remove the action and the parts necessary to reach the areas inside with the proper tools to remove dirt, debris, coins, pens, pencils, etc.  The outside of the piano can be cleaned by anyone.  Modern finishes need only wiping with a damp cloth.  Waxes and polishes that build up on the surface will have to be maintained.

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James Pope Piano Service