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Protecting Your Piano

Protecting Your Piano

Jeff Bauer (Keyboard Concepts ) gives expert video advice on: Does low humidity affect a piano?; How often should I have my piano tuned?; Do pianos last longer in different parts of the country? and more...

Does high humidity affect a piano?

Humidity affects the piano because pianos are largely made out of wood. Wood expands and contracts based on the difference of humidity in the air, so if there's more moisture in the air the wood is going to gain moisture. If it's less, it's going to lose moisture. When pianos are doing that, they go out of tune.

Does low humidity affect a piano?

The way low humidity affects a piano is the piano loses moisture. When a piano loses moisture, the sound board, which has a slight curvature in it which is called a "crown", will slowly lose its crown which will release some of the tension on the strings and the strings will drop in pitch a little bit. So, the entire tuning of the piano will actually change pitch just slightly downward and make it sound a little bit flat.

Is there an ideal humidity for a piano?

The ideal environment for a piano would be about 40% relative humidity and somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Are there places where a piano should not be kept?

Pianos. There are places that pianos shouldn't be kept like in places where there's going to be a lot of change in the environment. For example, putting the piano next to a window that's frequently open will change the tuning stability of the piano. Putting pianos in non-insulated rooms, such as a garage, are also bad places for a piano, since again the environment is unstable and the piano will suffer as a result of that.

What is the average lifespan of a piano?

The average lifespan of a piano is dependent upon the environment it's kept in, and how heavily it's used. A piano can last well over a century if well cared for, but there are times when you need to replace components of the pianos. The first components, typically, are the strings and the hammers which are getting the most use, and they are moving the most. Mostly, if a piano is being used a lot and it needs to get new strings, that will happen sometime between the first fifteen and thirty years. Similarly, with the hammers. If the hammers get worn out too much from striking the strings, those will be replaced within a similar amount of time. On the contrary, if a piano is hardly played and is just kept in the typical American home where the piano isn't being used that often, then sometimes with a piano that's fifty or sixty years old. The strings can be in perfect condition and the hammers can be in great shape, and the piano will play and sound perfect.

How often should I have my piano tuned?

You should tune your piano once every six months. That's about the right period of time between tunings, where the piano will go out of tune a little bit. If you keep tuning the piano every six months, it's going to become extremely stable. If you wait too long, beyond six months to tune your piano, it will start to drop in pitch. If you wait really long, say three to five years, your piano may need what we call a pitch raise, and we need to bring the piano back up to it's original pitch and then tune it from that point.

Do pianos last longer in different parts of the country?

The area that you live in in the United States can affect the lifespan of a piano, depending on how you set your piano up and in what environment. For example, if you live in Chicago, but you don't live in a well insulated or air conditioned place, you can have seasons of extreme wetness and seasons of extreme dryness, and the piano will respond to that by gaining or losing moisture. The more a piano does that, the more it loses tension over time. It then loses tone and resonance. Pianos are best kept in constant environments. If you don't provide it with a constant environment, you're not going to have a long lasting relationship with your piano.