When does my home piano need to be serviced?
Dave’s Tech Tips
Proper care and maintenance of your piano prolongs the life of the instrument and enables it to perform its best. For a piano that is casually used, an annual tuning may be sufficient. While that’s a start there are times when the instrument will require more than a simple tuning.
Here are some signs that your piano could need additional service:
1. Something just doesn’t sound right
Since every piano is under a ton of stress*, the tone and sustain of the piano can change or worsen over time. Listen and compare your piano to others to help determine your pianos performance of touch and tone. You may notice the the lower notes sound ‘tubby’ or seem quieter than the rest of the piano. Perhaps the copper wound strings need to be twisted to invigorate them or replaced. Another common cause for a poor sounding bass section is a compromised or stressed bass bridge from supporting the long, heavy vibrating strings over the years. This could require the piano be moved into the shop for repair or replacement.
*Actually the amount is much greater than 2000 lbs. We’ll post another blog discussing string tension.
2. Mechanical Issues
Have you noticed keys that are slow to return to their resting position, or maybe don’t make a sound? Just as with people, pianos are also affected by repetitive motion and the aging process. Older materials used in piano construction must be replaced on occasion to ensure proper function and durability of the instrument.
To that end, it’s wise to visually inspect your piano from time to time. Open the lid and front board of a vertical piano or slide out the music stand of a grand piano and slowly play each key chromatically while watching the mechanism. If you notice one key performs differently than the rest, reaching out to a professional like us to have this addressed will help you avoid a scenario where existing issues can get worse.
3. Moisture Changes
Humidity affects more than personal comfort. Since most pianos feature a large amount of wood, they’re easily impacted by fluctuations in air flow and climate*. When the wood in a piano expands, the strings are pulled tighter causing the pitch to sharpen. The opposite happens during the winter heating months. If the overall pitch is significantly high or low, the piano’s major components and structure will be adversely affected.
You can determine this by playing octaves in the middle of the piano. If individual notes sound ok, but the octaves sound terrible, the pitch needs to be corrected. You can also tell if you have a fluctuating moisture issue that will damage your piano by measuring the pitch of the piano @ A-440 at different times of the year. If the pitch range is wide, your piano isn’t happy.
*We’ll have more on how to lessen and measure the affects of damaging humidity changes in another blog.
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12555 W. Wirth Street
Brookfield, WI 53005
Contact Dave or Brigitte Hulbert
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