Your piano has several thousand parts (8,000-12,000) and many of those parts are
moving parts. To keep your piano happy and healthy, its needs some tender loving
care on a regular basis.
During the first year of a pianoís life itís suggested to have it serviced two
to four times. Then talk to your piano technician to decide how often your piano
needs a check up after the first year. Usually twice a year after the first year
is recommended, but sometimes once a year is enough. Servicing includes having
the piano tuned, regulated as needed, voiced as needed, and eventually having
worn parts repaired or replaced as needed.
And if you don't know what any of that means (I sure didn't at first), the piano
guy will. Here's an explanation for those who like to know such things or are
thinking of playing a piano technician guy on TV and want to brush up on their
Tuning is the adjustment of the pianoís strings. There are over 200 strings in a
piano. The piano tuner technician will adjust the strings so they are at the
correct pitch. This is ensures the notes will sound in harmony when musical
intervals are played.
Changes in humidity are the main thing that cause a piano to go out of tune.
Thereís typically a large humidity change in the spring and one again in the
fall. Donít have your piano tuned right after a humidity change because it wonít
hold very long (probably only about two months). Instead wait a month or two
after the humidity change to have the tuning done. It will hold longer.
Regulation is the adjustment of the mechanical aspects of the pianos because the
cloth parts compact and settle, and the piano changes dimension somewhat due to
changes in humidity. Uneven keys and keys that stick are signs that a piano
needs to be regulated. The frequency of regulation needed for a piano varies
according to how much the piano is used along with the climate itís kept in.
Voicing is the adjustment of the pianoís quality of sound or tone. The
technician will voice the piano to ensure the tone is even from the lowest to
the highest notes. A pianoís tone will change with use. As the hammers wear and
compact, the tone will often become too harsh. Before having a piano voiced,
make sure it is well-tuned and regulated first.
Then ask your piano technician about voicing if:
the tone varies significantly from note to note
the piano has lost its ability to play softly
you donít like the sound of the piano after the tuning has been done or
your piano sounds different than when you purchased it.
Voicing typically only needs to be done once every one to five years. It depends
on the piano and the how much you play it.
In addition to making sure the interior components of the piano are kept in good
working order, take care of the case and outer components too. Clean the keys
and the case with a damp soft cloth that is lint free (cheesecloth works well).
If you want you can use mild white soap to clean the keys but donít ever use
chemical cleaning fluids or solvents on the keys. Avoid using furniture polish
on the case. You may find it surprising, but most manufacturers donít recommend
using furniture polish on the case. Stick with using the damp soft cloth. Or
check with your piano technician or piano store to see if they have any cleaners
specially formulated for piano cases. If you decide you have to use furniture
polish, be careful that it only touches the case and that it doesnít contain any
silicone (silicone and piano cases are like Batman and the Joker Ė not a good
idea to put them together).
A piano will also need periodic reconditioning by the piano technician which is
cleaning, making any needed repairs, and replacing specific parts if needed.
When your piano technician comes over to work on your piano, itís a good time
for you to dust the hard to reach areas of the piano such as the behind the
lower panel where the pedals are.
Rebuilding a piano
If a piano has severe deterioration it may need to be rebuilt. Rebuilding
involves completely disassembling the piano; repairing and replacing parts as
needed; reassembling the piano; and then testing and adjusting it to a
performance level as close to original as possible.
Your piano is a major investment which deserves to be protected through regular
servicing by a qualified technician and regular care by you. Properly
maintained, your piano will sound its best and give you and your family a
lifetime of enjoyment.