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How to store a piano

We've all been there…

You own a piano you love (but in a totally plutonic way).

But you gotta send the piano away for a while… into storage.

Both you and the piano cry a little, then after one last passionate all night playing session, it's time to for you and your piano to take some "time off."

Many piano relationship experts will tell you to avoid storing a piano if at all possible. They suggest you have the piano stay with a relative or friend who can keep the piano in their home or apartment until you’re ready to be together again.

But what if that’s not possible?

A climate controlled storage facility is the best storage choice. Then the piano won’t be subjected to big temperature swings and big humidity changes, both of which can cause a lot of damage to a piano not to mention make it cranky when you do finally pull it out of storage.

Pianos are sensitive creatures and dislike temperature and humidity changes. Frequent, severe swings in temperature and humidity can wreck the wood piano case; doing things to it such as drying it out to the point of cracking if it’s too dry for a long time or warping it and wrecking the wood if it’s too humid (that's bad if you enjoy how your pianos currently sounds, if not, then by all means, warp away).

Frequent or severe temperature and humidity changes will also cause the piano to go out of tune sooner than it normally would. It can also cause the wool cloth in the piano actions on better quality pianos to deteriorate (also bad).

If you have a piano at an unheated summer home or cottage, it’s probably better to keep the piano there during the cold winter months than to move it back and forth every year. If a person has to choose between storing a piano in a place that’s very hot versus very cold, the piano will usually fare much better in the cooler place. Some experts suggest placing moth balls in the piano during the winter storage period, taking care to make sure the moth balls don’t touch the finish of the piano. Just be sure to remember to remove them before you start using the piano again.

One additional warning comes from “The Piano Book” by Larry Fine (an excellent and comprehensive resource book on pianos). He says a piano that has been kept for years in an area that was damp or unheated should never be moved to a dry location or a well-heated location. Larry says pianos that have had this done to them have been known to “self destruct” in a short period of time.

And just remember, sometimes the differences between your and your piano may be irreconcilable. You may be better off selling your piano and breaking up on a permanent basis than keeping it around… making it harder for you to move on.


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