You wouldn’t think that it would be tough dealing with a new piano. You would expect that you would simply set it up in your home and enjoy it. But it isn’t that simple. Caring for your piano is an important process and today I am going to offer a few tips to help you settle your piano in your home and prolong the enjoyment of your instrument.
First things first, you’ll want to make sure you are purchasing the right size piano for your home. I have a separate video that specifically addresses this situation:
Where to Place the Piano
There are all sorts of questions associated with placing a piano in a room: should you put it near a wall? How about placing a piano near a window? etc.
While there are a number of questions associated with placing a piano in a room, there is a simple rule to follow: if it is a place you personally would be comfortable sitting day in and day out, it’s probably a good spot for your piano!
Thing’s You Want to Avoid
This is one of the most common problems with pianos in homes. People love the idea of placing a piano near an exposed window because it’s typically a nice spot for the instrument. This might actually be the worst spot in a room for a piano because the sun can cause an incredible amount of damage to the case of a piano sometimes in just a few weeks.
I can’t tell you how many people contact us with pianos they want to sell or consign that have significant sun damage. When you keep a piano in a room with the fly lid folded over the case and let it sit that way in direct sunlight you, your piano can become two-toned like this:
Luckily you can fix this but it’s not cheap and requires very specialized furniture work from a professional.
Avoid Air Vents and Keep a Consistent Environment
There is no quicker way to ruin an upright piano then placing it in front of a hot or cold air vent on a wall, or placing a grand piano over a vent blowing hot or cold air. Cold air return is not really a problem since it is pulling the air in, but keeping a piano near a vent blowing hot or cold air can damage your piano.
FInd the place in your home that has moderate temperature and humidity. Around 45-50% humidity is the ideal environment for your piano.
Excessive humidity can lead to rust on metal parts including the strings, and affect the tuning stability of the instrument.
Excessive dry environments can dry the wood, leather and felt parts – causing cracks in the soundboard, action issues and noise, along with other problems.
Luckily there are ways to tell if your piano is in the right environment. You can purchase an inexpensive humidity gauge to get an idea of the internal environment in your home. You can add humidifiers or plants to a room to add humidity to a room or get a dehumidifier or air conditioner to remove it.
Keep in mind, that enjoying your piano is important but it shouldn’t negatively affect your home. If you live near the beach you may want to keep your windows open. Fortunately there is a solution for you. A Dampp-Chaser system will be able to control the temperature and humidity of your piano’s soundboard. This is something you can have your piano technician install for you.
How Often to Tune
If you are buying a new piano or a piano that has just been rebuilt it will require more maintenance than other pianos in the first couple of years of ownership. The piano has to settle into it’s environment and it will require more frequent tunings as the strings stretch so it can stabilize.
You’ll probably want to have the piano tuned as the seasons change because the different temperatures and environments will affect the tuning of the instrument. At the least you will want to tune it two times a year when you go from heat to air conditioning and then back again. Even if the piano sounds OK, it might actually shift down or up and you might not notice. If you allow it to lose pitch over time, it can lead to more work for your piano tuner as they try and get it to hold a tuning at the standard A440 pitch.
There are applications you can get on your phone to see if your piano is playing at A440. Just load up the app, play A above middle C and see if your piano is in the range of A440. If it’s off by more than a couple of cents (438, 437, etc.), it’s certainly time to call your piano tuner.
Ask Your Tuner or Technician
Even if your piano seems fine, ask your tuner what maintenance it might benefit from such as lubricating the action, minor regulation, etc. – because these small things can add up and require major work in the future if you don’t keep on top of it.
Just getting a piano technician in your home can be an expensive task, so once they are there you should have them do any of the work that’s necessary since the extra amount they charge is often well worth it. Plus, you get to enjoy your piano on a higher level!
It’s also important that you find the best piano technician you can. The most expensive is not always the best, but you certainly don’t want to find someone who isn’t qualified to do the work needed – a piano in the wrong hands can be disastrous. A good idea is to look for local concert series or local symphony orchestra and see if you can find out who tunes their pianos – they probably utilize higher level piano technicians than average.
I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions about this topic or any other, please email me Robert@LivingPianos.com for more information.