Whether you practice piano every day or only tickle the ivories once in a while, it’s still important to keep your piano in great working condition. Pianos are an investment, so ensuring they’re well maintained will preserve their usefulness and value. Understanding how to maintain a piano is the key to extending your instrument’s lifespan. Here are five tips to help you get started:
- Keep your temperature consistent and give your piano space: Pianos are made of wood, felt, leather, cloth and other materials. They require a consistent temperature and humidity level so as not to damage the soundboard or other components. Your home should be kept at about 40 to 50 percent humidity, and avoid extreme temperatures. Otherwise, your soundboard will repeatedly shrink and swell. Your piano also needs space to “breathe”—keep it away from exterior walls and try to ensure consistent ventilation on all sides.
- Get your piano tuned regularly: Tuning doesn’t just regulate your instrument’s sound—it’s also an important maintenance task that prevents damage. As you probably know, your piano includes a lot of strings. Maintaining the right tension in each string helps produce the proper sound, but it also helps each part interact with each other appropriately. Regular tuning will prevent any potential damage, which can be quite expensive to fix.
- Keep the keys clean: Even when you put the cover down, dirt, dust and oil from your fingers still builds up on the keys. As a general rule, you should always avoid chemicals and harsh cleaners no matter what kind of keys you have. If you have plastic keys, you can wipe them down with filtered water and white vinegar. If the keys are ivory, wipe them with warm water and a gentle dish soap.
- Set regular voice appointments: Voicing your piano is similar to tuning, but produces a different effect, sort of like adjusting the treble and bass on a stereo. Tuning fixes the pitch, while voicing adjusts the tone. Depending on the sound you want, the piano technician can adjust how hard the hammers strike. This also provides them with the opportunity to fix any problems that have popped up since their last visit.
- Be sure to service your piano as needed: Finally, regulating, or servicing your piano, accounts for the rest of the components. For example, tuning just adjusts the strings and pins, and voicing focuses on the hammers. Regulating your piano addresses the rest of the mechanical parts, including the cloth, felt or buckskin. Your piano technician will help you decide how often you need to regulate your instrument.
Now that you know why you should maintain your piano, be sure to schedule your service appointments—and a good DIY key cleaning—as often as necessary.
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