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Care of Your Piano piano key

Excerpts from the National Piano Foundation:

Caring for Your Piano 

Once your new piano is in your home, choose a place for it with stable humidity and temperature. Reducing seasonal humidity changes will greatly improve the performance and longevity of your piano. Ask your technician about climate control systems. 

A piano's continued good performance depends on regular maintenance. After you move a piano to any new environment, wait a few weeks for it to become acclimated before having it tuned. A new piano should be tuned at least three to four times during the first year and on a regular schedule after that as recommended by you Registered Tuner-Technician. 

A Sound Investment 
Manufacturer's Warranty
Getting the Most out of Your Piano 
Tuning Your Piano
Humidity Control
Finding a Qualified Piano Technician 
Cleaning Your Piano
Moving Your Piano
Mothproofing
A Little Encouragement 

 


A Sound Investment 



This pamphlet has been prepared by the Piano Manufacturers Association International for you, the owner of a new piano manufactured by one of its member companies. Its purpose is to answer your questions on how to maintain your piano in its original, beautiful condition. Your piano is an investment that can give you and your family a lifetime of happiness and pleasure. It can be the center of your home, and a lasting source of fun, entertainment, and contentment. 

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Manufacturer's Warranty 


All members of the Piano Manufacturers Association International are responsible companies who stand behind the products they manufacture. If you have any questions regarding the design, performance, or service of your piano, contact your piano technician, the dealer from whom you purchased the piano, or write to the manufacturer.

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Getting the Most out of Your Piano 


Your piano is a beautiful piece of furniture and a modern machine that makes music. Both the exterior cabinet and the interior mechanism need and deserve intelligent care. A piano is a blend of many diverse and costly raw materials: top quality woods, iron, steel, copper, brass, plastics, wool, cotton, etc. All of these materials are affected differently by age, wear from use, and humidity and temperature. To get the most out of your piano, you should establish a relationship with a qualified piano technician who understands the behavior of these materials and has the training and experience to repair and adjust them properly.

 
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Tuning Your Piano


Your piano should always be tuned to standard pitch, A-440 CPS, and should be tuned at least three times during the first year after purchase. Some tuning instability should be anticipated during the first year because of the elasticity of the piano wire, combined with the piano's normal adjustment to the humidity changes in your home. If a piano is allowed to stand for long periods of time without service, it will go further and further out of tune. More time and expense will be required to achieve an accurate tuning. Changes in pitch occur in all makes and models of pianos. 

These changes are caused primarily by the expansion and contraction of the soundboard. Dimensional changes occur when the moisture content of the wood increases during periods of high humidity, and decreases when the air is dry. Movement of the soundboard causes the bridges and strings to move, which increases or decreases the tension of the strings. This causes the pitch of each note to change. The amount of change varies in different parts of the scale. The low notes change only slightly, while notes in the middle sections vary the most.

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Humidity Control

Besides tuning your piano on a regular schedule, the best way to improve tuning stability is to reduce the changes in humidity that occur in most homes. Using an air conditioner in humid summer months and adding a humidifier to your central heating system will reduce the extremes of high and low humidity and improve tuning stability. However, room humidifiers and dehumidifiers, as well as systems designed to be installed inside of pianos will control humidity-related disorders still further. Place the piano away from windows, outside doors, heating vents, fireplaces, and other sources of extreme or sudden humidity or temperature changes. In normal environments, changes in temperature are important only because of the changes in humidity that result. 

Humidity control will not only improve performance, it will also be a major factor in determining the useful life of your piano. Historically, pianos have lasted as long as people. Recent improvements in glues and finishes and ongoing improvements in design and production methods should contribute to an even greater life expectancy if the piano is properly maintained. 



 

There are three components of musical performance that need to be adjusted periodically: pitch, tone, and touch. The initial accuracy of a piano tuning is dependent on the skills of your technician. The long term stability of the piano's pitch is affected by humidity more than any other variable. Prior service, scale design of the piano, and intensity of use may also be contributing factors. 

The adjustment of tone, called voicing, gives more brilliance or softness to individual notes or entire sections of the scale. All pianos become more brilliant with use and eventually sound harsh and less pleasant. A qualified technician can make adjustments to the strings and hammers to restore the pleasing tone of your piano. 

The touch of the piano, or how each key feels when it is played, determines the amount of control the player has over the instrument. Pianos that are played on a regular basis, whether in the home, studio, or on the concert stage, can become uneven and less responsive. There are over 9.000 parts in a piano actions, and most of them must be adjusted to tolerances of a few thousandths of an inch. Have your technician show you the action and demonstrate how each key can be adjusted. 

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Finding a Qualified Piano Technician 

The Piano Technicians Guild, Inc. is a non-profit organization of piano technicians. Members can advertise themselves as "REGISTERED TUNER/TECHNICIAN" by passing a comprehensive series of examinations. The Guild provides instruction in piano technology at the local and national level. Most professional piano technicians have found that the best way to keep abreast of the latest changes in design an techniques is by associating with other qualified technicians. Hiring a technician who is committed to comprehensive service for your piano, and not just an occasional tuning, is your best assurance against incompetent workmanship. 

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Cleaning Your Piano

 Piano finishes are famous for their quality and are equal to or better than those of fine furniture. Avoid placing the piano where it will be exposed to direct sunlight. To dust the piano, a soft cloth or lamb's wool duster is recommended. To clean the keys, use a small amount of mild dish washing detergent and water. Clean, do not wash, the keys, then dry thoroughly. Most cabinet finishes can be cleaned in the same way, although this is seldom necessary. Consult your piano owner's manual for further guidance. 

Avoid the use of sprays and polishes. While some are acceptable, others contain chemicals which are absorbed into the wood and make future repairs difficult. Even a small amount of mist from sprays can have a devastating effect on the inside of a piano. Consult your piano technician if you wish to clean the inside of your piano, or remove a small object that has fallen into the piano. While this may appear to be a simple task, care must be taken not to mis-align or damage the many small parts inside the instrument. 

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Moving Your Piano

If you wish to reposition a grand or vertical piano within a room, lift the piano to avoid putting stress on the legs. When moving a piano across a finished wooden floor, a threshold, or more than one or two steps, use a professional piano mover. Your piano technician can recommend one who has the necessary equipment and expertise. 

Never postpone a tuning appointment by more than a few months because you anticipate moving you piano. Even if you are relocating too a different climate, the effect on the piano will rarely be greater than one change of season. 

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Mothproofing

All modern pianos use felt that has been mothproofed; if a piano technician recommends treating your piano for moths, consider getting a second opinion, since moth damage in modern pianos is extremely rare. Damages from other insects and vermin is best controlled by authorizing your technician to vacuum the keyboard and other, less accessible areas of the piano. 

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A Little Encouragement 

Pianos should be well maintained regardless of the age or skill of the piano player. A piano that is out of tune, has an unpleasant tone, or an unresponsive touch can discourage even novice musicians. One of the best ways to reinforce interest in playing the piano is to maintain its overall performance in accordance with manufacturer's specifications.

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