A piano needs more love than just the regular playing time you give it. Much like a car or your body, routine maintenance and proper care can significantly extend the life of your beautiful instrument. Following these 4 piano maintenance tips can go a long way in keeping your piano in tip-top shape and saving you money.
Follow these 4 piano maintenance tips
- Place your piano in the optimal location
- Keep your piano keys covered when not in use
- Dust your piano every 2 weeks
- Schedule a piano tuning at least twice a year
1. Place your piano in the optimal location
The placement of your piano can have a major impact on its longevity. Temperature, humidity, moisture, sunlight, and even air all can degrade the performance of a piano, and finding the perfect placement for your piano to reduce the environmental exposure to any of these can be difficult.
The Old Wives Tale is to never place a piano on an outside wall of your home, as this could lead to extreme temperature changes (especially in the frigid Midwest). However, with modern insulation and air circulation, this isn’t as much of a problem anymore. However, it is still important to keep temperature in mind when deciding where to place your piano.
- Keep your piano away from any windows that let in a draft
- Keep your piano clear from windows that allow direct sunlight to come in contact
- Keep your piano away from any air conditioning ducts
- Do not position your piano next to a fireplace
In general, you want to find a place in your home that can maintain about 70° F (or about 21°C)
Humidity and Moisture
Did you know, wood shrinks and swells in response to the seasonal humidity changes. Wood will swell as it absorbs moisture, and will shrink when it releases it. This results in the expanding and contracting of wood. What does this mean for your piano? It means your piano is getting out of tune! All of this expanding and contracting of the piano’s wooden structure causes excess tension and slack on the strings, which quickly gets them out of tune.
Try to maintain a relative humidity of 42% for your piano
2. Keep your piano keys covered when not in use
Some pianos are fortunate enough to have a built-in keyboard cover. Others would benefit from a Piano Keyboard Dust Cover to prevent foreign contaminants. Not only can dust get in between the keys from an exposed keyboard, but so can shedding pet hair, dirt, or even accidental liquid or food spills.
If you have a keyboard cover, use it. If you don’t you can always find one online or pick one up from your local music store.
3. Dust your piano every 2 weeks
Speaking of dust, how often are you cleaning it off the exterior of your piano? Ideally you should be giving your piano a light dusting at least every 2 weeks. By light dusting, I mean a simple soft cloth or feather dusting is just fine. Try not to over-do it with excessive polishes or cleaners, and stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Generally, lacquer finishes can just be dusted dry with a soft cloth, using a small amount of water to wipe away any smudges. High-gloss polyester finishes can benefit from a polishing kit, granted you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. Never spray any cleaner directly on a piano! Instead, spray the clean on a microfiber cloth and use that to wipe the piano down.
4. Schedule a piano tuning at least twice a year
As mentioned above, seasonal changes in the temperature and humidity cause a piano to become out of tune quick. It is recommended to have a piano tuning performed by a tuning specialist at least twice a year to accommodate the weather, once in the spring and once in the fall.
Depending on where you live and how frequent you play however, this number can change dramatically. For instance, concert pianists will have their pianos tuned before every event. Recording studios will tune their pianos before each session, including multiple times a day! Schools and churches tend to schedule a quarterly piano tuning. People in areas with extreme climate fluctuations (like here in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin) will generally require more frequent tunings than those in area with more moderate climates.
Contact your Tuning Specialist today
If you’re in the Iron Mountain, MI area and looking for a qualified piano tuner, call me to setup an appointment or to learn about more piano maintenance tips!