Piano maintenance and care
Buying a piano is a big investment so it is best to make sure you keep your instrument in the best condition possible. Acoustic pianos are made of many, many parts, which are sensitive to temperature and humidity. They also need regular tunings and check-ups, as well as regular playing. Electric pianos are a little bit less demanding, but they also need to be handled with care. In this article we will discuss various things you can do to maintain your piano to the highest level possible. This will also ensure that if you want to resale it, you will get the most out of your investment back.
ACOUSTIC PIANOS CARE
Always use professional piano movers when transporting your piano. Most piano shops will have their own piano movers. Beware of movers who transport pianos as a side job, and they mainly have experience in moving big pieces of furniture. Also, always check they are insured to transport pianos and they can pay for the damage if anything happens to your instrument.
In Manchester, UK, I successfully used Gilbert’s Piano Removals.
A high humidity will make the keys and action parts swell, which will in turn result in some keys being sluggish and sticky. It will also result in the tuning becoming unstable and potentially the strings becoming rusty and felt being damaged. Dry weather is also damaging as the wood and felt components can shrink. This happens a lot in winter when the radiators are on.
The best way to place your piano is to avoid putting it near heaters, windows, fireplaces, air conditioning, in direct sunlight or kitchen (just don’t do that!). The best way to position a piano will be against an inside wall, away from the window.
It might be worth buying a humidifier/dehumidifier for the room. Pianos do well in a 40%- 60% relative humidity. You will need a hygrometer to monitor the room humidity. Some hygrometers, like the one linked before, will also show the room temperature. Ideally, a piano should be stored in a room with a constant temperature of around 20ºC. Lastly, but not least, you can buy a piano humidity system that automatically controls the conditions inside your piano. This system must be installed by a specialist.
In several of our earlier articles, including in the Buying a second-hand piano – A checklist, we discussed the importance of regularly tuning your instrument. Ideally you want to tune your piano twice a year. In the first year, as the piano settles in its new environment, it might need considerably more tunings.
Tuning the piano will make your playing more enjoyable, but you will also give your piano the best chance to age nicely and have the best resale value possible. Also, getting a piano technician to come in and check your piano ensures that if your instrument needs repair, you will be able to get it done in good time.
Having your action regulated after a few years of use (every 5 years) is needed in order to maintain your piano to the highest standard. If you notice the keys on your piano are not level, the dampers have fallen off, and the keys are sluggish, then it is time to have a piano technician check the regulation.
Liquids are the number one enemy for any piano. Do not place vases, drinks, or liquid foods (or any foods in general) anywhere near your piano. Just a little drop of water can badly damage the wooden parts of your instrument.
Dust holds excess humidity and it eventually damage your piano. It is important to regularly clean your instrument but pay attention to the products you are using. Always close your piano lid after you finished playing, as dust can accumulate between the keys when the lid is open. You can also use a cloth key cover.
- Keys: Very old pianos have ivory keys, which require special care when cleaning. Avoid using any sort of chemicals on the keys just to be sure. Use a soft wet damp cloth (not wet), followed by a dry cloth to clean the piano.
- Exterior: For cleaning the exterior of your piano, avoid products containing silicates or products not specially designed for pianos.
- Interior: If possible, try to clean the inside of your piano as well. Ask your tuner or piano teacher how to open the instrument if you are unsure. You can use a vacuum. Alternatively, you can ask your piano tuner to give your piano a clean after tuning.
ELECTRIC PIANOS CARE
Same as with acoustic pianos, liquids are your biggest enemy. The electrical mechanism inside your piano can be damaged beyond repair if you spill any water on them. Avoid placing drinks, food, or vases on your instrument at all costs.
Although less sensitive than acoustics, electric pianos also need to be kept in a relatively stable environment. Avoid putting your instrument in direct sunlight or near heat sources (if possible, place your instrument at least several meters away from any heaters).
Make sure you instrument is away from doors and is positioned on a stable stand. Avoid putting your piano on tables or beds. Not only is that detrimental to your posture (which will lead to pain throughout your body) but it also exposes the instrument to the risk of falling.
Make sure you always clean your piano with a damp cloth (not wet) followed by a dry one. Dust is detrimental to electric parts. Also, invest in a piano cover to make sure that between practise sessions your piano is covered.
- Ensure your power source is appropriate for your instrument.
- Avoid overloading the outlet to ensure no electrical faults will happen (do not plug your piano along your computer or any big electrical appliances). Ideally, avoid sharing the outlet altogether.
- When you finished using your piano, make sure to turn the piano off from the power button, then unplug your instrument.
- If you notice any issues with your outlet, make sure you get an electrician to check it right away, otherwise you might damage your instrument.
If you follow the above steps, you will ensure your piano will have a longer life and it will allow you to enjoy playing your instrument at its best. In the further reading section, you will find more tips and resources to help you take care of your piano. Remember that a well-maintained piano has a much higher resale value too.