Piano Tips – Helpful Answers to Common Piano Questions

Tuning Questions

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Q: How often should I have my piano tuned?
A: In most climates, twice a year is advised - Tuning every six months keeps pressure on the plate, strings, sound board and bridges stabile. Thus, reducing the risk of breakage.

Tuning variables:

Q: My piano is played up to 4 hours a day, is tuning every six months enough?
A: Yes, in most cases twice a year will be sufficient - However, there are many variables to this rule. (see "tuning variables" above). Age, climate, amount of playing, discriminating ear, etc... All play a part in the amount of tuning needed for individual pianos.

If your piano is played more than 4 hours each day, quarterly tuning is probaby needed. Keep in mind that each piano has characteristics of its own and may require a unique tuning schedule. If you are unsure of the amount of tuning your piano requires, ask your professional tuner for advice.

Q: If I move my piano to another location, do I need to tune it again?
A: Yes, pianos are very sensitive to moves - when a piano is tuned to the industry standard pitch of A440hz each string holds 197.6 lbs of pressure. The A440hz pitch has been industry standard since 1932. Moving the piano will surely upset this tension. Below is a list of things to do after a piano has been relocated.

Q: If tuning my piano every six months is required, when is the best time to start my tuning schedule? Should it be with the heat on, or off?
A: Either - Within any 6 month period here in the northeast, there will be a drastic change in climatic conditions in and out of your home. It will not matter when this six month schedule starts or ends as long as you tune your piano every six months. This will ensure you experience good tuning stability from tuning to tuning.

Q: The last time my piano was tuned, the tuner said that he did a pitch raise, what does that mean?
A: A pitch raise means the piano hasn't been tuned in a long time and has lost A440hz stability. - To regain this stability, he had to pull it to over pitch, then let it settle for about a week or so. During this time it will go out of tune a bit. He will then tune it again, bringing it to a fine A440hz. This is a very common and normal issue.

Piano Placement and Protection

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Q: Where is the best location in my home to put my piano?
A: An inside wall is always the perfect placement for a piano - Keep it away from baseboard heat, direct air-conditioning ducts, and away from direct sunlight.

Q: I have a contemporary style home, and have only outside walls and skylights. Where can I place my piano so that it is protected from sun and drafts?
A: There are a few things you can do to address this issue -

Technical Problems

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Q: My piano has been tuned every six months, but after my last tuning, my tuner said that my tuning pins are loose and he didn't know what to do. He was only here for a short time, but he charged me for a tuning and the tuning was worse than before he started! Did he do something wrong? What should I do?
A: It's always best to have a tuner/technician work on your piano - "Tuners" are usually good at their craft, but lack knowledge when it comes to technical problems. I advise the use of a tuner/technician to service your piano and complete repairs, if needed.

Q: Sometimes when I play my piano, a key won't play?
A: It could be a multitude of things - below are a few examples as to what could be causing this problem.

Q: My Piano has a buzz in it when I play.
A: Again, it could be a few things -

Q: My piano has been diagnosed as having a cracked sound board. Is this a problem? If so, what can I do?
A: More often than not, many old pianos already have cracked sound boards. This is due to dry conditions and/or older wood separating from the glued seams. As long as the sound board doesn't separate from the ribs that hold the crown of the sound board, the sound will still be good. If your piano sounds like a torn speaker, then repairs are in order. A call to your technician is advised to view and properly repair this condition. The cost of this type of repair will vary greatly, depending on what needs to be done and the severity of the damage.

Q: My Piano has a bad odor coming from it and it doesn't play really well, it's sluggish, is this a humidity problem?
A: By telling me there is an odor coming from your piano, there is CERTAINLY a problem -
It very well could be your piano has become a very nice home for molds, moths and yes, FIELD MICE ! Pianos are great homes for both field mice and moths. There is plenty of wood, wool hammers and wool damper felt to accommodate a pleasant "nest" for little creatures. It even provides fiber for their diets. If you notice an odor, don't hesitate to call your piano technician to discern the cause. I can't think of a worse invader for your piano than MICE! If mouse urine gets on your strings, it will cause rust that can ruin the strings and make tuning stability a moot point. Not to mention the mess of it all.

Prevention is best course of action I can advise to address this problem. Here are a couple of ways to keep unwanted pests from keeping house inside of your piano.

Purchasing a Piano

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Q: I'm considering purchasing a used piano from a private owner. It looks nice, but how can I know if this is a good piano?
A: Have a professional check it out - I'm frequently asked this question about used pianos. Yes, of course you want a "Nice looking" piano to display in your home. But making sure the piano is technically sound is most important. A technician will be able to spot problems or potential problems and advise as to whether they can be fixed and what the cost will be. The cost of this service will be well worth it in the long run.

Cleaning and Care

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Q: I had a party and someone spilled a drink in my grand piano, what should I do?
A: Try to blot up the liquid as best you can, then immediately call your technician for assistance. - Only an expert can identify any problems it may have caused and what the remedy will be.

Q: How do I clean my piano?
A: I suggest the following: