Your Piano - Questions and Answers
Your piano is made up of some 5,000 parts. The quality of the materials used, the design and construction, and the conditions to which the piano is subjected, will determine its lifespan.

On average a new piano is considered to last 50 years. This can vary for several reasons:

  • the quality of the piano
  • the regularity of maintenance
  • how much the piano is played
  • the climatic conditions in which it is kept

How often should my piano be tuned or serviced
Three main factors affecting the performance of a piano need periodical attention:

  • Pitch - the pitch will drop if the piano is not tuned on a regular basis. The stability of its environment will very much determine how often it needs to be tuned.
    Twice a year is a good rule of thumb for an average piano in a domestic situation. Some old instruments may require more regular tuning.
  • Touch - the quality of the instrument, amount of use, and changes in its environment, will determine how often the piano action should be regulated. On average this is required about every five years.
  • Voicing (toning) - here again, this is subject to the quality of the piano, and particularly the hammer felt.

Unevenness of tone can be remedied by skilful voicing of the hammers to give a good overall balance. On concert and musician's pianos this is done on a regular basis.

How should I care for my piano?
Treat your piano like a piece of valuable furniture: keep it clean and never stand drinks, vases of flowers, or pot plants on it. Spilled liquids can cause serious damage, the repair of which may amount to a major overhaul. New pianos are generally finished in polyester or satin lacquer, which requires only to be wiped with a damp cloth and carefully dried. No polish is needed. Older pianos are usually French polished and need greater care, using a polish reviver applied with a clean soft cloth and polished with a soft duster. On NO account use spray polish.

The key tops may be made of ivory or various kinds of substitute material. Any marks which cannot be removed with a damp cloth should be left for the piano tuner to deal with. Do not use any kind of spirit or polish.

Protect your piano from ingress of dust, especially during decorating or building work

What is the piano action and why does it need maintenance?
The action and keys are the playing mechanism of your piano. Like other instruments that are subject to wear and tear, it is vital that these important parts of the piano are serviced from time to time by a qualified technician. After all, this is what connects you to the music!
Each note needs to be regulated individually to give optimum performance. The pedals, too, need occasional adjustment.

How can I move my piano
Because its heavy iron frame places the centre of gravity very near the back, an upright piano can be dangerously unbalanced, and it can suffer very serious damage unless it is moved in the correct way. Please contact me and I can recommend a piano mover.

Where is the best place to stand my piano?
First you must consider how climate and environment affect a piano.

  • Temperature - a piano does not like to be too hot or too cold. A constant 18 to 21 degrees Celsius (65 - 70 degrees Farenheit) is ideal.
  • Humidity - central heating systems can dry the air, and draw moisture from the wooden components of the piano. When the heating is switched off at night the humidity rises, and conversely, as it is switched on in the morning, the humidity drops. These changes in relative humidity cause the wood alternately to shrink and expand, causing tuning instability. Ideally, you should try to keep your piano within 45 - 60 per cent relative humidity.
  • Positions - keep the piano away from windows if possible. Do not place your piano near a radiator or other heat source, or on an inside wall where there is a radiator in the next room backing onto the piano, resulting in heat being transmitted through the wall. These locations where constant excessive or fluctuating heat, is the cause of low or changing relative humidity, often are responsible for tuning instability and other serious problems, such as loose tuning pins, split soundboard and disruption of regulation.

A separate music room is considered to be ideal, but a dining room may be suitable, as this will usually be maintained at a lower temperature, and have a reasonably constant humidity level. Should you feel that your piano is in an unsuitable environment you should consider buying either a humidifier to counteract excess dryness, or a dehumidifier for excess dampness.