The length of time between piano tunings will vary depending on the amount of use your piano is getting. The majority of pianos used in the home will need to be tuned 1 to 2 times per year depending on the stability of temperature and humidity in the home and the overall tuning stability of the piano. Pianos that are used on a more ongoing basis (i.e. those used as teaching instruments) may need to be tuned every few weeks to every few months.
In the case of many new pianos, the piano must be tuned at least 1 – 2 times per year to maintain the warranty.
Maintaining Tuning Stability in Your Piano
The 2 most important factors that affect piano tuning stability are the temperature and humidity of the room in which the piano is located. Since pianos are largely made of wood, the piano tuning will not only be affected by whether the humidity and temperature are too low or too high, but also by how much these fluctuate.
Fluctuations in temperature and humidity cause the wood of the instrument to expand and contract and in turn affect the tuning stability of your piano. It is recommended by piano manufacturers that the humidity in the room be between 40-50%. Unfortunately in the Canadian climate, many houses are at about 30% humidity in the winter and 70% humidity in the summer. In order to monitor this, it is recommended to have a humidistat in the room with the piano.
While temperature alone does not generally affect tuning stability of pianos, fluctuations in temperature tend to cause fluctuations in humidity. It is therefore recommended that a moderate temperature be maintained in the house throughout the year.
In places where it is difficult to maintain a constant temperature and humidity, such as a church, a climate control system would be a good solution. After being installed on your piano, a climate control system will regulate the temperature and humidity of your piano for you.
Placement of the Piano in the Room
Place the piano away from heating ducts, hot air registers and radiators. These items generally dry out the air around them, and can not only affect your tuning stability, but can also cause cracks in your piano’s soundboard. If possible, place your piano against an inside wall and away from any windows to avoid drafts. If this is not possible, place your piano about 6 inches away from the outside wall to provide enough insulating air space. Try to keep the piano out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can damage the finish of the piano. Avoid putting your piano in a damp space, such as a damp basement, as this will lead to rusting parts.
Also, be aware of how other items in the room will affect your piano’s sound. Items such as carpets and draperies tend to absorb sound, while wooden items ten to amplify it or make it sound more “live”. If you feel that the piano you have is either too loud or too muted, try adjusting the items that accompany the piano in the room.
Cleaning and Polishing Your Piano
Polishing the Piano It is generally not recommended to use furniture polish on pianos. The best way to clean a piano is to use a soft cloth which has been slightly dampened and wrung out. A micro fibre cloth is useful for cleaning dust off high-gloss finish pianos. Micro fibre cloths can usually be found in the same section as home car wash accessories in your local hardware store.
Cleaning the Piano Keys It is recommended to use a clean damp cloth to clean the piano key tops. In cases where the keys are tougher to clean a mild soap solution may be used. Make sure to thoroughly dry the keys after cleaning and do not let any water spill down the sides of the keys. Never use any chemicals or cleaning fluids on the keys.
Cleaning the Interior of the Piano It is generally recommended that the inside of the piano be cleaned only by a technician. As there are many breakable parts on a piano, it is best to have a professional take it apart in order to avoid any damage.