As a violinist in my younger days I knew how to change a string, replace a bridge, replace a chin rest. I would tune my violin and rosin my bow as part of a daily routine of instrument maintenance. The same applies to most instruments and we get taught how to care for them in music lesson, and are expected to look after them. But as pianists (as a general rule) we don’t touch our instrument other than to play it. In fact the inner workings and nuances of a piano’s mechanism (the action) and tuning system remains a mystery to the vast majority of piano owners.
However pianos do need the same attention, care and maintenance as all other instruments. There are thousands of moving parts inside a piano and many points of adjustment to improve the play and the sound. Felt, cloth, metal and wood are all susceptible to environmental changes and can easily move, warp, swell, rust or dry out. Getting your piano regularly maintained by a professional technician ensures your piano stays healthier for longer, prevents uneven wear and stops slight inconsistencies becoming expensive problems. It allows you greater efficiency and nuance of touch in your playing. It improves the sound, and improves the experience of your instrument for you and your listeners. And if you come to sell your piano, proof that you have maintained it can help to encourage interest and retain value.
We offer all types of action maintenance, from a standard tuning, where minor regulation and tonal issues can be addressed, to a full service going through the entire action, keys to hammers – cleaning, measuring, sanding, lubricating, repairing and adjusting to ensure all the parts interact with each other in the way they were designed to.
While it takes years of training and experience to learn how to properly maintain a piano’s mechanism, there are plenty of things you can do to help your technician maintain it for you:
- Book in for a full service if it hasn’t been done before, or if it has been some years. This will lay a good foundation for maintaining your piano
- Regular (6 month) tuning by a professional technician means that each time it is tuned the tuning pins and strings are only moved a fraction, maintaining good tuning stability throughout it’s life time. A tuning also includes any small adjustments to the mechanism
- Buy a hygrometer to monitor the environment. Your piano will do best in a constant temperature of around 20 degrees Celcius with a relative humidity of 45-70%. Avoid environments where the temperature and humidity fluctuates regularly.
- Avoid placing your piano near a radiator or on top of underfloor heating. Intense heating dries the wood out and can cause significant damage.
- Other than years of dust I find all sorts inside pianos. Guitar picks, pencils, batteries, hair pins, needles, pennies, mice…Keep drinks away from it, avoid letting the cat climb all over it and keep the lid closed when not in use.
Need advice? Unsure of anything? Drop us an email or give us a call using the contact details on our website! Our role as technicians is to listen to you and work with you, the pianist, to get your piano playing at it’s best.