Piano Maintenance Mistakes
Maintaining a piano so that it consistently keeps its best pitch and sound takes some attention to detail and developing an ear for what sounds right and what doesn’t – and then acting immediately when something is amiss.
This is the most common thing done with a piano. It’s what allows it to make the most harmonious sounds. An untuned piano will sound dreadful to even the most uninitiated ear. Tuning also can prevent damage to the instrument.
People may think that a piano tuner is moving too fast when they are going through the tuning process, especially with one that has been neglected. That’s precisely what they are supposed to do – piano strings work under a lot of tension and the tuner is calculating what needs to be done beforehand and then quickly does it. Slow movements may leave too much slack.
It all depends on the state of the piano. Some may require multiple tunings in a short amount of time to get it where it needs to be. A regular tuning schedule is important.
Ignoring Seasonal Drift
It depends on where the piano owner lives, of course. Seasons change from extreme heat to extreme cold in New York, for example. That is not the case in places like San Diego. Those who live with changing seasons will see the pitch of their piano change even with regular tuning. This is known as seasonal drift.
One way to combat this is to contact the tuner when the heat is turned off in the spring and again when it is turned on in the fall. If the tuner comes before or after, they may leave the pitch at different frequencies to adjust for the particular season.
Not doing this will see a shift in pitch that may not be noticeable to the lay listener but experienced piano players and teachers can tell the difference.
Not Cleaning Properly
This doesn’t mean dusting and polishing the wood of the piano or regularly wiping the keys to keep them clean (no harsh chemicals). This is referring to asking a tuner to clean the inside of the piano. Every year, they can clean the soundboard. Every five years, they can clean the felt underneath the piano keys. The piano owner can use a medium paint brush to clean the dust off the tuning pins.
Attempting to Self-Tune
Budgets can become tighter, yes. Still, there is one area that should not be cut – the piano tuner. If one wants a consistently good-sounding instrument, they should pay for the expertise of someone who truly knows how to bring this out. This is not a do-it-yourself sort of thing – and the end result is usually a clunky-sounding piano that is in need of a professional re-tuning.
There are very few people who have the hearing ability to self-tune their own pianos. It can occur and there have been some positive results. Those should be considered the exception, and not the norm.
Pianos are in need of careful monitoring over the course of their lifespans. Even a brand-new one can have imperfections that need to be taken care of. Many things can affect them and maintenance is the key to keeping the sounds harmonious.
The craftsmen at A C Pianocraft can restore pianos to sound their very best. They will also gladly work with people who buy pianos from their showroom and keep them sounding their best for years to come. Call them at 718-361-9112 to learn more or visit them in Long Island City.