Caring for Your Piano
The following is a brief list of things you can do to maximize your enjoyment and protect your investment for years to come:
- Your Warranty
- Piano Placement
- Moving and Storage
- Maintaining the Cabinet
- Professional Services
- Investment Protection
If you purchased a new piano, you most likely received a manufacturer's warranty with it. Most manufacturer's warranties are 10 years long and cover “defects in materials and workmanship”. It's a good idea to check with your service provider before you have work done to your piano. Tunings, regulation, voicing and other adjustments are not typically covered under your piano's warranty. Finally, make sure your service provider is authorized to perform warranty service on your piano. Most piano manufacturers will not honor your warranty coverage unless you use authorized technicians. If you have any questions about your piano's warranty - or about the technician you are currently using - please don't hesitate to contact us. We'll be happy to help.
No piano is immune to climate changes. The wood that makes up approximately 85% of your piano reacts much the same as we do to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Where you choose to place your piano can help to mitigate the effects of these variables and protect the stability of your piano's regulation, tuning and voicing. In choosing the room itself, look for evenness of sound distribution. You will want to place your piano in a room where its sound can reverberate, producing bright, clear, full tones free of harsh echoes. In short, place your piano in the room where it sounds best. If you are placing a grand piano, place the piano such that the lid opens to the largest part of the room.
Avoid placing your piano in the direct path of an air conditioning or heating outlet. These areas fluctuate more greatly and will cause you to service your piano more often. Likewise, placing your piano near an evaporator cooler or a room humidifier may also cause you to service your piano more often. You may even discover cracks, rust or other long-term damage to your piano in these conditions. Try to place the piano in a location where the climate is stable and the relative humidity is ideal (between 45 and 50 percent).
Try not to place your piano in direct sunlight. This can bleach the wood and ruin its carefully stained and color-matched finish. Direct sun can also overheat your piano, resulting in tuning and regulation instability.
Finally, don't place your piano near a drafty window, a fire place or an uninsulated exterior wall. These areas experience heavy climate fluctuations and should be avoided if possible.
It is a good idea to purchase a hygrometer and a thermometer for the room your piano is in. These tools will help you better manage your piano's climate and reduce your service costs.
Whenever considering moving your piano - whether across the room, across the town or across the country - use a professional piano mover. Remember that your piano is not just a heavy piece of furniture. It is delicately balanced and only professional piano movers have the skill, equipment and experience to make your move a success. Gist Piano Center maintains a full-time, professional piano delivery crew. Call us for information before you plan your move.
If it becomes necessary to leave your piano unattended for extended periods, make sure your piano will be well protected in a climate-controlled environment. Should you need to store your piano, avoid garage spaces and storage facilities that lack temperature and humidity control. Gist Piano Center offers long-term, climate-controlled storage options. The small monthly fee you might pay to store your piano safely will seem insignificant next to the potential repair costs you may face using a non-climate-controlled storage option.
The exterior of your piano is actually quite easy to keep clean. A clean piece of fine knit cloth, lightly dampened with plain water or a Gist Authorized product, is the most convenient and safe method for removing dust and finger marks that occur during normal use and play. Waxing and polishing with anything other than a Gist Authorized product is not recommended as this can lead to build-up which can only be safely removed by trained professionals. Wipe your keyboard frequently with a clean piece of soft cloth, very lightly dampened with plain water. Never allow dampness to seep between the keys or down into the keybed - this can cause swelling and hamper the free-play of the keys. Also, never use solvents of any kind to clean either the black or the white keys of your piano - they can damage the fine finish of the keys.
Avoid placing pots, vases, pictures, drinks or other objects on your piano. These can cause damage to the pianos finish and may lead to more serious accidents. Always consider the interior of your piano “off limits” to everyone but a qualified piano technician. Every few years, the interior should be cleaned of dust and dirt by a professional. Likewise, any foreign object that falls into your piano should be promptly removed by a professional to protect the action and tone of the instrument.
From time to time, depending on the conditions of its use, your piano will require the services of an experienced piano technician. This is no more unusual than the periodic professional maintenance that your car requires.
A minimum of twice a year (or more frequently, depending on room conditions), tuning is needed to restore tension and correct the pitch of the piano. In cases where the piano in question has not been tuned for many years, a second operation called a “pitch raise” will also be required. It may take several pitch raises to restore a poorly-serviced piano.
Another process called “tone regulating” (also called “voicing”) is performed to adjust the piano's tone or quality of sound. Depending on the “brightness” of sound desired, a piano receiving normal home use may need voicing every two to three years. A Gist technician can perform any needed touch-up toning after the tuning process.
The final process is regulation, an adjustment involving the action, keyboard and pedal movements, which ensures that your piano is performing optimally and that its touch remains highly responsive. Action regulation is usually performed every two to three years, but how often is up to your individual judgment.
All of these processes must be handled by a trained professional.
It is a good idea to inform your insurance company of the brand, model and serial number of your piano and to make sure your policy covers the instrument. Some insurance companies require a professional written piano appraisal, stating your piano's brand, model, serial number, age and replacement value. Should your piano be damaged or destroyed, this document will protect your investment. Update it regularly.