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How to Care and Maintain Your Grand Piano

Grand pianos are magnificent. They play the music that is beautiful while adding beauty to your home’s décor. Despite their gigantic stature, these spectacular musical instruments are very delicate and require some care and attention. Improper grand piano maintenance can lead to the loss of its fine lacquered finish, a serious reduction in sound quality, and even physical damage to mechanical parts. Before investing in your piano, consider these piano maintenance tips that will prepare you for delivery day.

1. Piano Tuning and Maintenance

Piano tuning is one of the most important maintenance considerations. Piano strings are tuned under very high tension and, with time, will begin the natural process of releasing tension. As this natural process begins your piano will begin to lose its optimal melodic beauty. Proper piano tuning can help keep the piano’s sound quality consistent and even increase the piano’s life. It is recommended that a new piano be tuned at least 4 times in the first year and 2 times in subsequent years. Similar to a violin or guitar, the newer the strings are the faster they will lose their proper tune. You should never attempt to tune your piano if you’re not an expert. Pianos can be damaged easily during the tuning process.

2. Temperature Variations and Humidity

Temperature and humidity conditions are very important in grand piano maintenance and care. Whereas minor fluctuation in temperature seldom harms a piano, direct sunlight of hot blowing air from a heating system can cause very major damage to your instrument. Humidity fluctuation is another two-part concern. In the short-term, humidity fluctuation will likely cause your piano to lose its tune. Simply explained, the piano is made primarily from wood. When wood takes on moisture or sheds moisture, it will swell and contract, respectively. In the long-term, too little humidity can lead to a cracked soundboard or other issues while too much humidity can invite corrosion and other serious challenges. Most piano manufacturers will recommend a humidity range of between 40% and 45%. While ideals are not always possible, extremes should be avoided. Humidity control is a discussion to have with your HVAC technician. Many modern HVAC systems already have the capability to control humidity. Simply set your system between 40 and 45% and you are done. Another option is a stand-alone humidity controller. Cloudline, and others, make appropriate systems for various room sizes.

3. Placing

Another important aspect of grand piano maintenance is placing. Pianos are sensitive to the environment, and improper placing can damage the piano finish or the interior workings. A grand piano should be placed at the center of a room or adjacent to internal walls. Avoid exterior walls, windows, fireplaces, HVAC registers, or other positions that subject the piano to direct sunlight or local heat fluctuation. Please, never place your piano over an active heat register. Improper placing can lead to rusting of metallic parts, cracking and wear of exterior felt and wood, and loss in sound quality.

4. Piano’s Exterior

A piano’s exterior is delicate. The lacquered wood and felt finish of most grand pianos can be easily corroded by improper maintenance. The piano’s surface and keys should be kept clean and regularly wiped with non-alcohol-based and neutral liquids. Chemical cleaning agents can tarnish the piano’s surface and should be avoided. You should also wax your piano regularly to maintain the high sheen of the surfaces. As finishes vary, it is wise to ask the manufacturer what brand of wax is safe for your instrument. Your local piano dealer can help as well.

5. Moving the Piano

The complexity of moving a piano varies wildly. Moving a piano yourself is not recommended. Special equipment and special skills are needed to move a piano without damage to the instrument. Pianos are very heavy. Upright pianos often weigh between 300 and 600 pounds and Grand pianos are often heavier. Standard household movers may damage piano parts and cause unwanted scratches on the piano surface during transit. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you hire professional piano movers when moving your piano.

Grand piano maintenance is critical to the life of your piano. Regular piano tuning and professional maintenance will keep your investment sounding beautiful and looking beautiful for generations.