Piano Tuning & Maintenance

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Piano Technicians Guild

There are many delicate working parts in a piano whatever the size, and each bends uniquely to the will of its environment and the demands of those who play it. Observing a few piano care tips will help safeguard your instrument and realize the best sound, touch and feel your piano can achieve.

Regular Piano Tuning and Servicing

Engage a piano technician who is able to answer all of your questions, and with whom you feel comfortable. Consistency is key, as having the same person service your piano year after year will yield the best results; over time, this technician will become well adept at understanding all its quirks and nuances.

Tuning – Adjustment of the tensions of the piano strings. It is recommended to tune your piano at least once every six months (twice a year) at a minimum. However, if your piano is being played more frequently than an average user and/or you’re living in an environment where you experience all four seasons, every three months (four times a year) would be optimal.

Regulation – Adjustment of the piano’s action. Minor regulation can be done when you are having the piano tuned. On average, a full regulation needs to be done every 2-5 years. However, just like tuning, how often you do this is more dependent on your piano, how often it is played, and the climate.

Voicing – Adjustment of the piano’s tone or sound. The hammers control the piano’s distinct sound or voice, and over a period of time wear down. After a technician has ensured the piano is properly tuned and the expression or tone is still not quite right, then he/she can treat the felt hammers to achieve the quality you are looking for.

Extra Tidbits:

  • Play regularly. Hearing and feeling your piano will help identify any problems and quickly allow for resolution.
  • House your piano where it can achieve the best sound.
  • Acquire a digital piano and skip tuning altogether.
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Keep Piano Clean

Proper cleaning is as important as regular servicing. But stick to cleaning only the outside surface of the piano and let a professional technician clean the inside, when necessary.

To maintain the original finish, avoid direct sunlight. Dust can cause abrasions and scratches on your piano, so it is best to use a feather duster or some other gentle dust picker-upper. Then apply a soft damp cloth to gently wipe the piano, followed by a dry cloth to finish. Avoid all polishes as they can soften the wood.

If you are still experiencing some stubborn fingerprints—smudges or other undesirable muck—and the damp cloth wasn’t enough, it may help to use a tiny amount of mild soap.

Piano Tip:
If you must apply a cleaner, use Murphy’s Oil Soap.
Piano Technicians Guild 3

Often people see their pianos as an extension of their furniture. And because of this, it is tempting to put plants, beverages or other items on top of them. This is a bad idea. No matter how careful or well intentioned—accidents can happen.


Extra Tidbits:

  • The keyboard should be covered when not playing to protect against dust.
  • Keep it simple: sheet music, a light, a metronome, and a pencil or two should be the only things on your piano.
  • Clean the keyboard periodically using the same methods above.
  • Play with clean hands.
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Regulate Room Temperature (Keep it Consistent)

Think of this part as Goldilocks’ preference: not too cold, not too hot; not too humid, not too dry; just right. Either extreme can cause the piano to go out of tune—or worse, damage any number of parts. Therefore, temperature regulation is just as necessary for the longevity of your piano and the quality of its sound as all the other maintenance treatments.

If your environment is difficult to maintain, consider using a humidifier/dehumidifier in the room or a humidity-control system directly with the piano. In addition, keep the piano from heating and air conditioning sources such as vents and radiators.


Extra Tidbit:

  • Keep your piano properly ventilated.
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Hire Professional Piano Movers

It’s tempting to avoid this step altogether. After all, many pianos have wheels on them. It must not be too difficult to push and pull them just so.

Wrong! Piano movers are specifically trained for this type of “furniture” and are equipped with all the accouterments necessary for the move. It involves a lot more than just pushing or pulling. There are special concerns for the protection of the piano during the move—and even special tools. Professionals know how best to avoid injury to your piano and your home, as well as themselves.


Extra Tidbit:

  • Only hire Piano movers who are properly insured.

Though maintenance by nature has its considerations for future preservation, following this basic list of common sense guidelines will keep you attuned to the greater fulfillment of the present. Much like the symbiosis we find in nature, the more you discover joy while playing, the more you’ll want to protect your piano. And the more you maintain your piano, the more you’ll want to play to express that joy.

If your choice is between an average grand and a high-quality vertical—purchase the vertical.
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Page Sources

Robinson, Scott.  "Piano Tuning Pins."  Photograph.  Flickr.  Flickr, a Yahoo Company, 29 Sept. 2007.  Web.  12 June 2015.  CC BY 2.0.
Teuwen, Philippe.  "Piano Series 5."  Photograph.  Flickr.  Flickr, a Yahoo Company, 2 Sept. 2007.  Web.  12 June 2015.  CC BY-SA 2.0.
Piano Technicians Guild, Inc.  “Care of Your Piano.”  PTG.  Piano Technicians Guild, Inc., 1993.  Web. 12 June 2015.
Additional References:
  • Masthead Image: Seljeskog, Oskar.  "Hammer On."  Photograph.  Flickr.  Flickr, a Yahoo Company, 27 Jan. 2010.  Web.  12 June 2015.  CC BY 2.0.
  • Tracy, James D.  "Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch Humanist and Scholar."  Encyclopædia Britannica.  Encyclopædia Britannica, 26 Nov. 2014.  Web.  12 June 2015.
  • Concert Pitch Piano Services.  "Piano Care Tips."  Concert Pitch Piano.  Concert Pitch Piano Services, 2000-2015.  Web. 12 June 2015.
  • Lee, Saun.  "Services."  Houston Piano Care.  Houston Piano Care, 2013.  Web. 12 June 2015.