How often should my piano be tuned or serviced?
It is usually recommended to have your piano tuned at least twice a year. Brand new pianos and some older instruments may require to be tuned more often. The pitch of a piano will drop if a piano is not tuned on a regular basis and the stability of its environment will determine how often it needs to be tuned. All pianos need to be serviced at some point in their life, but this can depend on the amount of usage they receive and the conditions in which they are kept. A concert pianist’s instrument would perhaps benefit from an annual service whereas one used by a beginner may only need to be looked over every five years or so to maintain its optimum playing condition.
Why does a piano need maintenance?
The mechanism of the piano (the action), with a large number of moving parts, becomes subject to wear and tear and requires to be regulated to keep its optimum performance and feel. Rather like a car, the piano requires ongoing attention (tuning) with occasional service and repairs. Each note needs to be regulated individually to give optimum performance. Regulation also improves the touch which over time becomes uneven due to the amount of use the piano receives. Unevenness of tone can be remedied by skilful voicing of the hammers to give a good overall balance. On musician's pianos and on concert instruments this is done on a regular basis. The pedals also require occasional adjustment.
How much should I expect to pay for piano tuning?
PTA Registered Tuners are highly skilled people who make a very difﬁcult job look easy. Therefore you should be prepared to pay a reasonable amount for a tuner’s professional ability and experience. The PTA cannot legally advise on fees, but bear in mind that the cheapest price may not always provide the best service. The time taken to tune a piano varies considerably depending upon the nature and condition of the piano and the tuner's style. A thorough and stable tuning takes skill, time and patience, and the PTA would expect one of our Members to continuously check their tuning as they work. Remember you are not just paying for the tuning time; a tuner’s business has many overheads, including tools, travelling time and expenses, all which need to be covered in the fee charged.
Where is the best place to stand my piano?
A piano does not like to be too hot or too cold. As climate and environment affect a piano, avoid placing pianos where this may be an issue; avoid standing the instrument in a draught and place it away from windows, radiators or other sources of heat. A constant temperature of between 18°C to 21°C (65°F to 70°F) is ideal.
Central heating systems dry the air, drawing moisture from the wooden components of the piano. When the heating is switched off at night the humidity rises, and when switched on in the morning, the humidity drops. These changes in relative humidity cause the wood in the piano to shrink and expand. Changes to relative humidity are often responsible for tuning instability and other serious problems, such as loose tuning pins, split soundboard and disruption of regulation. Ideally, you should try to keep your piano within 45 - 60 per cent relative humidity. If you feel that your piano is in an unsuitable environment you could consider buying either a humidifier to counteract excess dryness or a dehumidifier for excess dampness. Your piano tuner will be able to advise you.
How can I move my piano?
Pianos can suffer very serious damage unless they are moved in the correct way and the PTA recommends that the services of a professional piano mover are engaged to move any piano.
While it is tempting to push a grand piano on a level surface, they ought to be lifted and supported as they are moved and this should not be attempted with fewer than three people. There are special A-frames available which can be fitted to instruments that need to be moved on a regular basis.
An upright piano can be dangerously unbalanced and can tip over easily because its heavy iron frame places the centre of gravity very near the back. The small dress castors on many uprights are not designed for these instruments to be wheeled; they should be lifted and moved on a trolley.
What is the lifespan of a piano?
Between fifty to seventy years is an average age, however factors such as the quality of the piano, the regularity of its maintenance, how much the piano is played and the climatic conditions in which it is kept, could either extend or reduce this expectation.
How do I care for my piano day to day?
Avoid placing drinks, vases of flowers or pot plants on your piano as spilled liquids cause serious damage, the repair of which may amount to a major overhaul.
To keep new polyester or satin lacquer finished pianos clean, wipe them with a slightly damp cloth and dry carefully — no polish is needed. Older French polished pianos need polish reviver; apply with a clean soft cloth and then polish with a soft duster and on no account use spray polish.
Any marks on the keys which cannot be removed with a damp cloth should be left for the piano tuner to deal with.
Protect your piano from dust, especially during decorating or building work.