Q: "How often should I have my piano tuned, I don't play it very often"?
Tuning & servicing your piano is a normal part of piano ownership. The main reasons a piano goes out of tune, are the atmospheric variations (temperature changes), and the nature of a piano's construction. If the piano is new or newly repinned, it should be tuned 3 or 4 times in the first year.
A good rule of thumb for the average household in a moderate climate is to tune the piano when the heat goes on in the Fall, and again when the heat goes off in Spring. If you're sensitive to tuning or if you live in a very dry or humid climate, your may want your piano tuned 3 times or more each year.
To put the matter of tuning into perspective, remember that a concert piano is tuned before every performance and as the concert hall fills up, the temperature goes up, so it's usually tuned again at intermission. A piano in a professional recording studio, where it is in constant use, is tuned 3 or 4 times each week as a matter of course.
If you leave your piano for years without tuning, moisture will collect on the strings, consequently they rust and lose their tone.
Select a Piano-Tuner-Technician with care. It's not only important that the service person be competent to perform tuning, regulation and repairs, but also that the same person be someone you feel comfortable calling with questions concerning your piano's performance. Hiring a Tuner-Technician who is committed to comprehensive service for your piano and not just an occasional tuning, is your best assurance.
If you feel confident and would like to try tuning your piano yourself, or perhaps just to sweeten some sour notes in between regular tunings, you can find (11) Many Piano Tuning Kits & Supplies in our online shop.
Q: "What are the correct names for the different sizes of grand pianos"?
5' 8" or smaller is a 'Baby Grand'
5' 9" - 5' 11" is a "Living Room Grand"
6' - 6' 3" is called a "Professional Grand"
6' 4" - 6' 7" is a "Drawing Room Grand"
6' 8" - 6' 10" is called "Parlour", "Artist", "Salon" or "Music Room Grand"
7' 4" to 8' 6" is a "Half or Semi Concert Grand"
8' 11" and larger is a "Concert" or "Orchestral Concert Grand"
[Source: Arthur A. Reblitz Piano Servicing, Tuning & Rebuilding Book:]
Q:"Why does my piano tuner use one of those electronic machines to tune the piano?
Many people think those machines tune the piano, they don't! Your piano tuner does that job manually with his hands and his ears. However, he needs to obtain the source of his pitch from a
reliable point of origin. Years ago, only tuning forks were used to obtain this pitch. There are 12 forks, one for each note of the scale. They're still available today, but thanks to modern technology, a tuner can now get his sound source from a 'Pitch Generator'. This is a machine that electronically gives out the correct pitch allowing the tuner the use of both hands, which in turn speeds up the tuning process. You'll find a technician tunes the first octave with the generator to set the 'temperament', and the rest of the piano is balanced according to the bearings obtained in that first octave. A 'Pitch Generator' is also useful for some older pianos that cannot be brought up to standard pitch (A440).
Q: "We live in a cold climate, and my parents used to put a bowl of water in the lower part of our upright piano in the winter. Is this a good idea"?
This is not a good idea! The proximity of water, to steel or copper (the strings) encourages rust. Piano Humidifiers are available for both Upright and Grand Pianos, or the humidifier on your furnace may be sufficient.
Beware of excessive dryness! If the air becomes too dry the wooden and felt components will shrink. It sometimes helps to have some kind of leafy plant in the piano room. Keep the piano away from fire places, hot air registers, radiators, open windows and doors.
Q: "I like to play my piano along with music from my tape recorder or record player. Why does the piano sound out of tune when I do this"?
Unless you are in a recording studio with professional equipment, you'll find that most consumer tape recorders and record players generally run either minutely slow or fast, so the pitch will rarely be the same as your piano.
Q: "I need my piano tuned, but I live out of town... can I send the strings to you by courier, to be tuned?"
Uummmm.....We believe if you need an answer to this question... perhaps you should take up the drums! :-)
Q: "Why is the finish on my piano all cracked and dull?"
This is called 'sun checked' and it's usually caused by placing your piano in direct sunlight. Perhaps in a window alcove... or by having your drapes open near the piano. The finish on the piano begins to shrink. There are products that will diminish this problem...however if you want a perfect finish, it would be best to have the piano completely stripped down and refinished.
Avoid using paste waxes, liquid waxes, or spray waxes containing "silicones" on your piano. Over time a 'cloudy' build-up will harm the finish. Check our 'Online Store' for Special Polishes & Cleaners.
Q: "How much is my old piano worth?"
This is the most asked question we receive. It's impossible for anyone to assess or appraise an old or antique piano without physically seeing it.
Don't be fooled by some of the 'self-appointed experts' out there who want to charge you money for appraisals over the internet or by telephone. You might be misled & then insure, buy, or sell your piano for the wrong value. There have been more than 12,000 piano manufacturers around the world, who in turn made dozens of models of their pianos, and with up to 12,500 parts in a piano, there are too many variables that MUST be seen and touched to give you a proper appraisal.
There is no 'blue book', 'guesstimate', or 'ballpark figure" for the worth of old pianos. Although some manufacturers are superior to others, the value of an older piano is judged strictly by its present condition as assessed by a 'qualified piano technician'. There is also a difference between an "Old" and an "Antique" piano. Most of the older pianos are just that..."Old". A piano is said to have 'Antique' quality if it was one of a 'very few' manufactured, or had special hand carving on it, or perhaps was one of the original models built by a particular company. However, you can discard the notion that an 'old' piano is worthless. If it was a good quality-made piano to begin with, and it has been well maintained over the years, restoring it to it's original sound and beauty can give it more worth than some of the pianos built today on an assembly line.
Be aware that unlike electronic instruments, acoustic pianos 'appreciate' in value. So if your piano is fairly new, and you've looked after it by having it serviced regularly, just phone a store that sells your type of piano and ask the current value. That will give you some idea what yours is worth. Don't forget, the value of pianos will change with your location, and in the end an old piano, like antiques, is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it!
Q: "I have a Grand Piano and sometimes dirt gets on the soundboard, under the strings. How can I clean it?"
The interior of your piano should be considered out of bounds to you and your family. Any dealings with your piano's interior should be handled by a qualified piano technician. However, we do have a soundboard steel, in our 'Online Shop' that you can use to get rid of everyday dust under the strings on a Grand Piano!
Q: "I've heard I shouldn't put a piano on an outside wall, why is this?"
This was a problem many years ago, when houses weren't so well insulated. If your home is well insulated, you should have no problems. However, your piano needs ventilation, so if you put it against any wall, make sure that a 'Grand' has its lid opening towards the centre of the room.... and an 'Upright' is 4 inches to 6 inches from the wall.