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You’ve recently fulfilled a long-held dream and bought your brand-new piano. Congratulations! Of course, with a considerable investment such as this, you want your cherished instrument to remain in its perfect condition as long as possible.

Now you should know that during its very first year of use, your new piano already needs maintenance. Sometimes, piano retailers are shy to mention this important detail, afraid that it would deter buyers… So, when a salesperson tells you that “a new piano won’t need maintenance before a long time,” here are some tips you should keep in mind:

1- Most piano manufacturers recommend two tunings per year.

This recommendation is made not only by piano technicians, but by the piano manufacturers themselves, like Yamaha and Steinway. This ensures the instrument’s stability and increases its longevity. Therefore, when you buy a new piano, make sure your retailer’s after-sales services include at least one free tuning during the initial year of use.

Magasin pianos neufs

Source: Gryffindor, Steinway-Haus Wien

2- Your new piano will need a running-in maintenance after some time.

One should remember that a piano is made of wood, a living material that keeps on “working” for some years. It is not unusual to see some hammer shanks slightly twist over time, and consequently, these hammers won’t perfectly hit the three strings any more. If not repaired early, this small misalignment may eventually cause bigger damage to the hammers, becoming more difficult and costly to fix.

Marteaux piano récent

Source: PTM

3- Your new piano will be as sensitive to fluctuating humidity levels as older pianos.

Whatever its age or condition, no music instrument made largely of wood will resist to the detrimental effects caused by fluctuating humidity levels, from very dry during our cold winters to highly humid during hot summers. Every trustworthy piano retailer will warn you about this!

Fissure table d'harmonie piano récent

Cracked soundboard in an almost new piano. Source : PTM.

Nevertheless, some retailers will not insist on installing a humidity control system in your piano since this represents an additional expense that you didn’t plan for.

But it is never too late to do the right thing! Once your beloved piano benefits from a microclimate with a constant level of humidity from season to season, you’ve already helped to extend its life and protect your investment.

Schedule an appointment online OR call us at 514 344-8008.


What differentiates piano tuning and pitch raise/lowering?

Branché sur le téléphone, le Smarthy mesure l'humidité.


According to, tuning is defined by “to adjust [a musical instrument] to a correct or given standard of pitch” but also “the state of being in harmony” [with other instruments]. Of course, this also applies to piano tuning!


Another source describes pitch raise/lowering as “raise (or lowering)  all the strings to their proper average tension levels, and only then can the piano be accurately tuned.”


Piano tuners must adjust pitch -or intonation- with a tuning hammer by manipulating tuning pins following a specific procedure that both allows the most stable tuning as possible and preserves the instrument’s integrity. They must do so by dividing the octave into 12 equal semitones while taking into account the piano’s inharmonicity. For this purpose, piano tuners regularly use softwares applications like Tunelab and Verituner. Also, some performers – mostly for early music – will at times require an unequal division of the 12 semitones. This is called unequal temperament and will be the topic in an upcoming article.


Above all, what’s the most important for a perfect tuning is the purity of unisons and octaves. Approximately two-thirds of the piano keys are related to three strings that should be tuned in unison.


If you play a single note on the piano and hear some quick wave effects, this means the unison is out of tune. If you wait until the piano sounds dissonant before asking for a piano maintenance, your technician might have to pitch raise or lower the instrument prior to doing an actual tuning. Such a  significant adjustment will be avoided by tuning the piano twice a year, allowing a more rigorous maintenance of the instrument and its condition by the technician.


Pitch raise or lowering

Pitch during summer Pitch naturally oscillates as humidity level varies. During summer, the soundboard will swell until it affects the strings angle on the bridge and consequently, pitch goes up.



Pitch during winter During winter, pitch goes down as the soundboard shrinks and lowers the tension of the strings.



Pianos are designed and calibrated to sustain their middle A at 440 Hz. With this standard pitch, pianos can be played in harmony with other instruments. This explains why a piano should be kept as close as possible to the correct pitch. When the piano moves too far away from it, such as a quarter tone or more, your technician will have to work harder to bring back your piano on pitch and will probably charge you additional fees.


Moreover, as your piano moves further from pitch before every tuning, its tuning stability will be increasingly reduced.


Your piano was a considerable investment, and you probably already know that fluctuations in humidity can damage it and shorten its life!  So, when your piano tuner recommends the addition of a Dampp-Chaser system (also called the Piano Life Saver) for your piano, the following facts will help you to make an informed decision.

Piano owners are also unanimous about this: since having the system installed, the tunings are more stable and the piano sounds and plays better. The other good news is that the piano will last twice as long!

Why does the installation of the Dampp Chaser system require a professional piano technician?

The Dampp-Chaser Corporation provides training and certification to help piano technicians evaluate the system’s relevance in any given environment. Therefore, the company will not sell its products directly to anyone who would prefer to install the device themselves. This policy ensures that the company’s systems are properly installed, based on the condition of the piano, its location and its specific requirements.

For these reasons, a professional installation is required in order to obtain the five-year warranty coverage.

Of course, the ideal environment for a musical instrument would be a museum, with its perfectly controlled atmosphere! If your house is fitted with such a climate control system, you really don’t need a Piano Life Saver device. But if you stop and think about it, how many homeowners keep their air conditioning system working continuously all summer long?

Benefits of keeping the humidity level in your piano constant

Relative humidity diagram

Figure :


Few places on Earth offer conditions that are favourable to pianos. Close to the sea, salty air and humidity cause much damage to instruments built of wood, wool and steel. Have you ever seen the pianos in Cuban hotels? Here in Canada, the need to heat our homes in winter and the changing seasons in our Nordic climate are the source of many of the problems faced in piano care and maintenance.

Piano cubain
Photo:  Michael Eastman

The Piano Life Saver System is easy to maintain

Invisible in upright pianos, barely visible underneath the soundboard in grand pianos, the system is completely silent for all types of instruments. It has a panel with LED lights that indicate when it has power and blink when a water refill is needed (about once a week during winter, less often during summer).

The correct amount of water and Pad Treatment is poured into the tank using a Universal Watering can (custom-made by Dampp-Chaser). Just insert the nozzle into the end of the watering tube. One capful of Pad Treatment added to the water inhibits the growth of mold and excessive scale buildup.



But in any case, the system must remain plugged into an electrical outlet that is not connected to a light switch (although an occasional power interruption, for a few hours or days, may not cause serious harm).

Once a year, your technician will dismount the whole system for a thorough cleaning and inspection (included in the 2 hour appointment).

Twice a year (according to the manufacturer’s recommendations), your piano technician will need to replace the humidifier pads and plastic sleeves, and, if needed, provide a replacement bottle of Pad Treatment.

The Piano Life Saver will save you money, time and hassle

The Dampp-Chaser Corporation describes how its system outperforms, and costs much less in electricity and trouble, than any other humidifier/dehumidifier system, for your piano’s care and maintenance. Just think about the routine of filling or emptying gallons of water daily as required by home or portable systems, compared to the Dampp-Chaser system, which only needs a quick refill every week or two!

Finally, some add-ons for stabilizing your piano’s tuning

A tailor-made wool string cover will help create a microclimate for your piano’s soundboard and pinblock, without making contact with the strings or affecting the sound.

Un beau piano équipé d'une couverture de cordes

A less expensive alternative would be to spread a blanket over the piano between uses.

Jetée piano

For your piano, how about a pretty custom-made cover like this one?


A Dampp Chaser underneath the piano and a string cover above it: both will envelop your instrument inside a protective cocoon and prevent it from damage and unstable tuning. Even if we like maintaining your piano, we’re happy for you when it stays in tune longer!

Children take…

19 h 17 min

Jessica d’Este

The Music of Meaning


Children take
What children take
And with the force
Of nature’s triumphs and mistakes
Become what they become

Rebirth begun in nurture’s wake
Once joy and sorrow are adult
With natural recourse awakes
Sensational reclaim of self
Mothering’s escape

With change of pace
The grace to change
More pain and wonderment to come
Remember death is certain
Art’s remit to make it happen

What goodness comes makes goodness last
Whatever evil put past


A piano, even a small upright, is awfully heavy, but putting it on its back is sometimes necessary.

Need to install new rubber casters to replace the old metal ones that are seized and would ruin the floor ?

With the right tool, one man can manage easily.

In this case, the goal was to install a permanent dolly so the piano could be moved around the room.

Ajout d'un dolly

My thanks to Steve Lecky, Dawson College, Feb. 2011

My friend has a special relation to the musical score. He scrutinizes it and finds answers, meaning, understanding. His interpretation and his teaching benefit from this curiosity, this study.

When reading the paper edition got too difficult, he had this system installed.

All the music he wants to work on has been downloaded from and is kept locally on the dedicated computer as PDF. The large tv screen hooked up to this computer provides a well-contrasted image that he can enlarge at will with the wireless mouse.

As a bonus, all the internet is available to find an inspiring performance on Youtube or some biographical notes on the composer of the work in progress.



© Copyrights 2015 - 2021 - Allan Sutton