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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 WordReference.com, 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.

Figure: https://www.pianolifesaver.com/english/about/benefits

 

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 are probably aware how much the humidity level fluctuations will damage and shorten its longevity!  So, when your piano tuner recommends the addition of a Dampp Chaser system (also called Piano Life Saver) for your piano, the following facts will help you to make an informed decision.

Henceforth, no doubts about the Dampp Chaser system’s effectiveness remain. It has been approved over the years by piano manufacturers and virtually all piano tuners.

Piano owners are also unanimous about this: since its installation, tuning is more stable and the piano sounds and plays better. The other good news is that their 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 according to any given environment. Therefore, the company will not sell its products directly to the consumers who would prefer to install the device by themselves. This policy ensures that systems are properly installed based on the piano conditions, its location and specific requirements.

For these reasons, a professional installation is required for 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 climatic control system, you actually don’t need a Piano Life Saver device. In fact, how many homeowners keep the air conditioning system working rigorously all summer long?

Benefits of keeping a constant humidity level in your piano

Relative humidity diagram

Figure : https://www.pianolifesaver.com/english/about/benefits

 

Few places on Earth naturally offer favourable conditions for pianos. Close to the sea, salty air and humidity cause much damage  to wood-based instruments. Have you ever seen one of these pianos in Cuban hotels? On the other hand, the need for heating our homes during winter-time, due to the alternation of seasons under our Nordic climate, is as much problematic to piano care and maintenance.

Piano cubain
Photo:  Michael Eastman

The Piano Life Saver System is easy to maintain

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

The exact amount of water and Pad Treatment is poured into the tank with an Universal Watering can (custom-made by Dampp-Chaser) by inserting the nozzle into the end of the watering tube. One capful of Pad Treatment added to the water inhibits the growth of moulds and excessive scale buildups.

 

 

But in any case, the system must remain constantly plugged into an electrical outlet unconnected to a light switch (although an occasional power interruption, for a few hours or days may not cause catastrophic effects).

Once a year, your technician will dismount the whole system for a thorough cleaning and inspection (cost: $45 if done along with a piano tuning).

Twice a year (according to the manufacturer’s recommendation), your piano technician must 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 piano care and maintenance. Just think about the routine of filling or emptying gallons of water daily with home or portable systems, while a Dampp Chaser needs a quick refill weekly or every two weeks!

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 any contact on the strings and effect on 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?

SONY DSC

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!


A loved one owns a piano but doesn’t use it anymore?

Although music is extremely beneficial to brain health and brings joy at home, piano tuning is often postponed by months, then by years. Meanwhile, the piano becomes silent…

A piano care and tuning makes a wonderful gift

We suggest a 90 minutes appointment that will allow us to do a lot for this piano! Pitch adjustment, minor repairs, pedal lubrication, keyboard cleaning, etc.: all these will transform the lonely instrument, for a small fee, into an attractive piano.

Your loved one wants to get back to the piano, as a New Year’s resolution for instance? Support him or her with a piano tuning and maintenance for $175.

Get the printable version by clicking on the gift certificate below. Then cut it, fold it like a card, write a personal message and put it in an envelope!

For payment and activation of your gift certificate, contact us at:                                  514 344-8008 / info@piano-tek.com

Chèque-cadeau 90 min_Cadeau à un être cher

Children take…

19 h 17 min

Jessica d’Este

The Music of Meaning

 

II.V.07
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 music-scores.com 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 - 2018 - Allan Sutton