Your piano needs humidity now

piano-humidity-miYour piano needs humidity now. I service pianos in the Oakland County Michigan area. My clients live in cities like Troy, Rochester Hills, Bloomfield Hills, West Bloomfield, Livonia, Novi, Northville, and many other cities in southeast lower Michigan. One thing this area has in common is cold wintry days. This is the time of year we service our furnace, rake our leaves, and buy our boots and hats in preparation for the months ahead.

If you are a piano owner in a cold climate there is another thing you should prepare for; dry air in your home that will cause many problems with your piano. I have provided a photo of a rather severe dryness related problem. In the photo of the piano’s bass bridge a large split can be seen. This split is caused by years of dry wintry conditions that has caused the wood of the piano to become dry and brittle. Many other problems such as; tuning instability, sticking keys or the occasional note that will not play, cracks in the soundboard, and loose tuning pins are a few of the problems caused by winter dryness.

To avoid the expense of major repairs on your piano, HUMIDIFY. Humidity is cheap insurance that will protect your piano from the dryness monster. You can humidify your whole house with a furnace mounted humidifier or a stand alone console type humidifier that is rated for the number of the square feet of your home. If you choose either one of these two options you should purchase a digital hygrometer. This simple battery operated devise will help you zero in on the best humidity level for your home and the things in your home like the piano. As a rule of thumb 38 to 42 percent is a good humidity level to protect your piano.

A third option is a piano humidity system. I install the Dampp-Chaser system in pianos to protect the piano from the effects of both winter dryness and summer time excessive humidity. If you are thinking about protecting your piano I would be happy to discuss this option with you.

Now is the time of year to prepare your piano for the winter dryness that lies ahead. If you have a humidifier clean it, change the wicks/filter, and test it to see that it is operational. Also have your piano tuned and prepared for the times ahead with family and friends that will enjoy a well played Holiday favorite.

In the Oakland County area call: Ace Piano Tuning for an appointment.

How to Fix Sticking Piano Keys in Michigan

Sticking keys or a note that plays one time but then will not allow repetition of the note are sources of frustration for all levels of players. I have heard countless frustrated mothers explain the reason her child stopped taking lessons, only to tell me her next child just began taking piano lessons and she wants the piano tuned. As I begin the tuning process it soon becomes apparent why the first child quit, and will be the reason the second child will quit. On the other end of the spectrum the high level player will walk away from the piano, and won’t touch it again till the problem is corrected.

In an attempt to keep this article user friendly I am going to touch on two of the causes of the sticking/sluggish note. First is verdigris which is a contaminate that can be seen as a green moldy looking substance that causes the action flanges to pivot slowly, and in severe cases not at all. The photo below shows a action flange with verdigris:

Sticking Piano Key - Verdigis

video clip shows the slow moving action part effected by verdigris:

Second cause is humidity level changes that cause the small wooden parts of the piano action to expand or contract causing the action parts to bind:

Impact of Humidity on Pianos in Michigan

Please take a look at my video, showing the repining of the action flange that was sluggish as a result of verdigris:

This approach is highly effective and can be performed on two or three notes that are a problem or the entire action can be repined.

In the case of humidity related malfunction, humidity control is the most effective and lowest cost approach. Things like humidifiers on the furnace, digital hygrometers, air conditioning in the summer months, and in some cases the piano life saver, also known as the Dampp-Chaser system are the first line of defense in preventing and reversing the effects of high or low humidity on your piano.

Each piano must be evaluated and then an approach can be custom tailored to fit the piano’s specific situation. I service pianos in the Oakland County Michigan area, and would love to help you with your piano service needs. If you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment please call Ace Piano at: 248-647-6810

Thanks,

Craig

 

How should I clean my piano keys?

How should I clean my piano keys?  The answer to this question depends on what type of material has been used on your piano. If you are not sure, ask your piano technician before cleaning.

The two types of material used are plastic and ivory. Most modern pianos have plastic keytops, while many old pianos have ivory. Keep in mind if your piano has ivory, though the cleaning method is virtually the same as with plastic tops, allowing moisture and harsh detergents to penetrate the ivory will loosen the old glue and the key tops may begin to lift off.

First: gather all the needed gear. Lint free cotton rags, two small bowels (one for soap and water, the other for clean rinse water), a good mild detergent. I like Simple Green detergent; it works great and leaves no residue. Note: if you have ivory key tops white toothpaste can be used to brighten the tops.

Second: start cleaning. Always work with a small number of keys. I find eight is manageable. Working with a damp cloth and detergent keep the key top moist for a few seconds, use a little elbow grease, use a clean damp cloth to rinse, move on to the next section, and continue the process till all tops and sharps are sparkling clean. Remember to work with a damp cloth only! Water between the keys will damage the piano.

A note to those of you that have ivory key tops; have a hair dryer on hand to dry the ivory quickly after rinsing. This step will help prevent moisture penetration that will cause key tops to lift off. Be sure to use the cool setting only. Heat will cause the glue to soften and the key tops will lift off.

If you have any concerns, check with your piano technician before tackling the job.