Michigan is very hard on our pianos due to the ever-changing weather conditions in the state. Indoor humidity levels can be as high as 70% in the summer months, and plunge to as low as 10% in the winter months. This dramatic fluctuation of moisture in your home can have severe effects on your piano. The wooden structure and small wooden components of your piano’s action expand and contract. Piano keys can twist and warp, and the piano pin block can loose its ability to hold the strings at pitch.
At this time, I’m going to address the effects on the pin block. As seen in the video below the pin block is a plank of rock maple wood that has many small holes, which have tuning pins driven into them. These tuning pins must be tight enough to prevent the pin from twisting in the pin block, allowing the tension on the string to drop off. If the pin block no longer holds strings at pitch, the pin block must be removed, a new pin block is installed, and the piano is restrung.
The constant action of a pin block expanding and contracting, compresses the wood fibers around the tuning pin. Over time, this compression of the wood against the pin enlarges the hole in the pin block. When this has occurred poor tuning stability will result. If not caught early, and proper humidity levels have not been maintained during the winter months, [see video…humidity control] the piano owner will have a decision to make…replace the piano, or have the piano restrung and replace the pin block. Proper humidification during the cold winter months is an easy cost effective way to avoid unnecessary repairs and prolong the life of your piano.
Watch our video on Humidity Control for your Piano in Michigan:
To avoid over or under humidification of your home, purchase a digital hygrometer that measures your humidity levels. Forty two percent is the target humidity level. Watch for excessive condensation on windows, and make downward adjustments on your humidifier as needed,[see humidifier owners manual].
I have a shop in the Oakland County area of Southeast Michigan. Piano restringing and pin block replacement is a service I provide my clients. If I can be of help, or if you have questions concerning tuning instability, I’d love to help. You can reach me at 248-624-0940 or 248-647-6810.
Please check past blog posts for more information on humidity control, the Dampp-Chaser system, and dryness related problems. Your piano is worth protecting.