This chart demonstrates how drastically pitch can change when your piano is exposed to fluctuations in the humidity during seasonal weather changes.
Your 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.
Time sure does fly when we’re having fun! Once again, the holidays are upon us. It won’t be long and family and friends will be gathering for all the holiday fun. Many families celebrate around a piano. The piano gets dusted, the keys are cleaned in preparation for all the favorite tunes that will be played…but we forgot the note that stuck last year in the middle of that tune uncle Fred tried to play, or how that song little Suzie tried to play sounded more like a cat fight outside the window because the piano had not been tuned for ten years. The point is; pianos are used for our enjoyment at this time of year. This is a great time to have your piano tuned and checked so all will go well as the family enjoys all the traditions of the holidays.
This is also the perfect time to get the humidifier ready and operating. A digital hygrometer at hand to help monitor the humidity level of your home will pay huge dividends by reducing repair and adjustment costs caused by the reaction of your piano’s wooden parts to sudden dry conditions that are just around the corner. The target humidity level to maintain is 42%. You may have to make minor adjustments to that reading depending on your home and the individual nature of the way each home is built, insulated, and the type of windows you have in your home.
Craig Cole services pianos throughout the Oakland County, Michigan area. Give him a call today to schedule your piano service appointment. Main office phone number is 248-647-6810.
Why should I pitch raise my piano? I am asked that question almost daily as I explain to my clients what I have found upon arrival at their home, and I set up for a tuning job. It is important to understand that pitch corrections before the actual tuning is always the clients option. Let’s consider what tuning is. A simple definition is: the strings of a piano being adjusted so that when the instrument is played, the intervals such as: thirds, fifths octaves, and any other interval that is played will sound pleasing and musical to the ear. It is important to note, I did not include in the definition, the pitch of the piano. That is simply because a piano, like any stringed instrument can be tuned at any pitch that is desired. (all stringed instruments can be damaged if tuned to sharp/to much tension, or if tuned to low can sound dull and lifeless) So if all this is true, why should a piano owner have the pitch corrected on their piano? Quite simple; first, modern pianos were designed to sound their best when tuned at a pitch referred to as, standard pitch or A440. Second, if the piano is within the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty, the piano must be kept at A440 to avoid voiding the warranty. In my opinion all modern pianos should be maintained as close as possible to standard pitch…simply; they sound best when tuned to A440.
When a piano is allowed to set un-tuned for a long period of time the pitch will drop. It is common to find pianos a quarter step flat, a third step flat, and in some cases as much as a whole step flat. This condition brings an option to the table. You; the piano owner must decide what you want done. The piano can be tuned a quarter step flat, or it can be tuned a whole step flat, or you may decide to have the pitch corrected and tuned to A440.
Piano manufactures recommend tuning a piano every six months or more often depending on use and demand. Pianos that are tuned often require very little change in over-all tension of the piano. This one fact helps produce solid and stable tunings, and will help prevent the pitch from dropping. Pitch corrections of one half step can effect the tension on your piano by thousands of pounds. The piano structure will react to this change, making it necessary to make two or three passes through the key board to get the piano to stabilize. Pitch corrections can, and should be avoided, by tuning regularly. If your piano needs to be pitch corrected before tuning, know this: it is a common procedure and all care is taken to avoid damage to your piano during the process.
Craig Cole is a piano technician serving piano owners in Oakland County, Michigan as well as many surrounding communities. Call for your piano service appointment today: (248) 647-6810