If the strings of your piano stretch beyond, or drop below A-440 Hz, then a pitch adjusting procedure called “pitch raising” will be required to bring the instrument back to standard pitch and into fine tune. A “pitch raise” is basically two tunings in one service call. The first tuning is done very quickly and serves to bring all the strings close to their proper tension and pitch. The second tuning allows the technician to provide an accurate tuning at standard pitch.
Daily and seasonal humidity changes in pianos are the leading cause of changes in tuning. Excessive dryness can cause loose tuning pins, soundboard cracks and annoying action noises. Excessive moisture may lead to sticking keys, sluggish action performance and rusty strings & tuning pins.
Installing a Piano Life Saver System from Dampp-Chaser can provide the following benefits for your piano:
- Stabilizes pitch and permits tunings to hold better and longer
- Minimizes the expansion and contraction of action parts which provides optimum touch and predictable keyboard control
- Prevents rust on strings and metal parts
- Minimizes felt deterioration (hammer felt, damper felt, key felt, etc)
- Minimizes glue failure
- Protects the piano’s investment value
The adjustment of tone, called voicing, gives more brilliance or softness to individual notes or entire sections of the piano. A qualified technician can make adjustments to the strings and hammers to achieve a more desirable tone to your piano.
Adjusting the touch of the piano, or how each key feels when it is played, is accomplished through a procedure called regulation. Pianos that are played on a regular basis may develop a touch that is uneven and less responsive. A qualified piano technician can properly adjust or “regulate” the 9,000+ moving parts in a piano action so that your piano can perform at its optimum level.
Moving & Storage
If you wish to move the piano a small distance (no greater than within the same room), lift the piano to avoid putting stress on the legs. Piano legs are designed to support the piano while stationary and can be easily broken while attempting to “slide” or “roll” (even if there are wheels on the legs and cabinet) the piano into a new position. For any greater distance, use a professional piano mover who has the necessary equipment and expertise.
If it becomes necessary to store your piano for an extended amount of time (more than a day or two) be sure to use a clean, dry, climate-controlled storage facility. Wrap the piano completely with moving blankets and then cover with a non-porous plastic tarp. Never store your piano in place that has excessive moisture or shows evidence of the presence of vermin and/or insects. For further storage suggestions consult your professional piano mover or qualified piano technician.
Buying a Used Piano
Be sure to consult with your piano technician at the beginning of your search for a good used piano. You need to decide whether you should look for a grand, upright or spinet piano. Buying a piano just because it is “cheap” is never a good idea. Also, beware of buying a piano based on “looks” alone. A used piano can look great on the outside but be plagued with problems such as loose tuning pins, cracked sound board, broken plate, rusted strings, broken hammers, moth-eaten felt, broken or sticking keys, etc. After finding two or three pianos that look good to you, ask your piano technician to inspect them and to offer his/her professional opinion before making your final decision and purchase.
I have a blog post here dedicated to buying a used piano – check it out.