Cleaning even the dirtiest piano keys is much simpler than you may think. There are rarely any special chemicals or tools needed, and particularly with most modern plastic key tops, there’s very little you could do to harm the keys. I would always recommend starting with the least abrasive cleaner possible. Quite a lot of cleaning can be accomplished with just a damp cloth. In the picture below, I did all of the cleaning with a multi-surface furniture cleaner spray, along with some paper towels. On ivory keys, more care should be taken, not so much because typical household cleaners will damage the ivory (just test on an inconspicuous spot first to be safe), but because the ivory keys are much easier to chip if you’re not careful around the edges. With a little common sense and some elbow grease, most piano keys can be cleaned quickly and safely!
Tuning is not the only maintenance that pianos need! As dust and other debris accumulates inside a piano, age and routine use wear down moving parts, and hammers compact and form deep grooves, various other maintenance tasks become essential. There is no standard interval for these maintenance tasks; but as a general rule, the more use the piano gets and the more advanced the pianists using it, the more frequently they should be done. Many pianists are simply not aware of what a well-regulated and well-voiced piano feels and sounds like, and don’t realize what they’re missing! As a general rule, any instrument that is being used by an advanced pianist, or for any performance purposes, should have voicing and regulation touched up on an annual basis. A thorough cleaning and regulation will generally be necessary every few years. If these tasks are done on a regular basis, the costs… Read More
Although summers are busy in all kinds of other ways, the end of the summer season, the start of a new school year, and the change into fall weather brings with it a significant increase in piano work, particularly institutional pianos. A couple of times each year, I have to clean out all of my tool bags and toolboxes and reorganize. This is a small piece of what that looks like! I guess you could call it a “fall cleaning.” As I return to blog posting after a couple month’s hiatus, keep an eye out for some exciting projects and interesting work that took place over the summer!
Cleaning the soundboard and plate of a grand piano can make a huge cosmetic difference! It won’t make the piano look new again (at least, don’t count on it), but if you have a grand piano and like to leave the lid open, make sure you stay on top of cleaning. General purpose, non-abrasive cleaners are fine for the metal plate. The soundboard is a little trickier to clean if you don’t have special equipment to get under the strings, so you may want to talk to your technician about that at your annual appointment. This piano was nearly a century old, and it might have been that long since it was cleaned. There was about an eighth of an inch of dust on the soundboard!
This is what your piano keys are resting on (viewed from the side). Sometimes you may not want to see it… But a deep cleaning is part of every good regulation job. This piano felt, looked, and sounded like a different instrument after a thorough cleaning and regulation!
Grand piano soundboards tend to collect dust, and unfortunately they are pretty difficult to clean with any standard household equipment. However, there are some specialized tools, both commercial and handmade, that can do the trick! Pictured here is a soundboard cleaning set that I carry everywhere with me (3 pieces). They’re not too expensive, if you hate dust and want to do it yourself on a regular basis. Alternatively, most piano technicians will do it for a nominal fee. For annual customers who keep up with their tunings, I often do this service free of charge!