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
This time of year, at least in New Jersey, we enjoy some gorgeous weather. I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like fresh air, and if you’re like my family you open your windows every chance you get and leave them open for as long as you can. Piano owners are sometimes concerned about opening their windows, thinking the extra airflow could harm their instrument and throw it out of tune. It’s a legitimate concern, but you have no reason to deprive yourself of fresh air for the sake of your piano. Just keep a few things in mind: Pianos like consistency. Unless the temperature and humidity outside are drastically different from what the piano is accustomed to, you’re not going to do any harm by allowing some breeze in the house. Strong, direct airflow around the piano could be destabilizing. Make sure it’s not too exposed. Be sure to… Read More
I don’t discourage DIY piano work. In fact, I think it’s a great thing for piano owners to learn more about their instrument and even do repairs when they feel comfortable doing it. However, there are some potential pitfalls and it pays to be aware of them in advance. One of the most common accidents when working on a grand piano: pulling the action out without keeping a close eye on the hammers, and snapping off a hammer that was sticking up too high. The previous owner of this piano had done all the work on it himself, and while most of it was decent work, there were three different hammers that had been broken off in this way. They were all repaired, but unfortunately the repairs were causing other problems since they, as well, were each somewhat experimental. So, by all means, learn more about your piano and try… Read More
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!
They’re probably better known for cars than pianos (and rightly so), but my car and this piano have the same roots! Hyundai was a huge conglomerate in South Korea that broke apart in 2003. Hyundai Motor continues to make and ship cars all over the world, but Hyundai Music, a division of Hyundai Development Company, continues to manufacturer and distribute pianos all over the world! Like many large companies, Hyundai’s pianos are manufactured under a variety of brand names. On this particular piano, the “Aeolian” name was used and this Hyundai logo was visible only on the plate. On some other models, the Hyundai name may not appear at all.
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!
One last fascinating piece of history from the new Steinway showroom in Manhattan: this was Henry Steinway’s work desk from the 1800’s when he started making his first pianos. Like a lot of tools piano technicians use, it was completely handmade. And it has held up pretty well!
For every single key in a piano, there are dozens of parts working behind the scenes to produce the sound. Translate that to several thousand parts in a piano action, and you have a good reminder that tuning is not the only maintenance pianos need! The adjustment of the mechanical workings of the action is referred to as regulation. Regulation, not tuning, is what determines the “feel” of the piano – heavy, light, bouncy, stiff, fast, slow, etc. Often, your piano playing experience may be improved dramatically by some quality action regulation. If there are a number of issues, this can be a more involved job and may be scheduled as a separate appointment from your tuning. However, good piano technicians often will perform some limited regulation as part of a regular tuning appointment, if time allows, or may recommend some additional work that can be performed on the spot.… Read More
1969 Steinway & Sons model M (5’7″) Henry Steinway, a German immigrant, founded the Steinway company in 1853. It quickly became one of the leading piano manufacturers, and for the past century Steinway pianos have been the instrument of choice for a majority of performing artists. All Steinway instruments are still manufactured by hand in one of two factories: New York City (supplying North and South America) and Hamburg, Germany (supplying the rest of the world).
A baby grand piano, gutted and waiting for a thorough cleaning and re-stringing. What you see is the soundboard, with the long bridge and bass bridge still attached. The dampers are removed and lying in the keybed. The action and key frame is in the background, and the plate with attached pinblock is leaning against the wall to the left. Don’t try this at home! Like all the pictures we post, this is a South Jersey Piano Service job. Feel free to contact us if you’d like more information or an estimate.