Twice in the last week, I have seen significant soundboard cracks on relatively new grand pianos. Both high quality instruments. This was a Yamaha C3, the conservatory model baby grand. Why does this happen? In both cases, the pianos had been stored immediately next to heat sources and/or direct sunlight. As heat and sunlight dry out the piano, soundboard cracks are just one of many problems that crop up. In both cases, I strongly advised the owners to keep their valuable piano away from heat sources and direct sunlight. Thankfully, these soundboard cracks are not significantly impacting the tone of the piano yet. If the pattern continues though, pianos stored in environments like this may lose decades of useful life. If you have a piano, particularly a high quality one, know what’s good for it!
This piano is a 45-year-old Steinway upright, which only seems half its age thanks to this Dampp-Chaser humidity control system. The Dampp-Chaser “Piano Lifesaver” system is a humidity control system designed specifically for pianos. It truly is a lifesaver, particularly for pianos in churches, schools, and other institutions where the climate is not controlled as consistently as a home. I highly recommend the system for any instrument, and especially for church and school instruments. It can’t resurrect an already dead piano (sorry), but it will help to significantly preserve the life of your instrument! If you’d like to read more about humidity control, visit: http://www.sjpianoservice.com/humidity_control.htm
Compare the tuning pins in these two pianos. They are around the same age and both are school pianos. I advised the music teacher that the one on top was very concerning because of the amount of corrosion. Rust on strings and tuning pins is always a red flag! Having another piano around of similar age and design helped demonstrate the problem in this case. Often piano owners don’t notice rust or corrosion in their piano because it looks “normal” to them or they don’t ever look inside their instrument. Sometimes you can learn a lot just by a quick look!
Did you know that pianos are very sensitive to humidity changes? The most vulnerable parts of a piano are the soundboard, bridges, and pinblock. Excessive dryness can cause wood to shrink or become brittle, which can cause cracks and major tuning stability problems. Excessive moisture can cause swelling and warping, creating tuning problems as well. Moisture, particularly in the summer months, is often also the culprit for stuck keys and action sluggishness.Relative humidity is measured with a hygrometer, or with a simple humidity monitor like this one. The optimal range for pianos (as well as other musical instruments made of wood) is 40-60%. It’s a little damp in the room right now for this piano!You can pick up a simple humidity monitor for $10-15 that should typically be accurate within +/- 5%. If you find that the area around your piano tends to have humidity levels well above 60% or… Read More