Piano decals – is my piano really that old?

Piano decals – is my piano really that old?

Piano manufacturers often use decals from prestigious competitions and events for decades afterward. Piano owners sometimes assume these decorations are indicative of the age of the piano, but they're not. Sometimes they may even be from a prize that was won more than a century earlier! This decal was on a 1961 Baldwin L grand piano. It's a well-made instrument, but it's not at all the same instrument that won a grand prize at the 1900 Paris Grand Prix! Still, if I had won a grand prize at the Paris Grand Prix I would probably put it on everything I owned too... ...
Read More
Plastic parts – not as bad as you might think

Plastic parts – not as bad as you might think

If you tell people their piano has plastic parts, most don't think of that as a good thing. When plastics first became mainstream in manufacturing in the 20th century, they were used in all kinds of ways they should not have been and have a bad track record for durability. Early plastics became brittle very quickly and had poor shelf life. However, in recent years a number of piano manufacturers have developed advanced polymers that are used for specific action components and are actually more durable than wood. They are also far less susceptible to seasonal temperature and humidity swings, helping the piano's regulation remain stable longer. This picture is of a "plastic" repetition jack in a Yamaha upright that's just a couple years old. For decades this part would have been made out of wood. It is a quality part though and no cause for concern! You'll notice other parts are still made of wood and metal; it all depends on...
Read More
Rust comparison – a dead giveaway in pianos

Rust comparison – a dead giveaway in pianos

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! ...
Read More
Gutted piano

Gutted piano

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. ...
Read More
Does homeowners’ insurance cover piano damage?

Does homeowners’ insurance cover piano damage?

Water got inside this piano due to a home water leak in the ceiling above it. Notice the significant rust on the strings to the left, and mold and discoloration on the hammers to the right. Fortunately, in this case, homeowners insurance covered the cost of replacing the hammers and the strings in this piano, since the damage was not structural or pervasive and repair costs did not exceed the value of the instrument.  Most homeowner's or renter's insurance policies will cover damage to pianos that is the result of water, smoke, fire, other types of home damage, or natural disasters. I'm happy to provide an estimate of repair costs for insurance purposes and will work with your insurance company to determine the best solution. ...
Read More
Know your humidity levels!

Know your humidity levels!

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 well below 40%, you should seriously consider some type of...
Read More
Know your piano warranty

Know your piano warranty

This is a broken connector elbow for the pedal mechanism in an upright piano that was less than 5 years old. Many people do not realize that repairs such as this are almost always covered by warranty, and for at least 10 years (sometimes longer). Most manufacturers will even cover the cost of the service call for a technician to come out and replace the part. If you own a piano that is less than 25 years old, even if you're not the original owner, look up warranty information and know what's covered! You might be pleasantly surprised, particularly when something breaks or goes wrong that you don't have the cash on hand to fix. If you have any questions about repairs on your piano, warranty or not, feel free to contact me. ...
Read More