Frequently Asked Questions

How often should my piano be tuned?

Changes in humidity from season to season will throw a piano out of tune. For this reason, your piano should be tuned every 6 months – once when the a/c is on, and once when it’s off. Some pianos are less affected by humidity changes than others, but every piano should be tuned at least annually – even if it’s not being played much.

New pianos require more frequent tunings in the first year because new strings stretch a lot. During this “break-in” period, a new piano should be tuned every three months. The frequency of tuning in the first year can determine how well a piano holds its pitch throughout the rest of its life.

My piano isn’t being used. Do I still need to have it tuned?

Although it might seem unnecessary, it’s important to keep a piano at least close to pitch, even if it’s not being used. When your piano is in tune, a combined string tension of about 20 tons is exerted on the piano’s structure. As the piano goes out of tune, the tension of the strings changes to varying degrees in different parts of the piano. If the tension becomes too uneven from one section to another, undue stress is exerted on the piano’s frame. Also, a piano is much more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to tune well after a period of neglect. For these reasons, every piano should be tuned at least annually.

Is there a way to minimize the effects of humidity changes on my piano?

The most important aspect of humidity with regard to your piano’s tuning and longevity is consistency – the more consistent the humidity remains where the piano is located, the better the piano will stay in tune, and the less likely you will encounter problems such as soundboard cracks, bridge cracks, loose tuning pins, and other humidity-related problems. Ideally, the piano should be kept at about 42% relative humidity year-round. Believe it or not, indoor humidity does fluctuate quite a bit in Arizona – maybe not daily, but certainly from season to season. Air conditioning helps in the summer monsoon, but usually doesn’t get the humidity level as low as it is the rest of the year. Swamp coolers are bad for pianos, because they are pumping very moist air into the house. Humidifiers help in the dry season, but they are difficult to monitor and regulate, and they are noisy. The best way to maintain a proper humidity level in your piano is to install a Piano Lifesaver humidity control system. Click here for more information about the Piano Lifesaver system.

What should I use to clean my piano?

Any good quality furniture polish will work well on wood finishes. Avoid products that leave a waxy or oily residue. For black satin finishes, Cory Satin Sheen works well, and for black high-gloss finishes, Cory Super High-Gloss polish is best. These products are available from most piano dealers, or can be readily found online.

On the keys, it’s best to use a very mild soap & water solution on a rag. Be sure to wring the rag out well before cleaning the keys. If water drips down between the keys they can swell up and stick, or even warp. An alternative is Cory Key-Brite polish, which is available from most piano dealers or online.

Cleaning dust from grand piano soundboards under the strings is particularly tricky. Under no circumstances should you get any kind of chemical or moisture on the piano strings. The best way to get at the dust is with a set of “soundboard sweepers”. There are three different-sized cleaners in a set, and they are designed to be inserted between the strings to sweep the soundboard. These are available from Helms Music. Scott can demonstrate for you how to use these handy tools as well.