January 22, 2024

About the Author: Stefan Joubert

Stefan Joubert manages the London Piano Institute, a premier destination for adult piano learners seeking individualised instruction and progress towards their musical goals. He believes anyone can learn to play regardless of age or ability!

Have you ever wondered whether a piano needs maintenance or not? Well, the answer to that question is yes. Pianos, like any other instruments, need to be looked after and cared for to prolong its use and keep the original value maximised. This blog will go over a few important aspects to keep in mind, as well as how to really look after your piano.

Hands playing piano

How Does a Piano Work?

The piano was created around the 1700’s by a man named Bartolomeo Cristofori. He removed the plucking mechanism of a harpsichord and replaced it with a hammer.

A typical grand piano has 88 hammers, one for each key. These hammers will hit the strings inside a piano causing it to vibrate- creating a musical sound.

Over time the strings will eventually progressively stretch making the pitch dull and out of tune. Thus needing to be tuned. Even without doing anything, the strings will stretch, showing us just how important it is to keep the piano up to date. Maybe you might already be tuning your piano, but that’s all there is to it.

Unfortunately, the maintenance doesn’t stop there.

Why Should You Care?

A common sense answer to this question definitely can be : because I want to prolong its use. I entirely agree with that statement, yet however, looking at a few other perspectives can help see things differently as to why you should care and put more effort into caring for this instrument.

Being able to maintain your piano is essential to your talents and efforts. It will keep the sound bright and elegant as well as look the part too! Psychologically it also has an impact.

People who work in a clean workspace tend to get the job done with a higher quality. Just so we can compare it to the piano. Having a clean piano will most likely boost your willingness to practise and play for longer. Thus having a positive effect on your skills when we look at it long term.

Hand cleaning piano keys with a brush

How to Care for Your Piano

Now that we have the reason for why, we can look at the answer how. Obviously it is not unheard of to keep your possessions clean, but when it comes to the piano – there is more to it than what meets the eye.

The following points will state what I believe are the most important aspects of caring for a piano.

1. Tune at Least Twice a Year

As mentioned earlier, the strings – the very part that makes the sound – can stretch and wear out. This generates a false tone and out of tune pitch. It is advised to tune your instrument at least once a year. Most recommend that you tune your piano twice in the first year of your purchase. This keeps the pitch crisp and clear – maximising your play experience.

2. Keep Your Keys Cleaned

As to apparent reasons – like keeping germs at bay – there is another significant reason. If your piano’s keys aren’t cleaned quite regularly, it can overtime lead to poor quality and potentially not function properly. Especially when it comes to keyboards.

With what should you clean it?

An effective yet protective way is to take a damp cotton pad with hydrogen peroxide -not too much- and wipe it from back to front. This ensures the germs and filth does not get stuck in the crevices where the key meets the piano.

Avoid using excess fluid as it can sink into the gaps and have a negative effect on your piano.

Also avoid bleach-based disinfectants or products containing citrus. If hydrogen peroxide is a product unavailable to you, dampening a microfiber cloth with lukewarm water added with a small amount of dishwashing liquid will do too.

Just remember to avoid excess liquid!

3. Avoid Spilled Liquids and Heavy Objects

I must say, putting a vase of flowers on top of a piano looks very appealing and pleasing to the eye. Yet did you know that a heavy object limits the quality of the sound? Placing a heavy object on a piano stops the sound from travelling and can potentially create noisy vibrations. On top of that, liquids are the last thing you want touching your piano. Most pianos have metal parts inside that can easily rust when introduced to water or similar fluids. It can lead to devastating results and even eternal damage!

4. Avoid Direct Exposure to Sunlight

The sun emits powerful UV rays that can over time cause your piano’s paint coat to fade and potentially lead to cracking. Humid temperatures also have an impact on your piano. It can create the metals inside to rust, limiting the joints to work properly. As a result, your piano may lose its value and quality drastically. Water is probably the biggest enemy of a piano. So make sure to give a wide berth as to where that’s concerned.

Piano in the living room with plants and vase

Looking back on these tips, it really is not such an immense task to maintain. Yet it is cardinal to keep doing, especially when looking at it long term.

After all, the fruits are of much more value than the process.

Crazy to think how many minuscule things can have such a monumental impact.

From water to powerful sun UV rays.

Luckily the reward is worth going the extra mile. I believe how a person’s workspace looks, gives you a perspective and reflection of their skill.

Almost all massive corporate companies and successful businesses have clean workspaces – portraying their success. I believe the same is said about piano. Whether it is your workspace or not, having a clean instrument makes an impression.

And even if you are not that serious about your piano, keeping it maintained and cared for will subconsciously make you love it more and see its value through different eyes.

Now that you have an insight of how to care and maintain for your piano, there really is no excuse to have poorly generated sound or a filthy exterior.

Loving your piano is the best thing you as a pianist can do!

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