Newly strung pianos (including new pianos and newly rebuilt pianos) should be tuned 3-4 times the first year. Subsequently, most pianos should be tuned twice a year. Pianos that are used for performance or for recording will need to be tuned more often.
Pianos are damaged by extreme heat as well as extreme cold. Ideally, a piano is kept in a room in which the temperature is normal and constant (around 68° F). The temperature should not be allowed to fall below 45° F and should not exceed 90° F.
Extremes of humidity as well as large changes in humidity are both harmful to pianos. Ideally, a piano will be maintained in a room in which the relative humidity remains constant year-round. In a dry climate such as is found in the U.S. Southwest, a relative humidity in the 20% to 30% range is a good objective. In a varied climate such as is found in the U.S. Northeast, the relative humidity should be kept between 40% and 45%. Room humidifiers should be used whenever possible in those parts of the world in which there are cold, dry winters. The Sears Kenmore Quiet Comfort (evaporative type) humidifier works very well (the larger the better). Dehumidifiers are essential in tropical climates. Air conditioners can also be helpful – especially if they run fairly constantly. A DamppChaser unit that is properly installed helps maintain constant humidity in a piano year round (but cannot fully correct situations that are extreme).
Direct sunlight harms a piano's finish (causing it to bleach and crack), while the heat that it causes destabilizes the piano interior. Therefore, if a piano must be placed in a spot where there is direct sunlight, a window shade and/or a piano cover is essential.
Keep fluids away from the piano. Juice, soda, even water spilled into a piano can do severe damage. Never touch the bass strings. Residue from hands and fingers causes corrosion, which can cause the bass strings to buzz and to lose clarity and power. Remove dust with a leaf blower or with the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner. If you live in a city, grime may accumulate over the years. Only a specialist should clean the interior of a piano.
The fallboard should always be open to allow free circulation of air around the keys. Keys should be cleaned only with a soft cloth, dampened very slightly with water or club soda (or Windex if the keys are really dirty). Never put fluid directly on the keys.
The case should be dusted with a lambs-wool duster (available in many hardware stores). To remove smudges, use a soft clean cheesecloth or an old clean cotton tee shirt (with the seams removed). Ten percent de-natured alcohol in water or Windex may be used if necessary. Do not rub across the grain and do not apply fluid directly to the piano.
Care of a Satin Ebony Lacquer Piano Finish
Do Not Do The Following:
- Do not use any form of polish or oil product on this finish.
- Do not wipe with paper or any cloth except that specified below.
- Do not dust by wiping in a direction other than the one in which the surface was originally rubbed. Look at the surface striations on each part of the piano to see the proper direction.
- Do not press down firmly on the finish when dusting. The finish is soft.
The Proper Method for Dusting and Maintaining the Finish
- Use a folded cheesecloth, dampened lightly with distilled water (preferably).
- Place the music desk flat and close the lid entirely, including the ‘fly´ or small lid.
- Gently move the cloth lengthwise down the lid and follow each dampened cloth stroke with an un-dampened piece of cheesecloth to remove any water on the surface which might leave marks.
- The exterior rim should be dusted lengthwise as should all other parts.
- Periodically, open the piano lid and gently dust the harp or plate. Ideally, the interior
can be “blown out” once a year to clean dust from around the tuning pins. A feather duster also works, but not as well as a strong blower.
- Ask your tuner to dust the soundboard at least once per year. This requires a special tool which he should bring. This will keep your piano’s interior looking new for many years.
- The only product we recommend is one made by a company named Cory. It is called Satin Sheen, and it is made specifically for satin lacquer finishes. Even here, we prefer to dilute it with distilled water. It is available over the Internet.