Does Your Hand Size Impact Piano Playing

Does Your Hand Size Impact Piano Playing

When you watch a professional piano player in action, you’ll see their hands zip up and down the keyboard, flying over the keys. Between their thumbs and fingers, they touch note after note bringing music to life. 

Musicians come in all sizes, male and female. It doesn’t seem to matter how large their hands are or how large of a hand span they have to stretch two specified intervals on a keyboard. Or does it?Does Your Hand Size Impact Piano Playing

The average octave placement for hand span ranges around 6.7 inches. Adding in a 9th note increases the hand span to 7.6 inches, 10th note increases to 8.5 inches, and 11th note increases the hand span to 9.4 inches. 

When you compare that to the average hand span of a woman, you’ll find that 70 percent can not comfortable span an entire octave, with an even larger majority not being able to add a 9th note to their playing ability per hand. 

For males, the playability is better, with a significant majority of males able to play an octave very comfortably, stretching to a 10th note or more fairly easily. 

The female hand is, on average, 15 percent smaller than the male hand. And because children often start playing the piano at an early age, it is also important to realize that they will have an even smaller range than the average woman. 

Standardized keyboards are a relatively recent development and the size we commonly use today is large compared with historical context. The 6.5 inch octave keyboard does not suit the vast majority of women and children. It’s also often not the best choice for men, from an ergonomic perspective. 

Some of the greatest pianists of the past have used pianos with narrower keys. And with people who enjoy playing the piano and have a passion for improving the way they play, they often find using alternative sized piano keyboards to be a better fit. Downsized keyboards allow pianists to play more music without fear of injury. Hand position is immediately improved and power increases because the hand is compact. Redistribution of complex fingering is no longer necessary. 

As it becomes more apparent that the art of piano playing can change simply by rethinking the size of a keyboard, we’ll see more changes in the instruments we play. 

Do you have experience with a smaller keyboard?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Keeping Your Piano Healthy

Keeping Your Piano Healthy

A good piano is designed to be a part of your family for generations. But in order for it to stay high quality for that long, it needs a little maintenance. 

While bringing in a technician from time to time to tune and regulate your piano is a good idea, there are a few things you can do too to keep it in good health. 

1. Stop Closing Your KeylidKeeping Your Piano Healthy

Pianos have keylids for a good reason. They help keep dust and air particles off of your keyboard, allowing grime to form between the keys. Keeping the keylid closed is a good idea – 70 percent of the time. If the keylid is down all the time when not in use, mold growth can occur inside the piano. This is especially true if your piano is kept in a dark place, or if the surrounding area is humid. 

A good practice is to leave it up a couple of times each week. Indirect sunlight and proper air circulation will reduce the chance of mold growth and keep the innerworkings of the piano in good shape. Be sure to dust with a soft cloth or a soft vacuum attachment on a regular basis. 

2. No Drinks At The Piano

Liquid can be an enemy in more ways than one. Setting a drink on the finish of a piano can cause unsightly rings and stains. But if the liquid spills and seeps between the piano keys and reaches the interior, it can cause major damage. If you do spill, wipe up excess liquid from the keys immediately. Try not to press the keys while wiping to prevent liquid from seeping inside. If liquid does slip between the keys, have a technician evaluate the situation as soon as possible. 

3. Regulate The Environment

Before you decide on a final resting spot for your piano, evaluate the environment. Temperature can be an enemy of your piano’s condition. Cold can weaken delicate parts. Heat can negatively affect the strings. Somewhere around 70 to 72 degrees is best. While your room temperature may change due to the seasons, be sure you keep your piano away from exterior walls, where fluctuations occur the most. Avoid drafts, air ducts, or windows and doors that can allow fluctuations. Also avoid direct sunlight, which can heat your piano to very high temperatures, impacting not only the interior workings, but also the finish of the piano too.  

Humidity is equally as important as temperature. High humidity levels can warp the wood; low humidity levels can cause cracking. To ensure proper humidity levels in the room, consider a humidifier or dehumidifier depending on your needs. A 40 percent humidity level is ideal. Be sure to adjust, especially in volatile weather patterns. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Watering Your Piano

Watering Your Piano

Your piano is ever-changing, constantly fluctuating depending on the weather and the climate. It’s only natural that your piano will act differently depending on its environment. 

If you have a piano that has been passed down for generations, you may have heard the term “watering your piano.” No, that doesn’t mean you should pull out your watering can and drip water over it. In fact, it’s the quickest way to ruin it. 

Instead, what “watering your piano” refers to is a phrase used to explain the presence of a piano humidifier. Watering Your Piano

A piano is made up of thousands of parts, the vast majority of them made up of wood. And wood is sensitive to the presence of water. Too much water and wood begins to swell. Not enough and the same wood begins to crack and warp. The right amount means a stable, happy piano that continues to make beautiful music. 

Ideally, the humidity level in the room where your piano is on display should be around 45 to 60 percent. When in doubt, err on more humidity, as dry air will cause more damage to a piano than humid air. That being said, too much humidity can cause mildew and mold to set in, especially if dampness exists in the corners and crevices. 

By picking up a hygrometer from your local hardware store, you can measure the humidity levels of your home. You may wish to store it in your basement or crawlspace where dampness can be a problem. But you should also occasionally check the room where your piano is housed. Also, keep in mind that it will be different in winter months than in the summer. 

Based on your findings, you may need to introduce a humidifier to regulate the humidity levels around your piano. There are many different options, from a room humidifier to a whole-house option. 

Now, back to the “watering your piano” concept. Decades ago, before modern technology offered our current HVAC systems that include proper heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, people would worry about the condition of their pianos. They knew low humidity was bad for a piano, so they would keep a jar of water inside the piano to maintain humidity. 

If you find an old piano in a back room at your grandmother’s house, passed down for generations, the jar may still be there. However, a jar of water inside the piano is never a good idea. Water is damaging no matter where it spills on a piano. And if it introduces too much water, which can be the case here in our humid environment, what you may introduce is mold and mildew instead. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Piano Flooring: Does It Matter?

Piano Flooring: Does It Matter?

When you set out to invest in the perfect piano for you, you probably consider things like type, style, manufacturer, even color. But have you stopped to consider the surrounding area? 

Will your flooring choice be perfect for your piano investment?

Depending on where you’ve practiced and played, you’ve probably found the rooms to be decorated in many styles. You’ll find wood, laminate, even carpeting underneath. Piano Flooring: Does It Matter?

In general, wood flooring will increase volume, while carpeting will decrease volume. Thicker carpets will also further decrease the volume when compared to a thinner one. 

Look to some of the greatest concert halls in the world, and you’ll find pianos live and on stage, surrounded by hard surfaces. Wood is often the flooring of choice, adding both elegance and ease to move a piano around. 

And while that may provide you with direction for your own room, it isn’t the only factor that comes into play. 

Grand pianos produce sound differently than verticals. What type of piano you own will impact the perfect flooring for your room. 

But it does stretch beyond the flooring too. Projection is key – what sounds are produced when they collide with the surrounding area. 

Loudness comes from voicing the piano and voicing the room. 

Voicing the piano comes through the tuning process and ensuring the hammers create the right sounds for the music. Voicing the room comes from creating the best sound possible. That includes selecting the right flooring. And a lot more. Area rugs, wall hangings, cloth furniture, bookcases with books in them – all of it absorbs sound in different manners. 

By adjusting one thing at a time, you’ll find your piano creates a different sound. Some will sound richer and fuller; some will begin to lose their spark. 

If you’ve invested in a new piano and it simply doesn’t sound the way you’d desired, concentrate on your decor. Add and subtract things within your music room to give off a new wave of sound. You may be surprised at what combinations you can use to compliment the sound you desire.  


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Tips For Boosting Summertime Piano Playing

Tips For Boosting Summertime Piano Playing

Summertime means stepping away from the daily rush we experience all year long. It means vacations. It means slowing down. It means having fun. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to forget everything you’ve spent the past year learning. If you’ve been adding piano lessons into your weekly routine, how do you ensure your child stays at his or her best during the lazy summer months? Tips For Boosting Summertime Piano Playing

Start A Reward Program

Kids often have things they want while they are away from school. Maybe it’s something from the store. Maybe it’s a trip to the amusement park. Work out a system where practice earns stars. If they earn enough stars, they can turn them in for prizes. It’s a great way to teach them about savings too. 

Download an App

Even when you’re traveling and on vacation, make piano playing fun. Check out one of the many piano apps you’ll find for your phone or tablet. Be sure to pack headphones for in the car or on the airplane to ensure everyone stays happy. 

Track Progress and Set Goals

Life is slower in the summer months. That might mean notching down piano learning goals too. But you can still set goals and help your child achieve them. Select songs they’ve wanted to learn and motivate them to practice a little each day. Be enthusiastic; how about a concert on family night? This is the time for them to have a little fun with it and learn things that will keep them happy on those long, boring days. 

Team Up

Chances are friends or cousins are having a hard time sticking to a schedule too. Why not team up for double duty practice and playing? Encourage your pianist to have a friend over to practice songs together. Duets are exciting when you have a friend to giggle with. 

Piano playing is supposed to be fun. And the more enjoyable you make it throughout the summer months, the more they’ll be ready to hop back into the normal routine come fall. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Comparing The Organ to The Piano

Comparing The Organ to The Piano

If you’re thinking about purchasing a digital piano, you may wonder what the difference is between an organ and a piano.

First, it’s important to understand that even though both the piano and organ have keyboards, they belong to different instrument groups. The piano is classified as a percussion instrument, while the organ is considered a woodwind instrument.Comparing The Organ to The Piano

When you strike the key of a piano, it is attached to a hammer that strikes a string tuned to a specific frequency, which produces a sound. The vibrations and sounds are quick to fade.

When you strike an organ key, however, you are completing a circuit that creates a sound. This sound can be sustained indefinitely, as long as you continue to hold the key.

The piano will sound more acoustic as it is being played, while an organ will sound more electronic.

Organs were designed to produce a variety of sounds throughout the woodwind family, including reed and brass instruments. They can also produce a variety of other effects with the touch of a button. While the lines are blurring a bit with modern digital pianos, in most cases the piano makes a better lead instrument, while organs are better for supporting chords.

Typically an organ is easier to play. You must learn to play bass notes on a pedaled keyboard while controlling the dynamics with a volume pedal. Pianists must learn more complicated fingering and be able to play complex chords.

Because organs are often designed with easy play methods, they allow you to start playing songs within minutes. For a hobbyist who simply chooses to play a few familiar songs, it can be an easy process to hear your favorite songs within a few short practice sessions.

But if you want to hone in on a complex skill, creating richer tones and familiarizing yourself with a complex talent that can take a lifetime to learn, you can never go wrong with a piano.

Want to learn more about organs and pianos? Stop by today.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Can I Refinish My Piano Cabinet?

Can I Refinish My Piano Cabinet?

Sometimes the outside of your piano might not look the best. There are water stains and rings from where glasses of water have spilled. The side panel is looking a little faded and worn. If you had to describe it, you’d probably use the term “well loved.”

With just a little TLC – a coat of paint or a quick coat of stain, it would look as good as new. Right?Can I Refinish My Piano Cabinet?

There are a few things you should consider. 

Has the musical part of the piano been restored?

If not, you may be approaching things in reverse. Pianos age over time. What shows on the outside of the piano is also often apparent on the inside. That means if the outside is showing wear and tear, the inside could probably benefit from a little TLC too. Just because the outside looks great doesn’t mean the piano will play well and be something you’re proud to display in your home. 

Is there serious damage to the cabinet?

If the cabinet is just ugly because it’s been painted the wrong color in the past, it may be a simple remedy. However, if the piano has had serious water damage, if veneer is falling off, or if the wood is splintered and damaged, it can be a sign of more damage. Before you begin, ensure that the cabinet only has surface damage. Do all parts fit well together? If it is a grand piano, are the lure, desk, and lid in good solid condition? Are all pieces in relatively good condition? While simple work is possible both to repair and replace, always be aware that the more extensive the damage on the outside, the more potential problems you may find on the inside. 

Are you prepared to paint it rather than stain it? 

If the finish has been severely damaged, you can strip it, fill in the damaged wood with wood filler, sand it, and paint it. Depending on your home’s decor, a coordinating color can make it very rewarding. Staining brings every detail, every problem into the light. Depending on the color you select, you can hide some of the external flaws. However, stick with white, offwhite, or even a more modern color. Attempting to spray on black lacquer should only be attempted if you have a spraying booth for best results. 

Why are you refinishing the piano?

For some people, a piano is a family heirloom that has been passed down for generations. It’s rarely played. Instead it is showcased as a piece of fine furniture. If that’s the case, ensuring the outside looks great may be the right choice for you. However, if your goal is to create a musical instrument for you and your family to enjoy, realize that the inside is equally important. Renovating the entire instrument at once is a much better plan. 

Do you have the ability to do this?

Refinishing a piano isn’t the same as slapping on a coat of paint. There are a lot of details that can impact the final look if they aren’t refinished in the proper way. Also understand that even with painting a piano, the sanding process shouldn’t be overlooked to remove water stains and rings, and any imperfection that exists in the wood. This is a delicate job, as any sand that gets into the mechanics of the piano can make it unplayable at best. 

If you have any questions or reservations, it’s best to talk with a professional first.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

Can upright pianos be tuned to concert pitch?

A piano is designed to accompany every instrument you’ll find in a band or orchestra. Band instruments are all designed and tuned at concert pitch so that they are harmonious together. Now imagine trying to play a piano that wasn’t tuned at that level – the instrument will sound awful. To play instruments together, it’s important that they are tuned at the same level. Grand or upright, all pianos have the capability to be tuned to concert pitch. To ensure a player “hears” what they are playing correctly, staying in tune is an important part of the process. Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

What is pitch raising?

Pitch raising usually comes into play when a piano hasn’t been tuned in a while. It’s the process of gradually stretching out the strings when they are badly out of tune. It is similar to tuning in that every pin must be turned or tuned. A string relaxes on average about one-half as far as it is stretched during pitch raising, and should not be stretched more than ten cents per tuning. If badly out of tune, it may require multiple tunings to bring it back to concert pitch. 

Will pitch raising hurt the piano? 

If your piano is still in great shape, pitch raising won’t hurt the inner workings. It is important to work slowly, however. A technician will be able to tell how out of tune your piano is and what it will take to bring it back into tune. Excessive tuning or pitch raising at one setting may break strings or break bridges or the soundboard, so it’s important to take your time bringing it back into tune. 

How long does a piano stay in tune once it is tuned?

A lot factors into how long a piano will stay tuned. Any time pitch raising is completed, the piano will go out of tune within the next 6 to 12 months. Because it required extensive work, it is more likely to stretch back out of tune. It’s important to stick with a schedule until your piano stabilizes – retune your piano within the first three months, and every six months to follow. 

Is a piano that is played frequently more likely to be out of tune than one that isn’t? 

How frequently a piano is played has little to do with how quickly it will go out of tune. A piano that is played can often stay in tune longer because it stays in motion. In either case, it’s important to realize that to ensure your piano stays in good working conditioning, maintenance is an important part of the process. And tuning is a part of that process. 

How can I ensure my piano stays in tune?

Regular maintenance. In ideal circumstances, your piano will be tuned at least once per year to keep it tuned and up to pitch. Your piano should also be played at least once per week, playing to keep string tension uniform and the relationship between octaves even. Also keep your piano on an inside wall, away from drafts, direct sunlight or moisture, which can lead to more damage.

What questions do you have about your piano?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

If you look around your home, you’ll find wood is used in many ways, and comes from a variety of sources. You may have oak flooring, maple cabinets, and cedar in your drawers. For many of the items in your home, woods are interchangeable; you can use everything from birch, fir, mahogany, cherry or spruce to add a personal touch to your rooms. What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

But how about your piano? What type of wood is best for creating a piano? 

It’s not so much what wood is selected as the process that is used to ensure the wood is properly treated before it is used to build a piano. 

After logs are harvested, they are sawed into planks, soaked in hot water to soften, then peeled to produce the veneer for the exterior case. It is then put through a drying process which can last from 6 months to two years, depending on how the parts will be used. This drying process is a crucial step. If not dried properly, the wood can warp and crack over time. 

In many cases, would is put through a process of air drying, then kiln dried bringing it down to as low as a 7 percent factor. It is often seasoned again before bringing it indoors to acclimate to its indoor climate. 

It’s a specialized process selecting the right wood. That’s what separates the manufacturers and gives each piano its own unique look and sound. Selecting wood takes a trained eye. It has to be able to be molded, closed, selected for its ability to be heat resistant and accept mild humidity changes without impact. And while many different kinds of woods can be used for the outside, in general, spruce is used for the soundboard. 

Spruce has high elasticity and is the most reverberant. Spruce is harvested when the sap is at the lowest content, with the manufacturer carefully selecting boards that can withstand environmental changes. Poor quality soundboards will straighten over time and lose tonal quality. So it’s important that they have the right grain for viability. 

Maple is usually used for creating the bridges and the pinblock. The bridge transfers the strings energy to the soundboard. Strength is needed to ensure the strings’ vibration is transferred efficiently. Maple is a hardwood that ensures a high degree of tuning stability over long periods of time, making it the perfect choice for the pinblock. 

Maple is also one of the best choices for the action mechanism. The action parts are a key component to a piano; precision is key. Which is why the quality of the wood is important for it to withstand constant friction and be durable over time.  


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Why Pianos Go Out Of Tune

Why Pianos Go Out Of Tune

The most common questions we have about piano playing is about the tuning process. 

Does my piano need tuning if no one is playing it?

Does my piano need tuning if we play it every day?

Does my piano need tuning on a regular basis?

Yes, yes, and yes. 

Pianos go out of tune for many different reasons. But if you own a piano, it will require tuning on a regular basis. Why Pianos Go Out Of Tune

The Strings Stretch

When a piano is new, each steel wire is put into place. It is tightened and designed to stretch as each note is played, popping back into place. Especially when it’s new, the strings haven’t adjusted to their new location. Very quickly they begin to stretch. And as they stretch, they sag, dropping in frequency even after just a few times played. This is why a dealer will suggest tuning multiple times the first year, to bring the strings into place where they are capable of staying in tune. 

Environmental Changes

Cold, heat, humidity and dryness all play an important part in the overall sound of a piano. Wood handles differently depending on the condition. The sound board must be free to vibrate to create the beautiful sound you come to expect from your piano. But imagine what happens if moisture gets into your piano? Or if warm air blows on it constantly from your heat vents? Even if your piano is never played, these conditions impact the overall quality of your piano. They will impact its playability with every change. 

Poor Tuning

Not every piano tuner has the same level of experience. Worse, some DIYers attempt to handle the job themselves. Piano tuning is a delicate and difficult task, one that takes professional tuners a lifetime to master. An inexperienced tuner can tighten and loosen a string much more than necessary. When this happens, it is impossible to leave an equalized string. Which means the string is not set and will quickly go out of tune once again. 

Normal Use

Even tuning from a top professional won’t last forever. With every strike of the key, the more a piano is played, the more likely it is that the tuning pin will turn slightly and pull the string out of tune once again. That’s why professional piano players or piano teachers will have their pianos adjusted several times per year. 

Moving

Any time a piano is moved, whether it’s across the room or across the country, the tension will be disturbed, changing the string dynamics. Not only is it impacted by “bouncing around”, but it can also be impacted by the change in environment. Imagine being moved from a temperate home to a cold moving truck and back into a home with new humidity levels. It has an impact. 

When was the last time you tuned your piano?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172