Upright or Grand Piano – Which Better Suits Your Needs?

Upright or Grand Piano – Which Better Suits Your Needs?

One of the most common questions we are asked when a customer stops into our store to compare the various models of pianos is:

Upright or grand piano, which is the better choice to suit our needs? 

And we get it. The two appear distinctly different. 

On the most basic level, the pianos are designed differently for spatial needs. A grand piano is going to take up considerably more space.  

But the most obvious difference is in the way each piano projects sound. Grand pianos are used in concert settings because of the way they move sound. 

An upright works differently than a grand at producing sound. 

With an upright, the hammer strikes a string from a vertical position. It relies on tapes and springs to make the action work flawlessly each time. 

With a grand, the hammer connects with the string in a horizontal position, relying on gravity to bring it back down into its resting place. 

That difference is what creates a cleaner sound. If you play a note repeatedly on an upright, you can hear the lack of connection as the hammer tries to keep up with the action. If you perform the same maneuver on a grand piano, you’ll have quicker response time, meaning you’ll note a difference in the sound. 

Of course, some manufacturers have worked on limiting this response time on an upright. They use various setups and materials to return the hammers to their original position faster, giving the player more flexibility when creating music. 

To decide which is better for you, it often is determined by what you’re looking for when you play. If space is limited, an upright may be your only choice. If you’re looking for something to fit within the space inside your home, you may have an idea in mind. 

Both uprights and grand pianos can make beautiful additions to any home. It comes down to the sound. 

Want to test several pianos and find the right one for you? Stop by today. 

It’s Time To Get Your Piano Ready For Winter

It’s Time To Get Your Piano Ready For Winter

Winter is a time for many things – skiing, ice skating, playing in the snow. The days grow colder and shorter, meaning you can spend more time at home snuggled under a blanket with a good book. Or gathering around the piano, and practicing your favorite songs. 

While you might love the idea of slowing down and spending more time at home, the changing seasons can impact your piano in many ways. Pianos are a huge investment. Maintaining it is part of ownership, to ensure the craftsmanship is maintained throughout its life. 

When winter sets in and the temperatures dip, changes occur both inside and outside your home. To avoid damage to the internal components, here are a few tips to keep in mind. 

Create a constant humidity level

When the temperatures begin to drop, and you notice a chill inside, it’s only natural to turn up the heat and warm it up to a comfortable level. But with heat circulating throughout your home, it also makes the air drier in the process. Ever noticed you need a little more moisturizer in the winter? That’s because moisture slips from the air. While that dryness may leave you with a stuffy nose and cracked, dry hands, it can also dry out wood and cause piano strings to lose tension. Adding a humidifier to your home will ensure that moisture levels remain constant throughout the year. 

Pay attention to where you place your piano

While humidity levels in your home matter for keeping the wood and strings in good shape, it isn’t the only thing that can dry your piano out. If you place your piano in the wrong place, it can be subjected to sunlight, heat sources, and other things that can damage it. Avoid placing your piano near:

  • Open doors or windows where it receives constant bursts of cold air
  • Near vents 
  • Near a heater
  • Next to a humidifier
  • In direct sunlight

Maintaining your piano throughout the year

Owning a piano means performing small maintenance tasks throughout the year to ensure a long life, and that it sounds great no matter when you sit down to play. That includes:

  • Dusting the piano weekly
  • Covering the keys
  • Playing regularly
  • Tuning your piano
  • Making your piano a junk-free zone
  • Keeping liquids away

With just a little work, your piano will be ready for winter, waiting for you to play more often, or gather around with friends for a few hours of fun. 

Enjoy!

Is It Time To Tune Your Piano?

Is It Time To Tune Your Piano?

When you invest in a quality piano, it can make beautiful music for years to come. 

But to keep your piano playing well, it takes a little TLC from time to time. 

If you want to create music that’s pleasing to the ear, it’s important to tune your piano regularly. 

For many piano owners, the thought of bringing in a tuner periodically throughout the year can be a little intimidating. While there isn’t a set schedule for when to call in a professional tuner, there are a few things you can watch for to know when it’s time for tuning. 

Listen to the piano’s pitch

Have you ever watched professionals tune their instruments? Even singers warm up by racing for the right pitch. That’s to ensure all instruments match while playing, and to ensure your piano makes beautiful music. You can test the note yourself. The most used test note is A440. This is the A note above middle C. When this note is in tune, it will vibrate at a rate of 440 times per second. When in tune, every instrument playing will be at this same pitch. 

Listen while playing different notes

Most acoustic pianos have, on average, 88 keys. This contains seven octaves plus three keys below bottom C. To allow all 88 keys to create sound, they are connected to around 230 strings. Each key will be attached to two or three strings, depending on the sound it will make. As you’re playing different notes, you may notice a wavering sound between the notes. That may be competing strings touching each other, or even canceling each other out. If it isn’t strung properly, it’s time for professional tuning. 

Play your scales

When properly tuned, you should be able to run up the octaves and have all the notes line up. It sounds “right.” When something is off, this quick repetition will highlight where problems occur. You can also test this by playing the same note in several different octaves – all the Cs, for instance. You’ll highlight any nuances in the way it sounds. The most common problem that impacts playability is temperature and humidity changes. If you hear a problem, it’s time for tuning. 

Should you try it yourself?

Do a search online, and you’ll find quick courses that teach you in a short video. But tuning isn’t something you can learn from a YouTube video. It’s something that takes years of practice with hands-on knowledge. 

Need more advice on tuning your piano? Give us a call today.

Why Your Piano Is Suddenly Out Of Tune

Why Your Piano Is Suddenly Out Of Tune

You sit down to play the piano. You run through a scale to warm up. 

Something doesn’t sound quite right. It makes a terrible noise. 

That’s one of the top reasons piano players stop playing. 

What fun is it playing the piano when the sound you’re creating is anything but pleasant?

Where is it coming from? Is there anything you can do? 

Most pianos built today have 88 keys and around 230 strings to produce sound. Each string has the potential to move slightly, causing it to fall out of tune. What causes it? 

Everyday use

Every time you play, the keys move, the strings vibrate, and they move ever so slightly. Over time, they move enough to be out of tune. But don’t think your piano won’t change if you don’t play. A piano needs care throughout its life, no matter if you play routinely or not. 

Climate change

On the coldest days of the year, your furnace runs nonstop. On the hottest days of the year, your air conditioner pumps out cold air. Sunlight streams through the windows. Cool breezes float in through the windows. And all of it impacts your piano in different ways. Pianos are built from natural materials that can change in different circumstances. That’s why tuning a piano after different seasons is recommended. 

Piano movement

When was the last time your piano moved? Did you move it to replace the carpets? Did you move it to a new home? All of that jiggling can cause strings to loosen and make your piano behave differently. Even when you apply the utmost care, any movement can impact the way your piano sounds. 

Of course, these may be the biggest reasons your piano may be out of tune. But they aren’t the only ones. Because a piano is an intricate series of parts that move and change all the time, your piano is always at risk of going out of tune. 

New pianos need tuning more frequently as they meld into their new positions. Older pianos may be flexible and run the risk of moving out of tune due to older parts. 

It’s hard to predict what will impact the way your piano plays. But if you want great sound throughout its lifetime, it’s important to schedule tuning sessions regularly. 

When was the last time you had your piano tuned? 

How Smoke Damage Impacts Your Piano

How Smoke Damage Impacts Your Piano

When buying a used piano, the most important part is ensuring it’s still a high-quality instrument. While it may look okay on the outside, it takes more than a quick glance to ensure it’s in good shape. 

Sometimes what you can’t see can impact the overall playability. 

Smoke damage is one of those items you might not notice right away. Smoke is created from incomplete combustion, creating a residue of carbon particles. All smoke is not the same. Cigarette smoke is different from smoke that comes from anything else burning – paper, wood, plastic. It can create complex odors that leave a difficult film that’s hard to get out. Once it settles in, it can cause discoloration, corrosion, lingering odors, and damage the internal workings of the instrument. 

Smoke comes in one of two formats: driven or free-floating. Driven smoke is the most powerful, having pressure behind it to push it into all kinds of places. Free-floating smoke is driven smoke that has lost its power. It’s residual smoke that settles onto horizontal platforms as it settles in. 

With all types of smoke, driven smoke moves in and finds the small hiding places. It can penetrate the cracks, get underneath the lid of the piano, and move between the keys and strings. Free-floating smoke is what lands on the keyboard and case. Together, they can create a host of odors that fall into one of three categories: synthetic, natural, and protein. 

Synthetic odors come from plastics and textiles. This shows as black residue and smudges easily. 

Natural odors come from natural materials such as wood or paper products. This creates a gray-black residue with a powdery consistency. 

Protein odors often start in the kitchen from meat or grease fires. They produce a yellowish color and require the most intense process to remove the complex odors. 

A piano is made from a variety of different materials, including wood, metal, felt, and plastic. If a piano comes into contact with smoke, it can also be subjected to intense heat. Heat impacts the levels of humidity, which can impact the structural integrity of the piano too. As the various materials expand and contract, the smoke moves into various places inside and out of the piano. Different odors can settle into tight places, making them harder to retrieve. 

Because much of the piano is porous by nature, it is highly susceptible to odors. Once it gets into the wood, particleboard, felt, and other materials, there is little you can do to remove it. 

If your piano has any smoke damage, the best place to start is by working with a piano technician. Have them evaluate the damage, and make a determination on whether it can be fixed. 

Have additional questions about smoke damage to your piano? Give us a call today. We can point you in the right direction for bringing music back into your life. 

Want To Extend The Life Of Your Piano? Do These 3 Things

Want To Extend The Life Of Your Piano? Do These 3 Things

If you’re a piano player, your piano is more than an instrument. It’s more than a piece of furniture sitting in your home. It’s a friend – one you take care of so it plays well every time you sit down at it. 

Have you ever walked into a home where the homeowners didn’t have the same belief? There are piles of paper on the edge. There are watermarks from drinks and glasses. You could draw a picture in the amount of dust accumulating. 

A piano requires regular maintenance to keep it in good working condition. While a technician can handle tuning, voicing, and other repair work, there are a few things you can do to keep your piano playable. 

No drinks … Ever

Let’s get the most obvious out of the way. If you’re going to practice for any length of time, having water nearby might be beneficial. Place a table nearby. Use a water bottle and set it on the floor. But never place a glass anywhere on the finish of your piano, especially near the keys. 

If liquid seeps in between the keys, it can quickly settle into the internal workings of the piano, and it may cause extensive damage. This can be a costly mistake. It can cause wood to warp. It can even allow mold or mildew to grow, depending on the amount of liquid spilled. Your best bet is to schedule an appointment with a technician as soon as possible and let them handle clean up. 

Pay attention to placement 

Wouldn’t your piano look perfect by the big plate glass windows, with a view that goes on forever just outside? 

While it sounds beautiful. It might not be the best choice for placement. It depends on the environment. Pianos don’t do well in a climate that changes regularly. Will it experience direct sunlight? Is it near drafts or breezes that could change the temperature quickly? 

Pianos enjoy a place inside your home with constant temperatures, and regulated humidity levels. Forty percent humidity is an ideal indoor climate. And be sure to place your piano away from vents and registers where it can receive a blast of conditioned air. Calm is better. 

What the keylid is for

If you’re not playing, keep the keylid shut. It makes sense and can be good advice … sometimes. 

In most cases, the keylid can protect dust and other particles from settling between the keys. It can prevent action issues and keep your piano playable for many years. 

However, it’s never a good idea to keep the keylid closed indefinitely. Keys need proper light and air circulation to stay in good working condition. If you leave the keylid closed for an extended period of time, it can encourage mold growth inside the piano, especially if it’s in a dark or humid room. 

Keep your piano healthy

The more you play your piano, the easier it will be to recognize potential problems. 

If you have any questions about its playability, give us a call. From a simple tuning to an extensive renovation, we have experience with all levels of piano care, and can help you make the right choice to suit your needs. 

What’s That Smell? Can You Remove Odor From A Piano?

What’s That Smell? Can You Remove Odor From A Piano?

You’ve just picked up a piano from a loved one. This piano has been in your family for generations. Now it’s your turn.

But when you bring it into your home, you instantly notice a smell. And all roads lead back to the piano. 

It’s musty. It smells bad. Is that even lingering cigarette odor? 

That’s the last thing you want inside your home. But what can you do? Can you remove odor from a piano? Will that damage the piano? 

Think of your piano as a cabinet housing the parts that create sound. It would be like closing the closet doors, hiding what’s inside. As you open it up, odor can be released. 

Is this a job you should tackle yourself?

The outside

Because the outside is similar to your furniture, there are ways you can clean it if the odor is coming from the wood. A white vinegar solution can effectively kill mildew and the odors that come from it. With a solution of one part vinegar and ten parts water, you can lightly wipe down every inch of the cabinet, being conscious not to get any part too wet. Lingering water and wood never mix. You can repeat if the odor is still noticeable. 

The inside

The inside of your piano is made up of over 12,000 individual parts. If any one of them is damaged, it can have a serious impact on the instrument’s functionality. This isn’t a job you should take on yourself. 

Still, you can look inside and see if there is a reason for the musty smell. You may find evidence of rodents or other small critters taking up residence inside. You may find old debris. If possible, you can remove it – just be aware that any disturbance of the mechanics of the piano are bound to have an impact. 

This can also be an indication that piano maintenance has been neglected. Without proper tuning regularly, the strings may not be in proper placement, may become rigid, and break. 

Renovation

This may be the time to consider renovating your piano. If it’s a family heirloom, your best course of action may be to meet with one of our professionals. We can evaluate the condition of your piano, and give you a better idea of the work involved to bring it back to playing condition. 

Have a problem with your piano? Give us a call today. 

Mistakes People Make When Cleaning Their Piano

Mistakes People Make When Cleaning Their Piano

When you get into cleaning mode, it’s easy to clean everything in your home in the same manner. 

Grab a rag and start dusting. 

Haul out the vacuum and lug it to every room in your home. 

Select your favorite bottle of cleaner and start cleaning. 

But before you head over to your piano, it’s important to stop and think twice about what you do. 

Pianos have delicate wood and lacquer finishes. Their keyboards are connected to many parts that can warp or be destroyed with certain chemicals or solutions. Water is not a piano’s friend. 

Still, you want your piano as clean as possible. When people sit down, they touch the keys. That means germs could easily move from one to another. 

Start every session by washing your hands. That takes away germs, dirt, food, or other contaminants before you touch the keys. There’s nothing wrong with making it your number one requirement before anyone takes a seat at the piano. 

When you do clean, leave your sprays in the closet. Use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe away the dust. If you need a deeper clean, consider a diluted solution of a neutral detergent instead of reaching for a bottle. 

For those tiny corners where dust may settle, you can take a cotton swab and carefully remove the dirt. 

Your piano may shine in the light; it’s only natural to want to use a furniture polish and enhance the sine. But most chemical cleaners will have the reverse effect. Those polishes can dry the wood out, dull the shine overall. That can lead to cracks in the wood, and reduce the sound quality of your piano. 

If you have questions about how to keep your piano clean, give us a call. 

Buy Used or Rent Your First Piano, Which Is Right For You?

Buy Used or Rent Your First Piano, Which Is Right For You?

You’re ready to expand your child’s skills. You’ve decided to enroll them in piano lessons. 

The first order of business is buying the necessary equipment. But where should you go? What should you get? Should you buy a used piano, or rent your first piano instead? 

Those are tough questions for parents who have decided to give the gift of music to their kids. Especially when you do a quick search online and find pianos can cost tens of thousands of dollars. 

Before you rethink your purchase, remember music is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. It’s a skill they can take and use for life. There is also scientific proof it raises their test scores, makes them better learners, and creates a happier, more stress-free life. 

But first, you have to decide: buy used or rent your first piano?

Pianos come in all shapes and sizes. If you go traditional, you’ll find acoustic pianos come in upright or grand. Want something smaller? Digital and electronic pianos are available for your use. 

As a newbie, your best course of action before you make a decision is to ask a lot of questions. Don’t walk into your local big box store and purchase a keyboard in the toy section. That will never give your child the resources they need to play beautifully and enjoy what they’re doing. 

Instead, talk with someone who’s been in the industry for years. They can give you a better idea about what each type of piano can offer you. Higher price isn’t always better. It’s about knowing your goals and needs, and matching those up with the right piano. 

Renting is often the right choice for a beginner who isn’t sure about playing and isn’t ready to commit to something bigger. This is a great way to get to know the instrument and further your knowledge in piano playing, so that you can make a better choice down the road. 

Buying used can also be a great choice. Just be sure you know where the piano is coming from, and how well it plays. If it’s been sitting in your grandmother’s garage for the past fifty years, it’s been neglected and won’t provide high quality sound. The tonal quality will be off, and it will be noticeable as your child plays. Nothing can be more frustrating than playing a song that just doesn’t sound right. It can even cause your child to lose interest, and say no to continuing on with music lessons. 

Visit with one of our staff, and we’ll show you how to select the right piano for your needs. We can also show you a series of used pianos, and find one that fits within your budget. A quality piano will be a welcome addition to your home for years to come.

Should You Sell or Trade Your Piano?

Should You Sell or Trade Your Piano?

When you look back at 2020, it’s easy to see the chaos. But a lot of good came out of it too. 

Did you slow down and spend more time with your family? Did you make hard decisions about the activities you participate in? 

Instead of spending time in the car moving from one place to the next, we’ve learned that being still can also be good. Which is why many families are finding music once again. 

While the sale of pianos may have been dropping in recent years, with a pandemic in place, the numbers have turned around. With more time on their hands, many parents see the benefits of putting their kids in piano lessons, and many more are taking it up themselves. 

Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to start playing. With nothing more than a Youtube video, you can start tinkering out music immediately. Of course, that can lead to bad habits, so many progress into starting up lessons in one form or another. With the internet, you can find any type of training you desire – your teacher can be halfway around the world. You can discover just how fun it is to sit down at the piano you’ve had in your home for years, and start playing once again. 

But just as quickly, you might discover this isn’t the piano for you. It was your mom’s – or grandmother’s – and it just doesn’t suit your needs. 

Should you sell or trade your piano? Does it have any value?

That depends. 

Thanks to manufacturing techniques and globalization, pianos have been mass produced for years – decades even. Some pianos are worth more than others simply by the way they were built. You can quickly determine value by looking at the name – a Steinway may have, unheard of names may not. 

You should also ask yourself why you’re selling your piano in the first place. Is it difficult to play? Will it stay in tune? Does it fit in with your decor? 

The very reasons you’re thinking of trading in your piano may also be what holds others back from purchasing it. If a piano will take work to make it playable again, it’s often better for the buyer to start with a better piano to begin with. 

Still, it never hurts to look at your options. 

We can also help you with that. We often purchase used pianos, and help you trade up to a better one. 

It starts with a phone call. Are you ready to invest in a better piano for your family this year?