How To Clean and Polish Your Piano Finish

How To Clean and Polish Your Piano Finish

Your piano is a delicate balance between looks and sound. And while your piano might sit next to a table, armoire, or even curio cabinet, you can’t clean it in the same fashion. 

Different finishes require different levels of care. What’s the best way to clean and polish your piano?

Satin Finishes 

For some people, a piano with a satin finish is the only way to go. You’ll notice a satin finished piano anywhere in the room. It reflects light easily, and is usually finished with a lacquer, polyester, or some other finish that gives it its unique shine. 

To achieve this look, multiple layers of finish are rubbed into the wood. Between each layer, the finish is lightly sanded before the next layer is applied. By the time the final coat is laid into place, the high-gloss sheen gives it its signature look. 

What gives it its shine also makes it difficult to clean. Oils from fingerprints are easily trapped and are not easily removed. If you rub the finish the wrong way, you’ll be able to see the cleaning trails in the shine. 

To keep this finish looking its best, less is more. Never use water on the finish. However, you can use a dry-damp microfiber cloth with back and forth motion to wipe it down. Avoid waxes, petroleum-based products, cleaning products you get from your favorite big box store, and any product with ammonia. These products will all strip the finish and cause it to dull. 

High-gloss Finishes

A high-gloss finish will reflect both light and images, and is usually created using a polyester material. It combines synthetic resins that harden during curing, and create a hardness that’s durable. 

One of the main reasons this stands out over satin finishes because it’s easier to maintain. More traditional cleaning products may not hurt the finish, but they can lead to an uneven appearance. It’s a good idea to keep your cleaning methods simple, using a mild solution to clean up messy spots. Microfiber clothes are an easy way to clean messes and fingerprints from the finish. 

Open-pore Finishes

If you opt for a natural wood veneer instead of an ebony finish, you might have an open-pore finish. They are created in similar fashion to other furniture you keep in your home, such as tables or headboards. They are created by sanding the wood to a smooth finish, then applying a sealer and a coat or two of lacquer to seal in the wood. 

If you own a piano with this type of finish, you can care for it similarly to your other furniture items made out of similar materials. Just be sure to stick with natural materials, as product containing things like paraffin waxes can leave a sticky residue on the finish. Avoid spraying any product near any of the working parts, such as the keyboard or turning pins or strings, as this could damage and corrode the materials. 

What do you do to clean and polish your piano? 

What To Know About Piano Prices

What To Know About Piano Prices

When most families decide to bring a piano into their lives, hoping the kids love and value being able to make music, their first stop on their journey is to try and find a good deal on a piano. 

Yet piano prices can be difficult to assess. After all, how do you compare what you’ll pay from a dealer with the “deal” you find on Craigslist, which is essentially getting the piano for free? 

Why should you pay when you can haul one away for no more cost than finding a truck and committing an hour or so of your time?

First, let’s talk about piano dealers. 

When a piano dealer opens up a retail shop, it’s usually as a small business. They have a love for all things musical, and have chosen to share their joy of creating songs by helping others choose the right instrument. 

A piano dealer obviously has to set the prices high enough to cover costs. But you’re also paying for:

Skill – they have access to know and understand dozens of piano brands, and have selected quality ones they think their customers will love. 

Knowledge – they’ve been around pianos for years – decades – and know what to look for when making a purchase. They can quickly assess your needs and help you make the right choice for what you want in a piano. 

Guarantees – the dealer has thoroughly evaluated every piano they sell, ensuring you get a high quality instrument. If for some reason it has problems during the warranty period, you’re covered. 

Deals – a dealer also knows how to find the best deals. If you’re looking for a particular piano, they can help you find it. They can help you find the diamond in the rough. They can set you up with a rental to determine how well piano fits into your life. They can help you trade up to a better piano when you’re ready. 

Remember, piano prices aren’t just about the piano. It’s about the other services that go along with it. 

Does the piano come with a bench, or will you have to buy one? 

What level of customer service comes with both pre and post sale?

How comfortable are you you’re making a good choice, one that will help you and your kids truly find the love of creating music? 

If you want to give your kids the gift of music, you have to choose the appropriate tools to help them along. 

We can help. Stop by today and compare many different pianos we have in stock. We’ll help you choose the right piano for your needs. 

How Your Piano Is Impacted By Indoor Air Quality

How Your Piano Is Impacted By Indoor Air Quality

Have you ever thought about your home’s indoor air quality? Every year, a variety of things filter inside. 

You heat your home in the winter, cool it in the summer. It’s impacted by high humidity and bitter cold. Fires can bring ash and soot, and more dust than you can handle. Hurricanes can bring in mildew, mold, and more. 

When any storm hits our community, it’s a lot to take in. You may have landscaping needs to care for, or even broken equipment throughout your home. 

Don’t ignore your piano. Even if it appears to be okay on the outside, indoor air quality can take its toll on how well it works. 

Weather

Extreme heat in the summer. Bitter temperatures in the winter. And a swing of humidity changes of 50 percent or more throughout the year. How is that impacting your piano? 

Cold weather is known to be hard on piano strings. It causes them to contract, meaning they shorten and tighten up. Warmer temperatures cause the opposite reaction. It jars connections loose and can cause the sound to become slightly distorted. High levels of humidity can cause the soundboard to swell, while low moisture will cause it to shrink. 

It’s an ebb and flow throughout the year. And all of it impacts how well your piano plays. 

Smoke damage

If you’ve ever watched a stream of smoke after you blow out a candle, you understand the complexities of what it can do. Smoke is what you see with the incomplete combustion process of carbon matter. While smoke generally dissipates quickly, it can create a residue. The more smoke, the more impact it has throughout your home. Wipe a finger across the finish of your piano; this residue may have settled in. 

While it may seem like a simple task to wipe it away, it comes with odor as well as soot. It can move through the cracks and into the inner workings of your piano. Over time, it can cause everything from discoloration, corrosion, and even extensive damage throughout. 

Chemical cleaners

You haul out a variety of cleaners for your weekly routines. Glass cleaners, all-purpose sprays, even air fresheners to create a clean scent left behind. But what do all of these have in common? Chemicals filling your air supply. And with doors and windows closed, your ventilation system in full gear blowing heat or cool air to every room, it can also move chemicals throughout as well. 

Those chemicals land somewhere. They can impact the finish of your piano, bury deep inside and weaken joints and connections. 

Pay attention to what chemicals are in everything you spray. Not only will it protect your piano, but it can create cleaner air to breathe – a win/win for everyone in your household. 

These are just a few of the many things that can impact your piano all year long. 

Keep your piano in good working condition by having it tuned on a regular schedule. A professional will ensure your piano is working well, and is in the best condition, inside and out. 

The Differences Between Playing a Piano and a Keyboard

The Differences Between Playing a Piano and a Keyboard

One of the most common thoughts parents have when enrolling their kids in piano lessons is whether to buy a piano or a keyboard. Can you learn to play the piano on a keyboard? 

The short answer is: yes. While there are subtle differences between the two, which we’ll get into in a minute, the two often work interchangeably when learning to play. But that doesn’t mean you can run down to your local discount store and buy an electronic toy. There are certain characteristics a keyboard will need in order to make your skills transferable. 

Do pianos and keyboards sound the same?

There is a big difference between a piano player at your local symphony, and a keyboard player in your favorite rock band. Does that mean one is better than the other, or the two can’t be interchanged? Not at all. A sophisticated keyboard is designed to play like a piano. Because it’s digital, it will also have the possibility of replicating other sounds, like percussion, synthesizers, or horns. It also has the ability to easily save music directly to your computer, or even send it to your YouTube channel. For computer geeks, that can be a big benefit. 

What are the significant differences between the two?

When comparing the two, the biggest thing to watch for is the action. Action is the response a key has when you press down. If you play a key on an acoustic piano, it has some resistance – a weighted feel. In order to learn how to play, it’s important that a keyboard has that same weighted feel. It makes your skills transferable from one to the other. 

You should also pay attention to the range of keys. A traditional piano has 88 keys. Keyboards often go down in key numbers in order to save on space and size. A standard piano has 88 keys. Some keyboards will eliminate an octave or more, going down to 72 or fewer. 

If you play a keyboard, does it discourage you from moving to an acoustic piano?

Not necessarily. But again, it’s important that you pay attention to quality. If the two aren’t interchangeable, the skills you learn on a keyboard won’t transfer to an acoustic piano. It will mean you’ll have to relearn hand and finger placement, as well as how the keys spring into action. 

What’s the right choice for you?

It’s easy to fixate on the price. But it’s equally important to remember that playing the piano is a skill you can carry throughout your life. In order to learn the craft, you have to have the proper tool. If you aren’t sure, stop by and let us help you understand the differences between pianos and keyboards. We can let you feel and hear the differences, and make the right choice for your needs. 

5 Accessories You Need For Your Piano Right Now

5 Accessories You Need For Your Piano Right Now

The more we stay at home, the more we come to appreciate the little things. 

Music falls into that category. Where we once spread ourselves thin, running from event to event, barely fitting it all in, we now have time to sit back and think about what’s important. 

If you’ve taken a second look at the piano sitting in your living space, and are dedicated to music a bigger part of your life, there are a few accessories you should invest in now.

Piano stool or bench

You can’t pull up a chair and play the piano correctly. Different players need different heights. If you have an uncomfortable seat, it can impact your posture and hand positioning. It can also lead to poor technique. 

Music stand

Depending on the piano you’re using, it’s important to have the right music stand in the right place at the right height. For grand pianos, you can get sophisticated and decorative. For a digital keyboard, something portable may be your top requirement. It’s important to get one of high quality that can withstand years of use. 

Light

Piano practice doesn’t always occur in the middle of the day with perfect natural lighting. That’s why having the right light is so important. Can you see the music without squinting, moving forward, and losing your good posture? Does it add or detract from your music room? With so many options in piano lighting, find the one that’s right for you. 

Headphones

Think headphones are only for keyboards? Think again. With many of today’s pianos, headphones aren’t just optional, they’re required for easy practicing. How many times has your household been too busy to practice? By putting a pair of headphones on, you can practice anytime without disturbing those around you. 

Metronome

All levels of piano players will benefit from having a metronome. It allows you to stay on track with tempo, and improve the way you play through difficult selections of music. It’s great for learning pieces on your own, but is equally important when practicing to play with a larger group. It ensures you’re playing at the proper rhythm. 

Do you have the right piano for your needs? Do you have all the accessories to ensure your piano playing is on target? If not, we can help. Give us a call today, and we can help you outfit the perfect music room for your needs. 

How To Clean A Used Upright Piano 

How To Clean A Used Upright Piano 

If 2020 has done anything for us, it’s taught us all to clean a little harder. Thanks to the coronavirus, we’re scrubbing, sanitizing, and organizing more than ever before. Even things we’ve forgotten in the corner are seeing new life as we move them, clean them, and do it all over again. 

But what about that used upright piano you brought into your home? You can’t throw it into the dishwasher. You can’t spray it down with a hose. 

Is there a right way to clean a used upright piano? 

Dusting – Dusting is the best course of action for your piano. Don’t let the dust settle in, inside or out. Every week, keep the surfaces dust-free to prevent buildup of harmful particles where they shouldn’t be. You can use a dry cloth or a duster to gently cover the surface. 

Deeper cleaning – Pianos and water don’t mix. Because a piano is a delicate instrument, never place anything around or on it that can damage the surface. A glass of water, a bottle of juice, a can of soda, a potted plant – keep everything that could potentially damage the surface of your piano away. If you want to remove smudges or spots, use a well-ringed out damp cloth, ensuring it dries quickly to avoid damaging your piano. 

Polishing – It’s recommended that you don’t use polish on your piano. They are bad for the piano finish and can do more harm than good. For complete guidelines, always check with your piano’s manufacturer before applying any product. 

Now let’s talk about the keys. This is the one part of your piano that will need more than a simple swipe of a duster. Touching them every day can release oils and grime to the keys. Clean them with a damp cloth. Be sure to ring all the water out, leaving it barely damp to the touch. You don’t want water seeping between the keys, damaging the internal workings of the keyboard. Use a separate cloth for the white and black keys, to keep the colors true to the keys. 

When you open up the top of either your upright or grand piano, you might find a dusty mess waiting for you. A vacuum with a hose attachment will be your friend as you keep it clean. Be careful as you move throughout the piano, being careful not to knock any pieces loose. You can invest in a can of compressed air to reach into tiny places. Pay attention to any damage you may find. If you haven’t paid attention to the piano in years, or have recently purchased it from someone else, you might find a variety of things inside that shouldn’t be there. Any of these things can cause extensive damage, and may require repair or even refurbing your piano. 

Not sure if you want to do it yourself? Have questions about the extent of damage you find on the inside of your piano? We can help. Give us a call today. 

Should I Cover My Piano When Not In Use?

Should I Cover My Piano When Not In Use?

This is a question we get a lot around here. And it makes sense, you spend a lot on purchasing the right piano for your home, protecting it seems only natural. 

In most cases, it isn’t necessary to cover your piano. If you have a grand piano, covering it can be quite a chore. Especially if you play your piano regularly, covering and uncovering it each time can take away minutes that would be better off playing. 

If you do have a grand piano and are worried about keeping the inner workings in the best possible shape, it’s better to close the lid when you are done playing. This can help with the integrity of your piano, and protect wood and strings from dust and humidity. Air conditioning can be especially hard on it. You can’t completely stop your piano from being impacted by the elements, but closing the lid reduces exposure, and can slow the aging and degradation process. 

Your piano is designed to be inside your home and be played. With proper cleanings and tunings, it can last for decades. You can’t stop exposure to the elements, even if it’s covered or you close your lid. Aging and wear happen naturally. 

But there is one thing you should do before you place your piano in its final resting spot, and that’s paying attention to the way sunlight streams into your home. Sunlight is possibly your piano’s worst enemy. 

Sunlight can wear down the finish, warp wood, and tighten the tension throughout your piano. It can cause the soundboard to crack. It can degrade the finish, taking away your piano’s classic good looks. While you should consider moving your piano to a better location, covering it to protect it from the sun’s rays would be the next best step. 

Do you have other questions about your piano’s condition? 

Caring For Your Piano During COVID-19

Caring For Your Piano During COVID-19

Now that you’ve been staying in place for a few weeks, has cleaning taken on a whole new meaning? Do you find yourself scrubbing everything down daily, lugging out the bleach to ensure everything is clean? 

Before you take a rag to clean and disinfect your piano, let’s talk about safety. 

COVID-19 has made us more aware than ever that our fingers can be weapons. If you head to the grocery store, for example, and pick up germs, everything you touch in between can spread the bacteria. That’s why handwashing is so important. 

It’s also why it’s important to clean and disinfect the things you do touch regularly. Like your keys, your doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. 

While you can use a spray cleaner on a light switch or doorknob, don’t try that on your piano keys.

Caring for your piano takes a different strategy than other fixtures in your home. 

First, it’s important to know what your piano keys are made of. “Tickling the ivories” became a catch-phrase because piano keys were once made out of ivory. The practice of using ivory in piano production was banned decades ago, but that doesn’t mean ivory piano keys are completely gone. If you have a piano that’s been handed down from generation to generation, there’s a chance real ivory was used. 

Real ivory is porous, which means they can get dirty quickly. You’ll also find they give off a yellowish color as they age. Ivory is very distinct in how they look and feel; you’ll see horizontal lines flowing from the key’s head to tail. You’ll also see the distinct veneer covering the wooden key placement underneath.

Plastic keys may try and imitate this look, but you can tell the difference. Plastic keys are molded in entirety, making them more durable and affordable to manufacture. 

Black keys are made from plastic or ebony wood. They are polished to give a sheen. 

No matter what type of keys your piano has, remember liquid is an enemy, not a friend. Less is more when it comes to cleaning. Never spray any cleaner directly onto the keyboard. Liquid can seep in between, settle there, and do extensive damage. 

Instead, always use a damp cloth and ensure you work one key at a time, leaving no moisture behind. We recommend one part white vinegar to two parts water. Do not use bleach of any kind, as that will dull, strip, and damage the keys. 

You can also make it a rule that hand washing is necessary before anyone sits down to play. That will reduce the chance of any trace germs settling onto your keys. And eliminate the chance of germs settling in.  

Caring for your piano with the coronavirus on everyone’s mind doesn’t have to be a demanding chore. Use common sense to ensure your piano has a very long life. 

What About Room Placement – Piano Basics

What About Room Placement – Piano Basics

Thinking of buying a new piano? Did you know room placement – where you place your piano – is equally as important as the piano you purchase?

If you place your piano in the right spot in your home, it greatly impacts sound quality. It also gives you better performance overall. And if your piano is happy with the conditions, it will increase playability and longevity for years to come. 

Before we talk about what you should do, it’s worth mentioning what you shouldn’t do. 

Don’t do these things with your piano placement

Because pianos are sensitive to the environment, it’s important to place them where they won’t be subjected to direct sunlight or other elements that can change the overall structure of the instrument. Even a few hours of direct sunlight can cause wood to heat up and start to expand. It can dry out the soundboard, weaken joints and connections, and cause the outside to fade. If direct sunlight is unavoidable, add in shades or drapery and keep them closed during the brightest portion of the day. 

Likewise, a steady stream of cold or heated air can have the same effect as direct sunlight. Never place your piano near a window, or near a register or vent. This can cause drastic fluctuations in temperature over a short period of time, and alter the internal parts so severely they’ll need replacing. 

Good room placement includes these things

Most people place a piano where it fits best in a room, given their furniture placement. It’s a good idea to rethink it before you bring your piano home, to ensure good performance. 

For example, if you place a piano in the central hub of your home, will it interfere with other household activities? Will your child be able to practice if others are doing homework? Will practice seem like a chore, or will it be a pleasant experience? 

Playing should not only sound good to those who are listening, but also help the one playing develop a good ear for music. Carpet will help mute the sound, whereas hardwood provides a deeper, fuller sound. 

Also, remember your piano isn’t another piece of furniture, designed to hold things for storage. Placing objects on or near your piano can damage it, both inside and out. 

Trying to decide what piano to buy? Wondering about room placement, and where your new instrument will sound its best? We can help. Stop by today and we’ll answer all your questions, and help you make the perfect choice for your home. 

Why Consider A Piano Appraisal

Why Consider A Piano Appraisal

A piano isn’t like other instruments. A piano is an investment in your future. 

When you take the time to find the right piano for your needs, it involves a variety of steps and thought processes. While you may be just starting out and looking for your first piano, you still want something that will last for years. That means finding a piano that sounds good and has playability for years to come. 

To get the right piano, it takes time to find the best one. It can also take quite a lot of money. 

  • If you’re ready to sell, how much is your piano worth?
  • If you’re ready to buy, are you getting a piano worth the price tag? 
  • If you’re insuring a piano, do you know how much it’s really worth? 
  • If you’re trading up for a better piano, are you making a fair trade?

For all of these reasons and more, it might be time to consider a piano appraisal. 

Having a piano appraisal can be a good thing for all parties involved. 

For the seller, a piano appraisal can:

  • Show a buyer you’re serious about being transparent on how much a piano is worth
  • Find the fair market value of the piano
  • Provides an overview for all the technical questions a buyer might ask – this can be especially helpful if you’re not knowledgeable about the inner workings of a piano

For a buyer, a piano appraisal can:

  • Help you ensure you’re getting the quality piano you’re buying
  • Verifying the current market value is what you’re paying
  • Understand the quality to have a better idea of what maintenance you’ll have in the future

You’re ready for a piano assessment if:

  • You want to determine how old your piano is
  • You need advice on whether to sell, refurbish, or dispose of your piano
  • You want to know how much it will cost to rebuild your piano
  • You want to determine the fair market value to insure your piano
  • You’re thinking of selling or trading your current piano in

No matter where you are in your piano buying or selling process, we’re here for you. Give us a call today.