The Best Place In The House To Place a Piano

The Best Place In The House To Place a Piano

You’ve decided to buy a piano for your kids to learn music, something they will carry with them for life. 

A piano isn’t something you can hide away or tuck into a corner and expect your kids to remember to play. It’s an instrument you should think about carefully as you decide where to place it. Where is the best place in the house to place a piano? We have a few words of advice. 

Let’s start with room conditions. Pianos need consistent temperatures and humidity levels to thrive. That means you don’t want to place it in a dark, warm, or moist room where airflow doesn’t keep it well vented. Mold is never a good thing – that’s doubly true with your piano. Mold can weaken the wood and impact the wires and felt inside the piano – all of which impact the condition of your piano. 

Humidity is probably one of the biggest reasons why pianos deteriorate so quickly. It’s what can make your piano go out of tune. Pay attention to how close you place a piano to windows, which can allow cold to infiltrate the wood. 

Vents, registers, fireplaces, and wood stoves can also impact the quality of the wood, drying it out and causing fluctuation in the way the piano sounds. 

Pianos thrive best when everything remains much the same. Try for 45 to 70 percent humidity levels, and temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees. 

Before you move a piano in, consider your rooms carefully. Going up to the second floor or above may require additional costs to place it there. Grand pianos are different from uprights, though both need special care to ensure they move safely. Taking a piano down a narrow hallway will mean greater potential hazards for both the piano and your walls. 

We often tell clients that the center of a room is the best place for a piano. It cuts down on the chance of sunlight streaming through the windows, and keeps it far away from vents and registers. It allows maximum airflow to ensure both humidity and temperatures remain fairly constant. 

While many choose to place it in a busy place in the home, think twice about just how busy the room is. It’ll be harder to get in daily practice tf there is never time to play without disturbing other activities. One option can be to ensure your new piano comes equipped with headphones, so your child can play no matter what’s happening in the room. 

What other concerns do you have about bringing a new piano into your home? 

How To Tell When Your Piano Is Out Of Tune

How To Tell When Your Piano Is Out Of Tune

Whether you’ve been playing your piano for years, or have recently purchased your first piano, determining if your piano is out of tune seems like a straightforward task. If you play a few notes, you should be able to hear if something is “off.”

But it’s not as simple as that. 

It might be your first clue. If you play a song and it sounds tinny, sharp, or flat, it’s your first indication that it’s time for a tuning. 

But a piano’s pitch may be off long before you notice it in the way you play a song. 

Pianos can go out of tune for a number of reasons:

Humidity – humidity can impact your piano quickly, especially if it changes frequently inside your home. Music rooms should be kept at a minimum of 68 degrees, with humidity levels between 50 and 70 percent. Not only will a stable environment keep your piano in tune, but it will also prevent damage from the wood swelling. 

It’s always a good idea to be conscious about where you place the piano in the room. Too much direct sunlight can further damage the wood. If you notice consistent fluctuations in the temperature or humidity levels inside your music room, it may be wise to invest in a dehumidifier to help keep the room’s conditions constant. 

Lack of tuning – pianos need constant care. If it hasn’t been tuned in a while, it will take more maintenance to return it to playing conditions. When you work with a regular tuner, they can get a better understanding of what your piano needs to stay in tune. Once or twice per year is standard for a piano once it resides inside your home. 

If you haven’t tuned your piano in years, it might not be able to hold a tune without extensive restoration. A full inspection can help you further understand the condition of your piano. 

Poor tuning – while you can find videos online that will help you tune your piano, tuning isn’t something you can learn from watching a video. The best tuners have thousands of hours of experience. If you have your piano tuned, and realize it’s out of tune just a few short weeks later, there’s a chance it’s been poorly tuned. 

Tuning an acoustic piano today means using electronic instruments as well as a well-trained ear to determine the proper tone. Don’t look at price alone when selecting a tuner – some may cut corners simply to bring in a customer base. Once you’ve found a piano tuner that you trust, try to maintain the relationship to ensure your piano stays properly tuned. 

Age – age impacts playability. The older an instrument is, the more maintenance it will take to continue sounding its best. 

That’s not saying a used instrument is bad. If you know its history and maintenance schedule, it can be a great investment. Still, realize that everything has a useful life, and the older it gets, the greater chance it will need maintenance work to keep it in good working condition.  

When was the last time your piano was properly tuned? If a piano is out of tune, it won’t sound its best, and will be more difficult to play. To create the best sound possible from your piano, get it tuned today. 

How To Whiten Your Yellow Piano Keys

How To Whiten Your Yellow Piano Keys

Pianos aren’t something you keep in a faraway corner of the house. Pianos are often center stage in the most frequently used room. What better way to bring music to the center of attention. It’s a great way to keep it in your family’s lives. 

Yet cleaning a piano can be a difficult chore. A soft microcloth can do wonders to keep the dust bunnies away. But what happens when your piano keys start yellowing? How do you whiten them in such a way as not to hurt the keys?

First step – determine if the piano keys are ivory or plastic

“Tickle the ivories” is a saying developed long ago when piano keys were still crafted from ivory. That practice has been illegal for decades, but if you have an antique piano handed down through the generations, you may still have a piano with ivory keys. 

Depending on what your keys are made of determines how you can restore the look of your keys. Plastic keys are smoother than ivory. They usually are jointed at the base. 

How to clean plastic or ivory piano keys

With both ivory and plastic, avoid using soap and water. If water seeps down between the keys, it can damage the inner workings enough to call in professional help. 

Avoid using harsh chemicals when you clean. Most cleaning products on the market today will harm the finish and do more damage to the keys. When in doubt, stick with basics. 

Always start with a soft cloth. Microfiber works well for a variety of cleaning needs. If you do use any liquid products, be sure to dab them onto the microfiber cloth before rubbing the keys. Liquid directly on a key spells disaster. 

Natural over chemicals is also best. Dilute vinegar in water. A little milk on ivory keys can also be a good choice. Ivory is dental bone; using a child’s toothbrush can help you get to all surface areas and whiten them up. 

For both types of keys, it’s important to clean one key at a time. Avoid rubbing the cloth over all keys at once – this is what can allow moisture to seep between the keys. Work back to front, allowing each key to dry thoroughly. 

If you have questions, it’s best to seek professional guidance before you begin. We can help recommend the right cleaning tools for the job. We can also recommend a professional to help you with the task. 

If it’s ivory, leave it alone

One final thought if you have yellowing ivory keys. Some people prefer them to age naturally, and consider yellow keys a part of the charm. This keeps the piano in age-appropriate condition, and may even add to the value. 

If authenticity is important, consider speaking with an expert before you make any changes to your piano.

Owning a Piano With Ivory Keys – What You should Know

Owning a Piano With Ivory Keys – What You should Know

Tickle the ivories. It’s long been a phrase that refers to playing the piano, with possible roots referring to the fact that piano keys were once solely veneered with ivory

Of course, the use of ivory is no longer an acceptable practice. In fact, it’s illegal to sell anything made from ivory. 

That opens up a host of other questions about what happens if you have a piano with ivory keys. What do you do with it? Can you move it? Can you sell it? 

Until the 1940s, pianos were often constructed with an ivory veneer used to top the white piano keys. The key itself was created using wood, topped with a thin layer of ivory to give it fluidity. It didn’t require very much ivory – the top layer is paper-thin. That also means these coverings are prone to cracking, chipping, peeling, and flaking. You might also find they yellow pretty bad. 

The advantage of using plastic for the keys is they stay their true color, and hold up well, no matter how much playtime they receive.  

But if you have ivory piano keys on an antique or heirloom piano, what do you do? 

Selling this thin veneer ivory would be a waste of time. It’s such a small quantity, it wouldn’t have value. Plus, it’s illegal. Try to put up an ad with a piano with ivory keys, and it will be deleted as fast as you put it up on eBay or Craigslist. Try and move it with a professional moving company across some state lines, or to another country somewhere in the world, and you’ll receive another steadfast “no.” 

It’s a very small source of ivory, but it comes with a big problem. 

Some piano tuners, retailers, or restorers will buy out old pianos with ivory still in place. They save the keys for restoration projects where it’s important to keep the piano in original condition. Special consideration is given for this type of restoration. But even this has laws in place to ensure it isn’t overly used. 

Have additional questions about ivory piano keys? We’re here to help you find the answers you need. Give us a call today. 

Is Now The Time To Upgrade To a Professional Piano?

Is Now The Time To Upgrade To a Professional Piano?

One of the greatest joys is watching your child find something they are passionate about. 

When they’re young, you sign up for a variety of activities, giving them options along the way. Quickly, certain activities rise while others fall off. If your child shows musical aptitude, you may consider more training. Maybe it’s time to expand their knowledge of music, and invest in a different instructor. 

Often, this is where you’ll find someone saying it’s time to upgrade to a professional piano. When you purchased your first, it was with the thought of having the piano for life. Isn’t the old one “good” enough? Is there really a difference? 

Before you set off to buy a new piano, take the time to understand why an instructor is coaching you to move forward with a professional piano. What’s the difference?

Your starting point

Unless you had piano training as a child, you might have purchased your first piano based on price alone. Did you pick one up at a big box store? Or find something inexpensive online? Depending on the piano currently inside your home, it might not have the proper touch. It’s the number one reason instructors coach their students on upgrading. 

Piano touch has to do with the way you connect with the keys, and the sound it produces. Touch has to do with the resistance you feel when you press the key down on a piano. There is a concise feeling you get as your fingers run up and down the keys. Without learning how to play based on standard weight and friction, your child won’t readily be able to move between pianos. This friction changes over time. A piano can wear down. Older pianos aren’t set up the way newer technology dictates into action. 

When a piano player understands how to move up and down the keyboard, they can begin to command depth from how the instrument plays. This is unique to individual pianos, as well as personal to the person playing. 

Professional equipment – professional sound

Professional equipment is designed for more tonal quality, more depth from the sound. It does so by using better components to produce the sound. 

If you’ve purchased a digital without weighted keys, or an older piano smaller in size,  it can impact the way it plays. The weight of the keys may feel off, too light or too heavy. The depth of the tone may be too shallow or deep. The size of the piano can limit the sound that comes through every time a person sits down to play. 

And as a piano player refines their performance, it limits the way that they play.

Think for a moment about music coming straight from your phone, using the small speaker system built-in. It may sound tinny. It may not hold as you turn the volume up. 

Now play your favorite music from a high quality stereo system. You can hear the difference immediately. The lows are deeper, the highs are richer. You feel the music in a much different way. 

That’s what a professional piano can bring for your child. When they hear the difference, they feel the difference. 

And it might just make them more excited about playing. 

Can You Tune a Piano After 50 Years?

Can You Tune a Piano After 50 Years?

Some things inside your home have more value over time. We often are enamored by television shows that find buried treasure in the attics and basements of loved ones. 

Yet while a painting can be hidden away in a suitcase for decades and grow in value, a piano doesn’t hold those same characteristics. The definition of an antique is: a collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age. A painting may never change, especially if it’s kept apart from the elements around it. A piano can and will. 

A piano isn’t a piece of furniture, though you may be proud to display it inside your home. Instead, a piano contains over 10,000 parts that make it come to life every time you sit down to play it. It’s made from wood, metal, felt, and other organic components that will degrade over time. 

  • Wood can become brittle
  • Hammers can get hard
  • Strings can become rusty and stretched

And that’s just the start. 

Whether you play the piano or not, the surrounding area impacts the playability of a piano. Humidity can settle in. Rising and falling temperatures can cause damage. The simple act of standing without touching it can affect how well it holds up over time. 

If you purchase an older piano on Craigslist, for example, you may buy a piano that has sat in a living room, unplayed for decades. Worse, it might have shuffled between a basement or garage to make room for other furniture. Then it was “cleaned up” to try and make money from it online. 

Without proper restoration, a piano will no longer function after years of neglect. 

When looking to acquire a piano, age matters. A lot. 

If a piano hasn’t been tuned in years, it will lose its ability to stay tuned. No matter how much you work with the strings, they won’t return to their proper sound. 

If the pins are in good shape, replacing the strings may be all that’s needed to hold the sound. If more extensive damage is in place, it may require complete restoration of the strings, soundboard, plate, and bridges to bring it back into balanced tension. 

In that case, it may make more sense to invest in a new piano. Or if there is sentimental value attached, a complete restoration may be the way to go. 

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?