How Humidity Affects Your Piano

How Humidity Affects Your Piano

No matter what brand of piano you own, the majority of the parts within your piano are made from wood. In order to function and produce sound, the wooden parts are put to use.

Wet, humid conditions allow wooden parts to swell. Dry, parched conditions allow wooden parts to shrink and crack. And here in Memphis both types of weather conditions exist as we move from summer to winter and back again.How Humidity Affects Your Piano

While either condition can be damaging, it’s the swaying back and forth that causes damage to escalate at a quicker pace. Dry conditions can cause wood to crack, followed by moisture penetrating the wood and allowing it to swell into more damage. This back and forth movement can quickly spiral into serious damage.

And that damage impacts the parts of your piano in different ways.

The soundboard, for example, already has am enormous amount of pressure on it. If humid conditions cause it to swell, the soundboard develops what is called a pressure ridge. At this point, a pressure ridge is not considered a crack, yet this is the most common area where a crack can develop. If conditions change and the environment drys, a crack can occur. Soundboard cracks will not cause much of a problem to overall tone until the soundboard ribs loosen and begin to rattle.

More serious damage can occur with the piano pinblock. The pinblock holds the tuning pins. The quality and the condition of the pinblock determines the tightness of the tuning pins. It is the most significant factor for maintaining tuning stability. When humidity swings occur, it can cause the pinblock to shift and crack, which will reduce the amount of pressure over time. Most new pianos leave the factory with a measure of 75 to 85 inch pounds, with a minimum acceptable level of 50 inch pounds. If it dips below these levels, the tone will begin to deteriorate.

If the tightness drops to 30 inch pounds or below, the piano is no longer considered tunable.

To avoid purchasing a piano that has serious humidity damage, it’s important to find a reputable dealer that ensures every piano sold is in top quality condition. If you have any questions about how humidity impacts your piano, and how you can keep your piano out of harms way, just ask.