This will keep the
pitch stable. If this schedule is maintained, the piano should sound good throughout the year as long as the piano is in a fairly
stable environment (without a lot of humidity changes).
The more often a piano is tuned, the better it will sound.
It should be said though, that better sounding is in the ear of the beholder.
What sounds bad to some, may sound fine to another (go figure). So, having
said that, many people will have their piano tuned once a year. This
works well if the owner doesn't mind that the tuning may start to sound
'off' in the second half of the year.. Frankly, some
piano owners may not even notice it going out of tune. This is fine since
enjoying music and that is the whole point of having a piano. Tuning
a piano only
once a year will not do any harm and it will keep the tuning fairly stable
throughout the piano's life.
Honestly, if the customer doesn't mind an out of tune piano
or does not notice it is out of tune, you should have it tuned on some
sort of regular basis anyway to help it from going severely out of tune
which could cause problems down the line.
If you can afford it, have your piano tuned as often as
is practical for you. Many bars and restaurants have their pianos tuned
once a week. Some people wait ten years, which is not so good for the piano. Concert pianos are tuned before
each performance and sometimes even during the intermission they are
touched up. Bear in mind too that humidity changes will also put a piano
out of tune, (like when you open the windows and doors in humid season
and then close them and turn on the air conditioner.)
I just moved my piano. Should I have it tuned?
If it has only been moved a few feet, it probably is not necessary to
tune it. There are at least 3 things that can affect the stability of tune while moving a piano;
1. Lifting the piano, setting it on a dolly, putting it on its side
(for a grand), hauling it in a truck etc., stresses are placed upon the
parts of the piano that help keep it stable and in tune. These stresses
can make the pitch of the strings change, causing it to go out of tune.
The degree it goes out of tune depends on the levels of stress involved.
Lifting an upright piano onto a dolly - not so bad stress, dropping it
off a truck - really bad stress (hope that never happens), riding in
the truck over bumps - pretty good stress.
2. When the piano is moved to a different environment it receives the
stress of the new surroundings and changes during the move; temperature
changes, barometric pressure changes, altitude difference, and the worst
of all, humidity changes.
3. Direct sun on the plate of the piano will cause a great deal of movement in pitch.
If you have moved your piano, let it sit in its new environment for
4 to 6 weeks, if possible, before having it tuned. This will give the
wood parts time to acclimate to the new situation and will make for a
more stable tuning.
How should I clean my piano?
The answer to this question depends somewhat on the type
of finish on the piano. Many new pianos have a polyester
finish. Polyester is actually a plastic and thus should be cleaned
like a plastic. Products used to clean plexiglas and window tinting
will work well. You could also use a soft, clean, well dampened cloth
followed by a soft, clean, dry cloth. Any good plastic cleaner will work
too. For greasy stuff try a little window cleaner or a light water and
vinegar solution. The problem with polyester is that it will scratch
easily, so, the important thing is to make sure to use plenty of lubricant
(liquid) when first cleaning it. Try not to let it get overly dusty in
the first place. Also, test any cleaner in an inconspicuous spot before
using it to clean the whole piano. Never use polishes
with oils in them such as Pledge and others like it. This will leave
an oily residue that will smear.
Many newer pianos and most older pianos have a lacquer
finish. Some may have other usual finishes used on furniture
as well. These finishes are easy to clean. Just use a damp cloth to
dust them. Any type of furniture polish or oil is not necessary. These
finishes already have a shine and the polish and oil will only soften
the finish which will make them susceptible to damage. If you have
oily or greasy stuff, use a very mild soap solution and rinse and dry
right away. These finishes deteriorate after time and the same techniques
used to clean fine antique furniture should be used to clean older
pianos. Always be careful cleaning your piano. Treat it like a fine
piece of furniture.
The brass hardware can be cleaned the
same way you would clean any brass fixtures. Some pianos may have a finish
over the brass that will keep it shiny and new looking. Brass cleaners
could damage this finish. If the brass has this finish, do not use brass
cleaner or polish. Sometimes the finish over the brass begins to wear,
especially on the foot pedals. Not much can be done to correct this except
stripping the finish to the bare brass which can be a lot of work. Be
careful! Brass cleaner and polish can strip the wood finish
from your piano. Always protect the piano's finish in some way when cleaning
How should I clean piano keys?
Ivory key tops have not been used in piano manufacturing
in a long time. Key tops are made of plastic these days and so can be
cleaned the same way as the polyester piano finish described above. If
you have really dirty or yellowing keys, follow the directions below
How do you know if you have ivory? If you look closely
they will have a grain to them similar to wood. Usually there is also
a seam (but not always) right at the front of the sharp keys. Ivory is
a very hard and durable substance. To lightly clean just use a damp cloth
or mild soap solution. For yellowing or really heavy dirt, use a fine
buffing compound followed by a swirl remover or polishing compound.
These can be found at an auto supply store.
If you feel uncomfortable cleaning keys yourself, just
hire a good piano refinisher or tuner/technician to do it for you.
Should my piano be against an inside wall?
That is more of a concern in the colder climates where
condensation can occur on the walls in winter months thus exposing your
piano to higher humidity.
Any situation where your piano is exposed to humidity over
55% relative humidity is not good. Direct sun is not good either. The
heat and ultraviolet rays can damage the finish and wood. Using window
tinting that blocks UV rays will help a great deal.
Any extreme condition is not good for a piano or you and
How do I clean under the strings?
Train mice to carry little rags under the strings and clean
off the soundboard. When they are finished give them a big piece of swiss
cheese for their trouble and send them to the next piano owner.
A more practical way would be to buy some soundboard cleaners
(set of three tools of different sizes and lengths that get under the
strings) from Berg Piano Services. They work great and are easy to use.Or you could hire us to do it for you. Service Pricing
Do I need a humidity control system?
Having a humidity control system or climate control system is always
a benefit if it has a humidistat (turns it off and on automatically).
For more information see our Climate
What is pitch raising?
Pitch raising is something that needs to be done before
a piano can be fine tuned. It is usually necessary for pianos that have been neglected and have gone without tuning
for longer than a year.For more detail, see Questions on
our Pricing page.
What is regulation?
Regulation is a term for making all the screw and spring
adjustments on a piano. It also refers to other changes that are made
to the "machine" that is called a piano. There are over 5,000
points on a piano that can eventually get out of alignment or adjustment
and contribute to inefficiency. All these adjustments affect how the piano plays and functions.
Severe wear can actually cause the piano to not work at all. Regulation
on some sort of a regular basis can help to stop this from happening.
How can I sell my piano?
To get the best price for your piano you should sell it to
a private individual. This, however, will require some work on your part.
You will have to play the part of salesperson and ad executive.
Putting ads in the local newspaper and other papers is a good place to
start. Nothing says you couldn't try to sell your piano anywhere
in the world as well. You can put ads in any of the newspapers in all the
major cities in the USA or any other country for that matter. You will just
have to pay the shipping or charge the customer. There are companies that
will ship your piano where ever you wish. The internet is another possibility.
Go to some of the search engines and do some research on piano selling.
Of course, there is always Ebay. To sell your piano you will need one or
more of the following; descriptions, pictures, invoices, appraisals, pricing
make, model and serial numbers, and perhaps other info. Also, you will no
doubt spend time on the phone, doing research, filling out ad forms and
other paper work. There may be some travel time. Then there are the appointments
to show the piano( with
risk of having strangers in your home.) Selling stuff is work and this
is why piano stores charge what they do for a piano. The stores will usually
put some type of warranty on their used pianos as well as give a free
Another way to sell your piano is wholesale to a piano store.
They might come to look at it and offer you a wholesale price,
which is going to be quite a bit less than if you sold it yourself to a private
party. The advantage of selling it to a store is that you have no work
to do. They come and take it away leaving you with a check.
So, there you have it. Balance out the advantages and disadvantages
of each choice and go for it.
A very good reference for anyone considering to buy or sell
a piano is Larry
Fines "The Piano Book". He details the construction
of the piano, gives information and background on many piano manufacturers,
you things to look for and avoid and has pricing information too. There
is the an
online piano appraisal service called Blue Book of Pianos*.
Read Larry Fine's book listed above and then go and find
as many pianos as you can. Play the pianos extensively and think long and
hard about them all. Use Mr Fines 'info and make a purchase when
you are 95%
or more happy with your choice. It's very rare to find a piano that is absolutely
perfect. Just be sure
you can live with
whatever the imperfection may be.
If you feel you need some help, Berg Piano Services
will help you choose a piano that fits your needs for a modest shopping fee.
Call us for details.
How do I find a good piano tuner?
That can be a challenge. Sometimes it's just as important that you trust
the tuner as a person as well as trusting his tuning skill. Some good resources
for finding a good tuner would be:
A good friend may already have a piano tuner they are happy with and
pass his name along.
Piano teachers usually know tuners in your area.
Piano stores usually know some of the local tuners and can
perhaps give you some background on them.
The Piano Technicians Guild (PTG)*
has reference material on the internet for locating tuners in your area
who have passed their exams
Registered Piano Technicians (RPT)
Piano manufacturers might have some suggestions for choosing a piano
It's always a good idea to ask a prospective serviceman about his work
background and the extent of his experience as well as any education or
credentials he may have. Take control of the situation. You are going to
pay him good money and you deserve good professional service. Generally speaking,
the best price is not always the best service. Ask
around to find a good worker you can trust and who other people
Above is a diagram of the moving parts in the modern grand piano. For details on the parts and how they function see our Geek's Corner page. While your there, check out the video of a grand piano action "in" action.
Where The Piano Came From
Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco
The invention of the piano is credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori possibly as early as 1698. Cristofori's piano was more simple in design than the modern piano and had quite different in sound and feel at play. Cristofori named his invention Piano Forte or "soft and loud" a quality the harpsichord did not have. Piano Forte's are still around today. Below is a photo of one.
This piano forte has reversed key color. This feature was not consistent. The control of dynamics was much better with the piano forte. You could say it was a magnificent dulcimer.