Caring For Your Piano

This information has been specially prepared by Bernies Music Land to help ensure many years of happy music making on your piano, whether it be a Schimmel, Bernstein or another brand selected from Bernies Music Lands beautiful range of instruments.

Reasons For Regular Tuning

To The Owner;
For the first few years of a pianos life it goes through a settling down or 'playing-in' period, this varies with the amount of use. The felts and leather parts of the action gradually compress with playing and the strings also go through a stretching and settling-in period. For this reason, pitch and regulation will gradually fall away from manufacturers design and tension specifications. If not tuned and checked on a regular basis, touch and performance will be impaired and damage could occur.

David Baldrey
Tuner & Technician for Bernies Music Land

Caring For Your Valuable Asset

A piano represents an important investment. As a beautiful instrument and piece of furniture, it should be treated with care and respect. A piano needs regular attention and also professional care to ensure it remains in good condition for many years to come.

It is surprising indeed how many owners of fine pianos neglect this important detail. No one would ever think of driving a car for a thousand miles without grease, oil or air in the tyres. But, many people expect a piano to give its best service year after year without any attention whatsoever!

The large size of a piano sometimes leads people to forget that it is a valuable and fragile instrument. A piano is made with the expertise of traditional skills, using many complex materials which all react differently to changing conditions. It is designed to sustain the enormous stresses imposed by the tension of the strings and by the effect of use and transport. The structural condition of a piano, its efficiency as an instrument and the quality of the tone are therefore closely connected.

The maintenance of a piano, which is in effect the maintenance of the capital value of the instrument, is a matter of importance to owners and users alike.

A neglected piano may quickly deteriorate. The following recommendations cover six aspects of piano care, attention to which will ensure any valuable instrument, that is in good condition to start with, a long life of usefulness.

1. Position

Finding the right place to put your piano can make a significant difference to its wear and tear. Think of your piano as a valuable piece of furniture, and imagine the place in your home where this piece of furniture would be best cared for. Remember that people will be walking past the instrument so it needs to be in a place where it's not subject to scratching or brushing up against. Your common sense is the best tool too - don't put your piano under hanging plants, in your clothes drying room, or in a children' play room.

Most people find that they have an inside wall in their family room, bedroom or study that is suitable for a piano. This is the best place for your piano away from heating, cooling, moisture and direct sunlight, and where the temperature is most moderate.

Excessive humidity or dryness can cause the timber in your piano to crack and split. Humidity causes rusting of strings, swelling of wooden moving parts (which may cause the notes to stick) and increasing hardening of the felts (which will affect the tone of the piano). Excessive drying happens when a piano is close to heating appliances such as ovens, radiators or central heating pipes, or from exposure to direct sunlight. Metal pins can then become loose in the action, soundboards may split and wrest pins may become loose in the wrest-plank with the result of the piano not being able to stay in tune.

Your piano lives best in a place where the temperature is as moderate as possible. It will stay in tune better and is less likely to develop small problems. Be mindful to not place your piano where there are draughts from doors and windows, and not in an outside room.

2. Moving Pianos

Sometimes a piano needs to be moved from room to room or from house to house. If your instrument is properly moved it should suffer no harm and may just need a tuning when it is relocated.

When moving from room to room on a reasonably smooth floor, you need a piano trolley with well tyred castors. It is risky to do this yourself, and for your safety we recommend you always use professional piano movers. Similarly, when moving from house to house we suggest that you always use professionals.

The main weight of a piano is at the back (the cast iron frame) and extends to the top of the instrument. A backward tilt of a very few degrees is enough to overbalance it. When you consider the weight of a falling piano, particularly if the rear castors are also moving allowing the instrument to move forward, it is clear that moving it is a dangerous exercise.

We recommend that your piano be moved only by professional piano carriers at any time.

We recommend:
Piano Moves Piano Carriers: 9580 7788
Classic Piano Carriers: 0404 087 082

3. Maintenance

Your piano is a fine instrument and a fine piece of craftsmanship. It deserves care and attention and can be done with minimal effort.

Cleaning: Nominate a family member or person to make sure the piano is always dusted clean. Its keys should be thoroughly clean, best done by dusting or wiping with a slightly damp cloth or chamois (must be close to dry with no water).

Preventing Unauthorised Use: Encourage youngsters to always be respectful to your instrument. It is recommended that the piano should be kept locked when it is not in use, particularly for schools and institutes.

Keeping the Top Clear: People using the top of the piano as a storage shelf should be aware that photo frames (and other trinkets) scratch the lacquer, and vessels containing liquid - such as vases of flowers and cups of tea - can have serious consequences if spilled, both to the appearance and to the action of the instrument. We recommend that you keep the top of your piano clear.

Ventilation: It is good to open the 'fall' (the lid that closes over the keys) frequently to encourage the free movement of air, which is always desirable for wood. However, if the room is very dusty or the air is not clean, it is best to keep the fall closed and air when possible.

Piano Cover: A piano cover is useful to preserve the wood surface and to keep out the dust. Remove it frequently to "air" the woodwork. The cover should never be replaced immediately after the piano has been used if the room is hot after being occupied by a large audience. Ideal material should be light and permeable to air and the corners be reinforced. Heavy-duty covers are undesirable in a home situation because of their tendency to restrict circulation of air and to retain any air dampness.

4. Tuning

Your piano tuner is invaluable. They have many years of training and experience and are reliable sources of information for all areas of piano care. Please ensure a recommended tuner is contacted for all enquiries.

In its first year, your piano will be tuned twice; once at the showroom before delivery, and once in your home. To look after your piano and to ensure your warranty is effective it is recommended that it be tuned at least once yearly in your home by our recommended tuner. Your tuner will be happy to advise you on servicing and multiple tunings for pianos used for teaching, stringent practice or highly frequent use.

Advising your tuner thoroughly of any concerns means that they can attend to items and be sure to attain your satisfaction and keep your piano playing beautifully.

Need a tuner in your area? We can find one for you! REQUEST A TUNER

5. Periodic Inspection

It is important to be attentive to your piano. If you have any concerns, please phone your recommended piano tuner.

Since the tuner is the only person with specialist industry knowledge and may suggest other servicing as required.

Minor Repairs & Adjustments: Items such as adjustments to fixing sticky or sluggish keys, adjusting pedal mechanism and replacement of broken strings will be attended to by the tuner if advised.

Major Repairs: A written quote and report by the tuner is advisable.

Regulation: It is recommended that grand pianos be regulated every three years to protect your warranty and keep your instrument in top performance condition. Please consult your tuner to arrange this work.

6. Insect Attack

Certain insects have an appetite for the lovely fibrous materials in the piano; felt and wood. These insects generally only make themselves at home in older pianos, although all pianos may be vulnerable. Please contact your recommended piano tuner immediately if you are concerned.

Moths: The larve of the clothes moth (tinea species) is liable to attack all felt parts of the piano, such as hammer heads and dampers and also may be present in other felt fittings which are usually invisible to the user. Moth attack should immediately be reported to the tuner and professional advice sought. It is not recommended to use any insecticides or products at all on your piano. These can have adverse effects.

Wood Boring Insects: The attack most commonly found is that of the furniture beetle (anobium punctatum) whose exit holes are readily recognised. When holes are discovered they should immediately be reported to the tuner. Remedial action should not be taken without professional advice. Insecticides may be highly damaging to the action of the piano. Furthermore, the wooden structure of a piano is so complex that only a piano technician will discover the full extent of an infestation. Since the insect larve burrows for some two years before emerging from its single exit hole, it is clear that wood is invariably damaged to a far greater extent than surface holes may suggest and such holes may, in any case, be hidden in parts of the piano not visible without extensive dismantling.

7. General Care

Treat your chosen piano with care and it will serve you well for many years. Should you have any questions, please contact your recommended tuner.

The team at Bernies Music Land are also happy to assist with any queries and would welcome your phone call on 9872 5122.

If it is necessary to store your piano for some time or leave it in a house that is closed up, we recommend the following precautions;

  • Use camphor or other moth repellants inside the piano. It is best to hang the moth balls in a cloth bag or place them in thick cardboard. This is because, as they decompose, the chemicals may attack a lacquered finish
  • Cover the strings of a grand piano with newspaper, and cover the instrument entirely with a cloth cover.
  • In exceedingly damp climates, special care must be taken to protect your piano. Please consult professional advice.

The most important point of all is the necessity of regular attention by a recommended technician. A good piano mechanic, trained and experienced in his craft, is the best friend your piano can have. Rely on him and the dividends will be received in the pleasure and enjoyment from your piano. Well worth the investment!

We wish you many years of enjoyment from your new instrument!!

From the team at Bernies Music Land.