I love pianos! Uprights or grands --- old or new --- scratched up wood or high gloss polyester --- I love pianos! When my wife and I were first married it quickly came to her attention that I owned 13 pianos but no dining room set! She seemed to think that there was something wrong with my priorities! Imagine that! And guess what? I did not win the argument!!! Even now, having conformed to the barest of piano necessities, we have a piano in our bedroom, another in the dining room, a nice little grand in the living room, and another waiting to come in from the shop. In our advertising we have the slogan, ?a Passion for Pianos!? and that is the absolute truth. I am one of those truly blessed people that thoroughly enjoys the job I do even after 34 years! Once again, I love pianos!
I detest seeing pianos that were roughed up during a careless move. It grieves me to see beautiful instruments sit for years without tuning. It drives me crazy to come across a beautiful grand which is in tune but the touch and response are horrible. I cannot understand fellow technicians who don?t feel the ?passion!? One of the things I dislike most, is the needless (so easily prevented) damage caused to pianos by variations in humidity and dryness. Split bridges, cracks in sound boards, weak glue joints, broken hammer shanks, rusty strings and tuning pins, loose pedals, --- all these horrid conditions just because the advice given in new piano brochures is not followed.
How Does Dryness and Humidity Affect My Piano?
The bulk of a piano is just wood, glue, and felt. Have you ever noticed how the dining room chairs seem less steady in the wintertime? The joints become loose, wood contracts, splits, and before long that chair is no longer fit to sit on. If one held a hair dryer to their hair indefinitely, even at its lowest heat setting, that hair will dry out. If one takes a piece of wood and soaks it in a bucket of water for a few weeks that same piece of wood will change its size, strength, and feel. A piano is no different!
In fact, the perfect humidity level for a piano is 42% r.h. In a cold winter humidity in the home can drop below 20% --- just ask your skin if that is enough to keep it from drying out. In a hot summer, humidity in the home can surpass 75%. That is trouble in itself, but consider the damage which is being done with the ?swings? between 20% and 75%. Air conditioning (even the most advanced central systems) will NOT keep the house at a consistent 42%. Room humidifiers, while somewhat helpful, certainly will not. Advanced furnaces will not. The traditional heating and cooling systems which we have in our homes simply cannot provide the stability which a piano needs.
How Can I Care for My Piano? The Dampp-Chaser System
So, what can a conscientious piano owner do to virtually eliminate these problems (and their associated high repair bills)? And here is where I start sounding like a salesman --- the answer is the professional installation of a Piano Life Saver System by Dampp-Chaser. These remarkable systems add humidity to your piano when it is too dry, and removes excess humidity when it is too moist. Not only that but it keeps the piano at its optimum level of 42%! --- when it rains, when it snows, when it is cold, when it is hot, whether you live in a desert or a rain forest, your piano will be perfect. The problem of excess humidity or dryness is done away with forever --- period.
As with any good product, it does cost money --- a few hundred dollars, in fact. But, when compared to the thousands of dollars in repair work when a pin block contracts and the piano cannot be tuned, when the ribs separate from the soundboard, when the piano cabinet swells and buckles, when the bridges split, and so on and so forth, the few hundred dollars is an incredible deal! Throw in the 5 year guarantee and it gets even better --- 5 years on parts from the Dampp Chaser Corporation and 5 years on labour from Piano Tuning by RayBould, usa.
In a perfect world pianos would come standard with a Dampp-Chaser System and a Piano Tuning by RayBould, usa installation! For now however, they are still an option. An option which every piano owner should look at seriously. It is ?money in the bank? so to speak. It is not only the ?prevention? of damage which is taken care of by the system, other day to day advantages are:
- The TUNING will be stable and holds its proper pitch --- a real enjoyment for anyone who plays regularly.
- The TONE will be full since hammers will never be too moist, or too dry. The full hammer will strike the strings which it should.
- The RESPONSE will be steady since sluggish keys will be only a memory when moisture causes the jack to sit too high. There will be no more ?lost action? because of dryness related shrinkage. Concentrate on playing, not on compensating!
- NOISE REDUCTION: No more ?clicks? from keys which have dried out, no more ?clunks? from loose hammer heads caused by an over dried glue joint, These are the benefits derived as a ?plus.?
Pianists should never have to ?put up? with a poorly performing piano. And if your piano is a less expensive model, all the more reason to keep it stable since it is not built to last. And if your piano is a hundred years old, keep that piece of history around for your grandchildren. These older pianos will never be built the same way, or with the same materials again!
I am sold on the use of this product. So let me go out on a limb here. If this article has sparked your interest in caring for your piano, send me a note via email, regular mail, or even a phone call and I will send you:
- A booklet explaining the system in detail
- A Master Technician?s report on the value of this system during the devastating Canadian Ice Storm of 1998!
- And, a $75. Discount coupon towards a complete system when installed by Piano Tuning by RayBould, usa.
I am convinced, after servicing thousands of pianos over the years, that the installation of a Piano Life Saver System by Dampp-Chaser is the single most important expenditure (next to the purchase of the piano itself) which a piano owner can make! Put an end to unnecessary piano problems and expense, and introduce the era of ?Piano Love!? Next article, I will tell you all about piano strings (and their many uses!) Talk to you then.
Piano Tuning by RayBould, USA
PO Box 31, Ferguson, NC 28624
828-964-7657 / 336-973-4197
About the Author: Michael Kinney
I have played piano since I was 5 years old. I started in classical and then quickly moved to blues and jazz. I studied at the collegiate level and have played professionally since I was 16. My favorite piano players (if I had to pick 3) include Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and Herbie Hancock). I own several keyboards but always prefer to play on a Steinway if one is available! I live to perform as much as I like to teach.