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What should be done to maintain an upright piano?

I am not asking about tuning it, but what can be done so it does not have to be tuned as often?

I heard someone once say about a particular piano that the strings should be oiled.

Are there things that can be done to help prevent the keys from sticking?

If so, how should it be done, and how often?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

All pianos benefit from being in very stable environments, not too dry, not humid, and a static temperature. This will help to keep it in tune for longer. Realize though that playing the instrument will knock it out of tune and the more you play the faster it will happen. Also, if the pin block is shot, it will go out of tune fast no matter what you do, because the tuning pins will slip. Additionally, regular tunings will help keep it in tune longer. I know that sounds a bit silly but it's true. If you wait until the piano is REALLY out of tune, the tuner will have to move the pitch farther which will stretch the strings and make them less stable.

In short the best thing to do is control the environment, and get it tuned regularly, twice a year is enough for most pianos. There isn't really anything else you can do to keep it in tune longer.

Also, do NOT oil the strings. This is the quickest route to spending tons of money to replace the strings.

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So there is nothing you can really do besides keeping it in a stable environment? (Like away from heater vents and widows and such.) –  Stephen May 7 '13 at 21:22
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That's correct. A piano in a stable environment and a moderate amount of playing shouldn't need more than 2 tunings a year. You can get away with 1 if you don't mind a few months of badness. : ) How long is yours staying in tune? –  ecline6 May 7 '13 at 21:24
    
Unfortunately not. Also, if it was moved from their place to yours, that will have knocked it out of tune some as well. –  ecline6 May 7 '13 at 21:29
    
I have not had it all that long, a friend was moving and gave it to me as they could not bring it with them. Aside from tuning, what about things such as preventing keys from getting stuck or anything of that sort? –  Stephen May 7 '13 at 21:30
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If you are have sticking keys and other problems, it should be looked over by a piano technician, even if you don't have him tune it. Sticking keys are usually caused by bits of felt getting places they shouldn't, although changes in humidity can cause it as well. I would encourage you to not try to service the piano yourself unless you know what you're doing or are ok with possibly breaking something that may be expensive to repair. –  ecline6 May 7 '13 at 21:34

In addition to ecline6's answer: In very dry places (large appartment houses typically), you can place couple glasses of water into the piano to keep the humidity at a bit higher level. You obviously have to add water to the glasses from time to time, it usually lasts about a month.

There are 3 reasons:

  1. Wood in general doesn't like too dry places.

  2. During the summer, the humidity often rises rapidly for short periods of time, and you reduce the shock to the piano by keeping the water inside.

  3. The water itself (and the wet air) slightly stabilizes the temperature inside the piano, helping to reduce the temperature shocks it might get. Remember that slow change from 18C to 25C is much nicer to the piano than a fast one.

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Okay I know that you're discussing about piano maintenance, and that i should be asking this question separately, but I'm a little concerned if these piano maintenance (especially about the wood) is also applicable to a drumset? I'm concerned about the wood materials used in drumset, i guess that piano woods are stronger than those in the drumset, and if a piano has that kind of maintenance, will it be also applicable to a drumset? –  Jez'r 570 May 16 '13 at 3:01
    
@Jez'r570 I did not know that drum sets went out of tune! –  Stephen May 16 '13 at 5:20
    
what i meant is the durability of its wood. –  Jez'r 570 May 16 '13 at 5:50
    
@Jez'r570 I suppose it is not such an issue with drums, since the wood is thinner and the instuments smaller, making it less affected by changes of conditions, but I have no experience with drums you see... –  unregistered May 16 '13 at 9:51

You can get a climate-control system installed in the piano. Dampp-Chaser is one brand. It has both a water system to increase humidity and a header to decrease humidity, and works automatically to increase or decrease as necessary. In addition to helping the instrument stay in tune, it will help prevent sticking keys. The cost is several hundred dollars, so it's worthwhile only for a very good piano.

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