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What is the bar with the red freehand circle? You can see it has a cord coming out to the right.

I'm unable to try plugging it in and seeing what it does because it's an incompatible cord with my locale.

The piano is a Baldwin Acrosonic. I don't know how old it is.

  • From what I can glean while skimming eBay and some piano stores' listings, there's no such thing as an Acrosonic with electronics. My bet is it's an aftermarket or home-built addon. First thing to do is give us a photo of the cord & plug so those of us in the engineering world :-) can guess what locale and voltage this comes from. – Carl Witthoft Nov 25 '14 at 14:02
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    The general shape and placement suggests a heater. – Hot Licks Nov 25 '14 at 19:28
  • Yup - doesn't look like a pickup [imho], looks more like an anti-condensation heater for cold weather - a smaller version of the things you used to see in wardrobes. But as @DaveEngineer & Carls say, a close-up pic of the wire/plug/socket would give us a better chance. – Tetsujin Nov 25 '14 at 21:07

Closer inspection revealed the words "DAMPP CHASER". Some Googling revealed that it must be a Piano Life Saver dehumidifier, made by Dampp-Chaser.

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Exactly --- it's a dehumidifying appliance. It creates some heat to keep the air drier inside the instrument body.

There are also "humidifiers", but they do the opposite thing, and typically have plastic piping and a water reservoir and are most often found on grand pianos instead of console/studio models.

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    As a slight clarification, its purpose is to protect a piano is stored in conditions where temperature and humidity can cycle (e.g. a building which is used a few hours a week, and is unheated when not in use). If the air were warm and humid when the heat was switched off, and then very slowly cooled, then when the temperature reached the new point, moisture could condense on everything. Condensation on strings could induce rust. Adding the heater will ensure that whenever the air is at the dew point, the piano will always be a tiny bit above that, so condense will happen elsewhere. – supercat Nov 25 '14 at 19:38
  • That is a helpful clarification, although there are places where the humidity is fairly constant (such as (sub)tropical regions) where these might be necessary in most pianos. I have also seen these devices attached to grand pianos, but due to the relative openness of the piano case, I'm not sure they are quite as effective; if you're thinking of buying a grand, make sure you have a good HVAC system that keeps the RH relatively low (swamp coolers are OK for people but not pianos). – Kevin_Kinsey Nov 26 '14 at 14:37
  • There may be places where humidity never gets very low, but that doesn't mean its "constant". Small changes in temperature can cause a certain level of absolute humidity to go from being slightly under 100% relative humidity to slightly over. Keeping the piano slightly warmer than its environment would ensure that its relative humidity would always be slightly lower than the surrounding air (and thus below 100%). It may not be possible to protect a grand piano while it's in use, but it could still be protected when it's not in use. – supercat Nov 27 '14 at 19:06

I had a Dampp Chaser installed in my piano in the late 1970's. The entire thing consisted of a rectangular tank that sat in the bottom of the piano. The tank had a bar across the top that was heated. There were pads that were hung over that bar the ends of which hung in the water. You put water in the tank, it was absorbed by the pads and would humidify the inside of the piano. The second part was the heating bar as shown in the picture. That was used to dehumidify the piano. There was a sensor that controlled which function happened when. You had to put water in the tank weekly during dry times. I used to say I was watering my spinet trying to grow a baby grand.

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