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Manuel Marino Music Composer

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Manuel is a passionate, driven, and techsavvy AV technician, artist and music composer with over ten years of experience, specializing in the captivating world of music and entertainment.

Manuel is an expert in creating soundtracks for short filmsfeature films and video games.

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You might be wondering, “Why should I tune my piano? I haven’t moved it.” Alternatively, you might think that since it isn’t played very often, there’s no need to tune it. Or perhaps you believe that moving it just a few feet has caused it to go out of tune. These are common concerns we hear countless times every year. This article aims to educate you on how to properly maintain your piano.

A piano consists of thousands of parts, ranging from simple small felts and leathers to steel strings. The component that amplifies the string vibrations is called a soundboard.

Humidity: A Piano’s Worst Enemy Humidity is the piano’s greatest foe. When moisture reaches the soundboard, it can contract and expand as it absorbs and releases moisture. We all know that wood can shrink and expand, and so does steel in large bridges. As the soundboard expands and contracts, stress is exerted on the strings that run across the bridges connected to the soundboard.

Tuning Frequency The more frequently a piano is played, the more it should be tuned. A safe tuning schedule is to ensure that it is tuned twice a year. Since the piano’s pitch is related to tension, it’s best to keep the piano tuned to maintain proper tension levels. If a piano is not at its intended pitch (and tension level), the piano’s tone suffers, and crucial components like the pinblock, soundboard, bridges, etc., can be severely damaged.

You may think that humidity isn’t much of a concern because you consistently run your heating and air conditioning systems. However, these systems are not sufficient in driving out humidity once it penetrates the wood, felt, and leather components.

Piano Cleaning The felts inside the piano can shed fuzz and residue due to continuous friction. This residue can accumulate under the keys, affecting the keys’ downward movement. Additionally, it might cause you to sneeze. Have a piano technician clean your piano internally every few years. Grand pianos can accumulate dust on the soundboard and around the tuning pins. Regular cleaning can prevent excessive buildup.

Caring for the Piano’s Exterior For wood finishes, use a damp cloth to remove dust and fingerprints. Once or twice a year, you can use lemon oil, as it is gentle on wood. DO NOT use aerosol products, as many contain alcohol that can dry out the wood, damage the lacquer, and cause hazing.

For high-gloss finishes, we have found that McGuire’s non-abrasive polish works well to enhance the luster. Some people use Windex and Bounty towels to clean the finish. Bounty is the only paper towel without abrasives that can cause fine scratches. Polyester finishes are tough and durable, and these products work well on them.

To clean the keys, use a very mild detergent. Plastic keys are easy to clean, and for tough jobs, denatured alcohol works effectively. Do not use acetone, as it can ruin the keys’ sheen. For ivory keytops, lemon juice sometimes works well. The black keys, or sharps, may be made of plastic or ebony. Use a mild detergent to clean plastic sharps. For genuine ebony sharps, clean them and then use 0000 steel wool to buff and polish.

Pedals If the pedals become stained, you can use Brasso or another hardware cleaner. Be sure to place newspaper underneath the pedals to protect the floor. Other hardware can be cleaned with these cleaners, just ensure you keep the chemicals away from the wood finish.

Humidity Control Systems for Pianos A system called Dampp Chaser humidity and dry climate control is designed to maintain consistent humidity levels, preventing the delicate components inside the piano from deteriorating due to extreme climate changes. Furthermore, the piano will maintain better tuning stability and help prevent keys from sticking. For those in dry climates, Dampp Chaser offers a system that releases controlled amounts of moisture, maintaining safe humidity levels. Both excessive humidity and insufficient humidity can be harmful to the piano.

The Piano Action The action is a complex mechanism that translates the pressure applied by the musician’s fingers to the hammers, which in turn strike the strings. Pianists should be able to play without thinking about this mechanism. However, many people, especially young students, can lose interest in playing when the action’s felts wear out to the point that the piano no longer functions properly. Notes may become difficult to play, and others may not respond correctly, making the piano less enjoyable to play. Even Liberace would have struggled with some pianos that were out of “regulation.” Regulation is the process used to reset all components to their precise settings so that the piano plays as intended. A well-regulated piano can provide many hours of enjoyment for the player, and students can perform musically as desired.

Piano Hammers Piano hammers consist of densely compressed felt glued to wooden moldings. Over time, hammers compress, flatten, and develop deep grooves from string cuts. When this occurs, strings may start to break, the hammers’ surface may change, and unwanted harmonics may emerge. Hammers occasionally need to be reconditioned using a specialized process performed by a qualified piano technician. Reconditioning the hammers restores the beautiful tone and helps prevent unnecessary string breakage.

Tighten all Hardware Have a technician tighten all major bolts and large screws, as well as hinges and smaller screws. You would be surprised how these minor details can cause loud noises.

Moving a Piano Did you just buy a piano? Don’t attempt a DIY move, as this can result in a damaged piano. Instead, hire a professional piano mover who understands the potential risks associated with moving a piano. Too many people buy a piano from a private home and try to move it with a pickup truck, thinking its weight will keep it in place. However, upright pianos are top-heavy, and accidents can happen. Always hire a professional piano mover to ensure your piano is cared for and transported in a truck specifically designed for piano moving.

Long Haul Moving Are you moving across the country? Many piano movers provide long-haul services. If you are relocating, contact a reputable piano mover. If they don’t offer long-haul service, have them pack your piano and load it onto the moving van or a U-Haul truck. Then, obtain the name of a reputable piano mover at your destination to unload the piano and set it up for you.

Taking care of your piano as described in this article will ensure that it plays as it should for years to come. On the other hand, improper care or neglect can reduce the piano’s lifespan and diminish its value.

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