Questions and Answers
Are the keys on my piano ivory?
Ivory is similar to wood in that it has a grain to it, therefore if the keytops are made of ivory you will be able to see the grain. As well, ivory keytops are usually made in two parts which we call the head and the tail. The head is wide and is on the front of the key, the tail is narrow and on the back. Where they join you will see a line, unless the piano was a high priced piano such as Steinway and then the ivory would be a one piece keytop. There are replacement keytops made by Vagias Ventures that have a simulated grain look and some technicians are replacing old keytops with bone.
How Often Should My Piano Be Tuned?
Every piano, whether it is brand new and very expensive, or 60 years old and cheap, is changing its' tuning every day of the year. There simply is no such thing as a piano that does not change from day to day and month to month.
A piano is under a lot of stress. The more than 230 strings are stretched at an average tension of from 150 to 200 pounds each. As a result the cast iron plate or harp, together with the heavy wooden frame, carries a strain totaling from 18 to 20 tons of pressure.
From the average person's point of view, a piano should ideally be tuned four times each year. The reason for this is that for most people in North America the seasons change four times each year causing the humidity to change significantly four times each year.
However, as mentioned above, pianos actually change their tuning every day because the humidity levels in the soundboard of the piano changes with the weather every day.
When the soundboard takes on moisture, it expands causing the strings to go sharp. When the weather becomes dryer, the soundboard loses moisture, causing the strings to go flat. Unless you were to maintain your piano at a constant temperature and at constant barometric and hygroscopic conditions, it changes.
I have done a number of tunings for professionals and they always have their piano tuned before every concert. But for the average piano owner, most of whom can't tell if the piano is out of tune from one month to the next, we generally recommend that the piano be tuned twice a year, but certainly not less than once per year.
Manufacturers recommend that a new piano be tuned a minimum of 3 or 4 times the first year, and then two tunings annually.
Cost to tune your piano is currently about $115 including taxes here in London, Canada. That is certainly an inexpensive cost to have a technician visit, tune, and do a physical check-up on the thousands of parts that must work properly to ensure your piano plays properly.
Can anyone move a piano?
Not if you value your piano, your home, or the person that moves the piano.
Pianos weigh anywhere from 200 kg to 600 kg or 440 lbs. to about 1,300 lbs. with the average old upright weighing about 550 lbs. and the center of gravity is NOT where you think it is.
I have seen 6 muscle bound guys struggle to move a big old upright because they don't know the secret to moving a piano. I have also seen one guy move the same size piano with no trouble at all.
I have seen gashes in walls, and the fronts of pianos all but demolished by people who say they know how to move a piano.
Trust me - call us and ask for the name of a GOOD piano mover. We can get it moved for you cheaper and safer than those who say they specialize in moving pianos.
Moving Long Distances
Will moving our piano from Arabia to North America damage our piano?
If your piano was purchased used from Japan I would think if you were going to have problems you would have already had them. I understand Arabia to be generally very dry and Japan to be very moist.
Here in Canada we have problems with loose tuning pins on Canadian pianos that were not the best quality and when they are around 40 - 50 years old they have loose pins. However those built in Canada of good quality are still doing fine without a damppchaser system and many of them are 80 - 100 years old.
I think Yamaha is a well built piano. In the 15 years we have been selling them we have never had a problem with loose pins and our climate goes from very dry to quite damp every year. And if you do have a problem, you can simply put in larger tuning pins that will last another perhaps 40 years or more.
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Over time we will fill this page with questions that come to us and the answers we feel will generally cover the questions. More technical questions we receive will be answered to you individually.