The most important thought is firstly climate – humidity, alongside with regular tuning and regulation of the piano by a qualified piano technician.
Humidity levels effect all pianos.
Weather patterns vary widely around the world, from high humidity cities to the dry cities. The fact remains, that, even within relatively small geographic areas have different “micro-climates”. Therefore, it is impossible for any piano manufacturer to “season for destination” and to ascertain the moisture content of the wood for the market for which is “destined” or “sold” or “export”.
Piano is largely made of wood which is greatly affected by humidity. Excessive humidity and extreme temperature are the enemies of the piano. The ideal relative humidity (RH) level for a piano is between 42-65% and should stay within a 10% range. Too dry or too wet will affect the wooden parts of the piano to shrink or swell, respectively. As a result the piano will not function properly and leads to major problems such as casework crack, veneer peeling, sticky keys, rusty strings, loose tuning pins, loose glue-joints, hammer-felt coming unglue, split soundboard, ribs coming apart, crack bridges, mold and so on.
The climate in Malaysia is very humid where the “average” humidity level is above 70% and is very bad for your piano. For anyone who is serious about maintaining their piano in optimum condition they should look into climate control system. A Central Air Conditioning will helps to control the humidity level and protect your piano. If you do not have a Central Air Conditioning, a Dehumidifier may be used. A Dehumidifier should be placed in the room with the piano, but not directly beside the piano.
In some cases it is true that we cannot control humidity but there are some things we can do to alleviate the conditions such as placing your piano where it won’t be exposed to sources of humidity like near a swimming pool, kitchen, windows, bathrooms and so on.
Temperature alone does not generally affect the stability of pianos but it decidedly affects fluctuations in humidity. It is recommended that a moderate temperature be maintained in the house throughout the year.
There are well over 220 strings in your piano, which are stretched at high tension across the frame of your piano so they sound in harmony with each other. The standard pitch of a piano is at A-440 Hz (the note A above middle C vibrates at 440 cycles per second).
Every piano has the tendency to go out of tune in time whether it is old or new or if it is played or not. Factors such as atmospheric variations particularly humidity, stretching of the strings, slipping tuning pins and hard and consistent playing will alter the tension and make the piano goes out of tune. Furthermore, not having your piano tuned regularly will slip flat in pitch and steadily deteriorate in condition. The increasing inequality of string tensions will have physical consequences that could lead to more permanent and costly damage.
To ensure the best sound quality and proper playing condition, it is recommended to have your piano tuned to standard pitch (440Hz) twice a year. In case of irregular usage, it is advisable to tune the piano at least once a year.
On pianos that have been neglected and have gone without tuning for many years, pitch raising (few tunings) is something that needs to be done before the piano stabilizes sufficiently to allow for fine tuning. The extra tunings involve in pitch raising add to the cost of tuning service.
It is important to tune the piano regularly, however, it is also important to note that your piano also requires a periodic servicing called Action Regulation to keep the keys working properly.
If your piano displays a lack of sensitivity or decreased in dynamic ranges, the keys are not level, the touch uneven, the keys are sticking, buzzes, clicks, squeaks, pedals not working properly and so on, it is an indication that your piano needs regulation.
The action of a piano is an amazing and complex and sensitive machine. It has over ten thousand parts and needs to be kept in adjustment so it works correctly. To compensate for wear, compacting of the felts, cloths & leathers and changes in wooden parts due to humidity, periodic adjustments must be made. Keeping the correct relationship between every part will prevent unnecessary wear and will make each key function smoothly and evenly. It is recommended to have your piano regulated every 2 to 3 years.
On the other hand, sticky keys are a typical minor problem with any new piano. The tolerances are tight to allow for wear and small adjustments often need to be made after the piano adjusts to its new environment. These happens to many new pianos from the least expensive to the most expensive.
However, a sluggish action or deep grooves in the hammers indicate the need for overhauling or repair.
Every piano have its own distinct sound. Some pianos are mellow and others are bright due to the density of the hammer felt. Harder hammers will give you loud sound and softer hammers will produce a mellow sound. The more you play the brighter it becomes. This is because the hammer felt compacts and wears down. When a piano is too bright or harsh, it becomes difficult to produce an even range of expression. Carefully shaping the hammers and needling will bring back the beautiful tone.
Cabinet & Finish
Piano finishes are famous for their quality and are equal to or better than those of fine furniture today. Avoid placing the piano where it will be exposed to direct sunlight. Always keep your piano clean and keep the keyboard covered when not in use to prevent dust. To remove fingerprints on the piano finish, always dust the piano first before wiping the case with a damp cotton cloth. A micro fiber cloth is useful for cleaning dust off high-gloss finish pianos. Never rub hard and always move the cloth in the direction of the wood grain.
Avoid the use of chemicals or solvents. While some are acceptable, others contain chemicals which can be absorbed into the wood. Even a small amount of mist from sprays can have a bad effect on the inside of a piano.
To clean the keys, use a damp cloth and drying them immediately. Don’t get water between the keys or they may stick. Never use any solvents stronger than alcohol on keys. Yellowing in ivory keys can sometimes be reduced though sanding or scraping. The key coverings can be replaced if so desired.
Dust buildup in the piano may cause the mechanisms to stick or work more slowly. If you wish to clean or vacuum the inside of your piano or remove a small object that has fallen into the piano always ask your piano technician. While this may appear to be a simple task, care must be taken not to misalign or damage the many small parts inside the instrument.