Piano Maintenance and Care
Pianos go out of tune mostly because of seasonal changes in humidity and temperature, which cause the soundboard and other wooden parts to expand and contract. This occurs regardless of whether or not the piano is played. The Piano Manufacturers Association recommends tuning a new piano at least 3 to 4 times during the first year, until the strings have fully stretched and the instrument has acclimated to its environment. It should be tuned about twice a year thereafter, due to the climatic changes discussed above. Pianos should be tuned to standard concert pitch A440 Hz.
A piano's action (key and hammer mechanism) has thousands of parts. Due to usage and wear, it periodically requires adjustment to return it to original specifications and to optimize performance. This process is called regulation.
The tonal characteristics of a piano, the actual sound of the instrument (the "voice"), can be adjusted by needling, and softening or hardening the hammers. Voicing is performed to compensate for inconsistencies of tone or the compacting and wear of hammer felt (which causes the tone to become too bright and harsh), or to accommodate the musical tastes of the player.
Ideally, a piano should be situated on an inside wall, and whenever possible, away from windows, doors, radiators, and air vents. Avoid very sunny locations which can cause the finish to fade.
Always use wax free dust sprays on traditional lacquer finishes. Polyester finishes can be cleaned with a slightly damp soft polishing cloth, or with specially formulated polishes available for this purpose.
Keys should also be cleaned with a slightly damp polishing cloth. A mild soap solution or non-abrasive cleaner may be used for particularly dirty areas on the keys. Care should be taken to clean only the top surface, not allowing liquid to run between the keys. It is recommended to use separate cloths on older instruments with natural ivories and real ebony sharps.
Pianos are primarily made of wood, a material highly sensitive to changes in humidity levels in the air. Proper control of humidity will greatly increase the tuning stability and the life span of the instrument. Specially designed systems are available to maintain a constant humidity level within the piano; a consistent environment of 45% relative humidity (RH) at 70 degrees F is recommended.