Those of you who’ve followed our piano blog for a few years will no doubt be saying “not this again”, but keeping your piano in a proper environment is key to keeping it in shape and extending its lifespan, while avoiding unnecessary and at times very costly repairs. The main factor at play here is humidity, and while our record warm Toronto winter to date may not have the fireplaces lit up quite as often, make no mistake: Winter is coming, and keeping your piano away from excessive heat sources is paramount to keeping the humidity level around the instrument at or around the ideal 45% and avoiding these issues.
Considering the majority of your piano is made of wood, there are a lot of parts that can dry out and begin to under-perform if the humidity level is not kept in check, from relatively minor (but no less annoying) things like throwing off the pitch and loosening the tuning pins, to more severe problems like cracks in the sound board, pinblock and finish. Luckily, keeping things in shape humidity-wise is relatively simple and economical. The first key piece of equipment you should invest in is a humidity gauge. These come in a wide variety of models and sizes with varying features, and can be purchased for as little as $3 at your local hardware store (although we’d recommend going with a decent digital version, which average between $10-$25). Once you’re able to assess the humidity level surrounding your instrument, you may then be pressed to invest into some additional equipment if the levels are too far off.
More often than not, this will mean purchasing a humidifier. There again the choices are numerous, and the prices will vary from below $50 up to $300+ depending on the model you choose (if you want to be particularly trendy, perhaps these Star Wars versions are for you). If you’d like to keep your piano in shape while not necessarily altering your over-all environment, there are piano specific on-board options you may want to purchase and install instead, such as the Piano Life Saver system from Dampp-Chaser. These units can be installed by your piano technician and will keep your piano humidified at the proper level automatically (provided of course you remember to refill the water supply – but don’t worry, there are handy blinking lights to tell you when it’s thirsty for more). These humidity systems are available for both upright and grand pianos. If this is something you’d like to add to your instrument, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 416 871 2550.
Photo credit: www.pianolifesaver.com