Piano tuning, repair, restoration in Salt Lake City, Utah

Licensed piano tuner, repair, restoration technician
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Piano Technician

Dmitriy Baykov


To make an appointment call Dmitriy at (801) 638-1083

Download Piano Care Guide

Piano care tips

Your piano – whether a magnificent grand, a studio instrument, or a home-sized vertical piano – deserves to be serviced and taken care of properly. I have prepared this guide so that you may be able to protect your piano and keep it in proper working condition.

As a piano technician, I have learned that many of my customers feel concerned about the care and protection of their investment. Since pianos don’t normally come with “owner’s guides” I have assembled this Piano Care Guide using information from several sources and also the input of several other piano technicians. Customers generally have questions about placement, tuning and other maintenance that their piano may need. This guide is to help you maintain and protect your beautiful piano. If you have any other questions or concerns about the care of your piano, or if you have questions concerning specific brands or pianos, please call me. I’ll be glad to answer any of your questions as well as I can.

 

The right environment for your piano

Environmental conditions are important because they affect the piano’s tone, tuning, stability, finish and the length of the instrument’s life. Frequent or extreme changes of either temperature or humidity may result in damage to your piano. By rigid control of the manufacturing process, good piano manufacturers can reduce the susceptibility of pianos to future damage from these changes. However, the piano’s environment after it leaves the factory is important. Extreme atmospheric changes affect the moisture content of wooden parts, causing them to shrink and swell. This may cause finish cracks or chips, changes in string tension which results in more frequent tunings, soundboard cracks and changes of critical tolerances which keep the piano in excellent playing condition.

Generally, environments which are not comfortable for people are not good for pianos either. For proper maintenance, avoid temperatures above 80F and below 70F. Also, avoid relative humidities below 50% and above 60%. Keep changes of temperature and humidity to a minimum.

Don’t place your piano over a heat register or near a steam or hot water radiator. Keep your piano away from windows or doors which are frequently opened. Avoiding direct exposure to sunlight is also advisable as it affects not only the finish, but also the tuning stability of your piano.

We know that in Utah, we experience winters that are very dry. The relative humidity is usually quite low. In summer, many people live in homes with evaporative (swamp) coolers. While this makes the air feel cooler in the summertime, it also, of course, puts a lot of moisture into the air. May I make the following suggestions if you use a swamp cooler:

1. Keep the moist air from blowing directly onto your piano.

2. Install a humidifier on your furnace so that the moisture content of the air in your home remains more consistent during the changes in season. Not only is it better for your piano, it is better for your health too.

3. Keep some live potted plants in the same room as the piano. This helps to keep the moisture in the air when it is dry outside. A good suggestion is a geranium to keep moths away as well.

 

Protecting your piano’s performance

A piano cannot remain in excellent condition unless it is properly maintained and receives regular service by a competent technician/tuner.

 

Tuning

Because it takes time for any new piano to become thoroughly settled and adjusted to atmospheric conditions in its home, proper tuning and servicing are especially important during its first year after purchase. New pianos should be tuned several times in this first year. During these tunings, your technician should check and regulate the action to compensate for the settling of new parts to climate and use.

I hear of many people who buy a piano, get their first free tuning from the store where they purchased it, and let the piano remain untuned for years (sometimes decades). This harms the piano because it loses stability and over the years will not “hold tuning.” What a sad way to treat such a wonderful instrument!

I agree with the recommendations form the National Piano Foundation and the Piano Technicians Guild stating that after the first year a piano should be tuned twice each year, even after it has become settled in its permanent location. Did you know that most concert grands are tuned before every performance? Recording studios tune their pianos several times each month. If your budget is such that you feel you cannot afford to tune your piano twice a year, please have it tuned at least once a year.

 

Care of the action

Equally important as proper tuning is thorough attention to the action. This intricate but durable mechanism responds instantly to every touch with a full-power blow to the strings. If the thousands of interrelated parts are kept regulated (or in good adjustment), the action will perform for many decades of faithful service.

As with tuning, a modest amount spent to have the action thoroughly checked during the first year or two will add additional years of life to the instrument, as well as satisfaction with its performance.

When the action has become settled to its surroundings, it will need less frequent adjustment. Do not confuse tuning the piano with adjusting the action or any other work. Tuning the piano merely adjusts the strings to the proper pitch.

 

Voice

The third main adjustment that a good piano technician can do to a piano is called voicing. When a piano is new from the factory, it may require some voicing in order to achieve a tone that is pleasing to your ear. That can be done to a certain degree by a competent piano technician.

For instance, if the piano is too bright or brilliant in tone, the technician can soften the hammers slightly to achieve a more mellow tone. If the piano is too mellow or dark, the piano tone can be brightened by slightly hardening the hammers with a special solution.

Realize that if the piano is not a very good instrument to start with, voicing will not turn it into a great sounding piano! As a piano is played over the years, the felt hammers can become compressed, causing the tone of the piano to become brighter over time. Many people don’t notice the difference because it happens gradually. I recommend voicing your piano occasionally, especially if it receives heavy use. The tone will remain much more pleasing.

 

Preserving your piano’s beauty

Your new piano is not only a fine musical instrument but also a beautiful piece of furniture. Preserving its appearance is important, too. Remember that extreme heat or cold, particularly if the temperature has changed suddenly, may damage the finish. Excessive changes in humidity can also result in damage.

Care for the finish. Before leaving the factory, your piano was given a lustrous and lasting finish. With proper care, your finish will stay beautiful for many decades of use. 

 

For questions or to make an appointment call Dmitriy at (801) 638-1083


Photo copyright (c) 2008, Michael J. Fraughton, used by permission