Contrary to some popularly held beliefs, pianos do not get better with age, and regardless of quality or price, ALL pianos will require care over time to remain in optimal playing condition. With more than 6000 parts, and a life span decades long, pianos are susceptible to many stresses that gradually degrade them. A $50,000 piano could quite easily be outplayed by a $10,000 piano simply by not caring for it properly.
Fact: a piano has more tension on it than all instruments in an orchestra, combined. That’s 30,000+ lbs of tension.
The Benefits Of Maintaining Your Piano
When your piano is in great shape, there are a whole host….
The Downside Of Not Maintaining Your Piano
Without regular piano care, your piano will quickly fall below its designed performance level. A poorly maintained piano will experience some or all of the following:
- poor tuning stability
- uneven key feel
- stuck keys, or intermittent key disfunction
- shortened sound sustain
- shrill or metallic tone
- loose pedals
- poor control
MERRIAM PIANOS SERVICES MORE PIANOS EVERY YEAR THAN ANY OTHER PIANO STORE IN CANADA
Piano tuning is the most common and frequent type of piano care – as a regular, normal course of ownership, privately-owned pianos need to be tuned between 1-4 times a year, depending on level of use, and climate.
Why is tuning a piano so important? Although most players will describe piano tuning more in aesthetic terms (“I hate how it sounds”), tuning does more than just make sure that the strings are the proper tension. Pianos that are in tune are actually louder, and sustain longer. It’s actually very similar to focusing a beam of light, or a projection of an image. The more in focus the light, the brighter it seems. Tuning a piano is exactly like ‘focusing’ the sound.
For full information on our piano tuning services, click here.
The hammers are the part of the piano action that come in direct contact with the strings. They act as mallets, striking the string and initiating the vibration. Piano hammers are made of felt, and after thousands and thousands of times of impacting the strings, the felt becomes deformed and squished (rutted/grooved and compressed…in piano-speak).
What does that do to the piano? There are two consequences that matter. The most obvious is that the sound becomes metallic, and distorted, because the hammers are physically harder and have less cushion. Just think about hitting a pot or pan with something hard, vs. something soft…it’s a very different ‘clank’ between the two, isn’t it?
The second consequence is that the life span of your strings become dramatically shortened if you continue to play on compressed hammers. Even though it’s happening on a microscopic level, hitting strings with compressed hammers actually slowly ‘dents’ the string. And that string isn’t very thick, and under an enormous amount of tension. It doesn’t take too many ‘dents’ before the string just breaks.
Hammer voicing normally needs to be done every 5 years of normal use.
Hammers are a wear component of pianos, and just like tires on a car, at some point it is expected that they will be replaced. In most cases, this occurs in the 30-50 year range, depending on the type and level of use. It is unusual to have a piano have it’s hammers replaced more than once in it’s lifetime, although not unheard of for high-quality grands with 100+ year life spans.
If your piano is 30 + years old, and it’s sounding bright, or the tone is very uneven, speak to a technician about whether a voicing could improve things, or whether it might be time for hammer replacement.
Merriam Pianos Service Department offers a wide range of hammer replacement options. We are particularly experienced with the following models and brands:
- U1 Upright
- U3 Upright
- G1 Grand
- G2 Grand
- G3 Grand
- C2 Grand
- C3 Grand
- C7 Grand
- All uprights
- KG Grands
- RX Grands
- Model S
- Model A
- Model O
- Model L
- Model B
- Model D
Mason & Hamlin
- Model B
- Model A
- Model AA
- Model BB
- Model CC
- All Uprights (vintage)
- All Grands (vintage)
Knabe (orig / vintage)
- All models
- All models
Don’t see your piano here? Just ask below!
The action on a piano is the most complex part of the piano, an intricate machine that connects the piano keys with the hammer.
The action sustains a lot of stress from the repeated impacts and force that a player places on it. The action has many natural impact absorbing points in it, made from leather, felt, and in some cases wood. (several actions are being made with carbon fibre currently, which is reducing the need for maintenance of this particular part of the piano)
As these parts absorb impacts, they compress and change shape slightly, which affects the alignment of all the small parts – technicians can come and readjust these parts, returning the action to the proper ‘feel’ and speed.
Without regular action regulation, a piano may start to feel lighter or heavier than it should, take longer to repeat a key, or lead to complete key disfunction (won’t return to rest position, or won’t produce a sound)
Strings, like hammers, are wear components, and do not last forever. Strings are normally replaced at the same time as hammers, although that’s far from a rule – each piano will be different, and you should seek the opinion of a qualified piano technician on when the right time to replace your strings is.
Piano strings are made of metals, and as such they slowly stretch and corrode – both of which affect the sound quality, and the ability to stay in tune.
Cabinet Buffing & Repair
Even with proper care, pianos pick up small scratches, chips, dents, and general wear over the course of many decades of use. Merriam Pianos offers several services to help return your piano to showroom condition.
- Polyester repair / buffing
- Cabinet restoration (classic wood-based finishes)
- Brass Plating / Restoration
Ask us for a quote on your piano today!
Has your piano seen shinier days? Is there a thick layer of dust on the soundboard, or are the keys looking a bit grimey? We offer a piano cleaning service that can help return your instrument to its former glory. Particularly since it’s difficult to get underneath the strings, let us help with specialized cleaning equipment, and avoid the frustration of doing it yourself.