Content for id "text" Goes Here
How to Keep a Piano in Tune

Why Do Pianos Go Out of Tune?

How To Keep Your Piano In Tune
Humidity Control Devices

Why Do Pianos Go Out of Tune?

     There are several factors that can alter the tuning of a piano:  humidity, temperature, moving, excessively hard playing, aged or worn materials, and abuse.
How To Keep Your Piano In Tune
     There are three key ingredients for keeping a piano in tune: location, humidity control and frequent tuning.  
Humidity Control Devices

     Sticking drawers, sticking doors and loose furniture joints all change with the weather and the seasons.  In the summertime when humidity levels in the air are higher, wood absorbs this moisture and swells.  In the winter when the air becomes dryer from winter heating and lued wooden joints become loose and wobbly.  Just as doors and drawers become tight withhigh humidity and loose in dry air, the keys of your piano may stick down when struck in times of high humidity.  When the environment surrounding your piano is dry the keys may seem to rattle when played.  As you play your piano, you will notice how responsive the keys are to your touch.  The way the keys cause the wood hammers to strike the piano strings is apart of thousands of interconnectred wooden parts called the piano action.  With high moisture levels in the piano action, the action is sluggish, and the keys seem non-responsive to your touch.
     The soundboard is the single largest piece of wood in your piano.  It actually vibrates to amplify the sound produced by the strings.  The bridges of your piano are joined to the soundboard and support the strings.  As the soundboard absorbs moisture from the air surrounding the piano, it swells, producing an upward bulge.  Through the bridge, this puts additional tension on the strings.  Now the pitch is too high in the lower mid-range and extreme treble strings.  When the soundboard shrinks and flattens, the tebnsion of strings over the bridge becomes inadequate.  The pitch of the mid-range and treble strings is now flat.  Over time, constant changes in humidity levels, with the corresponding shrinking and swelling of the soundboard, will damage the integrity of the soundboard.  You will see this damage in the form of a crack in the soundboard.
     The strings of your piano are held tight by the pins in the pinblock.  As the pinblock absorbs moisture in periods of high humidity, it swells, crushing the wood fibers against the pin.  In dry periods, the wood shrinks away from the pin, loosening it and causing the string to sag.  When this cycle is repeated time after time, the wood fibers surrounding the pin are destroyed and lose their resilience.  With continuous swelling and shrinking, the wood can no longer provide the snug fit required to hold pins in place.
     The strings of your piano are responsible for producing the musical sounds.  With exposure to high humidity levels over long periods, strings become rusted and corroded.  At the junction where rusted strings wrap around rusted pins, rust corrosion forms a hardened bond between the two.  Then, during a tunig, when your piano technician turns the pins to stretch the strings, the inflexible rusted string snaps at this joint.
     The Dampp-Chaser Climate Control System maintains your piano at an average 42% relative humidity as recommended by major piano manufactureres.  Then your piano soundboard is kept at a constant moisture level, shrinking and swelling are minimized.  Your piano goes out of tune when the humidity levels in your home environment are controlled to some extent by the temperature.  Generally, an air conditioner will remove some summer humidity, but the drop in humidity, when winter dryness sets, in, presents a significant moisture change which will put your piano out of tune.  When your piano is maintained at 42% relative humidity, it will stay in tune longer and better.
     The Dampp-Chaser Climate Control System is made up of three basic components whcih work together to control the humidity levels within your piano, maintaining the recommended  42% relative humidity, no matter what the external conditions are.

How it works
These components cycle together to maintain the wood of your piano at 42% relative humidity.  When the humidistat, located less than an inch from your soundboard, senses that the wood is dry, it turns the power on the humidifier.  Then, when the humidifier has provided enough moisture to the soundboard, the humidistat turns off the humidifier and turns the power on to the dehumidifier.  The dehumidifier carres away moisture from the soundboard on air currents until the humidistat again senses that the soundboard is dry.  The system again switchews to the humidifying function.  The cycle continues day after day, year after year, protcting your piano from external conditions.  The system must be installed by a qualified piano technician.  Only your technician can be sure that each component is located for optimal effectiveness and protection.  Each Dampp-Chaser System carries a 5-year guarantee.
     The early 20th century saw peak production of pianos as economic prosperity permitted many families to own a piano.  Thousands of those vintage pianos survived the years and are now being restored to their original condition.  Today, leading piano remanufacturers strongly recommend the installation of a Dampp-Chase Climate Control System to prevent continued wood cell deterieoration and metal erosion in the older piano.  The System is installed out-of-sight in your piano, maintaining the same environment now provided for the treasured pianos on display in the Smithsonian Institue.  If you value your piano, it is well worth installing a humidity-control device.
Call Dean Petrich, RPT
(360) 730-7992
By the way, if it has been longer than six months,
your piano is probable ready for a tuning.
Call and schedule your next tuning
Return to PIANO PAGE
Return to HOME PAGE