6 tips to take care of your piano

July 29, 2015

A little care for the case and the keys — it doesn't take much to keep the ivories tinkling for your cherished piano.

6 tips to take care of your piano

1. Never treat a piano like a table

  • Your piano is a beautiful piece of furniture, but it should never be mistaken for a table or bookcase.
  • Don't even consider placing a live plant on top.
  • If the weight doesn't damage the wood or the finish, the water that eventually spills on it will — not to mention what it can do to the strings and metal parts if it seeps inside.
  • Likewise, banish all candles, drinks and other objects.

2. Polish your piano

  • Always use a compatible polish to keep up your piano's finish.
  • It's best to seek out recommendations from the piano's manufacturer or a piano specialist in your area, though you can usually get by with pure lemon oil or a high-quality furniture polish.
  • Typically, you should polish a piano twice a month to keep it clean and free of dust, but never, ever polish the keys or the bench top.
  • Polishing the keys will make them sticky and dull-looking, while polish on a bench top will eventually combine with the varnish on the wood and body perspiration to form an adhesive-like substance that will stick to players' seats and ultimately destroy the wood.

3. Practice safety in the sun

  • It's a good idea to keep your piano out of direct sunlight.
  • The light can bleach the wood and leave an uneven finish.
  • Sunlight will also darken plastic key tops. Ivory keys, however, require periodic exposure to sunlight in order to maintain their whiteness.

4. Clean your piano keys

  • Use a damp cloth with a little nonabrasive cleaner added to wipe down your piano keys after each session to avoid stickiness and dulling.
  • Don't forget to dry them off afterward.

5. Homemade piano-key brighteners

Even if your old piano still sounds great, those ugly, yellowed keys can hit a sour note. Try some of these tried-and-true methods to put the white back in your ivory or plastic keys:

• Mix up a solution of 50 grams (1/4 cup) of baking soda in one litre (one quart) of warm water. Apply to each key with a dampened cloth. (You may want to wedge some pieces of cardboard or paper towels between the keys to avoid drips.) Then wipe with a cloth dampened with plain water and use a clean cloth to buff-dry.

• Try cleaning them with a bit of toothpaste and a toothbrush; then wipe them down with a damp cloth and buff-dry.

• Cut a lemon in half, dip it in a bit of salt, and rub it over the surface of the keys. Once they have dried, polish the keys with a damp cloth and buff-dry.

• Use some plain yogurt. Just put a small dab on a clean, soft cloth, rub it on the keys and then wipe it off.

6. Support the lyre on a grand piano

  • One of the most fragile parts of any grand piano is the lyre, the contraption that hangs down below the piano and contains the pedals.
  • To prevent the lyre from breaking from excessive foot pressure, slide a phone book or a like-sized catalog between the pedal box and the floor.
  • Make sure the fit is tight so that when you push on the pedals, the weight isn't on the lyre.
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