Sunday, October 9, 2011

Your Piano May be Celebrating Halloween Year Round.

 I find some spooky stuff in old pianos.  Here are some recent photos from an old upright that I recently did some action work on.  Granted, this old piano has been around since the dust bowl, but I don't think most people know what can lurk under those dark cracks between the keys.  I find this kind of mess in pianos pretty frequently.  Aside from the obvious piles of dirt and debris, this piano was hiding some old coins, tons of straight pins, and something sticky that had been spilled between the keys.  Thankfully, this piano was free of mice.  (Mice love pianos.  They tend to make nice soft nests under the keys using the various felt parts from the piano.  This piano was probably too dirty for them.)
Dirt like this accelerates the wear on the action.  It gets into all of the felt parts, such as the hammers, the dampers, and the various felts under the keys.  The smallest of objects under the keys can upset the proper function of the piano.  So, when regulation adjustments need to be made, (nearly all pianos need some), the action needs to be cleaned first.  If mice have visited, that can complicate things.
Piano owners can help minimize this buildup of dirt by keeping piano lids closed when not in use, and by running the crevice tool on their vacuum over the tops of the keys a couple of times a year.
Either way, if you have had your piano for 10 years or more, it is likely overdue for a good cleaning.  Ask your piano technician about this when you call to arrange for your next tuning, and listen carefully to the pedal squeak.  It could be a mouse.  Eek!
The keybed after cleaning, with new green felt punchings