1. How often should I have my piano tuned?
  2. What is the ideal humidity for my piano?
  3. How do I determine what my piano is worth?
  4. Will moving a piano make it go out of tune?
  5. What is the best way to clean my piano keys?
  6. What are the different pedals for?
  7. Should I restore my piano?
  8. I have an old piano. Does that mean it’s an antique?
  9. What type of piano do I have?

1. How often should I have my piano tuned?

The Piano Technicians Guild recommends tuning a piano every 6 months. Tuning is considered standard maintenance and is crucial for insuring the integrity and worth of your instrument. Even if the instrument is not played, it must be tuned. Why? Inside your piano a metal harp or plate supports the strings. The harp holds approximately 20 tons of tension. Regular tuning maintains this tension evenly on the plate. If not properly and regularly tuned, tension on the piano’s plate may become uneven. Eventually this condition can lead to sustained damage to your piano. Our piano tuners are certified technicians with extensive tuning and repair experience. They are available by appointment by calling our showroom at 804-358-1929, or by completing our online Tuning Appointment request form.

2. What is the ideal humidity for my piano?

Ideal humidity for a piano is between 40-50%. This can normally be controlled by keeping your instrument away from heat sources and in a climate controlled setting. To ensure complete humidity control within your piano, consider purchasing a Dampp-Chaser Humidity Control System which can be installed by our technicians. To learn more, see our explanation of how and why Dampp-Chaser Systems work.

3. How do I determine what my piano is worth?

It’s impossible to assess the exact worth of any piano without a visual appraisal. Appraisals should always be handled by a certified technician or appraiser. Some factors influencing the worth of a piano are:

  • Age of the piano
  • Whether it has been regularly tuned and serviced.
  • Condition of the cabinet.
  • The manufacturer. Manufacturers like Schimmel are known for producing fine quality instruments. Excellent craftsmanship and materials allow their pianos a long life. (e.g. Schimmel, Steinway, Baldwin, Wurlitzer, etc.)
  • Whether the piano is a grand or an upright.

Richmond Piano has certified appraisers available to assess your piano. Appraisal appointments can be made by calling our showroom at 804-358-1929.

4. Does my piano need to be tuned after it is moved?

Changes in humidity affect tuning more than moving. If you are moving your piano from one room to another, or even from one building, humidity levels won’t change drastically and the piano probably won’t need to be tuned. However, if your piano is being moved a long distance, climate conditions will probably change and your piano will need tuning. It is best to allow your piano to acclimate for several weeks before having it tuned.

5. What is the best way to clean piano keys?

We recommend a product called Key Clean. Key clean can be used to remove perspiration, dirt, dust, and even crayon. Key Clean contains no harmful waxes, polishes or abrasives. Keep your piano covered when not in use, but remember ivory keys need some exposure to light to prevent yellowing.

6. What do the piano pedals control?

[From the PianoWorld website]
On pianos with two pedals, the left pedal is the soft pedal. On a baby grand, the soft pedal shifts the entire action – the action is the moving parts that rest on the back end of the keys – slightly to one side causing the hammers (the oval shaped felt pieces that strike the strings) to only strike two of the three strings. This softens the sound.

On a vertical (upright) piano, the left pedal moves the action closer to the strings. Since the action can’t travel as far on an upright, the strike to the strings is lighter, making the sound softer.

On grands and uprights the right pedal, called the Sustain Pedal, lifts the dampers (the felt covered blocks that normally mute the string sound when a key is released) which causes the notes to sustain until either the pedal is released or the sound dies out.

A middle pedal can perform a number of functions depending on the piano. On many verticals (uprights) and some baby grands the middle pedal works as a bass sustain. Pressing the middle pedal only sustains the notes in the bass section. On some verticals, it once operated as a “rinky tink” or “honky tonk” bar that positioned a series of felt strips with metal pieces between the hammers and the strings. Using this pedal produced a “rinky tink” sound.

Sometimes the center pedal is a Practice Pedal that lowers a long felt strip between the hammers and strings, muffling the sound so that it doesn’t disturb others when the pianist is practicing. A few inexpensive upright pianos have the center pedal attached to the left pedal.

On most better baby grand pianos, the center pedal is a Sostenuto pedal. A sostenuto pedal sustains the note or notes played immediately before pressing the pedal. This would in effect work like a third hand by keeping only the chosen notes sustained while playing other notes.

7. Should I restore my piano?

Piano restoration can be a wise investment and can greatly enhance the value of certain instruments. The cost of restoring some pianos, for example old verticals, may exceed the worth of the instrument.  When this is the case we advise investing in a newer instrument or upgrading to a grand piano. Some hand-crafted vertical instruments may be worth the investment. Before considering restoration on an upright or a grand, we advise getting a professional appraisal of your piano. This cannot be done by phone. A certified technician must inspect the piano.

Richmond Piano has been rebuilding fine pianos such as Steinway and Mason Hamlin for over 35 years. We have certified appraisers on staff who can discuss the restoration potential of your instrument. Please call our showroom at 804-358-1929 to make an appointment.

8. I have an old piano. Does that mean it’s an antique?

Old can mean many things. Unfortunately, just because your piano is old, doesn’t automatically make it an antique. Pianos are durable instruments that can last for hundreds of years, particularly if it’s a high-quality, hand-crafted instrument like Schimmel, Vogel, Steinway, Charles Walter or Brodmann.

If you own an old vertical instrument (unless it’s a Schimmel or a Steinway), chances are your piano is only worth from $0 – $500.

9. What type of piano do I have?

All pianos are generally going to have the same width of approximately 57″. Upright pianos are classified by height (if it’s an upright), grand pianos are classified by length. Upright pianos can vary in size from 36″ up to 50″. To size an upright piano, measure from the bottom to the top of the instrument. Measuring from the side usually gives the most accurate reading. Upright pianos fall into the following classes:

  • 36″ to 40″ = Spinet
  • 40.5″ to 44″ = Console
  • 45″ to 49″= Studio
  • 50″ and above = Upright

Grands range in size from approximately 4’8″ ato 11′ or more! Industry standards for grand measurements vary. In general, the following classifications apply:

  • 4’8″ to 5’4″ = Baby Grand
  • 5’5″ to 6’11 = Parlor Grand
  • 7′ to 7’11 = Grand (Living Room Size)
  • 8′ and above = Concert Grand