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on your new


With regular maintenance, your piano will last through your lifetime and more.

What do I need to do?

Think of your piano as an instrument, not furniture.  Inside the case there are delicate wood, felt and leather pieces and the strings.  The pedal mechanism is mostly inside as well.  You may be surprised to open the top and discover hundreds of moving parts.

Your piano is not a table.  Nothing goes on top!  No family photos, party food or drinks, orange juice, or even water while you’re practicing.  Do you really want rings from cocktail glasses on the lid?  Even with coasters, it doesn’t work.

Fred’s story, a cautionary tale

My piano technician is a musician.  In his years of experience, he has returned many pianos to playing condition after a variety of mishaps.

When he tuned my piano about a month ago, he told me the following story:

A long-term client of his was in the habit of having a glass of water around while practicing.  She routinely placed the glass on the left end of her upright’s keyboard.  You know the wood piece on the left?  Just the right size for a glass or a coffee cup.

She was always very careful.  Never spilled any water.

And then one day she wanted orange juice.  She set the glass in the same spot.  And… she accidentally knocked it over.

Orange juice ended up on the strings.

Fred’s comment:  “That stuff is really hard to get off!”

And I was thinking that I wouldn’t want to pay somebody to do that.

How do I clean my piano?

“Can’t I just use Pledge?”

I’ve heard that question so many times!

The short answer is an emphatic “NO!”

Put down the cleaning products and the cloth you’ve used to dust other furniture.  That cloth has oily and waxy substances on it.  Remember, your new investment needs to be protected.  It’s an instrument, not a coffee table.

Avoiding the use of cleaning products assures that they won’t get onto the strings and small parts inside.  That stuff builds up.  After that, the parts begin to stick together and some of the keys stop working.

All you need is a clean, soft cloth.

To clean the keyboard, most of the time a clean, soft cloth will do the job.  If there are fingerprints or other residue on the keys, then you can use a slightly damp (not oozing water) soft cloth.  Make sure no water gets onto the wood on the sides.

Everyone who plays the piano should wash their hands first.  Any handcream should be non-greasy.


If you have a cleaning person or a house sitter, you will want to let her/him know how to clean your piano.


Most people don’t have the luxury of a climate-controlled environment.  So you will want to use a humidifier in winter and a dehumidifier in summer.

Your piano technician has experience with this.  The type and capacity of the unit you need depends on the size of your space and the local climate.

Keep your piano away from a/c and direct heat and sunlight.  Each of these affects the finish of the case and/or the tuning.

Have your piano tuned every 6 months ~ more often when new.  Again, follow your technician’s recommendations.

Moving your piano

Never roll piano on its wheels!

Don’t move your piano yourself.

Hire a professional piano moving company.  They will need at least three guys.

Make sure the movers use a dolly.

Secure the top and fall board (the piece that covers the keys).

Remove the knobs on an upright’s fall board ~ they can be attached on the inside.

Ensure that the movers wrap your piano with quilted furniture blankets to protect the case.

The piano should be secured to the side wall of the moving truck.

Your piano will need to be tuned more often following a move.

Common sense

All you really need to do is think!  Keeping your piano in optimal condition is neither difficult nor time consuming.

My instrument, a Baldwin “Hamilton” upright, was purchased new 28 years ago.  Although it’s hard to believe it has been that long, the action and the sound are as good as the day I bought it.

So take care of your instrument!  A reputable piano technician is your ally.  If you have any questions, ask.  Your technician would rather be asked than exercise damage control.

Please share your thoughts experience in the comment section below!

Be sure to catch the book sale!  Both versions of “Goal-oriented Practice” are available at special sale rates through Thursday, November 18 at midnight!

Related post:  When you buy a piano

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