FAQ: The Piano Man Services

FAQ

1) How do I know if my piano is an upright or a grand piano?
The easiest way to determine this would be by looking at the instrument as this is one of the most distinguishable factors. Upright pianos are more compact with vertical strings and normally sit up against a wall with a flat rear. Grand pianos lie flat with the strings horizontally and have 3 legs and have flat top almost like a table. Grand pianos are generally larger and need more care than upright pianos.

2) How do I know if I own a piano or a pump organ (trap orrel)?
The technology used in a piano is very different and as a result their appearance differs. A piano uses hammers and strings to produce a tone while a pedal organ uses wind and bellows. Pedal organs have levers and / or knobs and also have additional keyboards while a piano always only has a single keyboard. The sound generated is also very different, a piano will be able to play without the pedals being suppressed while an organ would always require someone to use the pedals to generate wind.

3) How do I know if I have a piano or a keyboard / electronic piano?
A piano is made from natural materials and as a result their appearance differs greatly. The biggest difference would be that a keyboard or electronic piano is cased in plastic or synthetic materials and  makes use of electronics and circuits and  needs a plug point while a piano can be played just by depressing the keys. A  keyboard is often more compact and portable than a piano.

4) Why is pitch important?
Pitch is standardized at A=440. Which means that the note A4(note 37) on the piano is vibrating at 440Hz per second. All instruments are tuned to this and  if you want to be able to play the piano with other instruments then your piano needs to be pitched thus. Also pianos are built with this pitch as a tonal frame of reference.

5) Why does my piano need to be tuned to A440 and not related to where it is at present?
All instruments today are pitched with the reference point of A=440. In order to be in sync with other instruments you need to set the piano at A=440. However certain older pianos are not able to be pitched at 440hz and were originally pitched at 435hz. This type of  piano can still be in tune with itself and sound good on its own.

6) What is regulation and why is it important?
Regulation is the art of adjusting all the moving parts of the piano to create an even touch throughout the keyboard and also achieve good repetition.

7) If my soundboard is cracked, is it the end?
This is a fallacy. A piano can still have a good tonal quality with cracks in the soundboard as long as the soundboard is still attached to the ribs and structurally solid.  If there are vibrations or a loss of volume and tone then there might be some repair work necessary without having  to write the piano off.

8) What is a pitch raise, why do I need one?
A piano’s pitch changes with humidity, temperature and being played and even not being played. Sometimes this change is far from standard pitch.  The strings need to be stretched again to be stable at standard pitch. The initial stretch usually takes them slightly beyond where they need to be and then they tend to settle back slightly. This is called a pitch raise and only after this can a stable fine tuning be done.

9) How do I know my keys are ivory?
Ivory keys are identified in three ways. They often yellow with age. They are made with three  pieces of ivory, two on top and one in front, with a visible line between the two.  You can usually make out a pattern on the ivory(called a Schreger line).  Lastly they are heat resistant whereas plastic or synthetic keys will melt. All pianos made in the late 20th Century are now made with plastic or synthetic keys.

10) How often do I need to tune my piano and why?
This depends, but as I rule of thumb a piano played fairly regularly in a home should be tuned annually.  If your piano is subjected to great fluctuations in humidity, temperature and extensive use or heavy playing then it may need to be tuned more regularly. A piano in an institution and performance venue is tuned much more regularly.

11) What is the action?
The action consists of all the moving parts of the piano that causes the hammers to hit the strings when a key is depressed

12) Why does my piano need a deep cleaning and service?
Overtime dirt and dust starts to accumulate in various places in a piano. This causes the piano to become sluggish, builds up friction and affects the tone of the hammers and strings. The cabinet can also deteriorate and the brasswork to tarnish. 

13) Why must my piano be tuned after moving it?
A piano exerts between 15-19 tonnes of pressure on its frame and also reacts to changes in locations. Also the move can affect the stability of the piano

14) Why must I use a specialist to move my piano?
Pianos were not designed to be mobile instruments and are not only heavy but also very awkward pieces to move. Weighing anything from 200 – 500kg’s (uprights) and even up to a ton for a concert grand. Serious damage can be caused simply by dropping the instrument from a few inches off the ground. We thus recommend using a specialist moving company that not only has the experience of moving pianos but also the equipment to ensure the instrument is not damaged.

15) Can I transport a piano myself?
Yes technically this can be done, however pianos are extremely expensive and heavy and you can hurt not only yourself but also the instrument if not done correctly. 

16) How do you fit a grand piano through a doorway?
When done correctly a grand piano needs to be disassembled before being moved. This ensures no damage to both the legs and more often the pedal lyre. The grand piano’s legs are all removed and wrapped and the piano will be placed  onto its side on a piano cradle. This is specialist grand piano moving equipment that ensures that the piano can be carried and lifted without exerting pressure on the instrument. Once strapped in and cushioned with blankets the grand piano will easily pass through a standard doorway.

17) Am I covered should something happen while the piano is being transported
Yes, we have cover for damages as a result of accidental damage to your piano while in our custody.

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