Frequently Asked Questions
These are just a few of the many questions we receive daily from prospective piano buyers. Whitesel Music takes great care in accurately answering any inquiry for a prospective customer in a common sense way you can understand.
Should I keep my piano on an inside wall?
We find that many tuners still make this recommendation to their clients in every situation. This rule was strictly enforced by our company 50 years ago. But times have changed, and so have the ways our homes (and pianos) are built. General rule of thumb…if you have an old drafty farm house, keep the piano on an inside wall. If you have a more modern home with proper insulation, it’s OK to put it on an outside wall, but not next to a door that has constant traffic.
The reason a piano goes out of tune, and degrades more quickly over time is because of constant humidity/temperature changes. Although we wouldn’t recommend putting your piano in front of a window where direct sunlight beams in all day long. We’ve also seen new piano owners not put a piano on the ‘perfect wall’ because there was an air vent close by. We have other advice…just close up the vent and don’t let it control your life! A piano is fun, and nothing to be scared of. Put the piano where you want it, and enjoy it.
Why should I tune my piano?
All pianos require tuning in order to keep them sounding the best that they can and tuning a piano is as much art as it is science. It requires a special touch, some advanced tools, and an exceptionally fine ear. Our technicians have the latest technology and a deep understanding of the inner workings of pianos.
Changes in temperature and humidity are the primary cause of pianos going out of tune and needing maintenance. Moisture and heating affect the sound board, and these changes cause the pins and strings to move ever so slightly, but enough to change the sound. Pianos need to be tuned after moving, not because they’ve been bouncing around as much as they’ve been exposed to different environments. They are incredibly resilient but need to be touched up whenever there is a climactic change. The more intensely and harder you play the faster it will go out of tune. The force of the keys and hammers moving cause the tension in the strings to lose equalization. Tuning will return the balance to strings and keys. The indirect benefit of tuning your piano regularly is if a problem is found, it can be fixed quickly and can help prevent your significant investment from greater and more extensive damage.
How often should I have my piano tuned?
We recommend having your piano tuned at least once a year, preferably twice. If the piano is in a church, school, or hall with regular temperature changes, we recommend 2-4 times a year depending on the playing schedule. Understand that the tuning is also a chance for our piano technician to keep a watchful eye on the overall condition of your instrument.
Minor problems spotted early on could save you thousands of dollars in repairs discovered later. An in tune piano is also a very important part of a child’s ear training and development. Know that if your piano is out of tune, you child’s brain is learning (incorrectly) that the out of tune sound is actually the ‘correct’ way for a piano to sound. This could greatly affect your child's 'ear' and ability to learn any instrument or vocal singing in the future.
I have an old upright, this must be a valuable antique right?
Unfortunately, in most cases, this is a big NO. Unless you have an old Steinway, Bosendorfer, or Schulze Pollmann, your piano is probably worth $0-$500 in museum mint quality. Ask yourself how much a 1920’s era printing press would be worth. Not much, if anything. Just like other mechanical devices from the early 20th century, most pianos from that era were made differently from the modern day piano. Not only are they obsolete, but almost all require a complete rebuild in order for them to even be usable. Unless this is a family heirloom that you want to keep for generations to come, we do not recommend rebuilding a piano like this. It’s in our best financial interest to recommend the exact opposite, but not in yours. You could buy a brand new and better piano for the same price or less than rebuilding an old upright. We have rebuilt many old uprights, but they were family heirlooms and have deep sentimental value to the owners. We would be happy to rebuild your family heirloom to the finest standards and to like new condition. Otherwise, your money would be better spent on a new or certified pre-owned piano from Whitesel Music. There are some technicians out there who could use a solid two months of guaranteed work that will advise differently. That’s just not the way we operate.
What is the ideal temperature/humidity for my piano?
The official recommendation of the Piano Tuners and Technicians Guild is as follows: "Because your piano contains materials such as wood and felt, it is subject to change with climatic conditions. Extreme swings from hot to cold or dry to wet cause its materials to swell and contract, affecting tone, pitch and action response of touch. You can reduce the severity of these effects by placing your piano near a wall away from windows or doors, which are opened frequently. Avoid heating and air conditioning vents, fireplaces and areas, which receive direct sunlight. Your piano will perform best under consistent conditions neither too wet or dry, optimally at a temperature of 68 degrees F and 42 percent relative humidity. "
We understand how difficult it might be to keep your home at a constant 42 percent humidity, so 40-50% is acceptable. To ensure the optimum environment inside your piano regardless of its location in your home, we recommend installing a Dampp-Chaser System. Whitesel Music offers this product and installation service to all our customers.
Should I have Whitesel Music restore my piano instead of buying a new one?
If you are unsure of what type of piano you have, we would be happy to appraise it. After a thorough inspection, we would be happy to determine if your piano is a good candidate for rebuild. Every piano being rebuilt at Whitesel Music is customized to the needs and wants of the customer. Our technicians have a minimum of 20 years experience, and have performed countless numbers of rebuilds. For more information visit our piano repair and restoration page.