Humidity levels are crucial to the life of your piano, the stability of the tuning, and for prolonging the time in between tunings. Humidity levels are also the cause of sticking keys. Too much humidity causes wood to swell and therefore can cause keys to stick but low humidity levels can also cause aggravating conditions such as sticking keys! Low humidity is more likely present during the winter, however, during our current period of drought, it is important to watch our humidity levels closely. Low humidity cracks soundboards and other vital wood parts of your piano! Proper humidity levels in your home, year round, should be in the range of 40-52%. In many areas it is impossible to maintain that constant level but the important condition to avoid during the winter months is humidity that is too low. If you are getting static electricity in your home, your piano is in danger!
Humidity levels and having your piano tuned annually are two of the most important things you must do to preserve your investment. Many people are under the wrong impression that if their piano isn't played much or never played at all a tuning is unnecessary. Wrong! Annual tuning protects the pinblock and remember, having a technician regularly see and inspect your piano is necessary preventative maintenance. Never place your piano on top of, directly beneath, or beside a heating/air conditioning duct. In the event the piano is placed in close proximity to a duct, buying an air-redirector shield, or completely closing off the vent is required.
With most high-gloss finishes today, we recommend using a microfiber cloth lightly dampened by water. Using furniture polish is highly discouraged since many polishes on the market contain silicone and other oily bases that do not belong on wood and will eventually dull and cloud the finish. Once polishes with these chemicals have been used it is very difficult to return the finish of your piano to its original shine. Damp microfiber cloths are also the recommended care for satin and semi-gloss finish since using any polish will cause your finish to look streaky and will lose its intended sheen.
On a grand piano, it is always wise to close the lid when not in use. This helps keep dust and pet fur off the soundboard, plate, and strings. After time, you may want to have your grand piano professionally cleaned by a qualified technician. Do not attempt to clean any part of the inside without instruction. You can regularly vacuum the inside carefully using the brush attachment. But never, under any circumstance, use cleaning chemicals or furniture polish on the inside of the piano.
Cleaning your keys regularly feels better to the pianist and looks better to everyone. Using a damp (not wet) soft cloth, like a wash-cloth, and mild solution of dish soap and warm water, should be all you ever need.
During the week November 14 the renowned Tokyo String Quartet, with guest pianist Jon Nakamatsu, began their latest recording with USA - harmonia mundi . The laureate pianist, Jon Nakamatsu, personally chose a Chupp's Piano service restored Steinway D (#267275) concert grand from our Ft Wayne Selection Center to use during the recordings with the Tokyo String Quartet. This instrument is for sale!
During the week of recording, Dennis Chupp was the sole tuner and piano technician responsible for insuring the highest quality of concert tuning, tone and action responsiveness for pianist Jon Nakamatsu.
The internationally lauded, and critically acclaimed Tokyo String Quartet , consisting of Martin Beaver and Kikuei Ikeda (violins), Kazuhide Isomura (viola) and Clive Greensmith (cello), was founded in 1969 at the Julliard School of Music. Since the quartet was formed, they have developed an extensive library of over 40 celebrated recording and distinguished teachings and of late has performed over a hundred shows across the globe per season. Since 1995 the Tokyo String Quartet has performed and recorded on the world renown, invaluable "The Paganini Quartet" of Stradivarius instruments. Known for their incomparable sound quality, the "The Paganini Quartet" is one of only six sets of Stradivarius instruments known to currently exist.
Pianist Jon Nakamatsu, winner of the 1997 Van Cliburn Gold Medal, is an accomplished artist whom maintains
an active touring schedule and is a favorite of music lovers across North America, Europe, and much more of the globe. Mr. Nakamatsu is known for diverse repertoire and brilliant musicianship and has performed at many prestigious venues like the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City, Warsaw's Philharmonic Hall, and Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga.
It was a great honor, and an incredible experience to meet and work alongside this group of world renown musicians, as well as have one of our pianos be played in accompaniment with irreplaceable instruments like the "The Paganini Quartet" of Stradivarius instruments. At the conclusion of the recording session, all the members of the Tokyo String Quartet and pianist Jon Nakamatsu signed the Steinway Model D #267275 which is for sale in our Ft. Wayne Selection Center.
One of our most recent projects was the restoration of a unique 1927 Steinway & Sons Walnut Art-Case. We received the piano in rough, original condition. The walnut grain of the case was obscured due to aging of the finish, the veneer was completely missing in areas of the piano, and the cabinet had suffered water damage.
To return this rare instrument to its original beauty, we repaired the damaged areas, replaced the missing veneer,stained the cabinet in a warm, walnut hue, and applied a fully filled, hand-rubbed lacquer finish.
This is my first entry on this blog. I have been rebuilding pianos for over 35 years. I spent 10 years journeying under the local Steinway service representative and area's concert technician. I had a considerable amount of training from Fred Drasche who was the head Steinway & Sons Service Technician for many years. I also had training at the Steinway Factory in New York. My Three sons began working in our rebuilding shop at about age 12. My sons now work with me full time in our piano restoration business. My family has restored hundreds of vintage pianos including brands such as Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Yamaha, Sohmer, Chickering, Baldwin, Knabe and many others.
I firmly believe that Steinway & Sons pianos are the best pianos in the world, as well as a very sound investment. Our main focus is on Steinway & Sons restorations, examples of which can be seen at www.chuppspianos.com/pianos. This is where you can keep track of our available rebuilt inventory. We plan to add future blog posts to keep track of the progress of the more interesting pianos we rebuild.
One of the more unique pianos we plan to document is the stunning 1903 Steinway & Sons A-II in tiger-oak. This piece was the only sketch #425 ever produced, we have put hundreds of hours into restoring this rare beauty back to its original glory.