Why are my piano keys sticking? Can I move my piano myself? Why is refinishing my piano so expensive? In today’s blog post, we cover a few of the piano-related questions we receive here at Chupp’s Piano Service.
Why Are My Piano Keys Sticking?
Behind each ivory, ebony or plastic topped key stick resides almost every moving part in a piano. All of these moving parts creates the potential for annoying sticking and binding, causing notes not to function. There are a number of reasons this may occur and can usually be quickly diagnosed by your qualified piano technician. Here are a few of the most common reasons.
- Debris. The gaps between the keysticks allow for small debris to fall between them. Over time, this can cause keys to bind together. Each key pivots on metal pins. If the rail pins become dirty or filled with debris, this can cause keys to feel sluggish. With a grand piano, pencils and similar items can often fall between strings and into the piano’s action. (This author has dealt with that a time or two on his personal piano…) The fix for this usually involves removing the action stack or keys to get to the issue, removing any junk and thoroughly cleaning the action. If possible, keep small items stored away from where they could accidentally fall into the piano’s action cavity or between the key sticks.
- Humidity swings can cause wooden key sticks and action parts to expand and shrink, causing parts to bind. We highly recommend that you take steps to control the humidity levels within and around your piano. The best way to do so is to invest in either a whole room or whole house humidification control system. As a nice side benefit, this will also greatly increase the comfort level of your home. We also recommend the consideration of a Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver System installed directly onto the piano. The combination of these steps will ensure that you receive the longest service and most enjoyment out of your musical instrument.
- Broken parts. There is a chance there may be broken action parts which are keeping your piano from functioning. Lost screws, flattened knuckles, broken wippens. These are just a few of the issues that may be causing your piano keys to jam or not return properly. Again, this would be an issue for your piano technician to diagnose and repair.
There are obviously a few more reasons beyond this list that your keys may be sticking. The good news is that virtually any of these issues can be checked out by your piano technician during your regularly scheduled piano tuning.
Can I Move My Piano By Myself?
Yes… and no. While scooting your small spinet across the room or slightly re-adjusting your grand piano is very doable, you should probably think twice about packing up and moving your piano yourself. Moving a piano requires expert care and attention to detail. With a typical piano weighing hundreds of pounds, risk and liability quickly become involved. We have heard numerous ‘horror stories’ of do-it-yourself piano moves gone wrong. The last thing you want is your vintage Mason & Hamlin crashing down the second-story stairs! A good piano mover has years of experience and the equipment needed to get the job done quickly, efficiently and most importantly, safely. It is well worth the small investment to have your piano moved by qualified piano movers. This provides peace of mind and can quite possibly save you money in the long run by preventing catastrophic damage to your home or instrument.
Why Is Piano Refinishing So Expensive?
The short answer is time and labor. When done properly, the finishing or refinishing of a piano’s cabinet is much more complex than simply slapping on a new coat of paint. In fact, this cosmetic step is the most labor-intensive step of a piano rebuild/restoration!
The removal of the old finish is the first actionable step. The finish stripping process that we employ does not include any water. While water can be used to neutralize the stripping agent, this can also soak into the exposed wood and cause damage to the piano’s structural integrity. After the finish is removed, veneer/cabinet damage is carefully repaired and the wood is sanded by both machine and hand with finely graded sandpaper to create a silky smooth base for the oncoming finish.
When preparing a natural wood veneered piano for the finish, the wood is stained to ensure a color match across the entire cabinet and the veneer is paste wood filler. Paste wood filler fills the pores in the wood to create a deep contrast and smooth finish. This especially important on deeply grained woods such as walnut or mahogany. This process is completed across the entire piano cabinet from leg to lid! After all of this, the actual finish is finally applied.
At the beginning of the process, it is decided what type of finish the piano will receive. Our most common and requested finish is a hand rubbed, satin lacquer. Thin coats of lacquer are sprayed onto the cabinet. The coats are sanded with fine-grit sandpaper and sprayed over again. This process is repeated again and again until the finish is built up to the proper level. The cured lacquer is then hand-rubbed/polished to the desired sheen. As you can see, this process is labor-intensive and time-consuming. However, the result is well worth the care and precision required. For more about the piano refinishing process, click here.
Chupp’s Piano Service | Specializing in Steinway & Sons Piano Restoration | Service Since 1975
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