Good acoustic grands and uprights are reliable partners and offer a wealth of instrumental qualities. They are built with many natural,organic materials and parts that are affected by ambient temperature and humidty. These natural materials react in various ways to climatic conditions and charges.
Pianos should not be placed at or near a window, directly in front of a radiator,above a convertor,directly above,below or in front of an air vent or register, or against a cold,moist outer wall. Exposure to direct sunlight is extremely detrimental to the finish of the cabinet.
COMFORTABLE ROOM CLIMATE
Pianos, like humans, are most comforable and stable in a moderate ambient temperature and relative humidity. What human beings consider to be 'comfortable' is also favouable for any good grand or upright piano.
Normal airing has no negative effect on an acoustic piano. However, in the case of outside temperatures below freezing or extremely moist outside conditions, airing should be limited, as any prolonged air draughts from airing may damage the instrument.
The ideal ambient relative humidity is between 40% and 60%. The tolerable limit is between 35% and 70%. Fluctuations exceeding these limits can adversely affect the tuning stability and playability of the instrument.
The ideal terperature range is 21 to 24 centigrade. Room temperatures exceeding these limits will not usually result in damage to the instrument, provided the relative humidity of the air is kept within the range of 35% to 70%. Frequent changes in temperature and relative humidity should be kept to a minimum. A stable room temperature is advantageous in many ways, because wood,felt and leather are hygroscopic by nature: expanding with humidity and contracting with the lack of humidity. Prudent attention to ambient climatic conditions(swings of temperature and relative humidity)can reduce extensive repairs and service to your instrument, improve the tuning stability, minimise changes of internal tension in the soundboard and other wooden components and preserve and stabliize the instrument over the years.
All changes in room temperature result in a corresponding change in the relative air humidity. Significant,repeated and longer lasting changes of room temperature should be minimised or avoided. Sudden and drastic changes in temperature, especially if repeated over longer periods of time cause the relative levels of humidity in the room to fluctuate drastically unless otherwise controlled and are detrimental to the instrument and may void the warranty.
The recommended piano service procedures depends on the duration and intensity of piano use, your personal standards for tuning and voicing, how much or how hard the instrument is used and the climatic conditions the instrument is exposed to over time. Tuning at regular 6 monthly intervals is highly recommended.
TOUCH AND SOUND PERCEPTION
The instrumental qualities of a piano are of decisive importance in deriving a sense of well-being from its use. The sound-producing mechanism of the instrument must however blend perfectly with the mechanical (touch) mechanism for reliability and dynamic response in performance applications.
Energy flows in nature in an orderly, systematic manner, reproducing itself, returning to its source or becoming transformed. This can also be applied to the tonal aspects of the acoustic pianos. The energy transmitted by the keys (force, speed and path of the key's movement) is transferred to the moving hammers by means of the keyboard/action mechanism. This energy is then conveyed to the strings by the impact of the hammers on the strings, setting the strings into vibration. The sound-producing mechanism of the instrument then amplifies the vibrations of the strings.
Each individual string produces its own vibrational pattern, which adapts itself to those of the other strings, making its contribution to the enrichment of the overall sound pattern. Finally, the airborne sound waves, generated by the vibrating soundboard, upon reaching the ears are transformed into minute electrical signals that can be perceived by the brain.
Piano 'touch' is what the pianist feels playing an an acoustic grand or upright. The characteristics of perfect 'touch' include the feeling of precision and suppleness, reliability from the softest pianissimo to the loudest fortissimo with passages involving rapid runs and fast reptition, proper touch weight and much more.
Individual keys will be played million of times over a period of years, particularly in the midlle part of the keyboard, resulting in natural wear and tear. However, the instrument will continue to play properly and effeciently as long as it is regularly serviced by a qualified piano technician and not exposed to humidity or temperature extremes.
The quality of the hammer heads is critical for dynamic keyboard response. The ideal hammer head must have flexible layers of felt and be properly shaped and expertly voiced to balance the internal stresses of the compressed felt for the unlimited potential in musical expression and interpretation.
Frequent and/or energetic playing compresses the hammer felt, causing it to harden. The crown of the hammer will naturally become worn. Finally, vibrations in the extremes of relative humidity can affect the internal stresses of the hammer felt. Therefore, it is best to have the voicing touched up and the hammers filed from time to time by a qualified and professional paino technician.