As discussed in our previous article, humidity is by far the most important factor in a piano’s tuning changes throughout the year. This guide will help you understand the effects of humidity on your instrument and what you can do to monitor or change the environment near your piano.
Humidity’s Effect on your Piano
To begin, let’s discuss why humidity plays such a big role in the tuning of your piano.
When the piano's wood bridges are raised or lowered, they change the tension of the strings. Seasonal changes in humidity either expand or contract the wood in a piano, changing its tuning as well.
Humidity is measured in percentages. These show the amount of water vapor in the air compared to water vapor capacity of the air. The name for this is “relative humidity". The optimal location to place a piano is where the relative humidity is 40-50 percent.
This means that picking a good location for your piano would require some effort; you can’t just place your instrument anywhere.
Proper Piano Placement
Any piano, cheap or expensive, can be ruined by improper placement. Stay away from placing your piano anywhere near radiators or vents; drastic changes in humidity may occur at these locations and could continue to destabilize your instrument until it is unable to be tuned.
Some other places, although not as extreme, include windows, doorways, and outside walls; all three of these can supply small breezes of air to the piano and destabilize it. If you cannot find a suitable place for your piano, don’t be afraid to place it near these. Make sure, however, to leave a gap between the wall, window, or door, to provide your piano with as much insulation as possible.
Another aspect you should take into account is sunlight. Sunbeams can heat up a piano during the day, affecting its finish and even its tuning. If any sun shines onto your piano, it would be best to cover it with blinds or curtains.
The last factor you should consider is temperature. Especially during the winter, this certainly affects your piano’s tuning. A small difference in temperature, even five degrees, can play a role in the humidity of your home and your piano.
Since each piano demands a proper climate to be the most effective, trying to maintain a good climate around it is essential.
Humidifiers are effective in doing this, whether you connect them to your heating system set up a portable one. Set up your humidifier so that it maintains proper humidity throughout your home and where the piano is located. If you are not comfortable with the humidity level your piano needs, portable humidifiers are great: they can maintain the space your instrument is in without compromising the rest of your household.
Additionally, you may purchase climate control systems for your piano specifically; they are placed directly inside. They only require intermittent filling, an annual cleaning, and do a good job in keeping the piano in a regulated climate.