tuning your piano is just one of several things you should consider if you want your piano to last a lifetime
Before I discuss with you why you should for the most part keep your instrument away from sustained sunlight, I will try to help you gain some insight on how your piano is not simply a piece of furniture and why regular tuning and service is essential.
All pianos are designed by piano engineers to be beautiful furniture and as musical instruments to bear roughly 20 tons or 40,000 pounds of tension from the day they are born to the day they die. They are jointed and glued together as are chairs, tables and cabinets. Unlike chairs and tables, they are built from thousands of parts and components; 80% wood, 20% metal.
Irregardless of the make or model, your piano was designed to fulfill a purpose of beauty through its appearance and outward design and its function and inner design.
The 3 worst things for your piano – What does your piano hate?
- Fire or extreme heat or fluctuations from extreme dryness to
- High humidity or extreme moisture
- Neglect in the form of infrequent tuning and service
I will focus on the effect of ongoing or intermittent exposure to sunlight on your piano. Sunlight or radiant heat from the sun can slowly cook and kiln dry your piano over time. This radiant heating effect can vary depending on the intensity of the sunlight in your area. If you live in a place like Philadelphia, New York, Paris or London where you get plenty of clouds, rain and moisture, the effect of that kind ongoing exposure to sunlight might not be as severe as if you live in Colorado, Arizona or a semi arid, desert environment. You should be very concerned in either case. Sunlight in areas that are moist and humid can be a destructive component and a factor in “humidity swings” that can literally shred your piano over time.
If your piano has a lacquer finish, the sun will heat and ‘alligator’ it. A lacquer piano finish that is referred to as such has a finish that resembles the skin of an alligator. But that is the least of your potential troubles if your piano is exposed to intense sunlight over an extended period of time. In some instances glue joints can become compromised and then other nasty symptoms of overexposure can become apparent.
The soundboard can crack, and ribs can loosen. Cabinet and action screws can loosen and lead to poor functioning and creaking, groaning mechanical dysfunction. Pianos have thousands of moving parts if you include the action mechanism so there is a lot that can go wrong.
At the very least, excess exposure to sunlight can cause tuning instability. If your piano does not hold a tune properly, then the value of it as a musical instrument is diminished.
How can exposure to sunlight affect the tune of your piano?
As most pianos are located in a living room or other room in your home, the sun will pass by and shine on your instrument for an hour or up several hours or more every day. Heating and cooling wreaks havoc on the piano tuning because of the consequent expansion and contraction of the cast plate, strings and the wood and air in and around your instrument.
What does your piano love?
Pianos are like people. They need attention and love. My predecessor once told me that “pianos are big babies!” I will write further on how to prevent your piano from becoming a “PSO” or a “Piano Shaped Object.”