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MMD > Archives > February 2006 > 2006.02.23 > 07Prev  Next

Piano Warranties & Environmental Conditions
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Debbie Legg's posting, about the problems she is having with
a player piano she rebuilt, reminded me of a posting I sent to the
MMDigest some years ago.  In the posting, I mentioned some of the
criteria that I recalled reading in the Steinway Limited Lifetime
Warranty in the 1970's.

Back then, Steinway didn't have a web site.  Now they do!  Below is
some of the information that comes with their warranty.  It should be
noted that the following conditions are not required.  They are
recommended...  [Ref.]

  As we have said, common sense is an excellent guide in the care of
  your Steinway piano.  This is especially true when you are choosing
  the proper site for the piano in your home.

  About 70% of your piano is wood, which even though it has been
  carefully selected and dried, is still "alive," so to speak.  It
  reacts just as your body does to variations in temperature and
  humidity.  Constant fluctuation in either of these variables is
  definitely bad for your piano's health.  And may lead to more
  frequent servicing.  The action regulation, tuning, and voicing
  will become unstable.

  We urge you to adhere to the following recommendations which will
  help you minimize wear and tear and help you keep your piano in
  optimum condition.

  Don't position it in the path of an air conditioning outlet or
  a heating outlet.

  Don't put it near an evaporator cooler or a room humidifier.

  Don't put it close to an uninsulated outside wall.

  If you think of yourself rooted to any of these spots and subjected
  to the changes of temperature and humidity thereabouts, you will be
  able to imagine what a piano in the same location would have to
  endure.  Pianos placed in such locations cannot be expected to stay
  in tune and keep their adjustment.  More important, the instrument
  subjected to such environmental insult may be permanently damaged.

  Ideally, your Steinway piano should reside in a temperate atmosphere
  where relative humidity ranges from 45% to 65%.  If this is not
  possible, remember that the idea is to keep environmental factors
  within a fairly narrow range.

  When placing your piano within a room it is important to pick a spot
  where it will not be hit by direct sunlight.  The exterior of your
  piano is made of wood from the same tree, carefully stained and
  color-matched at the Steinway & Sons factory.  Exposure to direct
  sunlight will bleach the wood and ruin the piano's carefully
  prepared finish.

  It is a good idea to place a fairly accurate hygrometer near the
  piano so you can monitor humidity swings.  Room dehumidification,
  humidification or air-conditioning may be needed to maintain a
  stable environment.  The consideration of these items if necessary
  far outweigh the increased servicing, which may become necessary if
  these guidelines are not followed.

I added a codicil to my performance guarantee early in my career after
I had to basically rebuild a player piano that was foolishly placed
over a heat register by the customer.  It reads:

  "We are not responsible for changes in performance that occur as
  a result of abuse or neglect.  Our performance guarantee remains in
  effect for the period stated above as long as the temperature in and
  around the instrument is between 60-75 degrees and the relative
  humidity in the room is between 35-60 percent.  Should it be found
  that the above criterion are not maintained, our performance
  guarantee is null and void."

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Thu 23 Feb 2006, 19:10:07 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Conditions, Environmental, Piano, Warranties

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