The piano is an instrument made mostly of wood. Depending on its style and design, it has approximately 1,200 working parts and is engineered to sustain a constant string-pull pressure on the harp-plate of some 32,000+ pounds. More than 1,000 pounds of this is triangulated through the harmonic tone bridges to “float” on the sounding board itself. The sound you hear is not the strings at all, but the soundboard which is being energized by the highly tensioned, specially made, music wire strings. It also has features which produce the musical dynamics necessary to interpret the piano literature. The total life expectancy of a piano instrument is 40 to 50 years depending on both its use and care.
After the instrument is built in the factory it is adjusted to all its specifications. Then, it is allowed to stand for several weeks so that its parts can “settle” into a certain expected integrity to become a sensitive musical instrument and fine furniture piece. During this time, the mechanism is repeatedly adjusted and the casework finish is completed. Also, the strings are pitched and tuned several more times. Only when the new piano maintains its expected qualities is it delivered to a dealer and sold to an eager customer.
When the instrument finally finds its way to its new owner, it is necessary for the factory specifications to again be reviewed and adjusted. Depending on the arrangements with the dealer, this operation should be completed by a qualified piano technician within a few days after delivery. At this time it is again pitched, tempered, and tuned according to its intended use – usually at concert pitch and in equal temperament.
Careful follow-up care is the responsibility the piano owner. Tuning and maintenance, including casework care on a regular basis, must be pursued throughout the life cycle of the instrument. This ensures the best possible performance of the piano and prevents serious tonal damage and overall deterioration from neglect. Generally speaking, minimum care requires that a new piano be serviced and tuned at least four (4) times in its first year of service and two (2) times yearly thereafter. As the new instrument ages and whenever its use pattern changes, it is important to review and discuss these aspects of follow-up care with the dealer or qualified piano technician.