The Older Piano

As the piano ages it changes according to how regularly it is being used and serviced including tuning.  It also changes according to the environment in which it is kept.  It is important for a history on the piano to be developed throughout its life cycle including service and tuning dates, pitch and temperament records and brief statements from time to time on how it is being used and where it has been kept.  Other information such as moves, ownership changes and technician identity are also important things to know.  The conscientious piano technician will keep these records as a routine matter and should include this information with the bill at the end of each service visit.

The piano slowly wears out from the time it is delivered by the dealer.  At certain times during its useful life cycle, it is necessary to consider its age and to assess its use and wear patterns. This is especially important when choosing a different technician. The technician must review as much of the piano’s history as possible in order to determine how he or she should proceed.  This process begins by verifying its age according to its serial number and continues through a general inspection assessment and notation of the instrument’s overall condition.  This “initial visit” can be lengthy and may incur additional charges.

Generally speaking, the unique use and service patterns of a specific piano determine the number of useful years in its life cycle.  With responsible use and care, it will last from 40 to 50 years as a viable musical instrument.  A periodic review of its condition should include assessments of both its working and tonal parts.  Major assemblies such as: the action stack, key-bed and keys, harp plate and strings, pressure bars, tone bridges, pin block, soundboard, and pedal mechanism, as well as the furniture casework, are all critical in how the piano  performs, sounds, and appears.  At some point in its useful life cycle these parts are sufficiently worn out and it becomes necessary to consider major repairs or replacement of the instrument.  The qualified piano technician is the best resource for this information and can offer advice whenever necessary in the care of an older piano.