The mechanism: Internal workings, keys, pedals and cabinet.



Equally as influential to the sound production and touch of a piano, is the internal action mechanism.  Dense felts fastened around the hammers, which hinge in ingenious precision bearings, travel thousands of times faultlessly the same path to the stings.  Between the keys and strings is a complex, intricate but durable mechanism that, depending on the amount of playing, is liable to wear.  Unaware owners often realize far too late that moths, silverfish or mice are eating costly cloths and felts, possibly devaluing and compromising the performance of their instrument.  Even when a piano is not played at all, it is always prone to be infested by pests (See picture below).  Rectifying pest damage is usually a lot more expensive than the cost of regular services.  Delaying regular services is actually false economy.



Maintenance that you perform yourself is restricted to cleaning the keys, cabinet and pedals.  To clean the keys of your piano, slightly moisten a soft cloth with water and gently rub the keys from back to front.  Never rub across the keys, because this will darken and moisten the wooden sides of the keys. If plain water does not do a complete job, a very limited amount of the mildest soap may be added.  Ivories kept wet too long may twist loose from the wooden key.  Therefore, clean about 5 keys at a time and gently rub the keys dry with a soft cloth.  Never use methylated spirits or other aggressive cleaning agents to clean the keys.  Once you dusted the cabinet and cleaned the keys, use our special polish on the keys and cabinet.  The polish leaves a very smooth and lustrous shine that also resists fogging, repels dust, and eliminates static, keeping your piano cleaner for longer.  It protects against smudges and scratching. You may polish the pedals with brass polish but care should be taken not to touch the cabinet as a white smudge will occur.




The upright piano and grand piano as furniture: the cabinet

The exterior of an upright piano or grand piano is naturally of great importance to you.  The cabinet work of the instrument is not distinguished from any other varnished, stained or otherwise treated furniture.  For this reason, giving general advice on maintenance of the exterior finish of your instrument is not possible.  The type of surface treatment the factory decided to apply, determines also the kind of maintenance required.


Cabinet maintenance on new upright pianos and grand pianos:

New upright pianos and grand pianos have a high gloss polyester lacquer and each factory has their own type of polyester.  Polyester is a hard finish and may chip like glass when knocked by another object.  Repairing this kind of damage is extremely difficult and time consuming.  Even the best repairer will not be able to disguise the repaired mark entirely when light reflects on this place.  The polyester needed for the repair, often has a very short shelf life of about 3 weeks and would need to be imported from the same piano manufacturer, making the repair more complex.  Be therefore careful not to scratch or chip the finish on your piano.

Dust itself is highly abrasive and should be removed with a good quality feather duster.  Any remaining dust should be wiped off with a dry soft cloth in the shape of a roll or ball and making a rolling motion with the cloth as you dust in a straight line, so that the dust is lifted up and away from the polyester surface.  Do not remove dust in a circular motion as the dust will scratch the high gloss surface.  Shake the cloth clean outside your home after each stroke and repeat the process.  Once your piano is dust free, clean the surface with our polish.  Polish with a soft cloth in a circular motion applying little pressure until all polish residues are removed.  If a scratch occurs now, it will hardly be noticed, because light that reflects from the scratch that is part of a circle is far less noticeable than light that reflects from a scratch that is in a straight line.  Never place flowers or plants that need water to survive, on your piano.  Always place a cloth under items on top of your piano to prevent the surface from scratching.

Guus van den Braak sells polish that gently cleans all plastics without scratching.  It leaves a lustrous shine that resists fogging, repels dust,  eliminates static, and protects against smudges and scratching. 


Cabinet maintenance on older upright pianos and grand pianos:

Older pianos are usually French polished with shellac or have a spirit varnish which contains shellac.  Unlike polyester, shellac allows the underlying wood to breathe and is more absorbent. French polished pianos are more prone to veneer damage because people have the tendency to place plants or flowers on top of their piano.  The condensation between vase or pot and woodwork is enough to cause great damage, even if you place a cloth under it (believe me; I have seen it many times).  Water spills are even more disastrous as water will drip through the hinges into the piano causing a lot of damage that is very costly to rectify.

Remove dust as described in the section above (Cabinet maintenance on new upright pianos and grand pianos).  There are many commercial "polishes" and furniture oils available, but I recommend you use none of them.  Some "polishes" are nothing more than oil and/or chemical cocktails that can do more harm than good to your furniture.  Each piece of furniture should be assessed individually as to what treatment is best.

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