The Highs and Lows of Pianos by the Sea

Image by jswerd from Pixabay

Picture this: You’re sitting at a grand piano, looking out through huge open glass doors across the waters of Sydney Harbour. It’s framed perfectly by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Amazing!

Maybe you’re one of these lucky people who lives by the sea and owns a piano. I want to celebrate with you. I’ve been fortunate enough to have looked after quite a few pianos in this setting. Being able to mix natural beauty with pianos and music is to enjoy some of the best life has to offer.

As I’m writing this though, I can feel all the piano technicians out there shaking their heads in horror. Why? Because as awesome as it is, there are consequences for a piano in this setting in  the form of corrosion. This occurs slowly with exposure to humid salty air,  but most piano owners aren’t aware of the changes taking place until major work is needed. If you own a piano by the sea, here are some actions you can take to keep your piano in top shape. You can help protect it from corrosion, while still enjoying the music and the view.

Problem Area 1 – The Strings: Exposure to the salt air over time makes piano strings rust. 

This does 3 things:

-It negatively affects the sound

-Makes the piano tricky to tune

-Strings are more likely to break during a tuning

Rusty piano strings on bridges. The rust causes friction at this point making the piano difficult to tune.

Solutions for rusty strings

-Prevention: close the piano lid (grand piano) when you aren’t at home to stop salty air settling on the strings

-A Polycarbonate insert which sits on top of the strings will prevent salty air settling on the strings and causing corrosion. Call me on 0414 343 034 to discuss a polycarbonate insert.

-Regular cleaning of the strings by your technician to remove some of the corrosion and stop it progressing further

-Have the piano restrung when the corrosion gets too bad

-Don’t touch the strings (acid from the sweat in the fingers can accelerate corrosion)

Problem Area 2 – Wood: Swelling of wooden parts of the piano can happen when they take on too much moisture from the air (humidity is often consistently high near large bodies of water).

This can cause:

-Sticking notes or just general stiffness of the mechanism

-Corrosion of lead weights in older pianos, which can damage some of the wooden parts

-Compression ridges in the soundboard (usually not too much of a problem – mainly cosmetic)

Solutions for swelling wood in your piano

-Prevention: Have your technician install a piano lifesaver. This is a humidity control device fitted into the piano.

-Lubrication of centre pins in the mechanism by your technician (don’t try this yourself)

-Easing of the keys if they are tight by your technician

Problem Areas 3 – Piano Frame & Brass work:

Discoloration & rusting (Mainly cosmetic)

Solutions for corroding and discoloured brass work on your piano

-Polish brass work regularly to prevent deep corrosion

-Apply protective clear coat protection to polished brass where applicable (get your technician to do this)

-Replacement of hinges and some brass parts if they become too corroded.

-Respray the frame when restringing

Contact me if you need any help with your piano by the sea.

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