Humidity Systems

PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT WITH A PIANO LIFE SAVER SYSTEM

Piano Life saver graphic

The Piano Life Saver System is an internal humidity control system that is engineered to protect what is arguably the world’s most complex musical instrument: the piano.  It is widely held that a grand piano has more individual parts than a car.  piano humidity pictureThe vast majority of those parts are made of wood.  It’s a remarkable piece of engineering and a wonder of construction. Many of the world’s most respected piano makers build their instruments today in almost exactly the same manner as they did over 100 years ago. They go to great lengths to assure that the many species of wood used in the construction of their instruments are carefully chosen and dried to the proper moisture content. It is extremely important that this moisture content is maintained throughout the life of the piano.  Piano makers deem this so important that they include a clause in their warranties that excludes coverage to instruments that have been subjected to extremes in temperature and humidity.

It is extremely important that this moisture content is maintained throughout the life of the piano.

How does humidity level affect my piano’s tuning?

Swelling and shrinking of the piano’s soundboard is the most immediate and noticeable effect of humidity change. The soundboard, a sheet of wood approximately 3/8 of an inch thick, is made with a slightly crowned shape. The strings pass over the soundboard and are connected to it by a wooden piece called a bridge. The upward crown of the soundboard presses the bridge tightly against the strings.

As the moisture level in the soundboard increases during periods of high relative humidity, the crown expands and pushes the bridge harder against the strings. The strings are stretched tighter and the piano’s pitch rises. Because this increase in crown is greater in the center of the soundboard than at the edges, the pitch rises more in the middle octaves than in the bass or treble registers.

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During periods of low relative humidity the soundboard shrinks, reducing the crown and decreasing pressure against the strings. The pitch drops, again with the greatest effect noticeable in the center of the keyboard. When relative humidity returns to its previous level, the average pitch of all the strings will return to normal, although the exact pitch of individual strings will be slightly changed from their original settings. Thus, a piano only will stay in tune as long as the relative humidity level in the air surrounding the soundboard remains constant. Extreme humidity changes require making greater changes in string tension to bring the piano into tune. This upsets the equilibrium between the string tension and the piano frame, and the piano never becomes stable.

How will humidity control benefit my piano?

While not eliminating the need for regular piano maintenance, humidity control will allow more stable tunings by reducing the radical pitch changes your piano may experience through the seasons. When your piano stays closer to its correct pitch level of A440 (A-440 cycles per second), your technician does not have to perform a large pitch raising or lowering procedure prior to fine tuning. Thus, a balance of forces is maintained between the strings and the frame of the piano, allowing more accurate and stable tunings to be done.

In addition, a stable environment will help to preserve your piano through the years. Wood parts, glue joints, metal parts and your piano’s finish will all last longer if not subjected to excessive humidity swings. Maintaining the correct environment will preserve your piano investment for a lifetime of enjoyment.


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