Pianos have several thousand parts (8,000-12,000) and many of those parts are moving parts. To keep all the parts in good working order, pianos need regular care.
During your first year of piano ownership you'll probably want to get your piano serviced two to four times. I know that sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that a piano is an investment. This includes having it tuned, regulated, voiced, and getting worn parts replaced or repaired.
Tuning is the adjustment of the piano's strings. There are over 200 strings in a piano. The piano tuner technician will adjust the strings so they are at the correct pitch. This is ensures the notes will sound in harmony when musical intervals are played.
Changes in humidity are the main thing that cause a piano to go out of tune. There's typically a large humidity change in the spring and one again in the fall. Don't have your piano tuned right after a humidity change because it won't hold very long (probably only about two months). Instead wait a month or two after the humidity change to have the tuning done. It will hold longer.
Regulation is the adjustment of the mechanical aspects of the pianos because the cloth parts compact and settle, and the piano changes dimension somewhat due to changes in humidity. Uneven keys and keys that stick are signs that a piano needs to be regulated. The frequency of regulation needed for a piano varies according to how much the piano is used along with the climate it's kept in.
Voicing is the adjustment of the piano's quality of sound or tone. The technician will voice the piano to ensure the tone is even from the lowest to the highest notes. A piano's tone will change with use. As the hammers wear and compact, the tone will often become too harsh. Before having a piano voiced, make sure it is well-tuned and regulated first. Then ask your piano technician about voicing if: the tone varies significantly from note to note; the piano has lost its ability to play softly; you don't like the sound of the piano after the tuning has been done; or your piano sounds different than when you purchased it. Voicing typically only needs to be done once every one to five years. It depends on the piano and the amount of use.
You'll also want to make sure you take good care of the exterior of the piano too. Neglecting the exterior of your piano can, believe it or not, affect the sound quality of your piano. Keeping it clean is a pretty simple job, but one thing to remember is that you don't want to use furniture polish.
A piano will also need periodic reconditioning by the piano technician which is cleaning, making any needed repairs, and replacing specific parts if needed. When your piano technician comes over to work on your piano, it's a good time for you to dust the hard to reach areas of the piano such as the behind the lower panel where the pedals are.
If your piano has deteriorated severely then reconditioning it won't be enough. You'll have to get the piano completely rebuilt which involves completely disassembling the piano. As you might imagine it's very labor intensive and quite expensive, but in some cases it's the only way to restore the original performance level of your piano.
Keep in mind that a piano is an investment, and that a well maintained piano can actually increase in value over its life.
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