Dampp-Chaser humidity control systems are often the most practical, effective, and affordable way to improve the tuning stability of your piano.
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For an honest and in-depth discussion of humidity and pianos visit our blog: https://pianova.net/2018/08/31/piano-humidity-control-tuning-stability/
The number one reason pianos go out of tune is humidity change
I have literally witnessed pianos go noticeably out of tune after a week, due to sudden spikes or drops in relative humidity. Thoughtful placement of the piano is the first thing to consider.
- Do not place a piano where a heating vent or air conditioner can blow directly toward the piano.
- Avoid placing the piano near windows, or outside doors.
- If there is a window nearby be sure that sunlight does not shine directly on the piano.
- Don’t worry about placing your piano on an “outside wall”, unless you live in an extremely cold climate and have no insulation in the wall.
I went to a client’s home for a tuning at the end of August. The last time I had been there had been February 18 months prior. It sounded like I would expect: The pitch of the piano was significantly sharp, and the musical intervals were significantly distorted. Here’s a recording of how the tuning sounded:
BEFORE HUMIDITY CONTROL
I could have tuned the piano at that time, but explained to the client that however sharp and out-of-tune the piano was, if I simply tuned the piano, the piano would be as flat and out-of-tune by the following February. That would not be a good value.
Instead we decided to “tune” the piano by installing a Dampp-Chaser system and removing the excess humidity that had accumulated in the piano over the summer. I stopped by the client’s home 2 weeks after the installation and recorded the tuning again:
After humidity control
After 2 weeks the tuning was significantly better without touching a tuning pin! Also the piano will continue to sound good throughout the winter months. During return visits, I will be able to focus more on maintaining touch and tone instead of having to wrestle with a tuning that is off pitch.
A basic Dampp-Chaser is the least expensive way to maintain the tone of a piano.
Once you have controlled the environment around the piano as much as possible, the next thing to consider is a Dampp-chaser system for the piano. Dampp-Chaser offers a variety of products designed to reduce the piano’s reaction to external fluctuations in relative humidity.
The best way to know if your piano needs a system is to have your piano tuned at least every 6 months. The entire tuning is based around the “A” above middle “C” vibrating at 440 vibrations per second (A=440Hz). We feel that in most situations, a tuning that fluctuates between A=439 and A=441is acceptable. If on subsequent visits we find the tuning is outside this range then it is obvious that the piano can benefit with a Dampp-Chaser.
A Basic Dampp-Chaser can be purchased and installed for less than the cost of 2 tunings!
Basic Upright System $275 + tax
Basic System for grands under 6′ $325 + tax
Grands over 6′ $399 + tax
In the Puget Sound area, we rarely get weather that is too dry. However, in certain circumstances dryness can be an issue, such as a home kept very warm in the winter, or having a wood stove in the same room as the piano. The basic system LOWERS humidity. But in dry situations you need to ADD humidity as well. This requires a full system, which includes a humidifier tank that installs in the piano and keeps the soundboard moisturized during dry periods.