Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Piano Benches - Size Matters!

Whether your piano's bench is badly broken or is missing, it is very important that you choose a bench that is the correct height to fit your piano.

The right piano bench can make a huge difference in how comfortable the piano performer is while playing.

Generally speaking, there are a few different types of benches including artist benches, grand benches, upright benches, duet benches and piano stools. The artist piano bench is the most comfortable and the most expensive bench on the market. This bench cover is usually made of leather and has a height and tilt adjustment that starts at 18" and raises up to 21" tall. The grand bench is typically 19'' tall and about 33" wide. The upright bench is range from 18 1/2" tall to 20" tall. The duet bench is similar to the upright bench and is built to seat two people around 30" wide. The first piano bench was a piano stool which has four legs and a round seat. Modern piano stools can be adjusted by spinning the seat. These stools are typically used with antique pianos, but come in handy for very young children who can not reach the keyboard well. Because the piano stool can be raised as high as 25", it serves as a great backup "bench" for families with small children who want to learn, but cannot reach the keyboard properly.

Used benches and stools can be found online or at your local used piano store. Used piano bench prices typically start at about $100. New piano benches start at (fasten your seat belt) around $150 and can go over $1,000.

If you need a regular, new piano bench, you should budget about $200 to $300 and shop online, visit your local used piano store or ask your piano tuner to show you a catalog. Plan on receiving your bench in about 10 days to 2 weeks because they are fairly heavy and express shipping is expensive. Ship it "ground" if you can wait.

One last note: Teach your children to "respect the piano." Kids who fight over who gets to play next can end up flipping the piano bench and hitting their head on the floor or hurting their fingers. This happens all the time. It's a good idea to teach young children to "wait their turn to practice" and "one at a time at the piano." If you are placing two children on a duet bench, they should be closely supervised. (Two kids on one piano can be hazardous!)

So relax, get your wallet out, plan ahead, stay safe and "have a seat!"

Happy practicing!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Buying a Piano Online? Have a Plan...

Whether you are searching Craigslist, eBay or a reputable piano store online for a used piano, plan ahead so things go smoothly.

First, contact a reputable piano tuner-technician. Find out how much it would cost to have them inspect and appraise the piano that you are interested in. If the piano is out of your local area, PianoAnswers.com can provide an online appraisal for only $8.95.

Next, contact your local piano mover and get a general idea of what a move might cost, should decide to purchase the piano you are interested in. Make sure you know the height of the piano in inches. This will help the moving company determine how heavy the piano is.

Now, have the piano inspection and appraisal done by your tuner or online.

Next, make an offer to the seller. This offer should be at or below the appraisal amount. It might also be the appraisal amount minus the cost of repairs that was determined upon the piano technician's inspection.

(i.e. if you buy a $500 car for your teenager, that car may very possibly cost you thousands of dollars. Be careful.)

Make arrangements with your piano mover. The buyer normally pays the piano mover.

Once the piano is delivered, schedule an appointment with your piano tuner-technician to repair and tune your piano.

After this is completed, ask to be on the piano tuner's reminder list so that you can make sure your piano is maintained properly by tuning it every six months.

Remember, even a free piano can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to have moved and repaired.

Be careful and make sure your have a plan from the beginning. In the end, you will have a used piano in good repair and have an experienced piano tuner-technician and reliable piano mover.

Now your family can take lessons and practice on a well-maintained instrument which will help the student reach their goal of improving their piano performance.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Moving Your Piano Outside for Special Events


Yes, "really."

With some planning, a service call fee and a little bit of luck, this can be done without harming your instrument. Whether it's a wedding ceremony, cocktail party or family reunion, pianos end up in yards sometimes.

Here are a few tips:

First, contact your piano mover to estimate the cost of moving your piano to the yard and then back after the party or the next morning.

They can usually recommend a piano tuner that can come and tune the piano on the day of your event. Most tuners charge a little more to do this type of pre-event service call.

If this all works out, plan on buying or renting a small canopy that is used for weddings and special yard events. It's not a bad idea to pick up a ground cloth, the type that you use under your tent when camping.

Now, schedule the movers to move the piano out to the yard, early on the day of the event.

Schedule the piano tuner to come at the same time and have them tune the piano after it's in place under the canopy.

Keep a soft blanket and the ground cloth folded up near the stage area just in case of a passing shower. The piano should be fine under the canopy, but you may want to cover it with the blanket to keep the ground cloth from scratching the piano.

Of course, if there is a 90% chance of rain on the day of the event, it's a good idea to scrub this idea...period. (If rain hits your piano directly, it can ruin it forever.) Check with the movers and the tuner to see what their policies are on cancelling a service call.

Many times, in many towns all over the world, people move their pianos outside to hold special events...even when there is a slight chance of showers.

After the event is over, cover the piano with the blanket and the ground cloth and wrap it once or twice with light twine or a small rope. Also, you may want to pick up a spray bottle of rodent repellant and spray it on the ground a few feet from the piano area before you call it a night. (If mice or chipmunks get inside your instrument, it can cost hundreds of dollars to fix.) The piano should be fine under the canopy for the night.

The movers should be scheduled to come back first thing in the morning to return the piano to your living room. Chances are that the piano may need another tuning after it is moved back in the house. This can be done the same day or weeks later, it's up to you.

If you plan carefully, a memorable time can be had by all with live cocktail piano and sing-alongs right in your own back yard without damaging your piano.

It can be done, but be careful.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cleaning Behind Your Vertical Piano

Yes, your piano may be on casters, but they are only meant for pulling your piano away from the wall to so you can clean the back of your piano. (They are not designed to roll your piano across the room and down the hallway.) You may also want to vacuum underneath the piano after it is moved. If, and only "if" you have someone around the house who is strong enough to pick the piano off the ground, should you attempt to move it to clean.

In this case, show this person that there is a handle located about half-way up the back of the piano. Check that the handle does not spin or come loose. Have this person grab the handle with one had and get a grip underneath the keyboard in front of the piano. The piano should be lifted completely off the ground and moved about six inches from the wall. Keep your feet and your helper's feet away from the bottom of the piano for safety's sake. Now go to the other side and repeat the process, back and forth, until the piano is about three feet from the wall. The piano should be lifted off the ground so the legs don't crack or loosen under pressure.

Another option is to wait until your piano tuner comes and have them move it for you. Just have your vacuum cleaner and a dust mop handy. First, carefully dust of the back of the piano, or the sound board. Remove any foreign objects from down inside the piano, then vacuum the carpet or sweep the floor. Now move the piano back to its normal position which should be about two inches or so from the wall. You may want to ask your piano tuner what they charge for an internal cleaning and get this done the same day.

Remember, the same amount of dust that collects under your sofa, probably collects under and behind your piano. Who knows, you may even find those long lost family photographs or "McGyver" game cards that slid off the top of your piano many moons ago. What a "bonus!"