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Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Diane...] #1212651
06/06/09 09:00 AM
06/06/09 09:00 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Emmery  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Somebody should make a mini robot cleaner like the Roomba just for pianos. Just let it scoot around under the strings while you sip a coffee.


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
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Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Emmery] #1212746
06/06/09 12:24 PM
06/06/09 12:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 20
Montana
Aaron Heppler RPT Offline
Full Member
Aaron Heppler RPT  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 20
Montana
And then the tech could come more often to stop the Roomba from rattling.

I use an Oreck. Good balance of light and power.



Aaron Heppler RPT
www.hepplerpiano.com
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Aaron Heppler RPT] #1212893
06/06/09 04:50 PM
06/06/09 04:50 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,016
Madison, WI USA
B
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Bill Bremmer RPT  Offline
4000 Post Club Member
B

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,016
Madison, WI USA
Here's a few answers I have for questions some have raised. I don't believe that whether or not a technician regularly cleans a piano or not is necessarily an indication of whether that person is a good technician. There are some very fine technicians who keep a messy desk, shop or car, for example. The piano can sound and work just fine even if it is a little dusty, after all.

However, from the owner's perspective, if the piano is new and it is cleaned regularly, it will retain its brand new appearance much longer than if cleaning is neglected, just as any vehicle would. Just like any other housekeeping chore, if thorough cleaning is done often, the time and amount of work required is minimal on each occasion but if cleaning is neglected for years on end, when an attempt is finally made, it is a large undertaking and it may be impossible to get every surface as clean as would be desirable.

I see no reason that the owner cannot maintain a piano's cleanliness but that would only be recommended if the piano is either new or has been thoroughly cleaned by a technician first. I would not recommend the owner use the "blow out" approach on a very dirty piano. Dirt and debris may be forced into areas where it would cause a problem. On the other hand, I see no problem with the owner vacuuming up bits of paper or other debris that may collect in the tuning pin area and using a vacuum on reverse to blow out the soundboard area of a grand. Regular cleaning should only yield trace amounts of dust and lint.

A bellows or a hair dryer with no heat can also work. Not too many vacuum cleaners provide the reverse option but many people have a shop type vac in the garage which will work in reverse. I would not suggest an owner use compressed air because the stream may be so powerful that it could damage or displace damper felts. I also would not advise using the kind of air can used to clean computers or computer keyboards. They can produce condensation which can be damaging, especially to the wound strings.

Unfortunately for owners, it does appear that many technicians do not routinely offer cleaning as part of their service. The longer the piano has been neglected, the more reluctant a technician may be to undertake the job. I sometimes see pianos which are literally too dirty to clean. I saw one just this past week.

It was a fine home in an expensive neighborhood. The piano was an old, cheap grand that the lady called an "antique". She was having it tuned because there was to be a wedding party at the house in a few days. She was having a meeting with the caterers at the same time I was there to tune the piano. They were talking loudly throughout and discussing all the fine appointments there would be at the party.

The piano had a piece missing from the trapwork and the felts were gone from the pedal rods. I had the piece that was necessary and installed it and the missing felts and adjusted the pedals. All of the keys worked so I tuned it and raised the pitch some but left it somewhat low at -12 cents. This was not a piano and a circumstance where I could do what it would really take to raise the pitch all the way nor did I think that was prudent. Although the house was immaculate, the piano's insides were dusty. This was not a time to blow dust all around the place and run a vacuum cleaner, so I didn't and said nothing about doing it. When I was done tuning, the lady excused herself from the meeting, quickly wrote a check, said thank you and went right back to what was obviously more important to her at the moment.

So, there are circumstances where any technician does not do just everything which could be done every time a piano is serviced. We have to be sensitive to any number of variables. For the most part, however, my clients are happy that I clean the dust out of the piano and they are happy to dust and vacuum around the piano after I am gone.

About tools that clean the soundboard: they are fine and need to be used when the surface does not respond completely to a blow out. However, to only use those tools and not blow out the piano will leave untold amounts of dust and possibly debris and foreign objects in unseen and inaccessible places. When a piano is that neglected, both kinds of techniques need to be used. Other tools like brushes may need to be used to get into areas at the strings termination points and the tuning pin area. The action will also be full of dust, debris and possibly foreign objects. It can be removed and taken outside if necessary to blow it out. Any such circumstance will likely also reveal other basic work that needs to be done.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
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