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To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the question. #1211702
06/04/09 01:18 PM
06/04/09 01:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 109
Hot and Humid Houston Texas
pianoobsession Offline OP
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pianoobsession  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 109
Hot and Humid Houston Texas
So, simply...should I be vacuuming inside my grand? I have a five foot Kawai and I leave it open 'cause I never know when I'll stop by and play. It appears to be rather dusty inside. I was planning to ask my tuner about it next time he comes, but I'd like to know what the consensus is here....

If I should be vacuuming, is there a specific way to do it or not to do it?

Thanks everyone!


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Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the question. [Re: pianoobsession] #1211730
06/04/09 02:18 PM
06/04/09 02:18 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,456
Lowell MA
Larry Buck Offline
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Larry Buck  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,456
Lowell MA
It helps to keep your piano clean.

Over time dust builds up on the strings. Dust will hold a small amount of moisture and rust the strings a bit faster than otherwise might happen.

Wiping the strings down with a clean soft cloth, being careful not to touch the strings with your hands, will prolong the life of the strings.

Dust on the sound board, sure, looks unclean.
I will clean these areas for clients if they would like me to. I will also show them how to properly clean if it something they want to do.

Cleaning the key bed area and taking proper care of that area will help your una corda pedal operate more smoothly.

The short answer .....

Yes.

There is a right way to clean. Ask your tech!


"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
Mark Twain

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/EJBuckPerformances
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the question. [Re: Larry Buck] #1211824
06/04/09 05:18 PM
06/04/09 05:18 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,787
USA
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Bob Offline
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You can vacuum LIGHTLY with a brush attachment, but blowing the dust out regularly is far more effective. I use the blower hose on my vacuum for that.




Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the question. [Re: Bob] #1211895
06/04/09 07:36 PM
06/04/09 07:36 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,192
Olympia, WA
rysowers Offline
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rysowers  Offline
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Olympia, WA
I agree with Bob, blowing it out is the most effective, but be prepared to relive the dust bowl! Vacuuming can't get in all the nooks and crannies that are in a piano. If you blow it out on a regular basis it won't ever get too bad. For the first time however I would recommend opening all the doors and windows and use an fan to exhaust the air to the outside. Don't do this AFTER you have already cleaned the rest of the room!

I also like Bill Spurlock's soundboard cleaners. Here's a link:

http://www.spurlocktools.com/id32.htm




Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
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Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the question. [Re: rysowers] #1211909
06/04/09 07:59 PM
06/04/09 07:59 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,456
Lowell MA
Larry Buck Offline
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Larry Buck  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
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Lowell MA
Without other considerations, I don't recommend blowing to the homeowner as sufficient.

I do like the Spurlock cleaners.


"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
Mark Twain

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/EJBuckPerformances
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: pianoobsession] #1211957
06/04/09 09:11 PM
06/04/09 09:11 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 250
Omaha, NE
Steve W Offline
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Steve W  Offline
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Posts: 250
Omaha, NE
I like the Spurlock cleaners, too - bought one set for me, one for my technician/tuner.

Once you get your piano clean, have you considered buying a string cover?

I finally broke down and got one and am very happy I did. Keeps the dampers, strings, soundboard looking good and really doesn't perceptibly change the sound to my ears.

One thing that really helped me make up my mind was realizing how much airborne grease there is in the typical home, if you do any cooking. I noticed my damper tops had residue which would smear when I would try to dust them. This is even with a vent hood on the range.

Last edited by Steve W; 06/04/09 09:11 PM.

Steve W
Omaha, NE
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Steve W] #1212017
06/04/09 11:49 PM
06/04/09 11:49 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,014
Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Madison, WI USA
I blow the dust out of every grand I service every time. It is frankly, disgusting to me the technicians who feel that is someone else's job. If the blowing out job is done each and every time, only a trace of dust and lint comes out and there is no need for any other type of cleaning. It takes less than a minute to do and I include it as part of my service. Ask your technician why he has not performed the same service for you and why now, it is a big deal to clean your piano. WHY!!!???


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT] #1212079
06/05/09 05:01 AM
06/05/09 05:01 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,456
Lowell MA
Larry Buck Offline
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Larry Buck  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,456
Lowell MA
Bill,

Sounds like Pianoobsessions piano is fairly dirty.

Do you do the extra work of cleaning this piano and include that in your regular fee?

If not, how do you charge for the initial upfront extra cleaning?


"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
Mark Twain

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/EJBuckPerformances
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Larry Buck] #1212094
06/05/09 06:38 AM
06/05/09 06:38 AM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,787
USA
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Bob Offline
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Like Bill, I blow out each grand for the same reasons he does, but if I have to get out my soundboard steel and rag first, it's an extra charge, as is cleaning under keys, ect. On uprights, I just vacuum everything. I can't stand tuning while looking at a layer of dust.




Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Bob] #1212103
06/05/09 07:04 AM
06/05/09 07:04 AM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,200
Marietta, GA
Les Koltvedt Offline
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Les Koltvedt  Offline
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Marietta, GA
OK, now what kind of vacuums does everyone use...how big are they? I have a small Sears unit that works kinda ok...but certainly not the power of a bigger unit.


Les Koltvedt
Servicing the Greater Atlanta Area.
www.well-lovedpiano.com/atlanta-piano-technicians/
PTG Associate
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Les Koltvedt] #1212138
06/05/09 08:22 AM
06/05/09 08:22 AM
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 227
N.E. Montana
Scooters Offline
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Scooters  Offline
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N.E. Montana
I like to vacuum everything I can first then blow the rest. Open a couple of windows to get the wind blowing through, and sometimes the client will have a fan to aid in directing the dust out the lea side of the building.

Scooter



Scott
Associate Member Piano Technicians Guild
RsgPianoService
We love to play BF2
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Scooters] #1212220
06/05/09 10:50 AM
06/05/09 10:50 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 190
J
Josef Offline
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Josef  Offline
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I believe for the piano owner that is not the Technician- vacuuming can help clean out the grand piano. Use of a vacuum brush with long soft bristles (best are those of horse hair) and gently go over the inside taking extra care around the dampers. When I clean I use vacuum, soundboard steele and rag, and large paint brushes.

A lot of people are allergic to dust and such like and blowing a massive amount of dirt into the air just doesn't seem ideal. Not to mention the mess in the rest of the room left to be cleaned up after, unless you are willing to dust and vacuum the whole room as well.

I use a small hand-held (Oreck) that can be turned around and used easily as a blower. I like to take the actions out side and blow the crud out. Its best done with a dust mask on you to prevent breathing in nasties like air born particles from mice droppings. Surprisingly, the action can stir up dust in the air which can set of the nose of someone with allergies. Brushes work well around tuning pins and hitch pins with the vacuum pointed there to pick up any loosened dirt.

Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT] #1212228
06/05/09 11:04 AM
06/05/09 11:04 AM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 3,462
Western Canada
Diane... Offline
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Diane...  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2006
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Western Canada
Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
I blow the dust out of every grand I service every time. It is frankly, disgusting to me the technicians who feel that is someone else's job. If the blowing out job is done each and every time, only a trace of dust and lint comes out and there is no need for any other type of cleaning. It takes less than a minute to do and I include it as part of my service. Ask your technician why he has not performed the same service for you and why now, it is a big deal to clean your piano. WHY!!!???


Well, I have a new technician coming to service my grand piano, and when I talked to him on the phone for the first time, I asked him specificially if he would please vacuum out my piano when he services it! And he says he has to see it first and will decide then! What kind of an answer is that?????

All my other technicians just showed me how to do it myself! What is there to check? I asked! So what does he have to check! I can't win!

Bill, again, do your clients know how lucky they are?!!!!



http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher
[Linked Image]
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Diane...] #1212296
06/05/09 01:20 PM
06/05/09 01:20 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 109
Hot and Humid Houston Texas
pianoobsession Offline OP
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pianoobsession  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 109
Hot and Humid Houston Texas
So does it mean he isn't a good tech if he never offers to vacuum or never mentions the dust at all? I really would like to know what makes a good tech.


Righty-O!
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: pianoobsession] #1212307
06/05/09 01:32 PM
06/05/09 01:32 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,863
Bradford County, PA
UnrightTooner Offline
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UnrightTooner  Offline
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Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted by pianoobsession
So does it mean he isn't a good tech if he never offers to vacuum or never mentions the dust at all? I really would like to know what makes a good tech.


Since you are the customer, you get to decide "what makes a good tech."


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: UnrightTooner] #1212314
06/05/09 01:51 PM
06/05/09 01:51 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,200
Marietta, GA
Les Koltvedt Offline
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Les Koltvedt  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,200
Marietta, GA
Quote
...I really would like to know what makes a good tech.
Attention given to the whole piano as opposed to just tuning it. Give you 2 hours of service, even if only takes s/he 60-90 mins to tune...most tuning fees are for a 2 hour block. This allows them to attend to some minor maintenance and to check the piano over for anything that may be need more serious attention.

jm $0.02


Les Koltvedt
Servicing the Greater Atlanta Area.
www.well-lovedpiano.com/atlanta-piano-technicians/
PTG Associate
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Les Koltvedt] #1212334
06/05/09 02:39 PM
06/05/09 02:39 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,014
Madison, WI USA
B
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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B

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,014
Madison, WI USA
I agree 100% with Bob. I use a Hoover Porta Power. When I charge extra for cleaning, it depends on how long it takes for the extra charge.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT] #1212350
06/05/09 03:02 PM
06/05/09 03:02 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 190
J
Josef Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 190
I remember an old friend that grew up in a family owned piano store ( he was 92 last year ) telling me how the store would take pianos to the top floor of the store to be refurbished.

He told me that they would clean out the piano by blowing it out with a bellow used to stoke a fire. The kind of fireplae bellow that you only get to see anymore when Jerry the mouse sticks the end into Tom the cats mouth and blows him to float in the air on cartoons.....

Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Josef] #1212448
06/05/09 07:28 PM
06/05/09 07:28 PM
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Posts: 4,787
USA
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Bob Offline
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I use a 4 horsepower Metro Vac. I modified a small tool bag to hold it and attachments.

Years ago I used to ask the customer for a vacuum, and the customer would provide anything from a dustbuster, to a stinky unit that failed to suck anything up, to a huge wet vac with no attachments.....so I've been bringing my own for years.

By the way, Store Owners......your customers notice if you deliver a dusty "new" piano....... and they don't like it.




Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Bob] #1212473
06/05/09 08:18 PM
06/05/09 08:18 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 3,462
Western Canada
Diane... Offline
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Diane...  Offline
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Western Canada
Like a car, I just drive it, I haven't a clue how to fix it, or in regards to pianos, get dust out of it. I just trusted a technician to be honest and do a good job for me!

I have played many a dusty piano, and I seriously think most people just think that it would be impossible to get the dust out without taking the piano apart! So they just let it continue to get worse. Seriously! Thought coughing went with the territory!

Here's a fun picture! I couldn't resist!

[Linked Image]


http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher
[Linked Image]
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Diane...] #1212651
06/06/09 08:00 AM
06/06/09 08:00 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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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
Re: To vaccum or not to vacuum, that is the questi [Re: Emmery] #1212746
06/06/09 11:24 AM
06/06/09 11:24 AM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 20
Montana
Aaron Heppler RPT Offline
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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 03:50 PM
06/06/09 03:50 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,014
Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Joined: Aug 2002
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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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