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Piano cover, scam or a good idea? #1379888
02/21/10 09:09 PM
02/21/10 09:09 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 25
Oak Park, Ca
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Garbo Offline OP
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Oak Park, Ca
My piano tuner has a $360 solution to keeping the dust out of my new Knabe grand. It is a custom made cloth cover that sits on the harp, complete with the Knabe monogram. It seems expensive but he says I can leave to lid open and keep the dust out which is considerable in California. Seems like a good idea..any feedback? Not getting it cleaned 4 times would pay for it, or so he says. I would appreciate any comments.


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Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Garbo] #1379916
02/21/10 09:48 PM
02/21/10 09:48 PM
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Volusiano Offline
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Wow, dust cover seems like a good idea, but paying $360 for a cover is so NOT a good idea. I'm sure there are many home-made solution just as effective for less than $50, either with a cardboard or sew your own cloth.

Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Volusiano] #1379924
02/21/10 09:57 PM
02/21/10 09:57 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,860
USA
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Bob Offline
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The felt does help keep dust out. It might help in areas prone to moisture and salt air. Someone here has his wife embroider covers, and they look very nice.





Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Bob] #1380073
02/22/10 01:40 AM
02/22/10 01:40 AM
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Dave Stahl Offline
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Judy Edwards (she is Laroy Edwards' daughter, I believe) http://www.edwardsstringcovers.com/ makes them. They are quite nice, and effective at keeping moisture and dust off of the strings, plate and board. I put one on a piano about a block from the stormy Pacific Ocean, and while the pedals rusted because of billions of tiny little salt crystals being ground into the brassed finish, because they were covered, the strings, pins and plate had no issues with the humidity and salt whatsoever.


Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniw3m7L2I
http://dstahlpiano.net
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Dave Stahl] #1380080
02/22/10 02:01 AM
02/22/10 02:01 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,842
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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San Jose, CA
Be careful of the cloth and thread if you make a liner at home. Polyester cloth might, and poly thread can, cut tiny scratches in a gloss finish. Most pro liners are lined with some kind of felt or fleece--- which makes the job of making one, twice the job. If it were me (and it isn't going to be), I'd want one that's lightweight and machine washable.

If I were to embroider one (a true visit to fantasy land), it would say, "No Drinks, No Flower Vases, No Purses, No Food, and Not a Worktable for Plumbers and Tile Setters."


Clef

Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Jeff Clef] #1380210
02/22/10 10:25 AM
02/22/10 10:25 AM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,016
Madison, WI USA
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Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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A string cover is a very good idea. A simple one can be made by just purchasing the material which is a cotton and wool blend, use the lid as a cut out pattern and place the cloth inside. It is machine washable in cold water on the gentle cycle but it has to be air dried. It can be shaken out or put in the dryer with no heat to tumble out accumulated dust.

The main advantage of the more expensive, custom made cover is that it comes with stays. They prevent the cloth from sagging onto the strings and damping the sound. They are not entirely necessary, however. If the cloth sags, simply open the piano and re-arrange it. Many of my customers have these.

Now, this also brings up the question about cleaning. I bring in my vacuum cleaning and clean (blow out) each grand piano every time I tune it for no extra charge. I do it first before I do anything else. If I need to do any action work, I also clean the action cavity as part of that work (which I would charge for but the cleaning of the cavity is part of that charge).

So, Garbo, the questions you should have for your technician is: "Why is not cleaning a regular part of what you do each and every time you service the piano?" "Why do you let the piano get so dirty that cleaning it becomes a major operation?"

I would not accept any answer except the one that is the truth: "Because I am too lazy to do that". "Because I don't care if you piano is dirty". "I don't mind pawing through the dust bunnies and debris". "That is someone else's job, not mine but if you want ME to stoop to that level, you are going to have to pay big bucks for it".

A string cover will keep your piano looking new and it will significantly reduce the accumulation of dust but it will not prevent it entirely. It will also not prevent the accumulation of dust under the keys. For any of my customers with a string cover, they take the cover and shake it out and/or put it in the drier with no heat while I am servicing the piano. When I am done AND the piano has also been cleaned, the fresh cloth is placed back in the piano.

If you really want to keep you piano the way it is now for many years to come, that is what you should do. If the technician balks at cleaning, find one who will do it as I outlined above and buy a string cover from that person. You will also want to find a technician who will suggest when the action needs maintenance.

Technicians often talk about a "regulation" as being some drawn out operation that starts with polishing key pins and takes 2-3 days to complete and costs what you could buy a used small vertical piano for. You don't maintain a piano by "just tuning" it until it is so dirty, so sluggish, hammers so loose that they don't even strike the right strings, etc., and then finally offer to take the action away to a shop and put it on a bench until you can get around to doing something with it.

The piano needs to be kept clean and when the action screws need to be tightened and the hammers realigned, it should be done. The capstan adjustment is often as unstable as the pitch in the first few years. It is very important to maintain the touch. When the hammers become deeply grooved, they need to be reshaped and that also requires clean up afterward. The action does not need to be taken away to do that.

A good technician can perform all of these tasks as they become necessary within a time period normally scheduled for piano service. Sometimes, another hour or two, depending on what the requirements are, but if everything is let go until all of the requirements multiply, the piano has not been properly maintained.

Find a technician who agrees with all of the above and engage that person!


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT] #1380332
02/22/10 01:54 PM
02/22/10 01:54 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
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Olek Offline
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France
Only seen one piano (not common in Europe you cna imagine) and I was amazed at the good condition of wire (shining) pinblock etc, no dust... The spectra change, if any is not that important, and I would consider that as an intelligent way to allow himself to play with the lid open (and the best protection for humid zones like near the ocean) That plus a Dampp Chaser, makes the coziest environnement for a grand !

I understood ther is something with the fabrics, some will attrac dust more, but mostly some will not make a good humidity barrier (and at the contrary catch the moisture). I belive that pure wool, or silk + wool , are the fabrics of choice for that.

I have hard times to convince my customers, but IO am not living near the ocean...



Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Olek] #1380335
02/22/10 02:00 PM
02/22/10 02:00 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
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Olek Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
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Wool fabrics is not THAT expensive, but still. I find some cheap one, but grey or black colour. It is sold in sizes that are good for a piano so youy may be can find some yourself (we are lucky in Paris with a special place where only fabrics are sold, near the Sacre Coeur , le "Marche St Pierre").

The remaining of the goodie may well be worth the 350 USD, fabrics, work, the cost is not that high.





Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Olek] #1380373
02/22/10 02:34 PM
02/22/10 02:34 PM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 125
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tuner2 Offline
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String covers are an excellent and highly worthwhile option for grand pianos. In my humble opinion and from my own experience, Laroy Edwards supplies the best quality string covers, period. They are made from superior quality wool felt and are well worth the expense.


Retired Concert Technician
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: tuner2] #1380390
02/22/10 02:53 PM
02/22/10 02:53 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 96
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joeydonuts Offline
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just vacuum the grand every so often. I see them not necessary and as a reason for just walking by the piano because you didn't feel like sitting down for just a minute for a quickie.

Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: joeydonuts] #1380725
02/22/10 10:24 PM
02/22/10 10:24 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
To me, the best thing about string covers is that they also prevent airborne grease/oil particles from settling inside the piano. We don't do a lot of frying in my house, but before I got my Edwards string cover, I was shocked by how filmy the damper tops would get after leaving the piano lid open for a year or two. I cleaned them off (carefully), cleaned the soundboard (carefully), and put on the string cover. Wish I had done it years ago.


Steve W
Omaha, NE
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: joeydonuts] #1380741
02/22/10 10:56 PM
02/22/10 10:56 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,205
Nor California Sacramento area
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Dale Fox Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
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Nor California Sacramento area
Originally Posted by joeydonuts
just vacuum the grand every so often. I see them not necessary and as a reason for just walking by the piano because you didn't feel like sitting down for just a minute for a quickie.


I think you don't understand the purpose or function of the cover when you say this. Pianos rarely leave my shop after rebuilding without a string cover and a DC system (dehumidifier with humidistat, we don't have winter low humidity here in Sacramento.)

The string cover does two things well.
First, it keeps out environmental dust, bugs and pollutants. All these things will cause degradation of the piano. The first piano I saw with a cover was a 35 year old grand that looked brand new under the cover. The bass strings were still bright copper and sounded new. I was sold on that basis alone.
Second, it helps the damp-chaser be more effective. It evens out the humidity swings better than the damp-chaser system alone.

You don't remove the cover when you play the piano. It doesn't affect the sound of the instrument any more than a speaker grill does a good set of speakers. The battens keep the cloth off of the strings so no removal is necessary or desired.

Having the cover allows you to keep the lid up for better sound and keeping the lid up discourages use of the lid as another horizontal surface to catch pictures and other things that injure the finish of the piano.

Dust has a chemistry all it's own. Once it gets into the piano and sets for a while it bonds with whatever it sets on and it gives general environmental pollutants something else to attract to. Better to keep it out in the first place.

Hope this helps as an explanation.


Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Dale Fox] #1380796
02/23/10 12:27 AM
02/23/10 12:27 AM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,016
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
Steve,

That film you speak of also settled on your wound strings. That would be a primary reason for them to go "dead" or "tubby" over time. It can get into the termination points of all strings and have a deleterious effect. When the wound strings have been ruined in this way, even the best remedies are dubious.

The string cover was the very best thing you could have done for the piano to prevent that kind of damage! Chinese restaurants with pianos know the problem well. If you can kind the Musical Heritage Society CD of Dick Hymen performing at Chung's Chinese Restaurant, you will hear exactly what I mean. Great music and playing but a ruined piano!


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT] #1381087
02/23/10 01:07 PM
02/23/10 01:07 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 38
California
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tc_eliot Offline
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California
Would you recommend a string cover if the piano lid is closed every night? The lid is open around 8 hours per day. We live in Northern California where the humidity is normally moderate year-round, although we do have a Dampp-Chaser system installed.

Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT] #1381545
02/23/10 11:01 PM
02/23/10 11:01 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 250
Omaha, NE
Steve W Offline
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Omaha, NE
Great points, Bill.

Will have to listen to that recording. Very interesting about pianos in Chinese restaurants. Must be the stir-frying at high heat.


Steve W
Omaha, NE
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: tc_eliot] #1382591
02/25/10 11:43 AM
02/25/10 11:43 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,205
Nor California Sacramento area
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Dale Fox Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
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Nor California Sacramento area
Originally Posted by tc_eliot
Would you recommend a string cover if the piano lid is closed every night? The lid is open around 8 hours per day. We live in Northern California where the humidity is normally moderate year-round, although we do have a Dampp-Chaser system installed.


The lid being closed will not prevent air circulation and dust/pollutant infiltration. Only slows it down a little. So, yes.


Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding
Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Dale Fox] #1382697
02/25/10 02:02 PM
02/25/10 02:02 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 38
California
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tc_eliot Offline
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Thanks, Dale.

I'll look into an Edwards string cover.

Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: tc_eliot] #1383238
02/26/10 09:19 AM
02/26/10 09:19 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 254
Columbia County, New York
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nylawbiz Offline
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I don't understand why people leave their grand open all day long. Unless someone is physically incapable of opening and closing the lid, why would someone not close the lid when they are finished playing? Sure, maybe if you are having a party at your house and you want to show the piano off at its best, I can understabd leaving it up while guests are around. But regular day-to-day piano care suggests to me that the lid should be left down when the piano is not being played (and the way I play, it's best to leave it down when I'm playing too!!!!).

Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: Garbo] #1383281
02/26/10 10:58 AM
02/26/10 10:58 AM
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USA
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JBE Offline
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It is definitely not a scam and it is definitely a good idea. Even if you keep the lid closed dust will still make its way inside and accumulate on the soundboard and plate. It will then work its way into the action cavity.
String covers prolong the life of pianos and are well worth the money, especially if you buy some wool and make your own, which is very easy to do.

Re: Piano cover, scam or a good idea? [Re: nylawbiz] #1383291
02/26/10 11:08 AM
02/26/10 11:08 AM
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Posts: 125
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tuner2 Offline
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As to leaving the lid open on a grand piano, be extra careful if you live in an earthquake zone. Even a minor temblor can cause the top to suddenly slam down onto the instrument. It doesn't take much movement to dislodge the topstick from it's slot.
In larger pianos this can often result in serious(and expensive) damage to the lid and the piano. It's also a good idea to keep the fallboard closed when the piano is not in use. Plaster and other debris that gets knocked loose in an earthquake can wreak havoc with delicate keyboards and actions.


Retired Concert Technician
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