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#1636757 - 03/08/11 04:49 PM Humidity for the university's concert grand  
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 110
SuperTuner Offline
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SuperTuner  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 110
Manhattan, Montana
Hi all,

While I was sitting here cooking on this, I thought maybe one of you have run into it already, and could point me in the right direction! The situation is, we have a new S&S D at the school, and they need to get its "bedroom" humidified somehow. It's an area only large enough to accomodate the piano with a little maneuvering room, tall-ish ceiling, and brick walls. We want something that can be mounted on the wall, out of the way.

To give a little more information - we're in the Rocky Mountains. The humidity in the school this time of year is less than the 5%RH my hygrometer reads to. The piano is owned jointly by the U and and the local symphony. So, it travels for symphony concerts. It's only a couple miles across town, but the other venue had 30-38%RH this weekend. As you can imagine, the piano reacted to this, and I was observing pitch swings, tonal changes, and needed to adjust key bedding through the weekend.

A D-Ch is not practical for them, sadly. We already have problems with convincing the students/assistants/faculty not to chip off the finish when moving it room to room. My hope is to give the D a decent environment to spend the bulk of its time.

Any ideas?


Elizabeth Heppler, R.P.T.
www.hepplerpiano.com
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#1636761 - 03/08/11 04:52 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Aug 2009
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Inlanding Offline
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Inlanding  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,935
Colorado
I use a simple room humidifier (Air-0-Swiss), which keeps the room for my piano at 30-35% humidity. Denver is as dry as what you see in Montana. It just requires that I fill the tank every few days when the humidity is too low.

There are other, more elegant solutions, but this one works for me and a few of my clients.

The fewer and smaller the environmental changes, i.e., temp/humidity, the better.

Do you not have a humidity control system in your building for the environment where the piano is played?

Glen

Last edited by Inlanding; 03/08/11 11:31 PM.

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#1636771 - 03/08/11 05:13 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Oct 2004
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Larry Buck Offline
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Larry Buck  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,456
Lowell MA
Well,

You keep the piano in the room, no problem, controlled environment, Say 40% - 50%RH.

Move the piano out for a couple of days at 5%RH, say a week .... rehearsals ..?

If only you could be sure it would be put away every evening.

OK, in the room every night, out during the day?
12 hours in, 12 hours out ....

Ever once in a while across town ...

I see still potential instability, though anything towards greater environment stability is helpful.

How consistent is temperature where it is and across town?

Last edited by Larry Buck; 03/08/11 06:54 PM.

"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
#1636841 - 03/08/11 06:56 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Aug 2008
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pppat Offline
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pppat  Offline
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Jakobstad, Finland
We have a Steinway D at the concert hall here that is well-known to be very challenging in regard of stabilizing pitch before concerts. It sits in the kind of "beedroom" you're talking about, back stage, with a room humidity control that keeps the humidity between 40 and 55%.

When its concert day, and the grand is brought out to the hall with normal A/C, it starts to move. I've noticed that 4-8 hours of letting it settle in the concert hall before tuning starts can make wonders. Still, stability is a concern, and this instrument I always tune 3 times to battle these problems.

I've heard that same instrument go totally hay-wreck in some concerts where there was not this kind of preparation.

But - the industrial humidifier in its "bedroom" does its job well, if you know how to treat it when you take the instrument out for a walk smile


Patrick Wingren, RPT

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#1636902 - 03/08/11 08:40 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 504
Zeno Wood Offline
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Zeno Wood  Offline
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Posts: 504
Brooklyn, NY
A different point - the piano's little home. Have you considered mounting bumpers on the walls at the piano lid's height? Avoid some case damage.


Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College
#1637461 - 03/09/11 03:09 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,135
Sam Casey Offline
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Sam Casey  Offline
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Posts: 1,135
SW Missouri
5%????
Good god. Tell them to check their warrenty. No soundboard will hold up under that for long. I have a few I service that swing from 17% to 60% in 6 months. Board opens in winter, closes in summer. I can tell what the pitch is by looking at how many cracks I can see.

Never ceases to amaze me that a theater can purchase a 100K piano and let it rot like a #3 2x4 and yet if they get a spot of mold on the curtains no stone unturned to check the humidity.

#1637473 - 03/09/11 03:22 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,456
Larry Buck Offline
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Larry Buck  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,456
Lowell MA
5% RH at 70 degrees F puts the EMC at 1.3, barely enough moisture to maintain the cellular walls of the wood.

I am surprised the piano is not a collection of dust.

Should be a major concern of the Administration that their investment is at such risk.

Have you ever considered contacting the facilities dept. and investigating the control they may have on the building. They are usually receptive if you approach them properly.


"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
#1637526 - 03/09/11 04:17 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
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Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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Jerry Groot RPT  Offline
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Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
We have 2 D's and one 9' Bose., that is kept in our garage or "bedroom" at the college. The D's have 2 full sets DC's on each one of them. That is, 2 DC units. The Bose., does not have anything installed. However, the room also had a large enough stand up humidifier for it to keep the humidity up to 40-45 % consistently. It ran most of the time. That is, unless I was in there tuning. Then, I unplugged it. The stability remained fine with the DC's installed. That's really about all you can do with them hauling it off like they do. Our pianos are always placed back into the garage unless, there is a concert the following day or something.

It would have been nice if they could have afforded to buy two D's. They would last longer.

If you get a humidifier for the 5 % room, the important thing would be to measure the square footage of the room so that you can get the appropriate sized humidifier unit. Something, is at least, better than nothing.

We recently remodeled the entire building which is why I used past tense above. So, that is no longer an issue in this room. The RH is consistent in that one room with the new H VAC system without the use of the additional humidifier unit now.


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
#1637540 - 03/09/11 04:28 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]  
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 303
SM Boone Offline
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SM Boone  Offline
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VA USA
We have a "cubby" for our D, smaller than a bedroom I think, but at least it is somewhat protected while in rest state. With students in & out, art in same building, doors propped open in an "environmentally controlled" area... go figure. I have some churches who have spent upwards of 10k for systems that are supposed to work, yet I can go in summer and the humidity is 80+ %. For my 2 cents, environments where you really have no control... you just have to roll with it. I have ~very few~ customers who even monitor their homes!

#1637832 - 03/09/11 11:31 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Mar 2005
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RPD Offline
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RPD  Offline
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Posts: 961
Kalamazoo Michigan
If there is resistance to mounting Dampp Chasers on the piano for any reason, you could consider having the maintenance build a frame that rolls under the piano, and mount the DC on THAT. It might eliminate some objection from faculty or admin...just sayin...

I always deliver written notice if/when somebody is ruining their piano. I've usually been able to get the attention of the people in charge, who are grateful if you handle that notice correctly.

RPD


MPT(Master Piano Technicians of America)
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#1637835 - 03/09/11 11:35 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: RPD]  
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SM Boone Offline
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SM Boone  Offline
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VA USA
I would have to comment that I have never seen a DC system that works on a grand, but that I see they work on closed uprights in church environments quite well.

#1637990 - 03/10/11 07:31 AM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 440
James Carney Offline
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James Carney  Offline
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new york city
Hi Elizabeth,

Thoughtful advice above, and I think Sam Casey and Larry Buck made especially great points.

You'll never have any kind of tuning stability which means extra stress for you, along with the fact that you know exactly what will eventually happen to the D. It's like watching someone die a slow, needless death...To me this would be a completely unacceptable situation as the concert technician responsible for the piano.

I would keep going up the chain of command with both the school and the symphony until something is done, and I would also inform both administrations in writing that you as the technician are not responsible for what will almost certainly happen to the piano, and that the people preventing you from maintaining a proper environment are negligent.

When something goes wrong with a concert piano, who is the first person everyone will look at and point a finger to? I'm sure you realize how this will make you look to everyone else if (when) the piano falls apart - to the faculty, the symphony, visiting pianists, students, audiences, etc...

Good luck! You might also try posting this dilemma on the CAUT threads at the PTG site if you haven't already..I'm sure other techs can relate.


Keyboardist & Composer, Piano Technician
www.jamescarney.net
http://jamescarneypianotuning.wordpress.com/
#1637994 - 03/10/11 07:49 AM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SM Boone]  
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Posts: 440
James Carney Offline
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James Carney  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 440
new york city
Originally Posted by SM Boone
I would have to comment that I have never seen a DC system that works on a grand, but that I see they work on closed uprights in church environments quite well.


I have never seen a properly installed and maintained DC not work effectively in a grand. (I'm talking about modern Dampp-Chaser systems that both humidify and dehumidify with a humidistat.) While most grands in NYC without DCs are down anywhere between 12-25 cents at this time of year, the ones I service with maintained systems are usually less than 5 cents off, so they never need pitch raises.


Keyboardist & Composer, Piano Technician
www.jamescarney.net
http://jamescarneypianotuning.wordpress.com/
#1638137 - 03/10/11 12:21 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Apr 2007
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rysowers Offline
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rysowers  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,166
Olympia, WA
Hi Elizabeth!

To add clout to your recommendations I would contact Kent Webb at Steinway. It is in the best interest of Steinway to have their D's not destroyed by humidity problems and some recommendations by the company may help your chain of command understand the seriousness of the problem.


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
#1980764 - 10/30/12 11:41 PM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 110
SuperTuner Offline
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SuperTuner  Offline
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Posts: 110
Manhattan, Montana
Thank you for all the thoughtful posts on this thread - I believe you're all due for a follow-up:

We did install the humidifier, with an undercover. The piano actually hasn't had to leave the building in the months since, so no worries about removal. I did get a call two days after the installation, asking me to remove the system over a faculty member's objections, but talked them out of it.

The piano has been much, much more stable, as I'm sure you all would expect. The tone improved greatly, too. As at most schools, keeping the tanks filled is interesting, but it's not been insurmountable. The soundboard crack sealed back up, and hasn't appeared again.

So - so far, so good.





Elizabeth Heppler, R.P.T.
www.hepplerpiano.com
#1980840 - 10/31/12 08:04 AM Re: Humidity for the university's concert grand [Re: SuperTuner]  
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James Carney Offline
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James Carney  Offline
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new york city
That's great news Elizabeth! Thanks for the update...


Keyboardist & Composer, Piano Technician
www.jamescarney.net
http://jamescarneypianotuning.wordpress.com/

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