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Joined: Apr 2016
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Although as we approach winter here in Wisconsin, I will be concerned about several months of dry air, right now the autumn weather is suddenly damp and the hygrometer I have tucked into my upright is reading 70% humidity more or less. What effects will such periods of increased humidity do to the sound or function of an upright piano? I'm still pretty much of a beginner but I feel like I'm starting to play well enough that every bad sound that comes out of the instrument is not necessarily MY fault.

This morning the piano sounded rather "buzzy" to my ear (it's been sounding good for the summer months when the hygro was typically registering between 40%-50%). It hasn't been opened/exposed to any foreign objects or potential trauma, so I'm wondering if this is some sort of (transient?) effect of humidity.

I've had this piano for about a year now so I imagine it is pretty "settled in"/acclimated to our house. It is indoors well away from exterior walls in the living room that is typically in the 65-75 degree (f) range, and occasionally cooled by an inadequate little window AC across the room.

Yes, I am considering the purchase of some sort of humidity control system for the piano if it is necessary, but I'd like to know what to expect in the absence of one.

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Temperature doesn't matter so much but if your piano is consistently at 40-50% humidity and 65-75% it should survive that, but much less so if the fluctuations are more frequent.

However I think you will find that your piano will sound quite different, typically more shrill, after acclimatising to 70% than it was at 50%. That means you will almost certainly want to have it tuned separately for summer and winter conditions, you might also find that at 75% some components go out of adjustment compared to 50% and need attention e.g. bushings become tight and requiring easing but you could regard that as just part of the winter tuning program.

Basically, the more stable you keep your humidity the less your piano will go out of adjustment, the fewer tunings it will need and the longer lifetime it will be expected to have.

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Below 40% and my humidifier comes out. 60% and above the dehumidifier comes out. I have very few exceptions to this rule.

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Originally Posted by TBell
Below 40% and my humidifier comes out. 60% and above the dehumidifier comes out. I have very few exceptions to this rule.

This is what I now do too. Especially keeping humidity below 60% really improved the touch (perhaps because of bushings, as gwing said). Without dehumidifier, it goes easily to 70% and even higher in Fall. This is also not good for your own health.

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It's been very humid here in recent weeks and the RH in the piano room has, according to a hydrometer, frequently been around 70% or slightly above. I have another hydrometer tucked right under the soundboard and it's ranged from about 42% to 50% thanks to the Dampp-Chaser. It's a 6'3" grand.

Is there a consensus as to what extent the DC helps the action and pin block? Less than the soundboard, I know.


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I also have a wool string cover.


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Apologies: hygrometer not hydrometer. Autotype.


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You might consider a programmable controller, it has two outlets, one for the humidifier the other for the dehumidifier. It will turn on the one needed depending on the humidity values and ranges you set. I have this one. The other nice thing about controllers is the sensor is attached to a cord, I hang mine under the soundboard.

Last edited by MarkL; 10/18/21 12:32 PM.

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