The average piano contains thousands of moveable parts—the estimation is about 50 parts per key. Each small part has a specific function and works in conjunction with the rest to produce rich tones and music. Unfortunately, with so many delicate parts, it’s easy for your Steinway Model L to get damaged without you even noticing, so here are a few signs that your piano might be in need of repairs.
Chipped Piano Keys
The piano keys naturally take most of the brunt when playing. The combination of oil from your fingers and the passionate hitting of keys can lead to some extensive damage down the line. If you notice any damage, chips, or age on the outside, your Steinway Model O probably has a few kinks to work out on the inside.
Hit each individual key a few times, testing out note lengths and volumes. Note the following:
- Notes that don’t hold
- Buzzing or strange vibrations
- Notes that are off pitch
- Keys that sound like multiple notes playing at once
- Keys that don’t produce any sound at all
Piano pedals affect the color, timbre, and sustain of each note. Test each pedal with each key. They should produce clean and balanced tones. Pedals that don’t have any give have probably become detached from surrounding parts. Pedals that don’t move at all suggest an even bigger problem.
Of course, not all pianists use pedals, but you should check them nonetheless. If your pedals are malfunctioning, other parts of your piano are sure to follow.
Humidity is one of the greatest dangers to any musical instrument, and Steinway pianos are no exception. Weather and humidity can affect the exterior wood, creating cloudiness, cracks, and a warped surface, and if the outsides look bad, you can bet that the insides will sustain just as much damage.
Do a thorough spot check of your piano. Inspect all sides of your piano for surface scratches and cracks, discoloration from sun damage, and misshapen wood, all of which affect the sound quality of your piano.
The hammers are what strike the strings to produce sound. Each hammerhead is covered in felt, the type and tightness of which determines the tone of each note. Felt that has worn down over time will significantly affect the quality of tone and timbre.
Check the hammers for deep grooves or exposed wood. Play the keys and listen for any clumsy or harsh tones. You’ll need to contact a professional to replace the felt on your hammers.