Taking Care of Your Piano: Proper Humidity

piano-humidity

What All Piano Owners Need to Know

One of the most important factors influencing piano tuning and having your piano for a long and healthy while is humidity. Finding the proper humidity for your piano is essential for all piano owners. This can be achieved through proper humidity for the room where you keep your piano or by adding a piano humidifier to your instrument.

Ideally, your piano’s humidity should be about 50 percent. Even more specifically, between 50 and 55 percent would be even better. A little more or a little less is acceptable, with too little being by far more harmful than too much (assuming there isn’t a thunderstorm happening in your living room). Anything below 40 percent is definitely a cause to worry, since extremely dry air could cause the critical soundboard to crack.
Piano Tip: Never, ever place your piano directly in front of a heater!

By contrast, on a rainy day humidity might go all the way to 70 percent, but this won’t ruin your piano; it will only affect the tuning.

hygrometerEvery piano owner should pick up a hygrometer and leave it directly on the piano. This tiny device can be found in hardware stores or online for not much more than the price of a cup of coffee.
Another Piano Tip: Never place a coffee cup on a piano! I panic when rehearsing with singers who automatically set their water bottles on the piano.

In order to have the proper humidity for your piano, we basically have two options: external and internal. An external solution is both easiest and cheapest, as well as the one I recommend to start with. You need no more than an ordinary room humidifier, and you probably only need to turn it on during winter. It’s important to keep the humidifier slightly away from the piano; it shouldn’t be directly underneath a grand or shooting its stream directly onto your piano. I keep mine a couple feet from the piano, pointing out into the room.

piano-humidifierA more sophisticated solution is a dedicated humidifier to be built directly inside your piano. There is one company, called Dampp-Chaser, that has manufactured piano humidifiers for many decades. These are a serious investment at between $500 and $800 (US), and they need to be installed by your piano technician. If yours is a “mission-critical” piano or a room humidifier does not solve your piano’s humidity issues, having the Dampp-Chaser piano humidifier system installed will prove to be a worthwhile investment.

I recommend starting with a hygrometer and room humidifier and monitoring your room’s humidity. This will most certainly prove to be enough for most homes and setups. I think this is one of those issues that needs to be spoken about more before a piano falls into the “cannot be brought back to life” condition. As always, we want to take care of our piano and keep it sounding as best as possible so it can bring years of joy to our homes and allow us to produce beautiful music for many years to come.

Have you had any trouble with low humidity in your home? Share any experiences or solutions that may help others by commenting below.

Happy playing!
~Adrian