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#1572790 - 12/08/10 04:06 PM Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Hi everyone. Thanks in advance for your help. Here's my situation. I had a new Dammp Chaser system (H5 system with humidifier and dehumidifier) installed into my upright piano a couple months ago. I live in New England so it is getting cold and dry.

My hygrometer next to the piano is saying 69 degrees and 22% humidity. I thought to myself, "wouldn't it be cool if I put my hygrometer inside my piano, came back the next day and saw a reading of 42% humidity". I tried this experiment and my reading came back inside the piano at 25%. I had the hygrometer on the bottom of the piano right under the humidistat.

So I'm a bit bummed by this and now I'm doubting whether or not my DC is working properly. I've been changing the water every 2.5 weeks roughly and the pads are wet and feel slightly warm. The dehumidifier bar is not hot. The power light is on and seems to be getting electricity.

I ordered a higher quality hygrometer that should arrive in a few days but still the problem I have is that the humidity inside the piano is almost the same as outside.

I called Dampp Chaser and they said that the installation wasn't exactly right. The humidistat should be 2" above and 2" to the left of the water tank. My humidistat was much farther away. I slid the humidistat closer but it hasn't made any difference in the last 8 hours.

Dampp Chaser was very nice on the phone and sounded like they would do whatever it took to get it to work but at this point their only suggestion was to move the humidistat.

Any idea what the problem might be? Has anyone had this same issue?

Thanks!

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#1572794 - 12/08/10 04:17 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
wayne walker Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 515
Loc: Windsor,Nova Scotia Canada
was the system installed by a piano tuner or technician, if so then you should call them back to check the system
_________________________
Wayne Walker
Walker's Piano Service
http://www.walkerpiano.ca/

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#1572803 - 12/08/10 04:35 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
The system was installed by a technician but I'm not sure what he would do if he came over to look at it. My gut feeling is that there is something wrong with the unit but I'd like to do the testing myself to help come to that conclusion. I've looked at the unit myself and looks correct to me. (I know I'm not a piano technician, but this is really more of an electrical/electronics installation in which I'm fairly well versed.) Also, given that the technician didn't install the system based on the directions included in the unit (regarding location of the humidistat) I'm not sure he is going to be the right person to help troubleshoot the system.

Because the system is so simple, I'm assuming there is an issue with the built-in humidstat in the DC system, but I'm curious to see if anyone has had similar experiences that I can learn from.

Cheers.

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#1572813 - 12/08/10 04:46 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
I suspect the problem is with your hygrometer. As you say, the system is in principle quite simple. If the humidity is too low, the humidifier bar is turned on and this is what you are seeing. So, the system is working.

For accurate measurements, I suggest getting a humidity data logger, available online.

Remember, even the DC system is not a cure-all for humidity issues, rather, it mitigates the problem.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1572816 - 12/08/10 04:53 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
That was my first thought so we'll see what happens when I get my new hygrometer. I ordered a fairly expensive one that is certified to be pretty accurate. It would make my current hygrometer about 20% off. Certainly possible.

The only glitch with this logic is that theoretically the DC cycles on and off and moves the RH% up to ~50% and then down to the high thirties. I reset my hygrometer to record min/max and there were no fluctuations over the two day test.

Of course if my hygrometer reading is innacurate maybe the min/max is too. We'll see what happens with the new hygrometer.

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#1572817 - 12/08/10 04:55 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
One more thing I forgot...there is about an inch of space between the top of the bottom panel and the underside of the piano. I'm wondering if that space is allowing leaking humidity in some way. Not sure it would be significant enough.

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#1572835 - 12/08/10 05:19 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
wayne walker Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 515
Loc: Windsor,Nova Scotia Canada
the Dampp-Chaser has a five year warranty, call your tech, he knows what to do.
_________________________
Wayne Walker
Walker's Piano Service
http://www.walkerpiano.ca/

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#1572952 - 12/08/10 08:48 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Steve W Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 249
Loc: Omaha, NE
You say you "change the water" every 2.5 weeks -- what do you mean by this?

Normally you don't actually "change" the water - it evaporates on the pads, the light goes on, and you refill the tank.

I'm not trying to be nit-picky - just trying to understand if the unit is actually using water or not.

In mine, on a grand, in the winter I may need to fill it about every week.
_________________________
Steve W
Omaha, NE

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#1572956 - 12/08/10 08:56 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Sorry. To clarify I fill the water tank every 2.5 weeks so it is doing something...the question is whether it is doing enough.

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#1573022 - 12/08/10 11:10 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1080
Loc: PA
If the piano was tuned before the change of season, is the piano holding tune reasonably well after the change of season? If so, the D-C system is doing its job.

If the piano was tuned after the change of season, did your tuner need to significantly raise the pitch when he tuned it? If so, then you do need additional troubleshooting. It may be the unit. But I think this is unlikely. If you are having tuning stability issues, you might want to consider supplementing you D-C system with a room humidifier during the winter.

Edit: One full inch between the bottom panel and the keybed... that is a lot.


Edited by daniokeeper (12/08/10 11:20 PM)
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1573041 - 12/08/10 11:50 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Gadzar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1730
Loc: Mexico City
I have a similar problem with my system. The min-max readings are just too far from the theoretical 42% RH.

I asked Dampp-Chaser and they told me that what matters is the average humidity not the isolated readings. But I had no humidity data loger in order to check the average humidity in the piano.

My piano holds tunings very well. So I guess the system is working fine.

I have to add water every 2/3 weeks depending on the weather.
_________________________
Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#1573134 - 12/09/10 03:55 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2010
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
dcb,

Once you get that new hygrometer, please post your findings here. I'd be very interested to read how things worked out. I'm considering to install a DamppChaser, but my piano also has a gap of about 1" between the bottom panel and the keybed, and I'm wondering whether this would "leak" too much humidity.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1573161 - 12/09/10 06:01 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
You could opt for a back cover, that would help.
_________________________
Les Koltvedt
LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate

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#1573220 - 12/09/10 09:21 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Gadzar, I find DC's statement illogical to me. The DC should maintain the RH to between roughly 38% and 50%...sure it will not be exactly 42% all the time but it should be in that range. So an instant reading of 38, 45, 50...would make sense.

However, a reading of 25% where the min/max doesn't change is clearly too low and the average is not anywhere close to 42%.

The other part of this discussion that I feel strongly about is that the piano and the tuning is independent. Obviously, the reason to get a DC is to protect the piano and stabilize tuning but having a stable tuning does not imply that the DC is working. Conversely, an instable tuning doesn't mean the DC is not working. (there are just so many other variables around stability/ age of piano, new strings, how hard you play, how often you play,etc.)

This is why my simple test is just to measure the RH inside a fairly small box with a DC in it.(my piano) I'll update the thread when I do the following tests:

-improve the accuracy of my RH measurement (new/better hygrometer)
-experiment with the location of the humidistat
-seal off the 1" gap above the bottom panel
-hopefully it won't come to this but maybe replacing the humidistat with another unit from DC

Should be an interesting project. I care about taking care of my piano so it will be great if I can determine that the DC is actually improving the conditions inside the piano.

Cheers.

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#1573289 - 12/09/10 11:17 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: Mark R.]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Originally Posted By: Mark R.
dcb,

Once you get that new hygrometer, please post your findings here. I'd be very interested to read how things worked out. I'm considering to install a DamppChaser, but my piano also has a gap of about 1" between the bottom panel and the keybed, and I'm wondering whether this would "leak" too much humidity.


Don't worry about it. I install D-C's all the time into grands, and the whole soundboard is exposed on the bottom and the top! Uprights have the whole soundboard exposed at the rear.

Uprights are easier to control, because they're much more of a box.

Measuring humidity inside the piano is the best, but it's even easier for most people to measure the pitch of your piano. There are many apps out there that will do that. The A above middle C should be at 440 Hz... how is this changing? If it's really that dry, it should be going flat.

This is the best indication of whether the D-C system is holding humidity within range over time.

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#1573295 - 12/09/10 11:34 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2402
Loc: Olympia, WA
Another reason your hygrometers reading may be low is that you stuck it in the bottom of the piano. I would imagine that to be the driest area because the warm, moistened air rises and disperses. Instead of just putting the hygrometer in the bottom of the piano, find somewhere up higher.

Also, I agree with Cy. The proof is in the pudding. If your piano was really running that dry you would definitely hear it.

You can download Tunelab shareware free. I think it would be interesting to measure all the Cs on your piano once a week. It can be an eye opener to see what your tuning is really doing.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1573351 - 12/09/10 12:53 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1080
Loc: PA
Quote:
 So I'm a bit bummed by this and now I'm doubting whether or not my DC is working properly. I've been changing the water every 2.5 weeks roughly and the pads are wet and feel slightly warm. The dehumidifier bar is not hot. The power light is on and seems to be getting electricity.


So, why would you need a new humidistat? In dry weather, the heating rod is turned off and the humidifier is turned on. The humidistat is doing its job.

You don’t want the humidifier bar to get hot and put out too much moisture too rapidly. After all, you do not want to cause rust and corrosion on metal parts like the strings.


Quote:
The other part of this discussion that I feel strongly about is that the piano and the tuning is independent. Obviously, the reason to get a DC is to protect the piano and stabilize tuning but having a stable tuning does not imply that the DC is working. Conversely, an instable tuning doesn't mean the DC is not working.


If you check D-C’s own advertising, you’ll see that one reason they recommend their systems is for stabilizing tunings across seasonal changes. http://www.pianolifesaver.com/english/pianohumidifier.php

Yes, a piano that is still at pitch after going from a humid summer to an extremely dry winter absolutely implies that the D-C unit is working correctly.
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1573386 - 12/09/10 02:32 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: daniokeeper]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Dampp-Chaser today released a service bulletin about some H5 humidistats sticking in the humidify mode. If yours was recently installed, your tech will likely be contacting you to check and see if its one of the affected ones. He can then check the system while there.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1573540 - 12/09/10 07:27 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
So I have my new hygrometer and have more accurate readings now. The hygrometer I bought is from a labaratory store and is certified to be accrate +/- 2% for relative humidity. It also reads from the main unit and has a wireless sensor I can put in the piano. This was a good purchase...now I have some confidence.

I've had it in place for about 6 hours now and it is very responsive. In fact if I hold the unit in my hand, the temperature and humidity goes up a bit.

Outside the piano my RH% reading is 22%.
I have the wireless sensor velcroed directly on the humidistat inside the piano and it is reading 32%. (note that when I had the wireless sensor out of the piano next to the main unit, both read the same % so they are calibrated.)

So based on my observations with good measurement for the first 6 hours, it looks like the DC is doing something, but not enough. So I'll monitor it for a while and try and figure out what is going on.

My guess now is either the 1" gap above my bottom panel is letting in too much dry air or the DC is incorrectly calibrated to ~32% instead of 42%....or.... I'm missing something. I'll keep you posted.

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#1573551 - 12/09/10 07:45 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
wayne walker Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 515
Loc: Windsor,Nova Scotia Canada
a 1" gap in the lower panel is not going to make a differences. All upright pianos have a gap in the lower panel. I have installed Dampp-Chaser system in many upright pianos . I tune these pianos once a year and the pitch is almost bang on.
_________________________
Wayne Walker
Walker's Piano Service
http://www.walkerpiano.ca/

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#1573562 - 12/09/10 07:55 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Thanks Wayne. That's good information. That helps my troubleshooting.

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#1573578 - 12/09/10 08:19 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
wayne walker Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 515
Loc: Windsor,Nova Scotia Canada
Originally Posted By: dcb

Outside the piano my RH% reading is 22%.
I have the wireless sensor velcroed directly on the humidistat inside the piano and it is reading 32%.



try installing the remote senor in the upper portion of the piano
_________________________
Wayne Walker
Walker's Piano Service
http://www.walkerpiano.ca/

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#1573819 - 12/10/10 07:30 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4940
Loc: Bradford County, PA
I didn't feel that the regular Dampchaser installation for my Charles Walter console was enough. I added a back system and now the tuning is rock solid. I have a wood stove two rooms away.

Something you could try is plugging an old dial clock into the heater bar outlet of the humidistat with an “octopus” so the heater bar will still work. This will tell you how often it is calling for heat. I understand that it is made to cycle the heat on occasionally in order to circulate the air in the piano. But if it never comes on for long, then the one humidifier tank may not be enough. Another can be added. Consider bringing this up with the folks at Dampchaser.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1577485 - 12/15/10 08:20 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Here's the update...

-My piano is slipping out of tune from a recent tuning. This may be for other reasons, but it is important for those who think that if the piano is holding its pitch it doesn't matter what the RH% readings are.

-DC sent me another humidistat to try. It's been installed for a day and it is no better. (The room RH% = 22-23%. Inside the piano, the RH% is 26-30%.) Also note that the room is very stable in temperature. It's been a couple weeks and I still haven't had to fill the water tank.

-Just for good measure, I changed the pads.

So I'm bummed because I was hoping the humidistat was the problem. Now I'm thinking 1 of 3 possibilities.
1) The humidifier is faulty. (water tank/ pads/ heater wires)
2) DC systems really don't work as well as people think they do and the claim of maintaining a RH% in the range of 38% to 45% exagerated or only seen in perfect lab conditions.
3) Some other reason I'm not seeing.

Anyone have any thoughts?

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#1577499 - 12/15/10 08:35 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
I doubt it's the humidifier. Earlier in the thread, you mentioned the pads were wet and slightly warm; that sounds like it's functioning normally. The humidifier is only 8w, so it won't get nearly as warm as the dehumidifier rods.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1577506 - 12/15/10 08:40 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Thanks Loren. That was one of my questions... the humidifier bar is warm but not hot. I'm stumped. I've read some posts where people have measured the effectiveness and the system was swinging from 38% - 53% back and forth every 18 minutes. I would also think the system would work better on a vertical piano because it is a closed box.

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#1577552 - 12/15/10 10:12 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Eric Gloo Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1246
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
The 22% room humidity sounds quite low. Let me throw a few questions at you to get a better understanding of the piano and its environment:

What brand is the piano? Size of piano? Age of piano?

What is the heat source for the room? How far away from the heat source is the piano?

Does direct sunlight hit the piano at any point during the day?

From where inside the piano are you measuring the humidity?
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#1577567 - 12/15/10 10:41 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
It is a 45" Walter Studio that is about 13 years old. The piano is in a finished basement in Massachusetts with baseboard hot water heat. There is no heat directly behind the piano. No sunlight at any point during the day.

I have a fairly expensive hygrometer that is accurate and certified to +/-2% and it is velcroed directly on the humidistat. I've also taken measurements on the bottom of the piano next to the water tank and got the same reading.

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#1577590 - 12/15/10 11:38 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Eric Gloo Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1246
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
If you can, try putting the hygrometer higher up inside the piano.

Is there a plastic baffle installed above the humidifier tank (probably attached to the underside of the key bed)?

What is the wattage of the dehumidifier bar (the bar from which the humidistat hangs). It will be either 50W or 25W. You'll probably have to shine a flashlight on either side of the dehumidifier bar to find the wattage (I think it's on the side with the cord). It's imprinted on the bar, along with the Dampp Chaser name, and a date of manufacture. Depending on how the bar was installed, it may even be facing the back of the piano, so you might need a mirror to read the info.

Does the water tank sit directly on the floor of the piano, or is it hanging?

Just looked at the clock, and it's way past bedtime! I'll check back tomorrow...I'm just wondering how the dehumidifier and humidistat are reacting with each other, which will make a difference as to how often the humidifier turns on.

If you can post a photo of the installation, that might be helpful, too.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#1577598 - 12/15/10 11:48 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2679
Loc: western Wisconsin
Note: I'm not a tech, just a piano "enthusiast"...

What was the RH at the time the piano was tuned?

22% RH is really low... Perhaps the system can't add 20% RH so easily (though you observed a 10% increase previously).

The RH in my home ranges from mid 30% to high 50% year-round (note: the seasonal humidity swings in the upper Midwest are seriously extreme, and would be worse without the use of a room humidifier in winter). My DC system keeps the piano in a happy enough state that I only need to have it tuned twice a year, and I'm pretty picky. In the dead of winter when things are driest, I may have to refill every 12 days.

At my work, 22% RH is (unfortunately for the pianos) the norm in my office in winter, with some sort of humidifier allegedly running in the HVAC system in my building. The pianos in the studio need tuning monthly, and it's not due to overuse... WIth the seasonal extremes and no real protection, both my pianos at work have suffered problems they had no business having at a very young age.

Should we be fortunate enough to purchase new instruments in the future, I will insist on a full DC system with an undercover as part of the purchase. Maybe the backcover would be a good idea for you, since your basement is very dry?
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Casio px-200, Bechstein A190 #192939 @ home
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