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#293186 - 09/15/08 08:07 PM Pianos that live at the beach
Doogs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 127
Loc: Rockaway Beach New York
I know there must be others here who love both pianos and the beach and don’t want to give up either. How do those of you who live by the sea take care of your pianos? Is it really possible to mitigate seaside humidity enough to ensure a long lifetime for a piano?

I’m considering bringing a fine grand into my place. I’ve already gotten quite a few opinions, mostly: don’t do it. I’d like to hear from those who have.

The ocean’s a thirty second walk away. The room where I would have the piano has no air conditioning because I don’t like it and except for maybe one day a year the breeze keeps it cool enough. Frankly it would be difficult even to put an AC in the room. In order not to blow directly on the piano it would have to go in the upper half of a double hung window (if that’s even possible). There’s only one wall which is big enough to accommodate the piano and is not along a heating vent, and that’s the outside wall.

Of course I would get a DamppChaser. I would also get a room humidifier/dehumidifier. I’m willing to monitor these assiduously. What I am not willing to do is to live with the windows closed all the time. Mine are almost always open. I like to hear the ocean and feel the ocean air.

I am lucky enough to have another choice. I could have the piano in the city instead of at the beach. The drawback is that I would not be able to play it as often. There is also another serious drawback to consider and weigh: during the winter, I would not able to monitor the DamppChaser and dehumidifier because I wouldn’t be around all the time. If they needed water more than once a week, and I surmise that they do, they would always be running out because I could not count on being there or on anybody else to take care of it. A great deal of the time, the humidifier and DamppChaser would be useless.

So it’s like this: at the beach in the summer the piano would be subject to much greater humidity at the beach (and I’ve seen what that does to wood and just about everything else in the house) mitigated as much as possible by humidity control, but still probably much more humidity than is good for it, while in the winter it would get all the humidification it needs.

In the city, there’d be much less humidity in the summer plus an air conditioner a lot of the time, but in the winter the piano would inevitably suffer from times of not enough humidity.

It might come down to, what’s worse for the piano, to be subjected half the year to too much humidity or half the year not enough?

As a start towards getting some objective information to figuring this out, I just got a hygrometer and am going to watch it for a while. Today is a pretty average day humidity-wise, and it's at 50%. Yesterday was probably the most extreme humidity we've had all year and I bet it would have been at least 60%.

I am looking to invest a lot in a piano and want it to last for 40 years. If you were me what would you do? (Just don’t say don’t get a piano.)

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#293187 - 09/15/08 08:21 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3769
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
It's not the humidity but the salt air thats a nightmare for pianos at the beach. RUST!
_________________________
G.Fiore "aka-Curry". Tuner-Technician serving the central NJ, S.E. PA area. b214cm@aol.com Concert tuning, Regulation-voicing specialist.
Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
Bösendorfer 214 # 47,299 214-358

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#293188 - 09/15/08 08:31 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
I think the piano should be where you are most of the time. I mean, you're going to want to play it, right? ;\) If you're not around in the city place during the winter, then that settles it: keep it at the beach.

But I'm puzzled about how the winters will be at the beach. When you say you like to keep the windows open pretty much all the time, surely you don't mean in the winter, too? And how will the piano get "all the humidification it needs," anyway?

When I lived in Manhattan, it was very difficult to keep the ambient humidity much above 30% with the indoor heating necessary to keep the room temperature comfortable. I think that adding any more room humidifiers would have caused profuse "sweating" on the glass of the windows, so I didn't try. (I do have a Dampp-Chaser, at least.)

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#293189 - 09/15/08 08:36 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3872
Pianos at the beach are fine, if the salt air is kept outside. Open the windows, and the strings will rust, as Curry said. Rusty strings break when tuned. If you don't mind restringing your piano every 10 years, by all means open the windows and doors.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#293190 - 09/15/08 08:56 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1243
Loc: London
If you have the windows open, it will be pointless to have a room humidifier or dehumidifier, you would effectively be trying to humidify or dehumidify the whole beach. Quite apart from the salt problem.

Perhaps the best you could do would be to have a DC, with an undercover to try to maintain a humidity-controlled microclimate independent of the air blowing through the windows. Keep the piano lid closed when you are not playing. And perhaps install a string cover, which might (?) help to keep the salt off the strings.

I don't suppose you could open the windows in the other rooms, but leave the windows in the piano room closed?

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#293191 - 09/15/08 08:59 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
A dammp chaser AND a piano string cover from 'Edwards string covers"

They're the best....

Worked for my clients in Redondo Beach and up here in Santa Cruz....and Pebble Beach...
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#293192 - 09/15/08 08:59 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
John Mila Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 245
Loc: So California
Use a Dampp-Chaser and a string cover.
I have a tuning customer that lives in the Marina out here on the West Coast. It's been 4 years and the strings are like new.
I also have a customer that I tuned a couple months ago that lives in Manhatten Beach. She's been there for a couple years, and the strings need to go, now.
So again String cover with a Dampp-Chaser and you'll be good.
Of coarse, you casters, screw heads, rods, hinges and anything else not protected will start showing that green-mold stuff pretty quick.
_________________________
John Mila de la Roca, Manager
Keyboard Concepts, Tustin CA
714-544-0088
Yamaha-Schimmel-Bosendorfer
Piano Tuner/Tech 30 years
john.miladelaroca@keyboardconcepts.com
keyboardconcepts.com

Yamaha C3-KorgN364-Kurzweil K2500-Yamaha P200-Roland Ax1 & Les Paul Custom gold Top 57 re-issue and 6 nameless guitars.

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#293193 - 09/15/08 09:06 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Perhaps it needs to be reemphasized how different a beach climate in the Northeast is from other more typical beach settings. The seasonal variations in heat and humidity aren't remotely comparable to (for example) Southern California.

Isn't that a factor?

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#293194 - 09/15/08 10:22 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
I understand your point Steven, but it doesn't change the fact that the instrument will be in a 'hostile' environment....at least in piano terms....
The key to stability is stability.....in environment....
Windows open.....the wind will blow....the air will change....all of it laden with some degree of salt etc....

I would also suggest an underblanket be placed under the piano, attached by staples, if need be, to the bracings and rim....no, the staples will only leave little holes and will not de value the instrument. This will reduce the effects or drafts etc....
Used in combo with the DC and string cover, as I've already suggested, this will help.
I don't see what else there is to do if the windows are to be open....and I can understand the reasons for the fresh air.

There is another thing you can do when you leave an instrument for a few days....a down comforter....large as you can....right on the top of the piano....what is there to lose??
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#293195 - 09/16/08 09:12 AM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 1178
Loc: Minnesota
Peter,

How about the undercover from Dampp Chaser, instead of a home remedy for the underside?
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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#293196 - 09/16/08 09:35 AM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
Great idea Marty...Had forgotten that those guys made them....don't have much need for them around here:-)
P
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#293197 - 09/16/08 02:58 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
Doogs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 127
Loc: Rockaway Beach New York
Thanks everyone.

Humidity is up to 60% today, and it's not at all oppressive out, so I have little doubt it gets up in the 70% range frequently in the summer.

What is the room humidity that we are striving for?

I hear what you are saying about salt, not just humidity. What is an undercover?

I could learn to close windows at night and when I'm not home, but I don't know if that would make things better or just confuse the piano more.

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#293198 - 09/16/08 03:29 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Doogs:
What is the room humidity that we are striving for?[/b]
40% to 45% is optimal for a piano (and humans, too, IIRC).

I'm still wondering how you live through a NYC winter with all those windows open. :p

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#293199 - 09/16/08 04:41 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19450
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by sotto voce:
But I'm puzzled about how the winters will be at?

When I lived in Manhattan, it was very difficult to keep the ambient humidity much above 30% with the indoor heating necessary to keep the room temperature comfortable. I think that adding any more room humidifiers would have caused profuse "sweating" on the glass of the windows, so I didn't try. (I do have a Dampp-Chaser, at least.)
Steven [/b]
I live in NYC snd have a humidifier going all winter. There is no hint of any sweating on the windows. With so many pianists and dealers in the city it would be a disaster for pianos if people couldn't run humidifiers in the winter.

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#293200 - 09/16/08 04:49 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
I live in NYC snd have a humidifier going all winter. There is no hint of any sweating on the windows. With so many pianists and dealers in the city it would be a disaster for pianos if people couldn't run humidifiers in the winter. [/b]
It would be a disaster for our nasal passages, too. ;\)

But in my experience, running a humidifier merely mitigated the bone-dryness (i.e., < 20% without humidification, maybe 30% with it). My windows didn't sweat, but I was never able to get into that "optimal" range of 40-45% either.

What's your typical indoor humidity level in the winter?

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1766798 - 10/08/11 07:59 AM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: Doogs]
R_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/09
Posts: 505
Now an old thread, though still relevant.

I am curious what the extent of salt laden humidity damage might be on anodized aluminum, which I understand is used in preference to brass in some new pianos.
It may well be several orders of magnitude less of an issue than string rusting, it may also be taken care of within the measures taken against string rusting.
I'm still curious about it.

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#1767039 - 10/08/11 09:14 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: R_B]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1439
Loc: Reseda, California
We built a house at the beach 40 years ago, and the results with aluminum are highly variable. The anodized windows are as good as new, some exterior light fixtures crumbled into white powder in just a few years, no more than five....

A piano, being inside the house, wouldn't be nearly as impacted as those examples. The strings will definitely rust, though. But if it's worth a re-string every 20 - 30 years to you, go ahead.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#1767064 - 10/08/11 10:10 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: Doogs]
GoatRider Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 460
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
I am not a metallurgist, but I have read a little about it. It depends a lot on the alloy, and how well anodized the aluminum is. Anodizing prevents corrosion very well, better than paint, because it becomes a part of the surface. But if there are any nicks in it, that will allow corrosion to take hold. I know less about the different alloys, but iirc aircraft aluminum, 6062, is quite corrosion prone.
_________________________
- Benton Jackson. Permanent piano novice.
Kawai RX-2 #2555861 in Satin Walnut
Kawai ES6

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#1767521 - 10/09/11 08:27 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: GoatRider]
R_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/09
Posts: 505
Originally Posted By: GoatRider
I am not a metallurgist, but I have read a little about it. It depends a lot on the alloy, and how well anodized the aluminum is. Anodizing prevents corrosion very well, better than paint, because it becomes a part of the surface. But if there are any nicks in it, that will allow corrosion to take hold. I know less about the different alloys, but iirc aircraft aluminum, 6062, is quite corrosion prone.


I have a (very) little hobby welding experience.
I am fairly sure that corrosion resistance is more or less represented by the first digit, I have bookmarks and can look that up... maybe later.
I am not sure that it is useful without knowing which alloy(s) are being used in pianos...
The Wessel, Nickel and Gross web site doesn't spell that out, although I just spent a LOT of time there on other tangents (-:

We can probably assume no nicks or scratches in the "factory fresh" surface and the wear that it is exposed to is unlikely to penetrate the anodize layer in some number of millions of key strokes.

OK, I probably won't pursue this any farther.

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#1767827 - 10/10/11 09:18 AM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: R_B]
Ed A. Hall Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 264






This is what I would do if I were living by the beach. I would buy a high quality used piano and have it rebuilt by a reputable technician using stainless steel strings by Puresound and I would also have the action retrofitted to WNG composite action. I would also have the soundboard completely refinished on both sides with a thin coat of epoxy to minimize the damaging effects of changing humidity. The other idea is to buy a piano that already has a composite action such as Kawai or Mason & Hamlin and have it restrung with stainless steel strings.

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#1767834 - 10/10/11 09:32 AM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: curry]
asiantraveller101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/08
Posts: 158
Loc: ME
Originally Posted By: curry
It's not the humidity but the salt air thats a nightmare for pianos at the beach. RUST!

Yes, I heard of a horror news, from my tuner, of a brand new piano that started forming rust on the strings after 2 weeks it was moved to the client's house by the beach. Take all precautions as advised by your technician.
_________________________
JN

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#1768111 - 10/10/11 04:06 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: Doogs]
Stanza Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1458
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
Interesting in the guitar world there are all sorts of string sprays and solutions that help protect the strings, keep them slick, and prevent corrosion (plenty of salt from the skin). I don't know if these or similar products are advisible for piano strings, although I don't see why not.
_________________________
Estonia L190 #7004
Casio PX 310
Yamaha NP 30

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#1768204 - 10/10/11 06:07 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: Stanza]
R_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/09
Posts: 505
Originally Posted By: Stanza
Interesting in the guitar world there are all sorts of string sprays and solutions that help protect the strings, keep them slick, and prevent corrosion (plenty of salt from the skin). I don't know if these or similar products are advisible for piano strings, although I don't see why not.


Interesting'er and interesting'er {Alice didn't actually SAY that}

I play a little guitar (FULL size actually) and it was my belief that steel guitar strings are in fact "piano wire".
Perhaps in the early days, although now there are all sorts of special strings, such as "flat wound" - - and I am playing only nylons strings, so have lost touch.

Until this thread I didn't know of "stainless" piano strings.
Live 'n learn.
Is there any (perceived) tone difference ?
('nother subject maybe)

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#1768254 - 10/10/11 08:27 PM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: R_B]
Ed A. Hall Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 264
Originally Posted By: R_B


Until this thread I didn't know of "stainless" piano strings.
Live 'n learn.
Is there any (perceived) tone difference ?
('nother subject maybe)



From what I understand, the stainless piano strings have a lower breaking strength so they can't support quite as much tension. If the piano has a high tension scale, it might require rescaling to lower tension which would change the tone somewhat. The piano would lose some power / attack and gain some sustain.

The issue with string lube is if it happens to find its way into the tuning pin and down the pin block, it will no longer hold the tune.

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#1769699 - 10/13/11 03:09 AM Re: Pianos that live at the beach [Re: Doogs]
zhengxuejing Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 42
The man recovered his


Edited by Rickster (10/13/11 07:57 AM)

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