Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate

Posted by: mdsdurango

Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 11:43 AM

As posted prior, I am going from Colorado to South Texas to look at Anson's Mason & Hamlin.
Thanks to all of you who endorsed the model A.
Now I am wondering what, if any, consequence there is of moving a piano from a humid climate to a high and dry climate. Sorry but I simply can not keep my windows and doors closed all summer. It is far too beautiful weather where I live. The humidity levels are very low, sometimes less than 10% and not often at 50%. Should I take these facts into consideration? Is there any real danger in moving this two year old piano from one to another dramatic clime?
Posted by: Christopher P. Smith

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 12:03 PM

Sure there is some risk.

No matter where you live, the ideal humidity for any acoustic instrument- - -piano, guitar, or whatever is 40-45% humidity. Wood is happy at that humidity.

If you are not there, take the steps in order to reach that and your piano will live longer without major health problems.

Sorry so blunt.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 12:19 PM

A good DampChaser System should afford you the protection you need.
Posted by: George K

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 12:28 PM

(insert ducking noise here)


Are those Mason and Hamlins seasoned for destination?

Couldn't resist.


George
Posted by: Christopher P. Smith

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 12:39 PM

HA HA!

Thing is, Mason and Hamlin does export to Asia. . .do they?
Posted by: masaki

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 12:59 PM

mdsdurango,
Wood is alright, but hide glue is not. Violins may fall apart in such low humid environemnt due to that hide glue loses elasticity and prone to be cracked by small stress.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 01:08 PM

I've seen a Japanese piano (the manufacturer's name escapes me, but it did not start with K or Y) brought to the US where one of the keys warped so much that I need to remove about a third of its width at the back so it would not jam against the adjacent key. So yes, it can happen. It will not always happen, though.

Incidentally, violins are different. Violin makers intentionally glue the tops on weakly so that they will come apart rather than causing damage that would be harder to repair.
Posted by: mdsdurango

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 01:13 PM

Good one george!

Christopher, Please do be blunt!

The real question is this; Should I EXPECT any problems moving a piano from a humid clime to a dry clime? Or will the piano adjust just fine and I might want to add a Damp Chaser in order to prolong the life of the piano. ?

Or is this all just hysteria caused by the many "Seasoned" threads.

One more; What happened to pianos before Air Conditioning, Humidifying, and Dampp Chasers? There are a lot of old (old!) Steinways still around and worthy of restoration.

Thanks again!!!
Mike
Posted by: BDB

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 01:22 PM

You can't EXPECT anything. It depends on things like the grain of the individual pieces of wood in the piano. There is no way of knowing ahead of time. It makes no difference for the vast majority of pianos.

Before AC, etc., some manufacturers would offer, at extra cost, tropicalized pianos for humid areas, with things like wired hammers. Steinway's NY pianos were intended for the US market, and the Hamburg pianos for most other parts of the world for this very reason.

Wood science has improved, so there is probably less reason to be concerned with a modern piano, but you can't be certain.
Posted by: Christopher P. Smith

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 01:31 PM

BDB makes an ecellent point about your Steinway question.

As for expecting problems. Sure, you should expect it. If nothing happens, then you will be pleasently suprised. *laugh*

I think the piano will be just fine. Just do your best to keep it away from extreme dryness or extreme dampness.
Posted by: Stevester

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 07:34 PM

Less than 10% humidity? I think you better have a talk with a good CO tech about this. If you are anywhere near Denver give John Finger at Chris Finger Piano a call. He used to be a regular here but he left a while back. You can find his comments on Damp Chaser systems in the archives. As I understand it a Damp Chaser can be used to supplement a good HVAC system but it might have trouble trying to do the entire job on its own.

Frankly there is no way I would subject a beautiful piano such as that A to what you have in mind.

Regards,
Steve
Posted by: mdsdurango

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 09:03 PM

Stevester, You got me thinking (some time a notion I forget to apply). So I just spent some time on the web seeking average relative humidity for my town of Durango. Well, Durango was not listed but two larger cities, one North, and one South, Grand Junction Colorado and Albuquerque New Mexico, were. Both these cities are drier than Durango and the average yearly relative humidity for each respectively is 30.5% and 29.5%. So, though my comment holds true that on occasion we have very low relative humidity the average in Durango would be somewhere at 30%. So would you still not subject the piano to this climate?
Giving John a call in Denver is a great idea. Thanks for that suggestion.

Mike
Posted by: Stevester

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/22/05 09:51 PM

Mike,

It is not just the preservation of the instrument that would concern me, it is tuning stability. If you are going to subject any acoustic piano to wild temp/humidity swings you are going to have a hard time keeping it in tune.

Call Chris Finger in Denver and ask for Jonathan (Sp?). His family has been in the business for quite a while and they have a very good reputation. It is my understanding Jonathan is an experienced tech.

That seems like a great piano and I hope it works out for you. I really like M&H.

Best regards,
Steve
Posted by: BDB

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/23/05 03:11 AM

It's not any harder to keep a piano in tune if the humidity changes a lot. You just call up the tuner and get it tuned!

(By the way, how can someone be witnessed when no one is watching?)
Posted by: Stevester

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/23/05 09:02 AM

BDB,

That reminds me of a story my tech told me. He tunes a Steinway for a family that has quite a bit of money. They have a dedicated room for the piano which is kept closed up and the temperature and humidity are kept constant. My tech tunes it once and year and he says it is always close to tune when he arrives. I don't know if the piano is used much, probably not. I think it would be great to have a dedicated music room such as this so I could open the house up on a regular basis.

Regards,
Steve
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/23/05 09:11 AM

BDB wrote:

 Quote:
Steinway's NY pianos were intended for the US market, and the Hamburg pianos for most other parts of the world for this very reason.
[/b]

BDB,

Steinway's NY factory distributes to all of North AND South America. Hamburg distributes to Europe and Asia. This stems from the historic obstacles of transoceanic travel.

It did not stem from climactic conditions here or there.

MDS,

A dampchaser system ought to help your concerns quite a bit. A Mason is built better than most other pianos in the world. I personally would have less concerns with this brand than just about any other you could mention.

My 2 cents,
Posted by: Bob

Re: Any danger in moving a piano from humid to dry climate - 10/23/05 10:27 PM

Moving a piano from a humid climate to a dry one will result in the pitch going flat - easy to fix with a pitch raise and a couple of tunings. The tone could change, as the soundboard loses crown and downbearing changes. The tuning pins will be looser in the dry climate. If the pins were sufficiantly tight to begin with, this won't be a problem, (you should be ok with a 2 year old piano) however if the pins were barely holding in the humid climate, they might not hold a tune in the dry climate. It might be a good idea to have a tech tighten all the action screws once the piano adjusts to the dry air. These might loosen up as well.

The action will probably get lighter because the friction of the action centers will likely decrease in the dry air.

The tuning on your piano won't be very stable with outside air blowing over it all the time, especially if the outside humidity is up and down. A dampchaser will be overwhelmed and probably won't be able to keep up.