Moving a grand piano to a new climate

Lucky me. I’ve come into a 40 year-old grand piano. For that last 40 years it has lived in Seattle–cool marine climate with high humidity. I want to move it here to Denver–hot semi-arid climate.

Some piano people swear that the climate change will wreck the soundboard. Other piano people swear that this is an insane statement.

What’s the dope?

And now the joke: How is a woman like a piano?

“When she’s not upright, she’s grand.”

I got nothing on the actual topic.

That’s the right idea–My mother in law (original owner of the piano) said “They’re upright when they’re vertical, but when they’re horizontal they’re grand.” Pretty cool how I put that built-in BUMP bonus question eh? Right then.

And now…sound boards.

It won’t permenantly damage anything (assuming it is moved correctly). However, you’ll need to get it tuned after you move it, and probably again within a year as the piano adjusts to the changes in temperature and humidity.

It wouldn’t hurt to allow time for the piano to adjust to its new environment before tuning. I bought my first a few months ago and was finally able to retrieve my grand from my mother’s house. Her house is only two years old, whereas my house is more than 70 years old. It was suggested that I allow the piano a few days to get used to the difference in temperature and humidity before having it tuned.

The reason for waiting is that the piano will stay in tune longer if it is given time to adjust. However, given that it is 40 years old, you’ll have much less a problem with that than someone with a new piano. New pianos need frequent tunings.

Oh, and I have my piano tuned every six months.

Ugh. “I bought my first house a few months ago …”

Keep it in a moderate part of your new home (not in the sun or beside the air conditioner) in a relative humidity between 45% to 65% – you will probably require a humidifier in Denver. Give it some time to adjust to its new home before tuning, voicing and regulating.

While you are waiting, read the ultimate piano tuning / humidity change book: “The Piano Tuner” by Daniel Mason (A novel that is as haunting and romantic as Chopin’s Preludes in Em and Bm.)