Myths, Mysteries and Old Wifes Tales ( with apologies to all the old wives out there )


It's always amusing or mind-boggling to hear some of the things people believe, or think they believe, about pianos. Even smart, educated people will sometimes be misinformed about their pianos . . . . . ..
I don't know how many times people have told me their piano has a cast-iron soundboard, or they'll point to the plate, even in a grand, and ask if that's the soundboard. You'd think the word "board" would suggest wood, not metal.
And a vertical does not have to be moved out from the wall in order to be tuned.

They've seen guitars and violins being tuned, but somehow never imagine that a piano may have a similar arrangement of strings wound around pins that you turn to raise or lower their pitch.
Others can't imagine why you'd have to open it up or lift the lid in order to tune it. Perhaps they've never seen it being done, and don't know what tuning entails.

And of course they know for sure that any time a piano is moved, even across the room, it has to be re-tuned. They never question it. Same with the "outside wall" myth, the jar of water in the bottom, and the belief that it went out of tune because nobody's been playing it, and now that it's been tuned it'll stay in tune better. In reality, 'staying in tune' has far more to do with the pinblock, the weather changes, age of the piano, and frequency of regular tuning.

I heard another variant of this one from a highly respected sound technician in Europe. It goes like this... when a Steinway D ( the concert size ) gets its plate removed for rebuilding at the factory, the plate needs to "relax" for over a years time with no tension on it before it can be put back into the piano to be re-used.

Where he heard this or got this idea I don't know. Perhaps there is the proverbial grain of truth in their somewhere that after filtering down through several "re-tolds" became so changed that by the time he was the recipient it was a whole year of relaxing ? Like the fish story ... the one that keeps getting bigger.
One of my clients was a family whose old grand piano desperately needed new strings.
They informed me, with unswerving conviction, that removing the old strings would cause the plate to explode.

Just for the record,, moving a piano across a room will not throw it out of tune, pianos, in modern, insulated houses can live quite comfortably on the outer walls, and pianos will not 'explode' if strings are removed or changed . . crack maybe if done improperly, but not explode . .

Well, to be on the safe side though, better stand back . . .