Very often, pianists perform for outdoor concerts for a prolonged period of time in their music career. There are a variety of street and touring musicians who are pianists and play the piano outdoors for a full time living. In the process, their dearest musical instrument (could be an acoustic, upright or grand piano or even a digital piano) gets heavy exposure to outdoor conditions such as excess heat or cold, moisture or dryness.
Pianos can be kept outside for long period of time. However, this would affect the tuning of strings, the strength of soundboard and other mechanical parts of the piano in the long run. Eventually pianos which are kept outside for long time will need more maintenance and tuning sessions from seasoned piano technicians thereby causing a headache for the instrument players after a while.
In this article we are going to discuss more about the outcomes of keeping a piano outside for prolonged periods. Also, we shall cover details about how to keep your pianos outside without significant damage, if you don’t have an option of storing it inside a room or a covered space.
Can A Piano Be Kept Outside? Facts You Must Know
If you are pianist performing for outdoor events such as street concerts, plays etc – you need to keep your piano outside. However, this would have slow degradation of the critical parts of your piano unless you take special care in covering and protecting your piano from external weather conditions. Especially acoustic, grand and upright pianos are prone to tuning and sound quality issues if you plan to keep these pianos outside for longer intervals of time.
In the below section, we are going to reveal the most important safety measures you need to take up as a pianist in case you are storing your piano outside for prolonged periods of time.
Effect of Moisture and Fluctuating Temperatures on the Piano
The critical parts of a piano that help in sound generation are the Soundboard, strings, hammers, pedal assembly and the keys themselves.
When your piano is exposed frequently to outside environment, it is subjected to varying ranges of humidity, temperature and sunlight most often. Pianos are designed to withstand humidity level between 30-70% and temperature levels between 20-40 degrees. However, with frequently fluctuating environmental conditions such as extreme cold, heat waves or sunlight, your piano has a high chance of getting degraded slowly.
- Higher temperatures could cause the wood materials such as lid, soundboard, body parts to expand thereby causing muffled sounds.
- Similarly, lower temperatures could cause contracting effects to the piano soundboard and wooden parts
- Due to higher moisture content in atmosphere, your piano strings have a high chance of rusting and could frequently go out of tuning.
How Can You Safely Keep A Piano Outside?
Here is the list of safety measures that will help you keep your piano outside with minimal impact to wear and tear in the long run:
- Cover your piano place with temporary shed / roofing – To provide maximum protection to your piano from rain, snow, excess heat or weather fluctuations
- Use a waterproof cover for piano when not in use – To prevent excess dampness or moisture accumulation in the piano parts.
- Close your piano lid and fallboard after use – To prevent foreign objects from falling into keys or the string assembly
- Tune your strings frequently with help of a skilled piano technician or servicing company at your location – To ensure piano sound is good and in tune.
- Get a Musical instrument insurance for your piano – To protect your piano from any unwanted mishaps, serious damages or accidents.
- Lock your piano with an instrument lock / chains as desirable – To avoid misuse by outsiders.
- Check the soundboard, pedal levers, string assembly and the main hinges of your piano frequently for rusting and cracks – Preventive maintenance for your piano.
- Get an annual servicing plan from the nearest piano service dealer company – For regular servicing of your piano to keep it in working condition.
- Talk to the local house owners to move your piano inside a safety shelter during inclement and bad weather conditions – To prevent any major damages to your piano during bio and natural hazards.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a list of frequently asked questions from our pianist readers as regards to keeping piano outside:
1. I am pianist and perform outdoors. How long I can keep my piano outside?
You should not keep your piano for more than 3-4 days in the outside environment at a stretch. If you plan to keep it for longer periods, please take all necessary precautions mentioned in the above section of Safety Precautions Tips to keep your instrument safe and healthy.
2.How frequently I should tune my piano if I keep it outside?
Usually under ideal conditions Piano tuning is done in every 6-8 months of time. However, with storage outside and frequent outdoor performances, you may need to tune your piano every 3-4 months depending on the longevity of the tuning of your piano.
3.What are the suggestions for storing my piano outside during rainy season? How do I avoid excess moisture for my piano?
Waterproof covering, roof based shed arrangement and periodic strings tuning are the main steps you need to take to preserve your piano during damp and wet season.
4.Should I opt for a Digital Synthesizer or an Acoustic Piano? I mainly want to perform for street concerts.
Digital synthesizer is a lightweight and convenient solution over the bulky acoustic and grand pianos to certain extent. You need not to store it or fix it in the outside as it is portable in comparison to the grand and acoustic pianos. You can simply carry the piano using a hard-shell case to all your concerts and tour places.
From the above discussion, we can easily conclude that storing pianos outside has its own disadvantages in the long run. A few days here and there is fine, but for prolonged periods if your piano is exposed to the natural conditions that include temperature and humidity fluctuations, there is a high chance of degradation of your piano. This in turn would require unwanted maintenance and tuning sessions to keep your piano in a working condition.
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