As your Piano Tuner Wilmington DE , I am occasionally asked about a “Prepared Piano.” This inquiry is usually from a concerned parent of a teenager. The following is an explanation in order to correct any confusion on the issue.

“Prepared Piano” is a way of setting up a piano to play in ways that it was never intended. There are a few composers who have put items on or between the strings of a piano, in order to give it an unusual sound that is different then the usually tone of the instrument. Typically this is done on a grand piano, since the strings are accessible and are positioned horizontally, so the items will stay in place. Another way of creating unusual sounds with a piano is for the player to reach in and pluck the strings in various manners, rather than playing them with the piano keyboard.

If you or your teenager wish to try this, it is important to know that there are risks involved. In general, it is better not to do it. But if you are intent on trying it, it is better to consult your piano technician beforehand to find out which structures are fragile and prone to damage.

The structures that are most prone to damage, and which cost the most to repair are the dampers. These are small pieces of felt that stop the strings from sounding after the piano keys and the sustain piano pedal have returned to rest. You can locate them by looking at the strings just behind the music desk and pushing the sustain (right) pedal repeatedly. You will see the wooden heads of the piano dampers rise and fall as the pedal is pushed. The damper felt is glued beneath the wooden heads. If your dampers are regulated properly, you will see all the dampers rise together, as if they were made of a single piece of wood, rather than 65 separate pieces that are carefully regulated to work as one.  Damaging any of these structures can result in very expensive repairs, so make sure that whatever you put in the piano stays away from these.

Additionally, strings age slightly faster if they are touched by your fingers, since some of the oil from your skin stays on the piano strings. This is minor damage compared with what is possible with the dampers, but it is still a consideration.

If you have any questions about your piano, or if you need a piano tuning or any piano repairs, please let us know. At Kenneth Keith Piano Services, we are your Wilmington DE piano technician experts, offering piano maintenance and piano services Delaware and throughout the Eastern Maryland, Philadelphia, and Southern New Jersey areas.