1.) Should I get a humidity control system added to my piano?
As piano technicians and rebuilders we strongly recommend the addition of a Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver humidity control system to any piano, especially if the piano is a significant financial investment or resides in an extreme or unstable humidity environment. Having installed thousands of systems since 1983, we know that pianos with these systems perform better and last longer than pianos without a system. The short term benefits include better pitch stability and action performance, while the long term benefits include preventing soundboard cracks, rust, mold, failed glue joints and delamination. On older pianos with existing soundboard cracks that have not yet opened, a system will prevent the cracks from opening and spreading.
From a piano technician’s perspective, it can seem like the miracle of pianos is that they work at all! Besides iron and steel, pianos are made from wood, felt and leather, materials whose stability depends on the surrounding humidity environment. The soundboard is the most important piece of wood in any piano, not only giving the piano its voice but also its pitch stability by providing a stable platform for the hundreds of steel and copper wires in the piano. Wood is also used to make the thousands of tiny precision parts in the action of a piano. These wooden parts are padded with other humidity-sensitive materials such as felt and leather to minimize noise from direct wood-to-wood contact. These parts must fit together snugly enough not to rattle, yet loosely enough to move freely. The tolerances are minuscule. The fact that piano actions work as well as they do is a testament to the quality of the materials and the meticulous seasoning these materials undergo before being cut into their desired shapes. Still, for them to continue to function year after year at a consistently high level, a stable humidity environment is required. Most of us are unable or unwilling to maintain such tight control over the humidity levels in our homes, which is why a humidity control system made specifically for pianos is such an important addition. “Dampp-Chaser” Piano Life Saver systems provide round-the-clock humidity control from within your piano. Each system consists of a humidifier, a dehumidifier and a humidistat which adds or removes humidity as needed to provide constant stability to your piano from within. They are designed specifically for pianos, make no noise, have no motors nor moving parts and take nothing away from the performance of your piano. We install them here for $450, often in instruments costing as much as 80 times as much as the system itself. This fact alone makes it difficult to justify NOT purchasing one for your piano.
2.) I recently purchased a piano from you with a humidity control system. It was just delivered and I am not sure how to use the system. Can you walk me through the initial start-up process?
Yes. Please watch the video below
3.) I purchased a piano from you but I lost my owner’s manual. How can I get a replacement?
4.) I live across the country from your store. If I buy a piano from you, how are you going to honor the warranty from so far away?
Yes, we are all piano technicians, but even here in our home area, we rarely go out on service calls as we have our hands full here at the shop. Therefore, we work with independent piano technicians from The Piano Technicians Guild (PTG), a national organization of professional piano technicians that promotes and maintains that highest standards of professional excellence in our industry. Those members of the The Piano Technicians Guild known as Registered Piano Technicians (RPT) have passed a series of three rigorous examinations and are some of the most highly qualified men and women in the field of piano service. Click here to locate RPTs in your area to deal with any warranty issues that may arise and we will pay for their service under your 10-year warranty.
5.) Do all your pianos come with a warranty or just the new ones?
Every piano we sell, new or used, comes with a warranty that covers all parts & labor for 10 years. No exceptions.
6.) How do you safely deliver my piano to me from across the country?
We use only professional insured piano movers who will set up and position your piano in your home wherever you like. When they leave, it’s ready to play.
7.) How does your lifetime upgrade guarantee work?
If you ever want to trade your piano back to us for the purpose of upgrading to another piano, you only need to choose a piano that is priced higher than the one you’re trading back and we guarantee to honor your original purchase price in trade. There is no certain amount you have to trade-up. There are no certain brands you must buy. There is no rule that says you must upgrade within a certain number of years. In other words, no tricks, no legalese fine print, no convoluted rules. Just a straightforward, easy to understand upgrade policy. We believe every one of our customers deserves this privilege.
8.) Some of your pianos are from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Am I taking a big risk buying such an “old” piano?
First of all, stop thinking of a piano like a car. Pianos do not have a 30-year lifespan. Most pianos can easily achieve a human lifespan of 80-100 years, and many much more. Even cheap pianos made by minor, defunct manufacturers often last 70 years or more with their original parts. Many homes still have pianos from 100 years ago that have been passed down through the generations, albeit in less than perfect condition, but still functional. We sell only used pianos from respected major manufacturers that have been lightly used, well maintained, and carefully reconditioned by us in our own workshop. Therefore, most of our used pianos made in the last 20-40 years have at least half of their useful life ahead of them. That could mean decades before the next owner must rebuild, replace or retire one of our used pianos. Many of our oldest pianos have been partially or fully rebuilt, which adds decades more to the piano’s lifespan. That’s where the human lifespan comparison ends. You cannot rebuild an 80-year old human and and add another 80 years to their lifespan. However, that is exactly what a piano rebuilder can do for an old piano. We have a fully staffed piano restoration shop on the premises. Whether it’s a routine reconditioning or a full rebuilding, every piano we sell will spend quality time in our shop with our technicians before it’s delivered to its new owner. Most importantly, all of our pianos, new or used, are covered by our 10-year warranty.
9.) I understand that you rebuild vintage American Steinway grand pianos. Do you use Steinway parts in your rebuilt pianos?
Our goal is to recreate the original sound and feel of our vintage New York Steinway grands as closely as possible. Therefore, we rebuild our vintage New York Steinways using all Renner action parts from Germany. We do this for several reasons. First, it is our opinion that Renner action parts are the finest piano action parts available in the world today. That opinion is shared by some of the most distinguished piano manufacturers in the world today, including Hamburg Steinway who use Renner action parts in their new German-built Steinway grands. While this fact alone speaks volumes, the list of other piano makers who use Renner action parts in their new grand pianos includes nearly all of the world’s finest (and most expensive) pianos available today, including August Förster, Blüthner, Bösendorfer, Charles Walter, Estonia, Fazioli, Grotrian, Pleyel, Sauter, Schimmel, Schulze Pollman, and Steingraeber. Furthermore, it is our professional opinion that Renner action parts most accurately recreate the characteristics of the original Steinway parts that were used in early 20th century. The Renner hammers of today even use the same Würzen hammer felt that was used in the original New York Steinway hammers of the past. Therefore, it is our opinion that the Renner action parts of today allow us to recreate the original sound and feel of our vintage Steinway grand pianos with the greatest possible accuracy and authenticity.
10.) Are the used Yamaha and Kawai pianos you sell the “gray market” pianos I’ve heard about?
Most of the used Yamaha and Kawai pianos we sell are the so-called “gray market” pianos. We’ve been selling tens of thousands of these pianos all over the country since 1983, each one with a 10-year warranty. They have been the backbone of our success as reputable sellers of high-quality used pianos.
Since NO piano shop can claim to be truly impartial on this issue, it’s best that you obtain further information from impartial sources.
We suggest that you begin with this essay from the Blue Book of Pianos website, an excellent online piano information network.
Also, you could read “The Piano Buyer” by Larry Fine, RPT. Larry Fine is a Registered Piano Technician with the Piano Technicians Guild with over three decades of experience in the field. “The Piano Buyer” is respected throughout the piano industry as the most thoroughly researched and UNBIASED consumer guide on pianos now available. It has helped countless people to make well-informed piano buying decisions. You can buy it at any good bookstore, online book retailer, or on Larry Fine’s website.
You should know that ANY piano you buy needs to be protected from extreme uncontrolled humidity fluctuations, whether it’s made in Asia, North America or Europe. You must take the same wood-care precautions you would for any fine piece of wood furniture e.g., avoiding close proximity to open windows, heating vents, radiators, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, excessive direct sunlight and the like. If you are mindful of these basic common sense precautions, you should never have any humidity related problems, regardless of where your piano was made or originally sold. Most piano technicians strongly recommend installing a complete piano humidity control system in pianos where the humidity is difficult to control. Whether your piano is brand new or 50-years old, its wooden parts need protection from uncontrolled humidity fluctuation.
11.) I have a piano I would like to sell. Can you tell me how much I should ask for it?
We cannot appraise pianos over the phone or by e-mail. Without being able to inspect the piano, any guess at its value is pointless. You may believe it’s in good condition, and you may be right, but without a recent internal inspection by a piano technician you cannot know that for sure.
We suggest that you hire a local piano technician to thoroughly inspect and appraise the piano. The piano technician should be able to estimate a realistic value for your piano based on its inherent quality and the condition of its internal parts.
The best way to find a good piano technician in your area to inspect and appraise your piano is to search the website of The Piano Technicians Guild. Every name listed will be a Registered Piano Technician (RPT) who has passed a series of rigorous examinations administered by The Piano Technicians Guild to certify their skills.
12.) How often should my piano be tuned?
Regular tuning is to a piano what regular exercise is to our bodies. Most piano tuners recommend tuning a piano twice per year. Regular piano tuning by a qualified professional piano tuner/technician is necessary to maintain the correct tension on the piano’s hundreds of wires (17-30 tons, depending on the piano’s size), which optimizes your piano’s tuning stability. Re-tuning a piano after a long period of neglect, during which the wires have lost hundreds of pounds of tension, puts a great strain on the piano’s internal parts, and usually requires at least one preliminary tuning called a “pitch-raising” before the desired results can be achieved. All of this can be avoided by regular tuning.
13.) How soon after delivery should my piano be tuned?
After a move or delivery, a piano should be allowed 6-8 weeks to re-settle and acclimate to its new surroundings before re-tuning. At Rick Jones Pianos, every piano comes with one FREE in-home tuning (valid for 6 months after delivery) which will be done by a local Registered Piano Technician (RPT) in your area. We suggest that you schedule your first tuning with your local technician approximately 3 months after delivery, though you may wish to do it sooner or later depending on your musical needs.
14.) There is a composition that Rick Jones plays on many of his demo videos that he calls “The Little Bird”. Where can I find the sheet music?
This composition is by Rick Jones, but it was never written down…until now. Finally, after dozens of requests, the sheet music to sheet music to “The Little Bird” can be downloaded here.. Since Rick himself never plays this tune exactly the same way twice, no sheet music could ever be an exact rendering of what Rick plays, but we think it’s pretty darn close. Enjoy!