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 reliability, while the long-term benefits include significantly reducing the likelihood of soundboard cracks, rust, mold, failed glue joints, and delamination. With older pianos with existing soundboard cracks that have not yet opened, a system can prevent the cracks from opening and spreading.
From a piano technician’s perspective, it can seem miraculous that pianos work at all! Besides iron, steel, and brass, pianos are made mostly from wood, felt and leather, porous 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 thousands of tiny precision parts in the action of a piano. These wooden parts are padded with other porous, and therefore humidity-sensitive materials such as felt and leather whose purpose is to minimize noise from direct wood-to-wood contact. These parts must fit together snugly enough not to rattle or click, 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, meticulous seasoning, and the precision machining these materials undergo before being installed in the piano. Still, for these parts to continue to function reliably year after year at a consistently high level, a stable humidity environment is needed. Most of us are unable or unwilling to maintain museum-like 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 inside your piano. Each system consists of a humidifier, a dehumidifier, and a humidistat (like a thermostat for humidity) which adds or removes humidity as needed to provide constant stability to your piano from within. They are designed specifically for pianos, make no sound (having neither motors nor moving parts), and do not diminish in any way the performance of your piano. We install them here at Rick Jones Pianos for $598, often on pianos costing as much as 50-60 times the price of the system itself. In our opinion, this fact alone makes it difficult to justify NOT adding a “Dampp-Chaser” Piano Life Saver System to your piano.
2) I 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?
Of course! First, start with this tutorial video below:
If you still have questions:
3) Do all of your pianos come with a warranty?
Yes! Basic benefits included in the price of every piano we sell are a warranty covering all parts & labor against defects or malfunctions for 10 years (transferrable to subsequent owners during the warranty period), a lifetime upgrade guarantee, a bench, free delivery within 100 miles of our store in Beltsville, MD, and one free in-home tuning within the first 6 months after delivery.
4) How does your lifetime upgrade guarantee work?
If you ever want to trade your piano back to us to upgrade to another piano, you can choose any piano we sell that is priced any amount higher than your trade-in and we guarantee to honor your original purchase price in trade. There is no minimum amount you have to spend. You are not limited to certain brands or types of pianos. You are not required to upgrade within a certain amount of time. In other words, no fine print, no tricky legal language, no convoluted rules, or obscure exceptions. Obviously, you have to take care of your piano and not trade back a piano that looks like it went down with the Titanic. Besides that, our upgrade policy is straightforward and easy to understand. The lifetime upgrade guarantee is available to the original purchaser only and is not transferrable to subsequent owners.
5) 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.
6) 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?
We are all piano technicians, but even here in our home area, we rarely go out on service calls as our small staff is busy 7 days a week here at the shop. Therefore, we work with independent piano technicians from The Piano Technicians Guild (PTG), a trade organization of professional piano technicians that promotes and maintains the highest standards of professional excellence in our industry. Those members of the Piano Technicians Guild who have passed a series of comprehensive examinations covering all aspects of piano tuning and repair are known as Registered Piano Technicians (RPT) and are among the most highly qualified people in the field of piano service. Click here to locate Registered Piano Technicians in your area to deal with any warranty issues that may arise and we will pay for their service under your 10-year warranty.
7) 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 your piano’s hundreds of wires (17-30 tons of total tension, 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 an unnecessary strain on the piano’s internal parts, and usually requires at least one preliminary tuning usually called a “pitch-raising” or “pitch correction” before a stable tuning can be achieved. All of this can be avoided by regular tuning.
8) How soon after delivery should my piano be tuned?
After a move or delivery, a piano should be allowed at least 4-6 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.
9) Some of your pianos are from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Am I taking a big risk buying such an “old” piano?
Don’t compare a piano to a car, a mistake many new piano shoppers make. Unlike a car, pianos do not have antiquated technology after 20-30 years. Unlike a car, most pianos can easily achieve a human lifespan of 80-100 years with average use and regular maintenance, and some pianos go on many years more before they are ready to be rebuilt or retired to the nearest landfill. Even relatively low-end pianos made by minor, long-forgotten 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 a degraded condition, but still functional. We sell used pianos from respected manufacturers that have been lightly used, well-maintained, and carefully reconditioned in our own workshop. Therefore, most of our inventory made in the last 30-50 years still have at least another 30-50 years to go. You will enjoy decades with your piano before you must decide whether to rebuild, upgrade, 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 add another 80 years to its lifespan. However, a good piano rebuilder can double the lifespan of an old piano. We have a fully staffed piano restoration shop on the premises. Whether it’s routine reconditioning or a full rebuilding, every piano we sell can potentially be delivered anywhere in the country with a 10-year warranty on all parts and labor, and no regrets, either for us or the customer.
10) Are the used Yamaha and Kawai pianos you sell the “gray market” pianos I’ve heard about?
Many 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 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 common sense wood-care precautions you would for any fine piece of wood furniture, such as 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 precautions, you should have minimal humidity-related problems, regardless of where your piano was made or originally sold. Most piano technicians strongly recommend installing a Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver 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 purchased a piano from you but I lost my owner’s manual. Can I get a replacement?
We no longer print paper owner’s manuals, but if you want to read, print, or download a PDF scan of our old owner’s manual, you can do so at the link below:
12) 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 you see 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.
13) There is a composition that Rick Jones plays on many of his video demos that he calls “The Little Bird”. Where can I find the sheet music for this tune?
This composition is by Rick Jones, but it was never written down…until now. Finally, after dozens of requests, the sheet music to “The Little Bird” can be downloaded here. Rick himself never plays this tune exactly the same way twice, so no sheet music could ever be an exact rendering of what Rick plays, but we think it’s close enough. Enjoy!