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 and steel, 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, the meticulous seasoning, and precision machining these materials undergo before being installed in the piano. Still, for these parts to continue to function year after year at a consistently high level, a stable humidity environment is needed. 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 (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 noise, have neither motors nor moving parts, and take nothing away from the performance of your piano. We install them here at Rick Jones Pianos for $450, often on pianos costing as much as 80 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.
Paul Yarish, RPT
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