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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers to help customers who are searching for a piano:

How do I maintain my acoustic piano (grand or upright)?
In the midwestern climate, it is wise to have a piano tuned at least twice a year: after the change of season from winter to summer and summer to winter. This is because of the dramatic weather change which affects humidity levels found in most homes. Humidity changes affect the tuning stability of a piano by causing wood to expand in humid weather and contract in dry weather. On a well seasoned piano in a stable environment, one tuning per year can suffice. When you schedule a piano technician to tune your piano, we recommend that you take his advice to do a reasonable amount of regulating.
What is regulation?
While tuning corrects the pitch of your piano, it is only one component of a complete maintenance program. Regulation attends to the touch and uniform responsiveness of your action, all vital to making each performance pleasurable. In addition, regulation ensures that your instrument is capable of producing a wide dynamic range — a critical factor, particularly in pianissimo (very soft) passages.
What is the ideal level of humidity?
The ideal level of humidity is 40-50% relative humidity. This can be challenging to achieve in the Midwest in the winter. As long as the humidity level is fairly constant, the piano will fare well.
How do I clean my piano?
Most manufacturers use polyester on either ebony polish or natural wood finishes. The best way to clean dust and finger marks is to use a soft cloth, dampen it slightly and gently clean the surfaces. On natural woods without polyester sealing, treat the surfaces as you would treat any fine furniture, with caution.
How do I move my piano to a new apartment or house?
We recommend using only professional piano movers. Grand pianos are moved by taking the legs and lyre off so that they can pass through any doorway easily. It is very important to communicate to movers the exact number of stairs and to let them know about any tight turns. We work with reputable and reliable piano movers. If we are unsure about a moving situation, the movers will pre-screen the site for us before we commit to moving and potentially damaging anything.
What I can I do to reduce the sound from my piano and preserve neighborly relations?
Most upright pianos come with a moderator pedal, which inserts felt between the hammers and strings to reduce the volume of the piano. This can also be installed in pianos that don’t have it. The same concept exists for grand pianos and can be installed. Yamaha builds every model of acoustic piano with an optional Silent System, which transforms your acoustic instrument into a digital instrument with MIDI capability. The Silent System transforms an acoustic piano into a hybrid digital piano where you are playing the piano action, but digitally creating the sound and expression of the piano (and additional instrumental sounds) via MIDI samples. You can play your acoustic piano totally silently with headphones and also record/export MIDI data to a computer.
How do I go about selling my piano and buying a better piano?
We offer a 100% upgrade guarantee whereby we will take any piano purchased from PianoForte Chicago in trade and credit your full original purchase price toward the upgraded piano. This 100% upgrade guarantee is valid for your LIFETIME on acoustic pianos and for 2 years on digital pianos.
If you didn’t buy your piano from us, we will take it in on trade at a market wholesale value. We can also take pianos in on consignment on a selective basis.
Should I purchase a digital piano and save my money instead of purchasing an acoustic piano?
There is more information on this subject under the Digital Pianos tab of this website. Put simply, digital pianos are a useful tool for quiet practicing and for using the convenience and flexibility of digital media. But they will never replace an acoustic piano in its ability to stir the soul and to have the feel and sound for which piano literature was composed.
What is the value of my piano?
There is no easy answer as it is fully dependent on the condition of the instrument. For starters, it helps to know the brand, serial number, model number, age, maintenance record, and to look at some pictures. Ultimately, it is necessary for a piano technician to inspect a piano for us to determine its value. Again, it is primarily the condition of the action and structure of a piano that will determine its marketability, and therefore its value.
Should I have my piano rebuilt?
Rebuilding a piano is a very expensive undertaking. Whether the rebuilding of a piano actually adds more value to a piano than the original investment is often a murky question. Rebuilding mostly makes sense when you have a very high quality piano and you wish to keep in the family for a long time. We recommend that you contact us for advice before deciding what to do.
Should I buy a used piano from a Craigslist listing?
Buying a used piano from an unknown source is risky business. Any privately owned piano that you are considering for purchase should be inspected by a reputable piano technician. If there are any doubts about the quality of the instrument, don’t buy it! Repairs and rebuilding are expensive undertakings since they involve custom designed materials and highly qualified labor. We recommend utmost caution. The reason for purchasing used pianos from a reputable dealer is that we usually know the provenance of a piano, we have inspected the piano, repaired, regulated and tuned it as needed, and priced it commensurately with its market value. We are proud to have nothing but satisfied customers for this reason.
Should I consider an upright or a grand piano?
Upright pianos are perfectly sufficient for learning to play the piano. There are also high end upright pianos that are fine for very advanced players. However, if you have the space for a grand piano, you will benefit from both mechanical/physical advantages and a fuller, bigger sound. The mechanical advantages come from the layout of the piano action. In a grand, the action uses gravity whereas in an upright, it is springs that move the action. Gravity tends to be more predictable and stable. At the same time, prices vary greatly between upright and grand pianos as well as between various qualities and costs of production. At PianoForte, if you start with an upright, we make it very easy to upgrade later to a grand piano.
Does PianoForte Chicago have a piano in my price range?
Most likely YES. We carry digital pianos starting at $449, often pre-owned upright pianos starting under $2,000 and grands as low as $7,000. New pianos tend to begin at $3,000 for uprights and $9,000 for grands.
When should I start my child on the piano?
Though some start younger and others older, 4-6 years old is a good time to start piano lessons. Every child is different and it would be good to ask a piano teacher to evaluate the child if you are considering lessons. Another thing to consider is the size of the child’s hands. If they are still too small, it is difficult to play a regular piano action.
How can I donate my piano?
There are various options for donation. PianoForte Foundation runs a piano donation program targeted at people with good pianos wanting a tax deduction who also want to do something positive for the community. This avoids the hassle of selling the piano privately. Please visit www.pianofortefoundation.org for more details.
There are other organizations in Chicago that will take pianos as donations. They might charge for moving the piano out of your home.
Finally, if you have a favorite church or school, you can ask them if they are interested.
How can I evaluate the piano I am considering purchasing?
The best way to gain comfort about a pre-owned piano is to hire a registered piano technician to visit the piano and give you a condition report. It will be a few dollars very well spent. Most technicians will give you more information than you’ll ever want but they will alert you to any possible problems. They can provide guidance and estimates of repair expenses.
Most importantly, buy from a reputable dealer who offers a warranty.
Are there any books you recommend to learn about the piano?
There are many books detailing the piano manufacturing process, history, and brands. One book stands out as a good impartial source of information on piano brands and how to navigate the piano market. It is The Piano Book by Larry Fine. There is also an online version of the book, available here: www.pianobuyer.com.