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Schedule a tuning each year, preferably twice a year. Generally, the visit will take two to three hours and cost you between $50 and $100, which is well worth the cost! Plus, once you have a technician, he or she will probably contact you each year, so you donít even have to remember to schedule an appointment to have your piano tuned.
Too many years of tuning neglect results in a piano thatís permanently out of tune. Ever heard an old honky-tonk saloon piano? Sure, the sound is sort of fun, but not when itís coming from your $30,000 nine-foot grand piano.
You can get recommendations for a good piano technician from friends, teachers, music stores, and music schools. Donít just select at random from the telephone book. A bad technician can ruin a piano.
In addition to tuning, I highly recommend asking the technician to have a look ďunder the hoodĒ and make sure everything else is functioning properly. Ask the technician to check the following items:
Chapter 17: Raising Your Keyboard
J' Do the pedals work?
J1 Are the legs secure?
J' Is the soundboard cracked?
Keeping electric keyboards happy
You donít need to tune your electric keyboard. However, it does need attention, though probably not once a year. If you keep your keyboard clean and dust-free, chances are you wonít need to call Dr. Help for quite some time.
Electric keyboards have lots of little buttons, digital displays, knobs, sliders, and other gadgets. Over time, through constant pushing and pulling, these gizmos experience normal wear and tear. If a button appears to be stuck, donít, I repeat donít, try to fix it yourself with one of your own tools.
Call a professional ó perhaps the dealer who sold you the instrument originally. For a minimal fee, the dealer can assess the damage (if any) and fix it for you. If your warranty is still good ó usually only for one year ó repairs may cost you absolutely nothing.
Never, ever, under any circumstances, subpoena, or act of desperation should you unscrew or open the top of your keyboard. Sure, it looks really cool inside with all the computer chips and circuit boards. Sure, you think you know what youíre doing and want to save a buck. But you will (a) void your warranty automatically, and (b) more than likely damage your keyboard irreparably.
Technical support lines
Each and every time you buy a new keyboard, fill out and send in the registration card that comes with it. Donít be afraid that youíll be put on some mailing list or give away the combination to the family lockbox. You are simply telling the manufacturer, ďJust letting you know that I bought your really cool product. Hereís my name and hereís where I live.Ē Thatís all.
Then, day or night, any time you have a problem, you can call the manufacturerís technical support line and speak with a knowledgeable professional (maybe even someone who designed your keyboard) about the specific problem you are having and how to rectify it.
The call to technical support is usually free. All you have to do is fill out that pesky little card and mail it. Oh, and if youíre still too lazy to fill it out, most manufacturers allow you to register online via the Internet or direct modem connection.
Part VI: So Many Toys, So Little Time
To find the technical support line for your instrument, call the manufacturer directly, or see the sample list of manufacturer phone numbers in Chapter 16.
To the Emergency Room
Unfortunately, some problems can arise for your keyboard that require some serious time, effort, and money to fix. If you experience any of the following problems, you should get at least two separate estimates from two separate people before deciding whether or not to salvage your instrument:
J' The soundboard on your acoustic piano cracks or breaks. The
soundboard is the large, polished board lying under the strings.
The soundboard can break during a move, if performed by unqualified movers. It can also be caused by constant changes in humidity, causing the wood to swell and contract. You probably wonít notice a broken soundboard on your own. Have the piano technician can check out the soundboard for you.
J1 You hear only a thump when you press an acoustic piano key. Either the hammer, damper, or both are not functioning properly. You may have to replace the mechanism for that one key or replace the entire set of keys and hammers. Hope for the first option. Of course, it could just be a broken string, which can be fixed for under $20.
. Your electric keyboard will not power on. First, make sure you paid last monthís electric bill. Unless you have a battery-operated keyboard with old batteries, your keyboard should always power on when plugged in correctly. If not, it may be dead.
S' Your LCD display shows nothing legible. If the words and program names on the front panel display are suddenly a bunch of letters that you recognize only from your recent alien abduction, the brains of your board may be fried.
i1 You spill a beverage all over your electric keyboard. Oh, dear! You probably just shorted out the entire board. Few, if any, of your buttons and keys are going to work. This is why no drinks are allowed in recording studios. If you spilled on an acoustic keyboard, quickly get a towel and start sopping it up. The wood, strings, hammers, and even keys may be damaged, but at least there isnít anything electrical to bug out.