Many times I will go to a customer's home and find the piano directly in front of, or very near a source of heat, be it a register or a fire place. Do not put your piano here! The same holds true for air conditioning systems. Because a piano is constructed to a large degree of wood, you need to keep the moisture content stable in the piano cabinet, sound board, pin block, bridges, etc. This cannot be done if dry air is allowed to blow on it. Electric or hydronic (hot water) heat will have the same effect, because this type of heat heats objects.
I often hear from customers that they have been told to not put a piano on an outside wall. While this definitely was true in 1920, it is much less of a problem in todays energy efficient homes. Back in the days of the 55", 700 pound old upright, a home was built with little or no insulation and poor (almost useless) windows. Today, with wall systems approaching 12", triple glazed windows, and high efficiency furnaces, a piano can be cozy in almost any room. On homes that have the type of furnace that requires the air to be recirculated, that is, that heat registers are on the outside walls and the cold air returns are on the inside walls, then try to avoid placing the piano directly in front of a cold air return. In most older homes, it would be advisable to put the piano as close to the center of the house as possible.
Piano placement in front of a window is another bad idea. Many people like to open the windows in summer even if it is raining outside. This is 100 % humidity and that spells disaster to the fine tuning of the piano. Also, sunlight will ruin the finish of the cabinet over time.
Where is the best spot for your piano? Place it as far away from warm or cold, blowing or radiant air and windows as possible. If you have no other choice, close off the register, use window treatments, and keep the window closed.
You may have noticed how different your piano sounds when you move it to another location in your room, house, or stage. The surroundings near the piano can create quite a change in the tone. Many customers who purchase a new piano comment on how much better it sounds in their home than on the dealer's floor. Piano showrooms typically have a very hard sound because of tall ceilings, hard floors, and no cushy chairs to absorb sound. If you have a home with hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings, this will give a greater illusion of sound space, but may also be very loud. A well furnished room with wall hangings, soft furniture, and thick carpet will quiet down even the largest piano. Placing the piano in a corner where the back is against two walls will cause the vibrations of air from the piano sound board to reflect off four surfaces (both walls, floor, and ceiling) giving more depth to the lower octaves of the piano.
Mathis Piano Service
West Bend, WI