Piano Rescue Stories

Piano Located Outdoors

For the last 20 years our company has rented an upright piano for the Nova Scotia Choral Federation choir camp. The piano is located in an open stage area. Open to the elements. Temperatures from 49 F at night to 85 F to 90 F day time and high humidity 80% +. The camp runs the full month of August and the piano is required to be tuned each Saturday morning before 8 am plus 1 hour drive each way. When I tune the piano I'm lowering the pitch a good 1/4 semitone each week.
Last year and this year I decided to use a piano with a Piano Life Saver
System installed. We just brought the piano back today. The piano hasn't been tuned since it left the shop. The piano was only 1.2 cents flat. This has saved me many early Saturday mornings over the last two years.

Wayne Walker
Piano Technician
Nova Scotia, Canada

During Flooding Rains, Piano Holds Tuning

Recently in Georgia we have had rain and floods of historic amounts. 15 inches in less than 10 hours in some areas. Immediately, piano owners were calling and asking what had happened to the tuning of their piano and why were the keys so hard to play or even sticking. I explained that it was a result of excessive humidity. On the other hand, the pianos in which I had installed a Piano Life Saver System were rock solid with very little if any change in pitch and no sticking keys. There could never be a better name for a product than life saver because that's truly what it is. I have installed these systems for over 35 years and am convinced it the most affordable and dependable protection one could ever give their piano.
James Miller
James Miller Pianos
Gillsville GA

Once-Skeptical Tuner Now Believes in the System

I'm a converted skeptic! I have anecdotal evidence of Dampp-Chaser Systems healing split soundboards! For example, one of my tuning clients bought a brand new rebuilt Steinway B from a renowned pianist. He reveres the piano like a holy shrine (he's also a Julliard professor). A year after getting the piano back with a new soundboard, it developed a very thin but noticeable separation/crack in the soundboard—right thru the center—due to low humidity shrinkage. To address the crack, we brought the ambient humidity up from 10% to 35-40% and also installed a Piano Life Saver System. The crack was not only gone, but also not discernible to the point that several years later, it had become a faint memory, and not even a point of conversation! Naturally I became converted on the spot, and have used this type of soundboard therapy repeatedly both as a preventative measure, as well as a cure for soundboard separations due to dryness!
Oscar Marin
Professional Concert Piano Tuning,
Music Recording & Production, New York, NY

Piano Moved from Arizona to the Beach

This concerns a Baldwin M Grand that came to Pawleys Island SC after being in Arizona all of its life. I told the owners they needed to install a full Dampp-Chaser from day one because of the huge differences in humidity in Arizona and SC. They waited 6 months after I had given them a written proposal and tried to contact them repeatedly. When they finally called me in March 2007 - 6 or 7 months after it came to SC- I could not believe what shape it was in. Tuning pins on the top octaves had nearly come completely out of the block with 1/2 of their threads exposed. String coils had become loose. The bass end was so flat when you played up from A0 the notes got lower and lower. A crack had opened in the soundboard. I installed a full Dampp-Chaser with a wet Humidistat and Undercover. I pounded the pins back into the block (supported of course with jacks), performed string and coil tightening and leveling (using a coil impact lifter) and did pitch raises etc. The System produced critical improvements: tuning pins have stayed tight, the bass strings are stable and hold pitch just fine, the keys and action are not sticking, and the crack in the soundboard is closed. At my July 2009 visit, the pitch was close to 440, only 1 cent sharp (used Sanderson Accu-tuner). It's obvious the Dampp-Chaser with the Undercover brought the piano back from the brink.
Jim Kelly
Fur Elise Piano Service
Pawley's Island, SC 29585

Sluggish Hammers Problem Solved

I have many customers whose pianos were very unstable as far as pitch but after the installation of the Piano Life Saver these pianos are now settled down and it is possible to set a good tuning without having to perform a pitch correction. I even have one customer on Cape Cod whose piano had very sluggish hammers due to the high humidity and with the installation of an extra dehumidifier bar under the key bed the problem went away in about three days and has never returned. I can see the advantages of the Piano Life Saver system from many points of view but the most important advantage from the system is the reduction in the soundboard movement resulting in the greater longevity of the soundboard and the fact that this results in greater tuning stability for me as a tuner/technician and for my happy customers.
Peter Place
Certified Piano Technician
Scituate, MA

Action and Keys Restored to Working Order

I had a customer with a Yamaha M500 series console that he had neglected for a few years. I tuned it, recommended a Dampp-Chaser System and pointed out that the keys were sticking badly, and the action was out of regulation with a lot of "double-striking" of the hammers due to lost motion and stated that the piano needed a 2nd tune to get the pitch raised after the installation process. He decided to have the System installed. Well, when I came back, they said everything seemed to be okay now after having the System running for a month. I couldn't believe my eyes, it was as though another technician came in and did the work. There were no keys sticking and it needed absolutely nothing in the way of regulation. All the 'double-strikes' were gone, no play in the action and all it needed was the pitch raised to A440!
Jerry Malone
Jerry Malone Piano Ministries
Schoolcraft, MI 

Older Piano Revived

Two years ago a customer of mine wanted to have a Dampp-Chaser System put in her little console piano. It had been her childhood instrument and her 11-year old daughter now played it. I had recommended they look for a new piano as this one was having tuning instability and some very low torque tuning pins as well as a cracked soundboard. It was ready for a replacement. The daughter is a very sentimental type and cried her eyes out at the thought of losing her beloved piano. So the mother begged me to install a Dampp-Chaser System in it. I finally agreed with a disclaimer, saying I could not guarantee that it would help enough. Six months later, after installing the vertical System the difference in the piano was amazing! Not only did it tune better than I had ever been able to but the crack in the soundboard had closed. Two years later and I am still pleased at the piano's improvement. It was a dramatic example to me of the importance of any piano at any age can benefit from the Damp-Chaser System.
Sue Armstrong, RPT
New Milford, CT