A Yamaha Disklavier is a significant investment that can provide you (and, your students, if you’re an educator) with years of reliable performances. Here is a guide to ensuring that you will be enjoying its benefits for a long time to come.
Where to Locate Your Disklavier
You don’t always have many of choices when placing large instruments, particularly in institutional settings. However, following these guidelines will maximize the sound and stability of your Disklavier:
1. Put your Disklavier where it sounds best to you. Try to avoid placing it near reflective surfaces that will cause harsh echoes.
2. Be sure to provide sufficient ventilation. Disklaviers have a lot going on and need ventilation, but don’t need to be placed directly in the path of blowing air. The ideal location for your Disklavier is in the center of a room or against a wall dividing two rooms. If possible, avoid placing it next to an exterior wall as outside weather conditions may cause tone quality and volume to suffer. If there is no other choice, at least try to make sure that the Disklavier has sufficient space on all sides.
3. Avoid windows. Try not to place the Disklavier by a window. A Disklavier cabinet is constructed of wood and must be protected from direct sunlight, humidity, and rapid changes in temperature. Windows that open to the outdoors offer the least protection. If you must place the Disklavier near such a window, it is good practice to put a heavy curtain over the window for protection.
4. Avoid heat sources. Keep the Disklavier away from sources of heat like radiators or hot air vents. Excessive heat can damage the outside finish and internal parts, causing tone and balance to deteriorate, and may possibly over dry and damage the soundboard.
Optimize Your Disklavier’s Environment
Yamaha pianos are well known for their stability and durability. Through a process known as “seasoning for destination,” Disklaviers, like all Yamaha pianos, are carefully prepared to perform optimally in a wide variety of environments. However, being made of wood, felt, leather and metal, it must be treated properly in order to extend the life of the instrument. Here are some tips for doing so:
1. Control the humidity. Generally, a relative humidity of between 40 and 45 percent around the piano is most suitable.
2. Protect against excessive moisture. On cloudy or wet and rainy days, close all windows in the room where your Disklavier is situated. Also, be sure to close the lid each time after playing.
3. Beware of excessive dryness. Too much humidity is a problem, but excessive dryness is an even more worrisome one, especially where heating or cooling systems are used that can create especially dry rooms. Used in naturally dry climates, the Disklavier contains enough natural moisture to prevent excessive drying. However, if the air becomes overly dry, the wooden and felt components will shrink. In extreme cases, the soundboard, joints and other laminated sections could even come apart, even though they have been glued together with care. Slight distortion of these parts can cause noise, and the swelling and shrinking of the wood in the piano could possibly make it difficult to keep your Disklavier in tune. To avoid this excessive dryness, it’s sometimes best to keep a humidifier in the room where your Disklavier is located.
4. Avoid sudden temperature changes. When a cold room is warmed suddenly, moisture can condense on the Disklavier strings and other metal parts, causing leading to rust. In addition, felt parts will absorb moisture, affecting their function and resulting in unclear tone. Be especially mindful of sudden temperature changes when moving your Disklavier into a room in a cold climate or into an airtight room in a concrete building.
Care Practices and Good Habits
As with any fine piano, the wood, felt and cloth in Disklavier construction means that many parts are delicate in nature. If not properly cared for, they could be damaged easily. Here are some good practices to adopt:
1. Dust your Disklavier often. Particulates can affect the action and can interfere and cause noise. Dust your Disklavier frequently with a feather duster or slightly damp cloth, then dry the finish off with a soft cloth (microfiber if possible).
2. Keep the keyboard clean. Your Disklavier keys should be wiped down periodically with a soft, dry cloth. Never use cleansers containing alcohol, as it will damage the keys. If the keyboard is very dirty, you can wipe it with a cloth dipped in a mild solution of soap and water, wrung out well. The same cloth shouldn't be used for cleaning the surface of the Disklavier though. A good habit to get into is never to play the Disklavier with dirty hands. That way, the keyboard will stay clean for a longer time.
3. Don't place objects on the surface of your Disklavier. We know how much pianists love their coffee (and other beverages). Regardless, please refrain from resting them on the Disklavier! Even small amounts of any kind of liquid may rust the metal parts of the Disklavier and cause damage the hammers and the action, not to mention the internal electronic components. Also, the delicate and very specific fiber-optic sensors that make a Disklavier so precise can be damaged by items that may fall in between keys or below the music desk. Avoid costly problems and never place anything on the piano that could spill or drop into the moving parts.
4. Avoid contact with certain materials. Your Disklavier’s finish is very durable, but all wood finishes can be damaged from long-term contact with certain substances like vinyl products, anything containing alcohol, and liquids such as cosmetics, insecticides, paint thinner, and petroleum-based products. Don't use any kind of aerosol near your Disklavier. If such cleaning products have to be used, spray them directly into the cloth first, instead of in the air.
Note: Yamaha is unable to assume responsibility for damage resulting from abuse, harsh treatment, or extended exposure to adverse conditions.
We strongly recommend that you adopt a regular schedule of service for your Disklavier, including regular tuning and adjustment. In institutional settings, it is prudent to put this maintenance on the school’s administrative calendar, because it may require work by someone other than the school’s regular technician. In addition, we would recommend using a Disklavier-trained technician for all services. At least twice per year, your Disklavier should receive the following maintenance, in this order:
1. Mechanical maintenance or adjustments. Voicing, regulation, and/or mechanical repairs should be done before any other electronic or acoustic maintenance.
Institutional technicians note: Always mechanically adjust the damper and shift pedals as specified by Yamaha, then run the pedal calibration. Also, make sure the key balance rail holes are free.
2. Update to the newest operating system. Yamaha periodically offers updates to operating systems for Mark IV and E3 Disklavier and Disklavier PRO models. These updates can be achieved with the piano online or manually. Even for older models, you should make sure you are running the latest firmware. Check the Yamaha Disklavier System Software Support Page to see if there is an update is available for your piano. (If you do not know your model number, click here for a handy guide.)
3. Run a full calibration. The Disklavier has a self-monitoring calibration mode that ensures accurate reproduction of performances, regardless of changing conditions. This calibration is normally performed by a technician, but can also be completed by the user. Calibration instructions vary by model, so please contact Alamo Music Center for the instructions specific to your Disklavier. If at any point during the calibration process you hear the piano play a minor or diminished chord, you you should then call a Disklavier-trained tech.
4. Tune your Disklavier. Like all pianos, Disklaviers require regular tuning. Since the calibration causes each note to play at high velocity, it’s best to wait until after the calibration to tune the piano.
Remember, Disklaviers are acoustic pianos with additional sophisticated electronic and electro-mechanical components, so don’t attempt to service these components by yourself. Many of these components rely on very precise adjustments and could be damaged easily. If you or your piano technician ever has a question about your Disklavier’s maintenance or repair, call Alamo Music Center at 844-251-1922