Robert Estrin - piano expert

Dealing with a Bad Smelling Piano

What to do if your piano smells bad?

In this video, Robert tells you what to do if you have a "smelly piano". That can actually happen!

Released on April 16, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin here at and Delores asks, "How do you deal with a smelly piano?" Now, I know that's kind of...almost sounds like a funny question there, but it is an issue that I've had a number of people ask me about that. Well, unfortunately, there is no easy answer. The first thing you do want to do though, which can sometimes make a dramatic difference, is to clean out the piano thoroughly. Now, this has to be done by a professional who will, if it's a grand piano, they will pull the action. If it's an upright, they'll take all the boards off and even remove the top stack, and get in there and vacuum everything out, and with a brush, and brush any debris. You'd be surprised, by the way, when you look at pianos that have sat in somebody's home over a period of years, what you can find in pianos.

Next time, if you're getting your piano tuned, ask your piano tuner what's the strangest thing they ever found in a piano. And I welcome by the way, I can share with viewers, put it on the video in the comments, the strangest things you've ever found inside a piano. You might be shocked at some of the answers. So, that's the first thing you do, but if the piano had been in a home, let's say with somebody who chain-smoked cigarettes and they kept the windows closed a lot. You know, even vacuuming and doing all of that will not really help as much as you think. You could rub everything down. Another thing you can do, believe it or not, and I've had this recommendation from piano technicians, is to actually put some perfume. You can mask the smell more easily than you can eradicate it.

So, these are some tricks and tips. If it really smells bad and you're looking at getting a piano and you're concerned about that, you might just walk away and consider another instrument for yourself because it's not really possible to completely get rid of certain smells in pianos, but you can certainly diminish them by cleaning them and you can mask them further by putting some pleasant scent on your piano. Thanks so much for the question, Delores. And keep them coming in. I'm Robert, here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Fulvia Bowerman * VSM MEMBER * on April 22, 2014 @5:11 pm PST
On a slightly different subject, how and what product should I use to keep that very high gloss of the exterior? I have a black Yamaha upright, there is the occasional cat paw print ...
Robert - host, on April 23, 2014 @1:47 pm PST
Most of the Asian high gloss finishes are made of polyester. There is a product called Cory's Polish made for this finish. Since it is a sealed finish, you can clean it with glass cleaner and a soft cotton cloth. Do not use paper towel since this can scratch the finish.
Pete * VSM MEMBER * on April 16, 2014 @10:20 am PST
Children's toys .. no idea how they got in there ..
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 16, 2014 @10:46 am PST
Yes, I know what you are talking about! When I was a student in the Conservatory of Milan (Italy), we used to find any kind of objects as well as food inside the pianos (!!!), and they were Steinway!! One day a hammer wasn't working properly... a sandwich was stuck right there!
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