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63. Varmint Prevention in Pianos

Varmints make a lot of trouble in pianos. The old uprights are the worst. Grands are up on three legs, so they have very little trouble except from moths.

I will list the various varmints and tell you how to prevent them and how to get rid of them, called "cure," if they are present:


Mice are the worst rodents to get into pianos. They are very happy in the area under the keys since there are three sections under there which divide off very nicely. You may not believe me, but mice do have some order to their habitat.

They will use one section for storing food, which they steal from the dog's dish and your cupboard. They will live in the second section, and they build nests there from things they stole from you and from bits of felt and bridle straps from your piano. The third section will be reserved for a bathroom or water closet, and, in this section, they also deposit any members of the clan who die. I have found some very well preserved skeletons in room three.

Along with mice, there are field mice which can fill the same area under the key bed with acorns and trash until they stop the piano from playing. There are also chipmunks, which can fill the bottom of the piano with their collection. All of these pests can do real damage to the felt and other parts as they forage for nesting material.


How do you keep mice and other rodents out of your piano? Simply this-- close all points of access. Many pianos have holes in the lower parts where the piano was not tightly framed in. Stuff these with steel wool. Also, there is plenty of space to enter under the pedals. You can also stuff steel wool into these holes, but it has to be done over and over since use of the pedals can dislodge it.

You may want to cut a piece of wood to fill the area above the bottom board. Mice can crawl up the edge of the board by inserting their claws into the crack where parts meet. That pretty well takes care of prevention.


First, take the piano apart until you have the keys all out. The instructions are in Chapter Five. Clean out under the keys, and scatter some rat poison under there. Make sure the poison is the kind which makes the mice thirsty so that they leave the piano looking for water. Thus, they die outside the piano. Of course, this will not last for more than a couple of months.

For chipmunks, see if you can find any of the poisoned peanuts available in hardware stores. Traps can also be set in the bottom of the piano. If you are a space cadet who cannot stand to kill a varmint, you are on your own. I just hope you enjoy rats more than Bach.

Moths and Carpet Beetle larva:

These rascals do most of the serious damage. They will get into a piano that is not played much or is in storage. Why? Answer: ALL of the felt parts in a piano, to this very hour, are made of real lamb's wool. It is the best material for the job.

Prevention and cure:

Moth crystals are the best thing to use. You can find the scented ones so as to avoid the ugly smell of moth balls. You can also spray the inside of the piano lightly with Raid, but DO NOT spray the tuning pin area. I try to find a product with Pyrethrum in it. It is natural and one of the most deadly poisons to moths. You could even raise the Pyrethrum flowers in your garden and throw them in the bottom of the piano. See your Burpee's seed catalogue.

When you open the top of the piano, if you see that the tops of the hammers are eroded and eaten away, that is moths or carpet beetles. Lightly spray the tops of the hammers with Raid. If your exterminator can loan you a non-water based spray, that is best. Again, don't overspray onto the tuning pins please.

Chickens, Dogs, Cats, and Cows:

It is very rare to find these critters in a piano, but strange things happen. If you find one of the above in your piano, we must first ask a question: What did you have for supper last night?

If you are sure such a beast is in your piano, go around to the local gun shop and secure a product made by Messrs. Smith and Wesson. Load it and discharge the contents throughout the piano. You will notice how the varmints expire quickly, but you may have some pretty messy cleaning up to do. I wish you well my friend, but do keep away from the SPCA and the BATF. They frown on this procedure :-)


MOUSE TRAPS-- Non-poisonous mouse traps for upright pianos

On to task 64.