Soundproofing a musical instrument might seem like an odd thing to do, but if you need to keep the noise down, it might be necessary. Although soundproofing a piano can be tricky, there are a few things you can do.
How should you even begin trying to soundproof a piano? While there are things you can do the piano, it’s the room that your piano is in that you’ll need to worry about
- Putting fabrics on the top or back of your piano
- Sealing off the vents while you play
- Open up the windows
- Soundproof the walls
These techniques can help contain the sound from your piano or even dampen it, but you’ll need to know all the details if you plan to use them. Keep reading for more information:
Reasons You Might Need to Soundproof Your Piano
The first question that many people have is why they might need to soundproof their piano in the first place. After all, music should be heard, right? Well, not always—and here’s why:
Your Neighbors Are Complaining
Your music might sound great, but that doesn’t mean nearby neighbors won’t complain. While it’s unlikely that anyone in a separate house would hear your piano, the sound could penetrate the walls or ceiling of an apartment. Some neighbors in your apartment complex might complain if they think your playing is too loud.
In this case, you can use the methods we’ll discuss below to contain the noise and prevent sound waves from leaving the room or your apartment.
It’s Disturbing Your Housemates
Picture it: your roommate works the night shift and needs to sleep during the day. Anytime you play the piano, they hear it, and it keeps them from sleeping. Rather than letting the piano collect dust, a much better compromise is soundproofing your piano so that your roommate can no longer hear it.
Although this is just one example, it’s not uncommon for the people you live with, roommates, or family members, to interrupt your practicing time. You might be a great player, but the sound of music tends to travel. Unless you live in a mansion, your housemates are likely going to know whenever you touch the keys.
You Teach Piano Professionally
If someone complains about the noise of your piano, some people might argue, “Well, I’ll just practice at different times.” However, this solution only works if you practice the piano recreationally. If you give piano lessons to other people, especially professionally, you don’t want to have angry neighbors or housemates interrupting your lesson times.
Rather than deal with all the fuss, you’ll most likely save yourself a lot of trouble if you just take steps to soundproof your piano or the room that it’s in.
Put Heavy Fabrics or on Your Piano
One technique you can use to dampen the piano’s sound as it travels throughout the room is putting heavy fabrics on the back and top of your upright piano. You can put a heavy fabric, like an unused rug, on the top of the piano while you play. If you can, try finding rubbery materials or rugs, since they tend to soak up sound more.
“Sound dampening” or “sound deadening” isn’t a new concept, and while it usually applies to soundproof walls, it can also work on your piano.
The goal of using heavy fabrics is to cover the piano as much as possible while still being able to play. You won’t completely block the noise, but it should dampen it enough that it’s significantly quieter.
Depending on where you buy it from, some piano or music stores might have “sound absorbers” that are designed for this very purpose. You can position these heavy mats around your piano, but DIY materials should be almost as effective if an absorber isn’t in your budget.
Try Using a Piano Cover
You can opt to use a piano cover if you don’t have any heavy materials lying around. Some piano covers protect your piano while it’s not in use, but you can also use them to partially cover the instrument when you want to play too.
The advantage of using a piano cover is that it should fit your piano perfectly. Using heavy mats might not be able to cover everything and leave some areas exposed, but a piano cover should fit better.
Since the thickness and fabric type of piano covers can vary, it’s a good idea to pay attention to what your cover is made of. Generally, the thicker or more layered your piano cover is, the better it will be at absorbing sound.
Block Off the Vents in Your Music Room
Once you’ve covered your piano with heavy fabrics or a sound-absorbing cover, you’ve done almost all you can to soundproof the actual piano. If the neighbors next door are still banging on the wall and complaining about the sound, you’ll need to turn to other alternatives.
One thing you can do if you live in an apartment building is to seal off the vents when you play the piano. To understand why this method works, you’ll need to understand how sound transmission works. Check out our guide on How To Soundproof A Room Cheaply For Drums here
Understanding Noise Transmission
When you press down on a key, sound waves travel out and cause air particles as well as solid objects to vibrate. Sound waves have energy, and they travel until their energy runs out. The louder the sound, the more energy they have (and the farther they’ll go).
Solid objects like furniture or walls can slow down the sound waves, or even stop them completely if the material is thick enough.
The air vents in your apartment help air travel in and out, but they also help sound travel too. In an apartment complex, they connect your apartment to someone else’s. Your next-door neighbor could be hearing your piano through a vent, not the wall.
Although you wouldn’t want to block these vents for hours or days, you can use heavy fabrics or even sound-deadening materials to slow down the sound even more. Since you’re not completely “sealing” the vents, blocking them shouldn’t cause any problems.
Use a Fiberboard Panel
If heavy rugs don’t seem to do the trick with your air vents, you can use a material that’s specifically designed for soundproofing—a fiberboard panel. While most contractors recommend fiberboard panels for soundproofing your walls, you can also purchase these panels individually and take advantage of their sound-deadening features.
Open Up the Windows
You might not be keen to try this method out during the winter, but another way to reduce the noise while you play is by opening the windows. This is especially a good technique if you’re worried about roommates or other housemates hearing you play.
While this might sound a little counterproductive, especially after sealing off your vents, opening up the windows will give sound waves another place to travel to. More sound waves will be able to easier leave the apartment than they will be able to travel to other rooms.
The only potential downside to letting more sound travel outside is that it could make neighbors living in other houses more susceptible to the sound. If you live in a tightly-packed suburb, there’s a chance your neighbors might hear you playing, especially if they also have their own windows open.
The good news is about this method is that, unlike these other options, opening the windows up won’t cost you a dime. While it’s unlikely to completely silence the sound, your neighbors or roommates might notice a difference in volume.
Unfortunately, as already mentioned, it’s also probably not a method you want to use all-year-round. Reducing the noise might not seem like too big of a deal if you feel like you’re freezing.[Related Article: 6 Quietest Window Air Conditioners for Small Bedrooms]
Soundproof the Walls
Opening the windows and sealing off the vents are relatively “mild” options when it comes to soundproofing your piano. If you truly want to deaden the sound, you should think about soundproofing the walls of your music room. There are two ways you can try soundproofing, and one is a lot more invasive than the other.
If you’re also a fan of the arts, you can try slowing down sound waves by hanging up artwork in your music room. Framed artwork or paintings give soundwaves another barrier to pass through, and there’s a chance they won’t have enough energy left to pass through the walls to other rooms or apartments.
If it’s only one side of the room or one wall you’re worried about, you can focus on only hanging things on that side rather than the entire room. One potential downside of hanging things on the wall is that framed artwork isn’t always cheap.
Depending on where you buy it from, you could end up investing hundreds of dollars just to get artwork you don’t mind looking at it. As an alternative, you can also consider using the best wallpaper to soundproof your room.[Related Article: How To Soundproof A College Dorm Room In 9 Simple Steps]
A more extreme and costly option to soundproof your walls is to insulate them. There are plenty of different types you can use, but many people choose to use fiberglass insulation. Not only is it relatively inexpensive, but it’s also effective at absorbing sound. When sound enters the tiny pores inside the fiberglass, they can cause friction with the air particles, and slow down faster.
Fiberglass still can’t completely stop sound from entering another apartment if it’s loud enough, but it can be effective at reducing it to a minimum. Another perk of choosing fiberglass insulation is that you can usually install it yourself, and don’t need to dish out the extra money for a professional if you don’t want to.
Final Tips for Soundproofing Your Piano
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect way to soundproof your actual piano. Besides covering and surrounding it with heavy mats or material, there’s not much you can do to dampen the noise with the instrument itself. The structure of an upright piano is made to emphasize sound, not reduce it. However, some piano or music shops might have products like covers or “sound absorbers” that can directly address the problem.
Besides that, you’ll probably find the most luck with soundproofing the room that your piano is in. From simple techniques like opening the windows that won’t cost you anything to more invasive options like soundproofing your walls with insulation, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the noise and keep your neighbors happy.