Do pianos eat things? Some technicians I know think maybe they do. I received a great question from PA reader, Josh about quite an unusual something he and his technician found inside his piano.

I have a 1910 Jewett Upright Piano. Recently I had the keyboard pulled to repair some various felts and repair keys. Anyway, low and behold there were two very old cheesecloth bags with cloves in them in each far corner under the keys. Have you ever seen this before? The tuner had never seen that done before. We figured it was for the smell or maybe to deter pests or both.. Anyway curious if you’ve seen cloves in an old piano before or heard of it.

No I hadn’t. So, I looked up the use of cloves as a pest deterrent and yes, that is one of their uses–especially against mosquitos. Cloves also contain Eugenol, which has been used in dentistry for centuries. In fact, People of  many culture chew whole cloves because of their effectiveness in relieving sore gums, toothache, and mouth sores, as well as freshening the breath. Hmmm… Under the keys you say???

All kidding aside, none of the technicians I contacted had ever encountered cloves under the keys of a piano. But, they told me about all kinds of other things they had found. One technician was called to attend to a piano with a stuck action and found a diamond ring which had been smashed flat. Another found a bent spoon used for cooking heroin hidden inside the action of an upright (clearly it’s owner was not so upright). I also enjoyed the story of a friend’s most  ‘rewarding’ tuning experience. He found a crisp $100 bill inside a grand piano.

Here are some other items, aside from the expected pencils and paperclips, which my technician friends tell me pianos have eaten:

  1. Mice & Squirrels (alive and not)
  2. Volume of World Book Encyclopedia
  3. Toys
  4. Necklaces & Watches
  5. Marriage License
  6. Hot Chocolate (hammers soaked- yummo!)
  7. Chicken Bones
  8. Playing Cards
  9. Marbles
  10. Dead Crawfish
  11. Car Keys from a 50’s era Oldsmobile
  12. Potato Chips (complete with bag)
  13. Letter to Santa
  14. Dog’s bone (well chewed)
  15. Tuning hammer (now that was inevitable wasn’t it?)


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