QRS Music Technologies Inc. has just released the QRS UV Keyboard Sanitizer. This compact all-in-one device will (the manufacturers claim) kill 99.9% of most viruses (including Covid-19), airborne bacteria and the mold spores that can attach to your piano. Is your piano this clean?
The UV Keyboard Sanitizer is extremely easy to use. Once connected to a mains power source, it is placed on one half of the keyboard and the start button pressed.
Two strip bulbs bathe the keyboard in ultra-violet light for a default time of 5 minutes after which the timer switches the unit off. The device is then moved to the other half of the keyboard and the process repeated.
Ultraviolet light can be damaging to the eyes. The Keyboard Sanitizer is therefore designed so no harmful light escapes whilst in use. In addition a safety switch de-activates the unit should it be lifted from the keyboard before the end of the sanitising cycle.
The life-expectancy of the UV bulbs is approximately 4000 hours (that’s 24,000 sanitations). However should a bulb fail it can be easily replaced.
Until now, cloths and antibacterial disinfectants have been the only way to sanitize a piano keyboard. The QRS UV Keyboard Sanitizer is a far more efficient alternative, and its germicidal ultraviolet light can reach deep between the keys where it is difficult to wipe and where you don’t want moisture.
For the technically minded, the UV bulbs generate light with a wavelength of between 185 and 254 nanometers. The Sanitizer filters out the shorter wavelengths as these can produce harmful ozone. The 254nm light provides optimum disinfecting, and will kill the average bacterium in 10 seconds at a distance of six inches from the lamp.
If you are wondering whether the light from the QRS UV Keyboard Sanitizer could damage your piano keys in any way, QRS state…
UVC radiation and its effects on materials such as ABS plastic which make up the majority of piano key covers is generally known to be of little to no concern in normal indoor environments. It is known that plastics which are adversely affected by UV radiations are also simultaneously exposed to high moisture and long exposure times. Referencing the information available to us we have developed the opinion that this UVC radiation is of no detriment to plastic or ivory key covers and is actually safer than chemical sanitizers normally used to clean piano keys.
QRS — A Brief History
QRS was established in 1900 by inventor and innovator Melville Clark. He was previously with prominent piano manufacturer Story & Clark, but after 16 years left to focus on new inventions. He formed the Melville Clark Piano Company which developed some of the first player and expression pianos — notably the Apollo branded ranges. Clark also founded the QRS Music Company which made the piano rolls for his automated instruments.
Why “QRS”? No-one really knows, but one theory suggests that early on the Melville Clark Company became overrun with orders for piano rolls. These orders were filed under “R’, and the “R” pigeon-hole soon filled up. So the adjacent “Q” and “S” spaces were used. Q-R-S.
The QRS Music Company went on to sell millions of music rolls to the player piano market — over 10 million in 1927 alone. Demand, however, fell off a cliff in the 1930s, but revived in the 1950s as enthusiasts began restoring older player pianos. QRS continues to produce piano rolls to this day, and is effectively the only company doing so.
QRS moved into digital technologies in the 1980s. And in 1989 they released the world’s first retrofittable player piano kit under the Pianomation name. Current products are branded using the PNO prefix, i.e. PNOmation, PNOscan, PNOtouch etc.
The Keyboard Sanitizer seems to be the ideal solution in circumstances where a piano is used by more than one pianist. Currently, this device is available directly from QRS in the United States. It requires a 120VAC mains supply.
The QRS UV Keyboard Sanitizer (catalogue no. 65100) costs $395.00 (plus tax and shipping) and is available from the QRS website.
(Throughout this article the American English base forms “sanitize” and “mold” are used and not the British English “sanitise” and “mould”. This is to avoid confusion and because this is an American product.)