Can I Refinish My Piano Cabinet?

Can I Refinish My Piano Cabinet?

Sometimes the outside of your piano might not look the best. There are water stains and rings from where glasses of water have spilled. The side panel is looking a little faded and worn. If you had to describe it, you’d probably use the term “well loved.”

With just a little TLC – a coat of paint or a quick coat of stain, it would look as good as new. Right?Can I Refinish My Piano Cabinet?

There are a few things you should consider. 

Has the musical part of the piano been restored?

If not, you may be approaching things in reverse. Pianos age over time. What shows on the outside of the piano is also often apparent on the inside. That means if the outside is showing wear and tear, the inside could probably benefit from a little TLC too. Just because the outside looks great doesn’t mean the piano will play well and be something you’re proud to display in your home. 

Is there serious damage to the cabinet?

If the cabinet is just ugly because it’s been painted the wrong color in the past, it may be a simple remedy. However, if the piano has had serious water damage, if veneer is falling off, or if the wood is splintered and damaged, it can be a sign of more damage. Before you begin, ensure that the cabinet only has surface damage. Do all parts fit well together? If it is a grand piano, are the lure, desk, and lid in good solid condition? Are all pieces in relatively good condition? While simple work is possible both to repair and replace, always be aware that the more extensive the damage on the outside, the more potential problems you may find on the inside. 

Are you prepared to paint it rather than stain it? 

If the finish has been severely damaged, you can strip it, fill in the damaged wood with wood filler, sand it, and paint it. Depending on your home’s decor, a coordinating color can make it very rewarding. Staining brings every detail, every problem into the light. Depending on the color you select, you can hide some of the external flaws. However, stick with white, offwhite, or even a more modern color. Attempting to spray on black lacquer should only be attempted if you have a spraying booth for best results. 

Why are you refinishing the piano?

For some people, a piano is a family heirloom that has been passed down for generations. It’s rarely played. Instead it is showcased as a piece of fine furniture. If that’s the case, ensuring the outside looks great may be the right choice for you. However, if your goal is to create a musical instrument for you and your family to enjoy, realize that the inside is equally important. Renovating the entire instrument at once is a much better plan. 

Do you have the ability to do this?

Refinishing a piano isn’t the same as slapping on a coat of paint. There are a lot of details that can impact the final look if they aren’t refinished in the proper way. Also understand that even with painting a piano, the sanding process shouldn’t be overlooked to remove water stains and rings, and any imperfection that exists in the wood. This is a delicate job, as any sand that gets into the mechanics of the piano can make it unplayable at best. 

If you have any questions or reservations, it’s best to talk with a professional first.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

Can upright pianos be tuned to concert pitch?

A piano is designed to accompany every instrument you’ll find in a band or orchestra. Band instruments are all designed and tuned at concert pitch so that they are harmonious together. Now imagine trying to play a piano that wasn’t tuned at that level – the instrument will sound awful. To play instruments together, it’s important that they are tuned at the same level. Grand or upright, all pianos have the capability to be tuned to concert pitch. To ensure a player “hears” what they are playing correctly, staying in tune is an important part of the process. Piano Tuning Facts and Myths

What is pitch raising?

Pitch raising usually comes into play when a piano hasn’t been tuned in a while. It’s the process of gradually stretching out the strings when they are badly out of tune. It is similar to tuning in that every pin must be turned or tuned. A string relaxes on average about one-half as far as it is stretched during pitch raising, and should not be stretched more than ten cents per tuning. If badly out of tune, it may require multiple tunings to bring it back to concert pitch. 

Will pitch raising hurt the piano? 

If your piano is still in great shape, pitch raising won’t hurt the inner workings. It is important to work slowly, however. A technician will be able to tell how out of tune your piano is and what it will take to bring it back into tune. Excessive tuning or pitch raising at one setting may break strings or break bridges or the soundboard, so it’s important to take your time bringing it back into tune. 

How long does a piano stay in tune once it is tuned?

A lot factors into how long a piano will stay tuned. Any time pitch raising is completed, the piano will go out of tune within the next 6 to 12 months. Because it required extensive work, it is more likely to stretch back out of tune. It’s important to stick with a schedule until your piano stabilizes – retune your piano within the first three months, and every six months to follow. 

Is a piano that is played frequently more likely to be out of tune than one that isn’t? 

How frequently a piano is played has little to do with how quickly it will go out of tune. A piano that is played can often stay in tune longer because it stays in motion. In either case, it’s important to realize that to ensure your piano stays in good working conditioning, maintenance is an important part of the process. And tuning is a part of that process. 

How can I ensure my piano stays in tune?

Regular maintenance. In ideal circumstances, your piano will be tuned at least once per year to keep it tuned and up to pitch. Your piano should also be played at least once per week, playing to keep string tension uniform and the relationship between octaves even. Also keep your piano on an inside wall, away from drafts, direct sunlight or moisture, which can lead to more damage.

What questions do you have about your piano?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

If you look around your home, you’ll find wood is used in many ways, and comes from a variety of sources. You may have oak flooring, maple cabinets, and cedar in your drawers. For many of the items in your home, woods are interchangeable; you can use everything from birch, fir, mahogany, cherry or spruce to add a personal touch to your rooms. What Wood Is Best For Making A Piano

But how about your piano? What type of wood is best for creating a piano? 

It’s not so much what wood is selected as the process that is used to ensure the wood is properly treated before it is used to build a piano. 

After logs are harvested, they are sawed into planks, soaked in hot water to soften, then peeled to produce the veneer for the exterior case. It is then put through a drying process which can last from 6 months to two years, depending on how the parts will be used. This drying process is a crucial step. If not dried properly, the wood can warp and crack over time. 

In many cases, would is put through a process of air drying, then kiln dried bringing it down to as low as a 7 percent factor. It is often seasoned again before bringing it indoors to acclimate to its indoor climate. 

It’s a specialized process selecting the right wood. That’s what separates the manufacturers and gives each piano its own unique look and sound. Selecting wood takes a trained eye. It has to be able to be molded, closed, selected for its ability to be heat resistant and accept mild humidity changes without impact. And while many different kinds of woods can be used for the outside, in general, spruce is used for the soundboard. 

Spruce has high elasticity and is the most reverberant. Spruce is harvested when the sap is at the lowest content, with the manufacturer carefully selecting boards that can withstand environmental changes. Poor quality soundboards will straighten over time and lose tonal quality. So it’s important that they have the right grain for viability. 

Maple is usually used for creating the bridges and the pinblock. The bridge transfers the strings energy to the soundboard. Strength is needed to ensure the strings’ vibration is transferred efficiently. Maple is a hardwood that ensures a high degree of tuning stability over long periods of time, making it the perfect choice for the pinblock. 

Maple is also one of the best choices for the action mechanism. The action parts are a key component to a piano; precision is key. Which is why the quality of the wood is important for it to withstand constant friction and be durable over time.  


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Why Pianos Go Out Of Tune

Why Pianos Go Out Of Tune

The most common questions we have about piano playing is about the tuning process. 

Does my piano need tuning if no one is playing it?

Does my piano need tuning if we play it every day?

Does my piano need tuning on a regular basis?

Yes, yes, and yes. 

Pianos go out of tune for many different reasons. But if you own a piano, it will require tuning on a regular basis. Why Pianos Go Out Of Tune

The Strings Stretch

When a piano is new, each steel wire is put into place. It is tightened and designed to stretch as each note is played, popping back into place. Especially when it’s new, the strings haven’t adjusted to their new location. Very quickly they begin to stretch. And as they stretch, they sag, dropping in frequency even after just a few times played. This is why a dealer will suggest tuning multiple times the first year, to bring the strings into place where they are capable of staying in tune. 

Environmental Changes

Cold, heat, humidity and dryness all play an important part in the overall sound of a piano. Wood handles differently depending on the condition. The sound board must be free to vibrate to create the beautiful sound you come to expect from your piano. But imagine what happens if moisture gets into your piano? Or if warm air blows on it constantly from your heat vents? Even if your piano is never played, these conditions impact the overall quality of your piano. They will impact its playability with every change. 

Poor Tuning

Not every piano tuner has the same level of experience. Worse, some DIYers attempt to handle the job themselves. Piano tuning is a delicate and difficult task, one that takes professional tuners a lifetime to master. An inexperienced tuner can tighten and loosen a string much more than necessary. When this happens, it is impossible to leave an equalized string. Which means the string is not set and will quickly go out of tune once again. 

Normal Use

Even tuning from a top professional won’t last forever. With every strike of the key, the more a piano is played, the more likely it is that the tuning pin will turn slightly and pull the string out of tune once again. That’s why professional piano players or piano teachers will have their pianos adjusted several times per year. 

Moving

Any time a piano is moved, whether it’s across the room or across the country, the tension will be disturbed, changing the string dynamics. Not only is it impacted by “bouncing around”, but it can also be impacted by the change in environment. Imagine being moved from a temperate home to a cold moving truck and back into a home with new humidity levels. It has an impact. 

When was the last time you tuned your piano?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Digital Piano: Mac or PC?

Digital Piano: Mac or PC?

People invest in a digital piano for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons we love them is because of the many built-in tools available for learning and making music. 

One of the questions we’re frequently asked is: How do you record actual sound of your keyboard onto your computer? There really isn’t a difference between Mac or PC; what software packages you prefer is up to you. What is important is to understand the connection process and how to make it a reality. Digital Piano: Mac or PC?

There is a difference between a MIDI connection from your keyboard and the process used to record sound. If you want to record the actual sound, a MIDI connection will not do the job. A MIDI interface will only transmit your performance data to software on your computer. This includes things like which notes you have played, or how loudly you play your music. 

If you want to record your actual sound – the music you produce by playing the keyboard – you need to connect the line out from your keyboard to your Mac or PC. 

The way you do that depends on your budget. 

The easiest and least expensive way is to connect an audio cable from the audio output on the keyboard to the mic port on the computer. If your computer or iPad doesn’t have a mic port, you can buy an external sound adapter that has a separate headphone and mic port and connect this to your USB port. While not the highest quality way to connect, it is the easiest and gets the job done. 

 A more cost effective and reasonable quality sound solution is to invest in a linelink, or an out-USB interface that bypasses your existing soundcard and outputs studio quality audio directly to your computer. A y-cable converter allows left and right stereo sound to be sent from your keyboard and produce a higher quality sound to record. 

The best approach would be to create a high quality professional recording studio using a professional audio interface. You can find all-in-one home recording studio packages that connect your keyboard to your computer, giving your freedom to record a variety of inputs, from vocal and maybe guitar. Most complete systems will pack everything – audio interface, microphone and headphones all in one box. They all come with their own software packages as well. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Why It Matters If Your Piano Is In Tune

Why It Matters If Your Piano Is In Tune

Have you ever attended a concert performed by an orchestra? Before it begins, one person will provide a note to tune to. Then the rest of the members take the time to ensure their instruments are in perfect balance. 

Can you tell the difference between an out of tune instrument with one that is in tune? It depends upon your musical ability. 

We walk before we learn to run. We start out with 101 classes in college before we progress to 400 level coursework. We don’t start out as experts at anything we choose to do. We must start at the beginning, learning the fine details as we go along. Only after we experience different levels do we start to understand the nuances within a niche. And that’s what makes all the difference. Why It Matters If Your Piano Is In Tune

Take a bottle of wine, for instance. Place an award winning bottle next to a boxed wine from your supermarket. Is there a difference? Of course. But to someone untrained in the nuances of wine tasting, they may not understand these finer points. They may purchase the box solely based on price. They may purchase it because they lack the knowledge of what makes a Merlot different from a Pinot Noir. Or what the difference is from a table wine from one more refined. 

If you want to learn more about wine, you have to study wine. That means trying different grapes from different regions. Learning about perfect growing conditions. Understanding what wines are paired best with different types of foods. 

Over time, your skills are refined. You understand the differences and quickly can tell one from another. You can pick out what makes one better than the other. 

That same experience is found within music. That’s why the musicians will all tune to the same note before a performance. It’s also why every musician invests in the highest quality instrument to give them the results they are looking for. 

Because as our knowledge grows, our senses improve. And the more aware we become, the better our experiences become. 

We perceive music on a deeper level, and the experience attained from the performance becomes inspiring in more ways than we might have previously appreciated. 

Sure, a child can play just about any keyboard or piano you put in front of them, no matter what condition it’s in. But to have a child begin to hear and feel the difference, perceive music on a deeper level, and very quickly improve their levels of understanding, quality is everything. 

Are you going to trust that to a free piano you found on Craigslist?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Why Piano Tuners Preserve The Sound Of Music

Why Piano Tuners Preserve The Sound Of Music

What makes your piano work?

Some might say it’s the piano player who presses the right keys in the right order.

Others might get into the mechanics, describing the way the hammers meet the strings.

In reality, both are right to some degree.Why Piano Tuners Preserve The Sound Of Music

A piano is a sophisticated instrument built with thousands of parts. And if one of those parts isn’t working correctly or is substandard at best, the final product – the music – isn’t going to be its best.

That’s where piano tuning comes into play. Piano tuning is the science of ensuring all working parts are operating together. But more importantly, it’s also an art form to ensure each tone sounds good with the other.

That’s something you can’t get when you sit down at the piano for the first time. It’s something a good piano tuner develops over years of practice.

Imagine sitting down at a computer and making a change to one note. That one change didn’t just impact the tone of that one note, it impacted the way the piano creates music altogether. Because if that note is now not congruent with the others, it will sound “off”.

Which means that every time one change is performed, the same thing needs to be done 88 separate times to ensure every key on the piano is impacted the same way. Every key on the piano is an independent machine, coming together to create a beautiful sound.

Ant that’s the challenge. That’s where art form comes into play.

It takes gluing fabric into place, fitting tiny cork stoppers into tiny wooden holes, using tweezers to slip tiny pieces of paper into place, sanding just enough, turning tiny screws you can barely see, working in tight places with intricate tools and very large fingers – it’s the fine details that matter most.

And all of this doesn’t come naturally. It takes time to learn the best approach. It takes practice to get it all right.

But if you do, the sound of music it produces, in the end, is simply superb.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

What Makes Piano Brands Different?  

What Makes Piano Brands Different?  

What Makes Piano Brands Different?  Baldwin
Hamilton
Chickering
Bosendorfer
Haessler
Kawai
Sohmer & Co
Pramberger
Schimmel
Steinway
Wurlitzer
Yamaha

Start searching online to find a good, reputable piano manufacturing company and you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer number of piano builders to do business with. In fact, in the last 200 years or so, there have been well over 12,000 piano brands in the marketplace. That’s not models … brands.

How do you know which manufacturer to choose?

How do you know which one is best?

And what’s the difference anyway?

Every piano on the market is made in a different way, in its own factory environment, using parts selected by a particular manufacturer. Some are made to be inexpensive alternatives; others are built by hand and designed to be collector’s items; true works of art.

But in all cases, a piano is as unique as the person playing it.

Pianos come in two styles: grands or verticals. Grands can be small to large: a small parlor grand can be 4’5” to a concert grand as large as 10’2”, while a vertical spinet can be 35” in height to a professional vertical at 52”. Choice is usually based on the size of the space you have to place your piano.

When making your selection, you are looking at the touch, or function of the action, and the sound. Each piano creates its own sound; some may be bright with lots of treble, others have lots of bass. Some may sound muffled while others may be vibrant with lots of voice.

It’s a personal preference. What sounds good to you? Because the better your piano sounds, the more likely you are to enjoy making music with it. Testing multiple pianos is the only way you can do that.

Are you ready to see how different piano brands sound?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Is A Spinet Piano Good Enough?  

Is A Spinet Piano Good Enough?  

Head out to Craigslist, and you’ll find dozens of ads practically giving their pianos away. As you search through the ads, you may see one type appear again and again:

Spinet Piano … as good as new

Do you trust it? Should you move forward and look at it? Should you take it home?

A spinet piano is a very small upright piano, and can be distinguished by their height. Pianos 40” and below are spinets. Compare that with 41 – 44” consoles, or 45” and above as studio uprights. The very tallest – 48” or above – are often thought of as professional or upright grands.

A spinet is different than other pianos because of the way the action is built. The spinet action uses a pull-type drop action rather than the push-type used by other pianos. This makes the action too light and imprecise for students as they learn.Is A Spinet Piano Good Enough?  

A spinet is also has a smaller stature which makes it more difficult to play. Piano players have almost zero dynamic control, which means the effort put into playing it doesn’t result in the right sound or quality.

A young beginner needs a piano with a great sound in order to learn in-tune sound quality and develop ear training. They need a piano that has a good, consistent feel in order to develop proper playing strength and to ensure dynamic control from the moment they touch the keys. Proper feel is needed to improve playing techniques as they learn and grow.

Because spinet pianos are no longer made, the ones you will find on Craigslist or given to you by a family member or a friend are old, worn down, poor quality and inadequate in sound.

When you purchase or are given a spinet as a hand me down, it often sends the wrong message to children. The piano is nothing special, and only there as a temporary item.

A higher quality piano with great sound is more enjoyable to play, more consistent in the feel, and provides dynamic control that can instill a lifetime of enjoyment.

How could your child benefit from playing a high quality instrument?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

How To Find Room For A Piano

How To Find Room For A Piano

The buzzword floating around many design sites these days is downsizing. Many people are no longer increasing the size of their homes; they are shrinking them and going smaller instead.

And that works well for a lot of the things we use every day. But a large piece of furniture you used to love can suddenly overwhelm the space you were going to put it in.

Yes, you may have to downsize the sofa and get rid of the sectional that used to grace your family room. But that’s not an option with your piano. Your piano isn’t just a piece of furniture. It’s not something you want to tuck into the corner and forget.How To Find Room For A Piano

Luckily there are a variety of ways you can build your room around the piano, leaving it as the focal point of your room. It takes a pair of fresh eyes to find the new opportunities that always exist within the four walls of your room.

Vertical or grand? Depending on the type of piano you desire will control the amount of space it takes to display it. Obviously, a grand takes up more space. But even with a vertical piano, you want it to be on display, a place where you can both play and have an audience whenever you desire.

The key is in looking beyond the obvious. It doesn’t have to go in the family room to get the most out of the instrument. We’ve seen pianos placed all throughout the home. Just look for usable space that provides an attractive background for the piano.

How about in the entryway landing by the stairs? This area often has usable space that may be sitting empty. You can slide a vertical piano into the corner and use it as a welcoming presentation when you first enter your home.

Or how about in an empty corner reserved for books and knickknacks? Reading corners often have usable space. Try moving smaller chairs and tables and reassessing the space. Can you slide a baby grand into the space?

Or how about hiring a woodworker to build customized cabinets? Many homes can benefit from customized shelving units. Place your vertical piano into the space and create an elaborate centerpiece that grabs the attention.

If you are a piano lover, there are many ways to incorporate the instrument back into your space. Think openly about where you can nestle the piano into your favorite room. With a little change, you may be surprised at how easy it is.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172