Are Your Ivory Piano Keys Worth Anything?

Are Your Ivory Piano Keys Worth Anything?

One of the most common questions we receive pertains to repair and renovation of old family heirlooms. When a piano has been around for generations, there is a greater chance they were created with ivory keys. Are ivory keys worth anything?

Since ivory is scarce, people often think they might hold value on the second-hand market. The opposite is true.

Ivory is illegal to buy and sell. Try selling ivory on eBay, for instance, and your product will be removed immediately. You can’t transport ivory overseas and in some cases even throughout the United States. So the market for selling ivory keys would be limited at best.

So what can you do with them?Are Your Ivory Piano Keys Worth Anything?

The best you can do is give them to the piano renovator as you have your piano restored.

Many times a technician will keep some ivory key tops in case they have a call for historic renovation. No two pieces of ivory are the same. When they try and match based on historical representation, they will try and find something as close to matching as possible. If they have a big enough collection of old ivories, they will have a greater chance of matching.

Before laws tightened, a set of ivory keys may have been worth thousands of dollars. If you find anyone selling or trading ivory today, you should use caution as laws are complex. Laws exist throughout the world for animal protection; dealing even with existing ivory can jeopardize the safety of those animals.

Do you have a piano with ivory keys?


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

6 Tips For Proper Piano Maintenance

6 Tips For Proper Piano Maintenance

Pianos are surprisingly delicate objects, considering their size and weight. They usually become the focal point of a room, no matter how often they are played.

If you expect them to make music indefinitely, a piano needs a little bit of TLC from time to time. They aren’t the same as other pieces of furniture in your home where an occasional dusting will do the trick. Pianos have to be maintained inside and out to remain viable instruments.

The first thing most people realize is that to stay playable, a piano needs regular tuning. Most manufacturers recommend about every six months. But if they are in a stable 6 Tips For Proper Piano Maintenanceenvironment and aren’t moved, it can last for up to a year. New pianos should also be tuned more often than well-stabilized instruments. Consider the fact that a violin or guitar will be tuned every time it is played, where as the piano will only receive one or two tunings per year. If you neglect piano tunings, the piano may fall significantly in pitch and require a much more elaborate pitch raising to bring it back into tune.

While regular tuning will handle most of the maintenance issues, you should also consider having your instrument voiced occasionally. Voicing adjusts the density of the hammers. Each time a note is played, the hammers strike the piano strings, separated by small felt pieces. With each strike, these felt pieces compress and wear down. The result is a piano that slowly becomes brighter. Your piano should be voiced to your taste by a technician who understands the final quality you are looking for. It’s usually voiced as a new piano, and then again every three to five years.

As your piano ages, it will probably need regulation. Regulation is the process that a technician uses to adjust the way the keys and action operate in order to cause the hammers to hit the strings. This action repeats again and again every time the piano is played. Over time, this motion can become sloppy and difficult to play. It’ll start to feel sluggish and worn down. This is especially difficult for young children or for beginners learning how to play.

As your piano continues to age, it may reach a point where you’ll eventually have to consider rebuilding. Rebuilding includes replacing the hammers, dampers, pinblock, strings, the action, and sometimes the soundboard. This is an extensive process and can be quite expensive, depending on the instrument in question. If you’ve had the piano for many years, it’s a part of the family, it may be worth the time and effort to breathe new life into your piano. The only way to determine the condition of your piano and the possibilities rebuilding would offer is to speak with a reputable dealer who can answer your questions.

Some consideration should be given to the outside of the piano. Never use spray polish on your natural wood piano. Never use furniture polish on the black polyester finishes on many of the modern pianos. Instead, use a slightly damp soft cloth and wipe it down. You can use a non-ammonia window cleaner sprayed onto the soft cloth to keep the sheen in place.

Finally, be careful where you place your piano. Avoid placing it along outside walls where it may be impacted by extreme conditions. Avoid sunlight, drafts, heat vents, and humidity that may affect the wood and the internal workings of your piano.

What other questions do you have about maintaining 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 Do Piano Tuners Do?

What Do Piano Tuners Do?

Piano tuning may seem to be a fairly straightforward process; a tuner simply brings the piano back into tune. And if you watch any do it yourself instruction videos online, it can seem like anyone can do it. If you’re mechanically inclined, have the right tools, it should be a simple process, right? While the process may be simple, mastering it is actually quite difficult. Professional tuners spend their entire careers perfecting their skills. If you get it wrong, the outcome will be noticeable in the way your piano sounds.

Most people don’t understand the reason you tune a piano.What Do Piano Tuners Do?

Tuning a piano is a specific process of setting the tension of the strings using a special tool. They are stretched to a specific point so they will vibrate in harmony. However, tuning is never performed one key at a time. Instead, all keys are used in the process, keeping harmonious sound from all keys. If you were only to tune the pure intervals, the notes would not be the same pitch. Because you must be allowed to play in all keys and octaves, tempering is also required. Equal temperament is used to produce out of tune intervals to make sure the piano sounds right when all notes are played.

A piano tuner’s most important tool is the lever, or hammer, that acts as a key or wrench. It is a specially designed tool that fits piano pins, which are tapered and square. Using a standard socket wrench is not recommended because of the tapering, it will likely slip the tool off the pin and damage the corners. It will also be too short to control tuning and will risk loosening or damaging the pins along the way.

Most piano tuners today use tuning hardware and software to help them through the process. There are many applications available; it’s important to be able to move around as the tuning process takes place. These programs actually hear the tone being played and will automatically display how close you are to the appropriate tune. You can then tighten or loosen the string until you get the appropriate sound from the string.

With the proper tools in place, the tuner begins working on the piano one string at a time. He ensures the string is in place, and provides the proper tune for the note being played. He then continues working on the other strings in the set, which is call tuning unisons. This will set the temperament and allow tuning by octive comparison. This is a process of continuously checking the tuning of each key and using them as a reference to ensure the sound is correct.

Using an electronic tuner for all keys is not a good idea. Each string is a different length, made differently, and has altering resonant characteristics that make it unique. Pitch can be wildly off, something that might not be noticed with electronic tools, but can easily be heard by the human ear. This is where experience comes into play. This is what gives a tuner their unique approach to the process.

When was the last time your piano was tuned?


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

Are All Piano Tuners The Same?

Are All Piano Tuners The Same?

The piano is a complex series of wood and metal, a refined piece of machinery that is crafted to perfection. With a peak underneath the lid, you’ll find hundreds of parts all lined up ready to do their job. But it’s a work of art to make sure each piece comes together in such a way as to produce a quality sound you can’t wait to hear over and over again.Are All Piano Tuners The Same?

Yes, there may be 88 keys laid out in front of you ready to pressed and put into action. But every time one is pressed down, many parts go into play. This means several hundred strings are pulled and pushed through a complex series of twists and turns to create the perfect sound you are looking for. And because they move with every push of the key, occasionally they don’t return to their original position.

It takes time. It’s a gradual process. You’ll never notice it after one touch of the key. But it’s there just the same. It’s like having to tune a guitar before you play a song. Or having to tune your car before you run it in a race.

Working parts have to be tuned over and over again to maintain precision.

And while many people can work on a piano, anyone can claim to know how to turn a wire and add weight to the hammers, there is a difference in the approach that they take.

Pianos have to be tuned on a regular basis, whether they are played daily or not. It’s not just playing that impacts a piano; it’s also its location, the climate, maintenance routines, and more.

It’s also the experience of the piano tuner. A great tuner understands all the nuances that go into play; they know the right questions to ask, and more importantly, understand what to look for in the piano before they begin.

Before you hire a piano tuner, ask a few questions to anyone vying for the job.

Where did you study and for how long? What are your qualifications?

How long have you been tuning pianos?

Where have you worked? What venues and what types of pianos?

Do you have recommendations?

You can always start by giving us a call. We have a list of select tuners we use regularly, ones we know will get the job done correctly every 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 I Love Vintage Pianos

Why I Love Vintage Pianos

As a piano dealer, I’m asked this question all the time. And every time I have to answer: It depends.

Of course, I love a new piano. Nothing is as striking as a newly built baby grand vying for center stage in clients home. Knowing it will create beautiful music for decades to come is part of what brought me to this industry in the first place.Why I Love Vintage Pianos

But there’s also something special about a vintage piano.

If you head back in time fifty, even a hundred years ago or more, pianos were built for a different way of life. Pianos weren’t merely pieces of furniture tucked away in a corner waiting for daily practice sessions. Pianos took priority in a household and became central to their way of life. It became the entertainment of the evening hours, something prized in the family estate. Without our modern day electronics and entertainments sources, people relied on their pianos for living a cultured and enjoyable lifestyle.

Pianos from the 1940s and before have one distinct difference over pianos built today: they were built completely by hand, with a great deal of care and craftsmanship going into each one. They weren’t built in assembly line fashion, pushing out as many as possible each day. Each one was designed with time-honored traditions that made it as unique as the person who crafted it.

That’s not to say pianos today are completely built by machine. In higher end manufacturers, pianos still are created using time-honored traditions. They still use some of the handcrafting workmanship to produce a top of the line instrument. However, there are certain parts of the piano action that are made by machine, that can be refined by using technology.

That technology is what gives today’s pianos crisp, clean sounds that are replicated from piano to piano. And with vintage, every sound is distinctive.

There’s something sentimental about looking at a hundred year old piano and wondering the life it’s had throughout the years. What home has it sat in? What music has it played? Has it been a part of history, playing for local dignitaries from time to time?

Yes, through restoration, a vintage piano can produce music you will be proud to have played in your home. It can provide you with years of enjoyment, many hours of relaxation.

Whether you have a piano you would like to have restored, or are in the market, we can help you with all your needs.


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

7 Things Piano Restoration Companies Look At

7 Things Piano Restoration Companies Look At

Pianos have a lot of moving parts. No matter if you play your piano every day, or if it sits quietly in the corner for weeks at a time, parts wear out. Strings lose their tightness; felts begin to wear down; wood can warp.7 Things Piano Restoration Companies Look At

Even with the best of care, pianos need regular maintenance to help them survive from year to year. And even with regular tunings, eventually, a piano needs even more work. That’s when restoration becomes necessary to keep your piano in good, working condition.

Yet handing over your piano to a restoration company isn’t as easy as it seems. There are a lot of companies that make promises, but who should you trust? Before you sign on the dotted line, there are some legitimate questions you should ask to determine if the rebuilder you choose is the right choice.

You would be surprised at the different levels of service offered by different restoration companies. Some collect a handful of pianos at a time, offering cut-rate pricing to get you in. Then when they have several in place, they ship them off to wholesale rebuilders who do a less than a quality job. Your family heirloom is now worth very little. The sound will be destroyed. The parts will be anything but quality. And there’s very little you can do.

Which is why it’s important to ask questions before the process begins.

1. How long have you been in business? Longevity provides you with assurances that the restoration company is a part of the community and cares about its reputation.

2. Where is the work performed? This will ensure quality workmanship.

3. Can we see work in progress? This will tell you if the company has something to hide.

4. Is the process documented? If you can see photos or have a running document of the process, you’re ensured quality work is being performed.

5. Who will be working on the restoration process? Quality work isn’t performed in assembly line manner.

6. What organizations are you a part of? The longer a restoration company is in business, the more they will be a part of the community.

7. Can you furnish references? A reputable dealer will never be afraid to pass along happy customers’ information.

Are you in the market for finding a reputable piano restoration company? What is your most important question?


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

Does A Cracked Soundboard Ruin A Piano?

Does A Cracked Soundboard Ruin A Piano?

One of the main pieces of a piano is the soundboard. The soundboard’s function is to take and repeat the vibrational movements of the strings, creating air sound waves that are vastly greater than could be produced by strings alone.Does A Cracked Soundboard Ruin A Piano?

The better the soundboard performs this function, the better the soundboard is. And the better the sound becomes.

More than two hundred strings are stretched at high tensions over wooden supports that are rigidly fastened to the surface of the soundboard. Every time a key is pressed, it sets in motion the strings, transmitting through the bridge to the soundboard, and reproduces the sound again and again across the surface. These tiny movements vibrate front to back. They are powerful waves which immediately register to anyone that is near.

This process continues again and again, faithfully, no matter how many strings are played at one time.

The strings create the sound; the soundboard amplifies it.

For this reason, a crack in the soundboard reduces the soundboard’s ability to amplify the vibrations of the strings only in relation to how much of the surface area the crack reduces the vibrating area of the board.

Soundboards vary in size depending on how large the piano is. They are contained in tight spaces, controlled by the many parts that make up the piano. Because the very nature of wood is to expand and contract as the environment changes, the wood changes all the time.

As long as the structure of the soundboard remains solid, with ribs and bridges adhering correctly to the surface of the soundboard, and all strings and other fasteners attached rigidly to the frame of the piano, cracks will have very little impact on the overall sound.

With proper maintenance and tuning, even a soundboard with cracks can be maintained for years.

Have additional questions? Just ask.


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 Key Leveling

Piano Key Leveling

Have you ever started to play your piano, only to discover the keys feel a little off? As your fingers move from key to key, something appears to be not quite right.

What you may be feeling is a leveling issue.Piano Key Leveling

A properly regulated piano is one that has the keys perfectly level from one side of the keyboard to the other. When keys are correctly leveled, the pianist should find no noticeable difference in height as his or her fingers glide across the keytops. Also, no keys should stand out as being visibly higher or lower than the one next to it.

If the keys on your piano are not level, they need to be adjusted.

Keytops are leveled by the insertion of paper punchings of exact size between the wooden balance rail the keys rock on while being played, the felt balance rail punchings that cushion the keys.

Depending on the type of piano and the technician making the adjustments, one of several tools will be used to bring the keys up to level. Each note will be checked to determine how high or low it is compared to the desired height. Then punchings will be added or subtracted to bring it to a proper level.

After each addition, key height will be checked to determine if it’s at its proper height.

Sharp keys are leveled as well in a similar manner. Sharp keys, in general, are ½ inch higher than naturals. Fine paper punchings are used to ensure they are level from one end to another.

Think your keys may need leveling? Give us a call today.


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

Adjusting The Pedals During Piano Tuning

Adjusting The Pedals During Piano Tuning

In most cases, a piano tuner’s job entails bringing the notes back into tune by adjusting the strings. But in some cases, they may also find a pedal that isn’t doing its job. Pedals on both verticals and grand pianos occasionally stop working.Adjusting The Pedals During Piano Tuning

In many cases, it’s simply a matter of a pedal rod that has fallen out of place. By removing the kickboard on the front cabinet of a vertical piano just under the keyboard, you’ll find a vertical wood dowel or metal rod that connects to horizontal levers that extend up into the piano to a mechanism in the action. Stepping on the pedals causes the rod to move, activating the proper action mechanism inside the piano.

Since the rods are usually only inserted into the action levers with metal pins, it is very common for them to simply fall out of position, causing the pedal to stop working. The more you use a pedal, or if a piano has been moved, the greater the chance of having the pin fall out of place.

Pedal rods usually fall out of place when too much freeplay is in the movement. Freeplay means the pedal and the lever move too much before the vertical rod rises. If freeplay is enough, it can cause the rod to fall out of position, or simply not rise enough to allow the proper movement in the action.

Proper adjustment calls for freeplay of only about 1/16th or an inch. In other words, the vertical rod moves very little during the process. A professional tuner knows how to adjust the rod to the appropriate length. If you adjust it to remove all freeplay, it may jam against other action parts and leave the pedals in a position they shouldn’t be in. This can allow the dampers to stick, or to remain off the strings altogether, allowing notes to ring on and on.

Grand pianos usually have fewer problems with pedal adjustments than verticals. Grand pedal rods are encased in a wooden lyre and rarely fall out of position. However, adjustments are sometimes needed and are completed in much the same way as on a vertical.

Have a question about tuning your piano? Pedals need adjustment? Give us a call today.


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

Are Refurbished Pianos As Good As New?

Are Refurbished Pianos As Good As New?

So it’s time to bring a piano into your home. Where do you begin?

When you’ve decided you or your child will begin playing the piano, the first step is to find a piano to practice on regularly. And in most cases, the deciding factor comes down to cost, how much you can spend.Are Refurbished Pianos As Good As New?

After all, pianos can be very expensive, depending on the make and model you select. Which leaves many would-be piano owners searching out the best deals. It takes a lot of time to wade through your options.

There’s also a lot of risks.

Used pianos are marketed in a wide variety of ways. What does it all mean? Are there some you can trust more than others?

Remanufactured Pianos
Remanufactured pianos will ensure the piano is in new-like condition, both regarding appearance and performance. It will have new hammers, felts, strings, action parts, a new soundboard, and pinblock. In most cases it will also go through a refinishing process.

Rebuilt Pianos
If a piano is listed as rebuilt, it has gone through several changes, such as receiving new strings, a new soundboard, or a new pinblock. Most rebuilt pianos are also refinished too.

Reconditioned Pianos
A reconditioned piano usually signifies the piano has had strings and/or hammers replaced.

Restored Pianos
A restored piano is often a generic term used to describe a piano that has been remanufactured, rebuilt or refinished.

Refurbished Pianos
A refurbished piano typically takes it to the next level. Pianos that are refurbished will go through a lot of work, such as new strings, hammers, felts, pinblocks and soundboard. They may also be refinished in the process. At the completion, a refurbished piano will also be tuned and have regulation of the piano action.

If you are on a budget and wonder how you can purchase the best piano in your price range, looking at refurbished pianos may be your best alternative. Refurbished pianos have almost everything repaired or replaced within the parts. In most cases, they are as good as new. It is important that you thoroughly inspect the refurbished piano to make sure it meets your standards.

Look for a reputable dealer that can provide information about previous owners and its current condition.

Look for dealer’s warranties to protect you in the future.

Ask questions. This can ensure you are comfortable with your purchase.


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