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

What Is A Registered Piano Technician?

What Is A Registered Piano Technician?

Can anyone repair your piano? Can anyone tune it efficiently? The answer, of course, is yes. In fact, there are many websites and books that will tell you how easy it is to perform, and how in some cases you can do it yourself.

What Is A Registered Piano Technician?Repairing a piano isn’t brain surgery. Yet a piano is a delicate instrument with thousands of parts that work together to create beautiful sound. And if even one piece isn’t working up to par, it can impact the sound entirely.

The field of piano technology is unregulated. A registered piano technician is a member of the Piano Technicians Guild that has established standards of quality for piano technicians, giving you some assurance that they are experts at what they do.

To obtain a registered piano technician classification, a member must pass three examinations:

  • A written exam that tests knowledge of piano design, tuning theory, repair techniques, and other topics related to piano technology
  • Two practical hands on exams that test tuning and technical skills

On the tuning exam, the candidate must match as closely as possible a master tuning created by the examiners. The exam is scored by using sensitive electronic equipment to record how closely the candidate’s final process compares with the established norm. They must demonstrate their ability to tune by ear, unaided by electronic devices.

The technical exam requires a candidate to demonstrate their skills in assembling a grand and a vertical piano action and in making the adjustments (regulation) so that they function properly. They must also demonstrate that they can make all common repairs involving the wood, cloth, felt, piano wire and other common materials used in creating a piano.

Only registered piano technicians can use the title in their marketing. And if you see the title, you can be assured that the person you select has a wealth of knowledge behind them in working and adjusting pianos.

Who are you trusting your piano to?


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

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

Piano Key Repair and Restoration

Piano Key Repair and Restoration

What’s one of the first parts of a piano that show their wear and tell you it’s time for a little R&R (repair and restoration)?

Your piano keys.

Maybe they are missing, broken, chipped or damaged. Maybe they are unlevel and hard to play. Maybe they wiggle from side to side. Or maybe some go down and some don’t as your fingers attempt to carry out a tune.Piano Key Repair and Restoration

When it’s time to repair or restore your piano keys, one or more things may be in order.

Key top replacement – In some cases by simply replacing the veneer on the keys will bring new life to your piano. Keep in mind that there are special considerations for vintage pianos that still maintain ivory keys.

 

  • Key bed – In some cases, piano key restoration must include the entire piano key structure down to the key bed. It will include repairing and replacing many of the parts, including key bushings and balance pins.
  • Balance rail pins – The balance rail pins are what each key lever balances on when the key is pressed to activate the hammer. These rail pins can rust and corrode over time.
  • Front rail pins – The front rail pins are located at the front of the key bed and hold the key in position at the front. These rail pins can also rust and corrode over time.
  • Key bushings – Each of the key levers has a hole that fits over the balance and front rail pins. Around these holes is a piano felt which can compress and wear down over time.
  • Capstans – The capstan is the cap that is screwed into the key lever in the back to connect the lever with the action. It can oxidize over time and cause friction between the lever and the action.
  • Key buttons – Each of the key levers has a small button glued into place that help balance the rail pin. These can easily become damaged over time.

If your piano isn’t playing the way it used to and you know your keys are at least part of the problem, the best place to start is by talking with a quality piano restoration company. In many cases we see people attempting to fix problems with piano keys themselves, or trusting the work to someone that is anything but professional, and it shows in the finished results.

Your piano keys bring life to your music. Without properly functioning keys, your music will never be up to par. If you have questions about your piano keys, 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

Piano Problems? You May Need Properly Bushed Keys

Piano Problems? You May Need Properly Bushed Keys

The last time a piano technician came into your home to tune your piano, did you hear him mention your piano keys may need rebushing? What are properly bushed keys? And why is it important to the overall playability of your piano?

Properly bushed keys provide the foundation for accurate key leveling and spacing, and create a more solid and secure feel to the action of the keyboard.Piano Problems? You May Need Properly Bushed Keys

Each key on a piano is held in place by two pins. The balance rail pin is near the center of the length of the key, and the front rail pin is at the front. There is a hole near both sections in which the rail pins fit into place. Each of these holes is bushed with a thin layer of felt.

When the piano is new, the bushings are loose enough to allow the key to move freely up and down, yet tight enough so that the keys don’t slip back and forth.

With a lot of play and repetition, the felt bushings become worn and compressed. You may start to feel the wiggle from side to side as you play, and may even knock together with neighboring keys. As a long time player, this can be more than a little disconcerting. But to a new player, this can eliminate the desire to play.

There is a proper way to fix worn key bushings and replace them altogether. This must be done with precision, as the work is delicate and misplaced bushings can drastically impact the sound of the piano.

Each felt bushing must be steamed and lifted out.

Next, the right thickness of felt must be created to assure a proper fit. The felt is held in place with special cauls and hot hide glue, while the edges are carefully trimmed to prevent them from poking up and disturbing the fit of the key.

After the glue is dried, the cauls are removed and keys are put back into place. If the rebushing was performed correctly, little adjustment is needed to get the piano back into proper working order.

Have a question about the playability of your piano? 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

Do The Felt Hammers On Your Piano Need Recontouring?

Do The Felt Hammers On Your Piano Need Recontouring?

Every time you play a note on your piano, the felt hammer depresses down onto the string, striking it to create sound. This happens over and over again as your fingers run across the keyboard pressing down note after note.Do The Felt Hammers On Your Piano Need Recontouring?

In all pianos, vertical and grand, the felt hammers become grooved over time from this action. As they strike against the string, it compresses the felt just a little. Over time, this can begin impacting the sound your piano makes.

If your piano is rarely played, this process may take decades. If your piano is heavily played, it may take a few years. And if your piano is used daily in a practice room at a music school, for instance, the time frame may shorten considerably.

When hammers are new, only a very small area of the hammer is striking the strings. As the grooves begin to wear into the felt, a half inch or more of the face of the hammer may be striking the string every time it is played. This can cause a harsh and uneven tone.

If you open up your piano and look down at the hammers, you will notice the grooves in the felt, with almost a dirty or heavily worn look to them. The hammers should not be fixed so they look “clean”. Cleaning the felt will not fix the problem. Some attempt to take off a thin layer with a dremel tool to fix the problem, yet this is largely a cosmetic fix that will not impact the overall tonal quality. Others have even attempted to clean the felt with soap and water; this only risks further damage to your piano.

An experienced piano technician can recontour the hammers, restoring them back to original shape. The hammers are “filed” in such a manner as to take off very thin layers of the felt until no string grooves remain. This allows the original curve of the hammer to once again take place.

Keep in mind that the felt hammers can only last so long, even with regular maintenance and recontouring as needed. Eventually the hammers must be replaced.


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

5 Signs Your Piano Needs Refurbishing

5 Signs Your Piano Needs Refurbishing

Some projects are perfect for the do it yourselfer. Some projects aren’t.

Changing the color of the walls of your family room is a perfect do it yourself project; grab a bucket of paint and go. But when it comes to refurbishing the piano that takes center stage in your family room, it’s best left to the hands of a true professional.5 Signs Your Piano Needs Refurbishing

Start with the keys

The easiest place to start when checking the condition of a piano is with the keys. The keys should be played one at a time listening to them closely. The tuning may be off, meaning you might not hear a quality pitch as we walk from note to note. Listen beyond for buzzing sounds or harsh multi-tones even when you’re pressing just one key. Also pay attention if a key creates no sound at all, which could be a sign of further internal damage.

Test the pedals

When you press down on a pedal and find it non-responsive, it can be an indication of a bigger problem. Many people ignore the pedals, with little intention of using them in the first place. Check them anyway as it can be an indication of larger problems inside.

Inspect the hammers for wear

Each hammer within the piano is covered in felt. Timbre is achieved when the hammerhead felt strikes the strings and produces the desired note. Worn felt reduces both timbre and tone. Make sure felt is intact and wood does not show through. Also keep in mind that felt is attached to the hammers through pressure, not through glue. In many cases it can be easy to spot a do it yourself attempt to improve the quality, which can actually work against you.

Examine the bridge and pinblock

The bridge is the wooden piece between the soundboard and the hammers. It helps keep the piano in tune. This wooden piece should not be out of position, warped or cracked. The pinblock holds each string ensemble in place with tuning pins. Likewise, the pinblock must not be cracked or warped, and the tuning pins should be tight. Piano strings are attached in groups of two or three, and if the pinblock is damaged, the piano will remain out of tune. If you see signs of rust anywhere, it probably is a result of water damage and may be beyond repair.

Inspect the soundboard

The soundboard is the foundation of the piano. If the soundboard is cracked, warped or damaged, the rods will not move correctly, and the hammers and felts will work improperly, producing the wrong sound or no sound at all.

One of the worse sounds for people to hear is an incorrect note on a piano. But that is not a true indication of a problem with a piano. If damage is at a minimal, and the note is merely out of tune, piano refurbishing can be an easy process. It may be as simple as tuning and replacing a few worn parts. The only way to determine for sure the true potential of the piano in question is to start by having a professional evaluate the piano.

Have questions? 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

Caring For The Finish On Your Piano

Caring For The Finish On Your Piano

A piano brings a lifetime of enjoyment to any home. But if you are ready to purchase your first piano, as with any investment, taking care of it from the beginning will ensure you lifelong quality and workmanship.

Today’s pianos are finished with a variety of materials, from lacquer to modern polyurethanes and polyester resins. A piano’s finish is designed to protect the wood from dirt and spills, as well as reduce damage from every day circumstances, such as humidity changes within the room.Caring For The Finish On Your Piano

Piano finishes are designed to protect the piano without the need of polishes or waxes, and in fact are best protected with simple maintenance.

Avoid finish damage to your piano

Your piano’s cabinet is made out of wood, and like all wood, it is subject to expansion and contraction as humidity changes. With extreme variations, the wood will begin to develop tiny cracks and even begin separating in certain areas. Locate the piano in a stable area of your home, away from direct sunlight, and away from drafts, dampness or heat sources. Also avoid placing anything on the piano which can lead to scratches, or can spill liquid onto the finish, such as a plant or a drink.

Regular dusting

Rubbing dust across your piano can instantly cause scratches. Use a feather duster or a damp cloth to pick up dust without the impact of scratching. Choose a cloth made of soft cotton rather than a harsher material, such as a synthetic fabric. Also make sure you wipe any moisture immediately, as moisture can quickly get into the grains and start the damage process.

Cleaning the piano finish

Occasionally you may find smudges or fingerprints on the finish. If a damp cloth doesn’t remove it, you can dampen your cloth with a mild soap solution. Never use traditional furniture polishes or lemon oils claiming to protect wood finishes. They offer no protection from scratching and can actually soften the finish over time. They also contain silicone and oils that contaminate the wood, leaving it vulnerable to extensive damage.

Cleaning the piano keys

Piano keys often become soiled from oil and dirt on fingertips. To clean the keys, use a soft cloth dampened with water and a mild soap. Make sure the cloth is wrung out, and is damp, not wet. Wipe the keys from back to front rather than side to side to avoid moisture falling between the keys. Clean only a few keys at a time, drying them immediately with a dry cloth.

Have any more questions about cleaning your piano? Give us a call. We’d be happy to advise you on how to protect your investment for years to come.


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 It Worth Repairing My Piano?

Is It Worth Repairing My Piano?

“I have an old piano handed down to me from my parents. I haven’t played since I was a kid, but now that I’m nearing retirement I’m thinking of picking it up again. It’s been in storage for years, so I know it will need a little work before I can bring it into my home and play it. I know after a little research that the piano market isn’t what it used to be. Should I spend the money to repair my piano? Should I just buy a used one?”

Great question; it’s actually one of our most popular.Is It Worth Repairing My Piano?

A lot of people have old pianos handed down from parents, grandparents, or other relatives and at some point decide they would love to pick up piano playing again. The only thing is if you’ve ever played a piano that’s sat for years with no repair and no maintenance, you’ll quickly discover it doesn’t play quite the way you would like it to. The notes sound a little tinny. The scales seem to be a little off.

A piano is a living, breathing instrument made up of wood, wire, and other materials that gradually break down even in the best of conditions. And as those changes occur, a trained technician knows what to look for, how to correct the problem, and how to bring it back to proper working condition.

But when something breaks down and it isn’t repaired, the deterioration continues to occur. Over time, small problems can become big problems, requiring more work to bring it up to par.

One of the things you mentioned is buying a used instead of repairing your own. That’s an option, but only if you know where the used piano has been. If you purchase a used piano from a friend or from an ad on the Internet, your chances of purchasing a piano in worse condition than the one you own is likely. After all, you know where your piano has been for years; you have no idea where the one you are buying has sat. If you buy from a reputable dealer, you will know its in the best playing condition possible. Anything else may give you more headache than enjoyment.

The second question you asked was whether it was worth repairing your piano. Without knowing the brand or seeing the piano, its difficult to say. But in most cases, repairing a piano to playing condition is a doable option. Does it have sentimental value? If it sat in your grandmothers and parents home for years, it may be an antique you will treasure for years to come. And if it’s a well-known brand, it may actually increase in value and hold its investment by making the repairs necessary to bring it back to playing condition.

If you would like to find out more, the best way to move forward is to have one of our technicians see the piano and help you make the final decision.


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