Effective Piano Maintenance

Effective Piano Maintenance

Whether you are brand new to playing the piano, or have been playing for years, there is an advantage to understand the fundamentals of how your piano was constructed and the best way to maintain it for optimal results. The more you know, the more you will understand what is truly possible for the way your piano is constructed. It will help you understand when a problem occurs. And it will also help you make wise decisions about tunings, maintenance, repair and restoration.Effective Piano Maintenance

To start, it’s important to speak the same language as any technician who may have access to your piano down the road. For example, piano technicians use a simple numbering system when referring to the keys. The lowest key on a piano is the A in the bass. This key is labeled number 1. From there, each key is numbered in succession until you reach the highest key in the treble, number 88. These keys not only identify the keys themselves, but also the action and parts used to create sound. If you have a problem with a range, you can easily identify it by number when talking with a technician, and he will immediately understand.

Piano Tuning

Tuning is the very basic of maintenance required to keep a piano fully functioning. Regular tuning not only keeps a piano up to pitch, but also prevents damage to the instrument. All pianos today are designed to be tuned at A-440. This means the A just above the middle C (number 49) should vibrate at 440 cycles per second. Each of the other keys will then fall into order. Piano strings are under heavy tension, at about 160 pounds per string. If the piano is left untuned, the pitch will gradually drop as the strings loosen. As this happens, key number 49 will no longer play at 440, but will drop rapidly from there. Tuning will prevent this drop from occurring. It will bring not only key 49 back to proper cycle, but the rest of the keys as well.

Piano Cleaning

Just like every piece of furniture in your home, in order to stay in good condition, a piano should be cleaned on a regular basis. While there are some things you can do – keep dust from accumulating on the keyboard and the cabinet – there are other things a technician will do. When your piano is in tune, he will clean the soundboard with a soft cloth. The strings and tuning pins collect dust over time, and it’s important to remove this on a periodic basis. The felt under the keys should also be cleaned periodically. The keys on an upright can be removed without disturbing the action. On a grand, it is necessary to remove the entire playing mechanism for cleaning. This can help keep the keys perform more evenly, and can help with regulation.

Piano Regulation

The proper regulation of the piano action is essential to controlling the keys. It affects both the keyboard and the speed with which a note can be repeated. When the keys are regulated, they should be perfectly even. This is most easily seen with the white keys, where all are perfectly aligned. A well regulated keyboard is slanted slightly away from the performer when the keys are at rest. When they are depressed, the should slant slightly towards the performer. This action should occur with every movement made, while at no time allowing a pianists fingers to touch the white keys when the black keys are depressed.

Piano Voicing

For a piano to have good tone, it must have a well regulated action, perfect tuning, and hammers that are properly shaped and voiced. The hammers become grooved with use. As the groves deepen and continue to form, the tone of the piano is impacted. Hammers are voiced by softening or hardening the felt in order to bring back a particular tonal quality. Voicing should leave the felt of all hammers with a certain level of consistency. Tuning and voicing often go hand in hand in making a piano sound its best. The two processes are interdependent. Voicing cannot be done successfully unless the piano is in tune, but even a perfectly tuned piano won’t sound its best if it is not properly voiced. The key to great piano service is to have a technician well versed in both.

Have any additional questions about piano maintenance? 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

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

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

How To Fix Piano Keys

How To Fix Piano Keys

What’s the first sign you have a problem with your piano? Usually it starts with the keys.

One of the most common calls we receive is for us to repair a broken key. Broken keys can mean a variety of things to different people, usually we find a “broken” key usually has one of two problems:

  • When the key is pressed, it won’t come back up
  • When the key is pressed, the note doesn’t play

In either case, fixing the problem could involve a variety of things.

How To Fix Piano Keys

In a newer piano, the most common reason why a key sticks is when the felt bushing binds up against the front rail pin. This will most likely occur during more humid times of the year when the felt swells from the moisture. A piano technician has a tool that can easily compress the felt back into its original shape.

In older pianos, there may be several causes.

  • Sometimes the hammers are too close together and rub against one another, causing a note not to play.
  • Sometimes the hammer shank breaks.
  • Sometimes the key itself can crack at the balance rail hole.

These are all common problems, ones we work with on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that some piano key problems are not problems with the piano at all. In some cases, an animal or a human was involved. I’ve found pencils, toys or other objects inside the piano lying across the backs of the keys. And I’ve found small items wedged between the keys.

While a broken key can signify a variety of things, there’s only one way to tell for sure: get inside the piano and discover where the problem lies. As trained piano technicians, we can fix broken keys, tune your piano so it plays at its optimal pitch, and provide you with full service for all of your piano 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

Can Anyone Repair A Piano?

Can Anyone Repair A Piano?

We’re a nation of do-it-yourselfers. We love tinkering with small projects, fixing things up and saving a little money in the process. Yet in some cases, a little do-it-yourself project can do more harm then good.

Such is the case with a piano. Grand piano owners are advised to leave all repair work to a professional piano technician. And while upright piano owners are advised to seek professional help as well, there are a few things you can learn about the repair process that will help you pinpoint the problem, and make communicating the process easier with the technician who comes in for the repair.Can Anyone Repair A Piano?

Gaining access to piano parts…

With an upright, you can gain access to the working piano parts by opening the top lid and reaching in to undo the clips inside at each end. The top is secured to the back of the bottom lid by two dowels. The bottom panel is removed by swinging back the top catches at each end. Carefully stow the panels away to keep them safe while working inside the piano.

If your piano sounds out of tune…

A piano tuner uses a special tool to properly tune your piano. Without that tool, you cannot tune your piano. If only a note or two sound bad, it could be that one of the three strings of a particular note has gone flat in comparison to the rest.

If your piano has a broken string…

If a string is broken and has cut off sound to other notes, it must be removed by removing the action and identifying where the string is attached to the piano. The string can be removed from the hitch pin where it is connected. However, chances are the string is shared with adjacent strings, making removal even more difficult. Do not cut a string in order to remove it. Any string that is successfully removed should be stowed away until a technician can evaluate the situation.

If a note doesn’t sound…

First determine if it’s the key or the action that is malfunctioning. If the key stays down after it has been pressed, the key is causing the problem. If the key sticks, first check that it is clear of the key slip – the finished piece of wood that runs along the front of the keys. Next check to see that nothing is wedged between the neighboring keys. It is common for crumbs, dust, or other debris to accumulate and cause sticking problems. To access the key, the key slip can be removed either by removing screws or pins at either end of the key slip. Removing the key can reveal the cause of the problem, and give you access to be able to thoroughly clean between the keys.

If however, the problem lies with the hammer not connecting properly with the string, then the problem is in the action, and a technician will have to be called in to rectify the problem.

If a group of adjacent notes don’t produce sound…

If several adjacent notes do not play, a foreign object may be causing the problem. Even something as simple as a ball point pen can block up to six adjacent keys very effectively. Inspect along the action to see if you can find the blocking object.

Keep in mind that when keys stick, its not for the same reasons that other mechanical items throughout your home stick. You cannot and should not use oil, or silicon sprays such as WD-40 to free sticking parts. It leaves a sticky mess, which is difficult to remove, and can in many cases cause more harm to the piano.

If the soft pedal has no effect…

Check to see if the rods connecting the pedal to the action are intact and adjusted. In the case of the soft pedal, the steel bracket may have become detached from the hammer rail. Older pianos use a piece of leather to connect the two pieces together. If it has come loose, simply regluing the pieces together may solve the problem.

If the pedal squeaks…

As with other noises, try and locate the origin of the problem. Start with where the pedal comes through the opening to the front of the piano. The felt around the inside opening may be worn or missing after continuous play, and may be rubbing against the bare wood. If there is no felt at the opening, you’ve found your problem.

These are just a few of the many things that can cause your piano to not work at its optimal level, therefore reducing its sound quality. If you have questions, contact us for a reputable piano technician to evaluate your piano’s condition, and provide you with results.


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 Rebuilding Is More Than Changing Out The Piano Parts

Why Piano Rebuilding Is More Than Changing Out The Piano Parts

All of a sudden, your piano doesn’t play the way it used to. The notes sound a little off. Songs begin having that out-of-tune pitch that makes you cringe more than enjoy.

So like any good do it yourselfer, you buy a few parts and attempt to fix the problem yourself. But can you really fix a piano yourself? Is it possible?

The answer, of course, is it depends.Why Piano Rebuilding Is More Than Changing Out The Piano Parts

If you happen to get lucky, and find one piece that truly is defective, and replace it in such a way that it improves the sound, then the answer is yes.

Chances are though, this will never be the case.

Piano rebuilding is an art form. Its not merely the act of changing out a few parts to make a better sound. You can’t run down to the local discount store, by a few generic parts and expect your piano to provide you with the quality sound you’ve come to expect.

Because in many cases, it starts with selecting the right parts. There are many different dimensions, and it takes a specialist to recognize and understand the nuances to make the right selection. For example, we always analyze the action to determine the appropriate parts required to maintain and match the action.

We also know that rebuilding can include analyzing and changing out the action, sound board and pin block. It may require resetting the down bearing during the stringing process, which will drastically affect the quality and tone of sound from your piano. It may also include changing the pressure the strings exert on the bridge and sound board.

The bridge – the vertical portion of the soundboard – is a delicate piece made of hardwood with pins in it. The higher the bridge, the more down pressure the string is going to exert on the bridge and the soundboard. This is where sound balance occurs. Its also one of the most important parts of your piano, the part that needs to be carefully analyzed to avoid stress on the crown of the soundboard, therefore inhibiting your piano’s performance.

Rebuilding means making sure all pieces are in proper placement, proper dimensions, proper performance. If its original equipment, its in the best working condition possible. If its new, it’s the perfect match for your piano.

When it comes down to it, piano rebuilding is best performed by someone with training, skills and knowledge. Rebuilding is as much an art form as it is a science. Trust someone with over 50 years of experience in the piano industry. 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

The 3 Rs of Piano Restoration

The 3 Rs of Piano Restoration

“Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.” ~Tom Wilson

When it comes to pianos, unfortunately age isn’t always the best of friends. Even under the best of conditions, as a piano ages, things begin to wear. And once something passes the point of no return, the only way to move forward is to have it fixed.

In the world of pianos, a piano may need one of 3 Rs: repair, reconditioning or rebuilding.The 3 Rs of Piano Restoration

Repair

A piano is typically in need of repair if it has an isolated broken part, such as a broken string or an improperly working pedal. The key is isolated – usually one problem exists and it’s a relatively easy fix to get it back into working order. It doesn’t need work in upgrading the condition as a whole, instead it usually involves one part.

Reconditioning

When a piano is in need of reconditioning, it usually has multiple problems and in general needs upgrading of the whole piano. The key with reconditioning is the piano is usually in a fairly good shape, the parts are still in working order, possibly with problems or defects. Reconditioning involves taking the current piano and making it better, typically by overhauling the existing parts. For instance, an upright piano may need resurfacing of the hammers and twisting the strings for better sound. It may involve a thorough cleaning, regulating the action and tuning of the entire piano. While reconditioning a piano, a few broken parts may be found and repaired, but overall reconditioning is the process of keeping what’s there intact, and making it better.

Rebuilding

Rebuilding is the most complex of the 3 Rs. A piano rebuild is a complete renovation of an existing piano. It may include restringing the piano, replacing the pinblock, or replacing the soundboard. It may include replacing the hammer heads, damper felts or the key bushings. It may include replacing parts of the piano case.

Ideally, rebuilding means putting the piano back into factory new condition, using as many new parts as necessary to return it to original condition. However, the rebuilding process is always a unique process depending on the individual piano itself. If a piano needs restringing, its classified as a rebuild.

To find out exactly what your piano needs to get it into top working order, 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 Tuning and Piano Repair

Piano Tuning and Piano Repair

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive pertains to piano tuning.

A piano is a living, breathing instrument. Over time the sound adjusts based on the conditions around it. Climate, environment, where a piano sits, how often its played, all impact the overall sound quality. And around every six months or so, an adjustment helps keep it in quality condition, creating proper sound for the months ahead.Piano Tuning and Piano Repair

Piano tuning is the process of removing the tuning pins within the piano with a tuning hammer, then setting them to the appropriate tension in order to produce the correct sound.

The action, or the mechanics, of the piano are not regulated or removed during the piano tuning process. The way the piano plays will n0t be chanced. Tuning only refers to bringing the notes back to the correct sound. If the action of the piano had a problem before tuning, it will remain after the process unless repairs are made to correct it.

During the piano tuning process, if a tuner identifies a problem, he will notify the owner of the potential problem either before or during the tuning process. The owner can then decide how to proceed in order to bring the piano back up to full working condition.

Typically, a normal piano tuning process can help maintain a piano’s sound quality if it is tuned about every six months.

If a piano hasn’t been tuned in a year or two, or undergoes dramatic environmental changes between tunings, a tuner will typically perform a “pitch raise”, essentially a double tuning in order to bring a piano back to working condition.

If a piano hasn’t been tuned in years, before you schedule a piano tuning session, it may be wise to have it evaluated first for potential restoration and repair. The evaluator will be able to provide you with detail on how much work it would take to being it back to working order, or give you other options if you desire to have a quality piano in your life.

Have additional questions? The best way to proceed is to give us a call today to schedule the right service for your situation.


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