Is It Time To Have Your Piano Rebuilt?

Is It Time To Have Your Piano Rebuilt?

You love your piano. It’s been in your family for years. But is it worth it to rebuild it?

If you’ve made the decision to have your piano rebuilt, your first step is to find the right person for the job. We get a lot of calls from people finding out more about the process, because a piano is the one heirloom that can stand the test of time. 

But is it worth it? Will a rebuild help create an instrument you’ll be proud to display and play for years to come? That’s something a technician will dig deep for before they make the final determination. 

Pianos have up to 12,000 parts. And considering pianos can live for decades, eventually, those parts start to wear out. Pianos are also subject to the environment around them. That firestorm that recently ravaged thousands of acres? That hurricane that caused the power to be out for a week? All of that plays into creating the condition of your piano. 

Playing the piano isn’t the only thing that breaks down individual pieces. Even sitting unused for weeks – months – at a time can take its toll on different parts. Wood can dry out and crack. Strings can tighten and rust. 

That’s where piano building comes in. This is a time-consuming process. It’s also expensive. This isn’t something you do with every piano; a high-class restoration project can only make a piano as good as the original foundation it was built on. The piano rebuilding process includes:

Rebuilding the action. That includes the frame, keys, keytops, hammers, underlevers, and other moving parts. This is what gives your piano the touch, sound, and tone. 

Rebuilding the soundbox. This includes the soundboard, bridges, strings, pinblock, tuning pins, damper felts, and other structural parts of the case. A lot of rebuilding projects start when the strings no longer can be tuned. 

Rebuilding the cabinet. This is usually for cosmetic purposes, when the outside finish no longer shines. Refinishing the cabinet is the last part of the process, and one of the most expensive as the refinisher will have to replace wood and hardware to match the original condition. 

Not all pianos are worth rebuilding. That’s because not all pianos are high enough quality to be worth the time and process. It’s not a good investment, as you’ll never recoup the cost it takes to bring it back up to mint condition. 

It’s better just to purchase a new, high quality instrument to get the most playability for your money. 

Will All Piano Dealers Say The Same Thing About Rebuilding a Piano?

Will All Piano Dealers Say The Same Thing About Rebuilding a Piano?

Sometimes the best piano to put on display in your home is one you already have access to. 

“My mom has a piano she’d like to give to me. My kids are old enough to start playing, and I’d love to play again too. It was my grandmother’s before her, so it has a lot of sentimental value. But the keys sometimes stick, the finish is wearing, and depending on what note you hit, it’s wildly out of tune. Is there hope for it? Or should I just buy a new one?”

We get questions like this frequently. We also realize that if you ask a dozen different piano dealers the same question, you’re likely to get a dozen different answers. 

A lot of it stems from what the dealer specializes in. If they’re in business to sell pianos, they are going to push you towards buying new. That’s where they make their money, and they don’t want to lose a sale. 

That’s why it’s in your best interest to do your own research. Talk with a variety of piano specialists. Do you have someone who has tuned the piano before? They are often a great resource for the quality of your piano, and can give you a better idea of what’s possible if you choose to rebuild. 

Also, evaluate the condition of your piano. If it was neglected, how? There’s a big difference between a piano that has sat in the corner untuned for a few years, compared to one that’s been tucked into a basement and has sustained water damage. If it has been subjected to the elements for an extended time period, it probably is beyond repair. 

The best place to start when considering your options is to ask. Then ask again. If you start hearing a similar answer from multiple people, you can use that to determine the right steps to take. 

Have a question about rebuilding your piano? We’re here to help. Give us a call today. 

Understanding The Three R’s of Piano Restoration

Understanding The Three R’s of Piano Restoration

In every industry, it’s important to know the “speak”. It’s the only way you’ll ensure you get the service you desire. 

In the piano industry, for instance, you’ll often hear the term “piano restoration” used quite a bit. But what you may not know is that “piano restoration” can mean a variety of things, depending on the company you’re trying to do business with. The more you know about this process, the greater understanding you’ll have when trying to get the service you desire. 

Let’s say you’re trying to buy a used piano and the owner tells you it’s been reconditioned. What does that mean? Of maybe a dealer offers repair service? What does that entail? 

Keep in mind that there aren’t clear definitions of the concept of piano restoration. But in general, you’ll find three terms used frequently:

Repair

Repair to a piano usually means fixing isolated problems. It might be a key is broken or a string is missing. There aren’t time-consuming fixes that will keep your piano away for weeks. And in most cases, it’s an isolated issue that can be fixed quickly. It doesn’t involve upgrading the condition of the piano as much as it means fixing a specific problem. 

Reconditioning

Reconditioning a piano refers to bringing a piano back to good working condition while leaving the piano intact as much as possible. Instead of replacing parts, they will be reconditioned so they work at their best. Hammers might be resurfaced rather than replaced. Strings will be retwisted to improve their tone. While replacement will be made as a last resort, all items will try and be fixed to keep the piano in its original condition. 

Rebuilding

Of the three levels of restoration, this is the most complicated and time consuming. Rebuilding means bringing the piano back to factory-new condition, no matter what it takes. And in most cases, the work is extensive. 

It can mean replacing hammers and strings. It can mean replacing the soundboard in the action. It can mean replacing damper felts and restringing strings. It all depends on the needs of the instrument and the amount of money available to be spent on the process. It also depends on the worth of the piano – rebuilding it beyond its original value doesn’t make sense. 

Whether you’re buying a used piano, or considering having work performed on your existing piano, knowing the right terms can help you decide the best approach to piano restoration. 

Are There Standards In The Piano Restoration Industry?

Are There Standards In The Piano Restoration Industry?

In many industries, standards and codes exist to ensure technicians in the field meet certain requirements before they can go into business. Plumbers, HVAC, electricians, even mechanics all have standards to protect consumers from unscrupulous behavior. 

Not in the piano restoration industry. If you have the desire to work in the piano restoration industry, all you have to do is open up a business according to state laws, and you can begin marketing your services to the general public immediately. 

There is the Piano Technicians Guild, which is a source of expertise within the piano service and technology fields. To join, you fill out the application and pay a fee. Testing is only required if you choose to earn the Registered Piano Technician accreditation. This means many who choose to use the Piano Technicians Guild logo can do so simply by writing a check. 

Hobbyists often decide to move into the piano restoration industry because it can be very lucrative. Depending on the piano project, it can be worth tens of thousands of dollars to rebuild a piano. 

There are over 12,000 moving parts on a piano, all working together to create sound. That’s a lot of parts!

Now imagine a less than scrupulous piano rebuilder does not have the exact part he’s looking for. Will he make substitutions? 

How will you ever know?

Like any industry, if you want something done the right way, it’s important to do your research before you sign on the dotted line. 

Ask questions before you hire a refurbisher. Do a little research online to determine their reputation. Only hire them after you’re comfortable with their skills. 

It’s the only way you’ll ensure quality throughout the project. 

Is A Piano Ever Beyond Repair?

Is A Piano Ever Beyond Repair?

You love your piano. It’s been in your family for generations. 

Maybe it’s just been passed down to you. You’ve made a special spot in your home for it. You picture your kids learning how to play, or maybe the family gathered around while you sing Christmas carols late into the night. 

Your grandma cared for it. Your mom maintained it the best she could. Now it’s your turn. 

But when you tap a few keys, something isn’t quite right. Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So … and there it is. A note that’s completely out of tune. 

And when you continue up the scales, you hit a note that doesn’t play at all. No sound. Even the key sticks, and needs a little tapping to make it come back up. 

The outside could use a little shining up. It’s scratched. The finish has worn off in places and is reduced to a dull color that’s almost lifeless. 

You had hopes of it taking center stage in your family room. Now you just aren’t sure. No matter how much you love your family heirloom, maybe it would be better if you invested in a new piano. Even some of the local dealers have suggested it. Is it true?

Here’s the thing. You’d be amazed at how many times some dealers tell you the only way to get a high quality piano is to purchase a new one; repairing a piano and refurbishing it back to its original condition isn’t an option. It’s too far gone, they say. 

If a dealer doesn’t also offer refurbishing, a lot of times they’ll push you towards purchasing a new piano because that’s where they make money. They have the best intentions. And to be fair, in some cases, a piano can’t be saved. If it has extensive water damage, for example, it’s probably beyond repair. 

If a piano is well loved, has been in a family for generations, and just needs a little TLC to bring it back to life, it’s possible. 

A new piano sitting on the showroom floor is going to be better than your family heirloom sitting at home, waiting for repair. It will sound better, look better, function better. 

But a piano is rarely beyond repair. With just a little work, it can be restored to all it was. If you have questions about your piano, and what it would take to repair it to create an instrument that looks and sounds brand new, let’s talk. We’re happy to give you a quote and help you discover how to save a piece of history you’ll be proud to play, and act as a caregiver to hand it down to your own kids someday.  

7 Things You Should Know About Piano Restoration

7 Things You Should Know About Piano Restoration

You’ve had your piano in your home for years. It has history. It’s been with you through many years of playing. 

But now you’re thinking about something new – something more better suited for the way you play. Should you buy a new piano? Or should you think about piano restoration? Here are a few things to consider. 

Restoration can be less expensive than new

A lot of clients who consider restoration have a piano with significant value. A Steinway piano, for example, holds its value well over time. It can be far less to work with a restoration team and replace worn out parts and refinish the exterior to look brand new. 

Restoring can add as much as 70 years of life to your piano

Pianos aren’t something that wear out quickly. If you invest in a high-quality piano, it can be with you for decades. That’s why it’s often better to restore a high-quality piano that needs a little work than to try and trade in for the same quality with a new. Restore it once, and it may be with you for life. 

Restoring can change the look

Just because you’re restoring your old piano doesn’t mean it has to stay looking the way it has in the past. One of the easiest things to change is the look. Want a high gloss finish instead of natural wood? Looking for a particular color or stain? Restoring can give you exactly what you want. 

Not all pianos are worth restoring

Some pianos are handmade, others are mass-produced. Depending on the make and model of your piano can help you determine whether it’s worth restoring. Give us a call; it’s the best way to start the process of determining the right step for you. 

The restoration process isn’t the same for every piano

A piano has thousands of parts that work in detail together. Depending on the restoration process needed will determine how long it takes to complete the project. It’s not unheard of for a start-to-finish process to take up to 6 months. 

You will have to hire a mover both ways

It’s important to get your piano to and from the restoration shop in a safe manner. That means hiring a qualified mover to ensure it’s safely delivered from one place to another. We can help you with this too. 

Restoration adds value to your piano

If you already have a high valued piano, restoring it will only increase its value. Proper restoration takes into account the brand, the parts, and restores each piece to its original condition. It reuses existing parts whenever possible. And when it’s finished, your work of art will be even more beautiful. One you’ll be proud to display for many years to come. 

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?

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?

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?

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.