The Art of Restoring Old Pianos to Their Former Glory

The Art of Restoring Old Pianos to Their Former Glory

Looking for a piano? A quick search online will lead you in many directions. Should you buy new? Should you look for “deals” on Craigslist? Or should you restore the old piano you found in your grandmother’s basement? 

It may surprise you that restoring old pianos might be the way to go. 

Nothing beats the beauty and sound of a well-made piano. For some players, a piano is more than an instrument; it’s a part of their life. 

If you’ve found the “perfect” instrument, and it happens to be an antique from decades ago, don’t fret. There is an art to restoring old pianos and ensuring they sound even better than some new ones. Restoration requires skill, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. It might just lead you to the “perfect” piano to suit your needs. 

Where do you start?

Not every piano is worth restoring. But how do you know? The first step is to assess a piano’s condition. A professional piano restoration technician will carefully examine the instrument, looking for any signs of wear and tear, such as cracks in the soundboard, worn hammers, or broken strings. They’ll also check if it’s in tune and listen to the sound quality. Once they’ve assessed the piano’s condition, they can provide a better estimate of what it will take to restore it.

Look good inside and out

Sound quality might be the most important item to restore on an old piano, yet many start with how it looks. If the piano’s veneer is damaged or has lost its luster, it’s time to refinish it. Refinishing involves removing the old finish, lightly sanding the wood, and applying a new finish. A professional will always match the original finish as closely as possible, ensuring that the piano’s aesthetic value is restored.

Let’s talk parts

Sometimes, piano parts can become damaged beyond repair. Strings can break, hammers can wear down, or the pedals can weaken. Replacing these parts can be time-consuming, but it’s necessary to restore the piano’s looks, sound, and feel. A skilled piano technician can replace these parts with high-quality materials, restoring the piano to its original quality.

How does it sound?

Regulation and tuning are also essential parts of piano restoration. A technician will regulate the action, adjusting the internal mechanism that connects the keys to the hammers. This ensures the keys have the proper amount of resistance and provide the correct level of expression. 

From there, they’ll adjust the tension of the piano strings, ensuring that the piano is in tune and sounds great. Voicing is the process of adjusting the tone of the piano to ensure it sounds its best. It involves making adjustments to the hammers and strings to change the volume and tone of each note. This process requires the ear of a skilled technician to make sure that each note sounds exactly as it should.

Is it worth restoring old pianos?

Yes! Whether an old piano has sentimental value, or you’re looking to bring back life in a piano you’ve had for years, restoration may be the way to go. 

Restoring an old piano takes patience, skill, and craftsmanship. It’s not a job for amateurs or DIYers, as piano restoration requires years of training and experience to do it justice. That said, there’s nothing quite like bringing an old piano back to life and hearing it sing again. 

If you’re a piano player with an old piano that needs a little love, don’t hesitate to seek out a professional piano restoration technician and let them restore your piano to its former glory. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.

Should I Think About Repairing an Old Piano?

Should I Think About Repairing an Old Piano?

While it’s sometimes nice to get new things, other times something old and familiar is much more appealing. 

Your piano has sat in your living room for years. Or maybe you grew up playing it – you remember your grandmother sitting down to play. While it may not be considered an antique by others, it has sentimental value, and you have no intention of trading it in for something new. 

But it doesn’t play the way it used to. When you sit down at the piano and run through your scales, you can hear notes that just aren’t quite right. It’s noticeable, and it’s getting worse. 

Should you consider repairing your old piano? 

Yes!

If your piano has sentimental value, fixing it up and making it playable again will keep the memories alive. We all have personal assets in our homes that remind us of people and places that were important in our lives. If you remember singing Christmas carols with the family, or learning to play when you were a child, renovating the piano is a great way to keep an important part of your life close by. 

Or maybe you have young children now, and you’re considering afterschool activities. Sports or the arts? While sports encourage teamwork and provide a workout, the arts feature learning that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment. Music is a gift that keeps on giving – it improves IQ, helps with memory skills, and encourages lifelong learning. 

Are you considering repairing your old piano? 

Before you take the next step, inspect the piano inside and out. Does it have cosmetic damage? Are keys broken? Does each key create a sound? By looking at the piano, you can quickly determine how much care or neglect it’s had over the last few years. A neglected piano will take more time and repair to bring it back to working condition. A poor quality piano may not be worth repairing. 

How do you know? 

If it’s important to you, it’s worth the time to talk with an expert about the possibilities of restoration and repair. 

Give us a call today. We can help you determine the right path for you, whether it’s repairing your existing piano, or investing in a new one. 

How Long Does It Take To Rebuild A Piano?

How Long Does It Take To Rebuild A Piano?

Have you discovered an old friend in your living room? Has your piano shined in a new light thanks to the recent stay-in-place orders? 

Many families have rediscovered the joy of learning a new craft, and piano offers lifelong benefits. 

Still, you might also have discovered that your piano is no longer perfect. It hasn’t been tuned in a while. Even the finish is a bit off. It’s a family heirloom, it once sat in your grandmother’s home. You’d love to make it the center of attention once again. 

But should you rebuild it? How long does it take to rebuild a piano?

The answer is: it depends. 

In most cases, it will take months from beginning to end. 

To rebuild a piano means bringing your current piano back up to playable condition. Will it take a new key set, or will a few repairs to the old ones do? Will the soundboard need to be replaced? How about the details that make your piano stand out?

If you replace parts with new ones, those projects can be completed in a shorter time frame. If your piano requires fixing parts already in place, that could extend how long it takes. 

Each piece is evaluated for its playability. Each part is either rebuilt or replaced. And slowly, your piano is built back up to a playable condition. 

This is about refinement. When you get your rebuilt piano back, it will be like it’s brand new. 

If you have a piano you’re thinking of rebuilding, to keep it in the family and continue to play it, the best place to start is with a phone call. We can ask you a few questions to start the process. 

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?