The Journey of Piano Restoration and Preservation

The Journey of Piano Restoration and Preservation

Throughout the centuries, the piano has captivated the hearts of music lovers worldwide. Its elegant design, rich tones, and versatility have made it a beloved instrument for musicians and enthusiasts alike. 

What if you could bring a part of history into your home? 

Piano restoration is a meticulous process that involves bringing an old or damaged piano back to its former glory. It requires a deep understanding of the instrument’s intricate mechanics, as well as skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail. 

Sometimes, a neglected piano is found in a dusty corner of an old attic, forgotten and abandoned. Other times, it may be discovered in an antique shop or through word of mouth. Regardless of how it is found, the first step in the restoration journey is a thorough assessment of the piano’s condition.

A professional piano restorer will carefully examine every aspect of the instrument, from the strings and hammers to the soundboard and cabinet. They will identify any structural issues, such as cracks or loose parts, and determine the extent of the repairs needed. This assessment is crucial in creating a comprehensive restoration plan.

With this in hand, the restoration process can begin. 

The first task often involves disassembling the piano, carefully removing each component to facilitate repairs and cleaning. This stage requires both technical expertise and patience, as even the slightest mistake can significantly impact the final result.

After disassembly, the individual parts are thoroughly cleaned and repaired. This can involve anything from replacing broken strings to reshaping hammers or replacing worn-out felts. Skilled artisans meticulously restore each component to its original condition, ensuring the piano will sound and function as intended.

One of the most critical aspects of piano restoration is the soundboard. Located beneath the strings, the soundboard amplifies the vibrations when the keys are struck, creating the piano’s distinctive sound. If the soundboard is damaged or warped, it can severely impact the quality of the instrument.

Restoring a soundboard is a delicate and complex process. The restorer must carefully assess its condition and determine whether it can be repaired or a new soundboard must be crafted. Creating a new soundboard involves selecting suitable materials, shaping and fitting it precisely, and then tuning it to perfection.

Once the individual components have been restored, it’s time to reassemble the piano. Every piece must be properly aligned and adjusted. The action, which consists of the keys, hammers, and other mechanisms, must be carefully regulated to ensure a smooth and responsive playing experience.

With this completed, the piano undergoes a comprehensive tuning and voicing process. Tuning involves adjusting the tension of the strings to ensure that each note is in perfect harmony. Voicing involves shaping the hammers to achieve the desired tone and dynamic range. This final step brings the piano back to life, ready to enchant audiences once again.

The piano restoration and preservation journey is a testament to the passion and dedication of skilled artisans who strive to revive these magnificent instruments. The result is a beautifully restored instrument that can continue to inspire musicians and bring joy to countless listeners for generations to come.

Do you have a piano in need of restoration? 

Do Restored Pianos Hold Their Value?

Do Restored Pianos Hold Their Value?

When you walk through your home, what are your most valuable pieces? A table that sat in your grandmother’s house? A piano handed down for several generations? 

With certain pianos, restoring them to the grandeur, they once had in time makes sense. Compared to a new one, it can make more sense to restore a piano rather than invest in a new one. You’ll see the value as soon as it’s restored. 

But how do you know? 

During the height of the piano industry, certain piano makers held world-renown status for their craftsmanship and artistry. Countless hours went into production, and for specific brands and manufacturers, the value continues to hold through to today. 

Luxury was attained by using the very best resources possible. Rosewood, mahogany, walnut – some materials that were plentiful have disappeared from production. What made them unique and individual no longer applies to materials today. 

Of course, it’s not just the way a piano looks. The materials used to create the piano’s voice have changed over time too. 

Restoration not only creates a piano that lives up to its past glory, but also ensures it sounds the same. Restorers try to maintain original equipment whenever possible. The inside consists of the:

  • Belly – soundboard, pinblock, strings, plate, etc
  • Action – hammers, shanks, flanges, keys, etc

A complete restoration can take thousands of hours to bring it back as close to its original condition. Time and care are put to work to ensure it meets the quality it once had as a new piano. 

And once it’s fully restored, you’ll have a piano that once again will stand the test of time. It’s an investment for better playing today, and one that will hold its value well into the future. 

Have additional questions about piano restoration? We’re here to help. We’ve helped people for decades purchase, repair, and restore pianos. If you have a question about buying, selling, or restoring a piano, we have the answers. Give us a call today. 

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. 

Piano Key Restoration

Piano Key Restoration

Do you love your piano? Has it been in your family for generations? 

Is it looking a little shabby? Are the keys yellowing, cracked, or missing? Do they sometimes press down and never pop back?

It may be time for a little restoration. 

Key TopsPiano Key Restoration

The first place to start is with the key tops. By replacing the tops, it can add life and charm to your older piano. Keep in mind that if your piano is antique and still has ivory keys, replacement with ivory might not be an option. It is illegal to buy and sell ivory. However, in some cases, a technician might be able to find ivory top keys for a historical restoration. 

Key Bed

While the tops of the keys may be cracked or chipped, the problem might be deeper if your piano doesn’t play correctly. The key bed consists of several different components. During restoration, many things may be repaired or replaced. 

Rail pins – these pins balance each key into place when the hammer is activated

Key bushings – these felt pieces are used within the pin holes to keep fluidity in the action

Capstans – these are the screws that hold the keys into the action

Key buttons – these are pieces of wood glued to the key tops for balancing

For proper key restoration, it requires both quality workmanship to ensure the piano sounds as good as it looks. 

A good restorer will ensure that your piano looks as close to original as possible. They will select proper key materials to ensure a professional look. They will also ensure proper function throughout. That means:

  • The notches of both black and white keys are properly made for a tight fit
  • The key edges are properly cleaned and finished to avoid dirt and buildup from occurring over time
  • The key edges are flush on all sides to avoid dysfunction when the keys are pressed

Are your piano keys in need of a little restoration? 

How Do I Know If My Piano Is Worth Restoring?

How Do I Know If My Piano Is Worth Restoring?

Do you have an old piano that was handed down to you from your parents or grandparents? Is your old piano on display in your living or family room, but doesn’t play the way you wish it would? 

Pianos aren’t just instruments you tuck away and pull out only when you wish to play them. Instead, they can be works of art themselves. Yet when they don’t play correctly, it can be frustrating. 

Pianos are the most complex instrument, with thousands of moving parts to create sound. And as you probably know, if some of those parts aren’t operating correctly, the sound can be anything but soothing. 

Many things can happen over time. 

How Do I Know If My Piano Is Worth Restoring?

interior of a concert grand piano – wide orientation

  • The felt wears away
  • The strings lose tension
  • The strings break
  • The wooden structure cracks
  • The exterior loses its sheen

Can it be fixed?

Most pianos can go years without any major repair. The more you maintain it, the longer it can go before requiring major restoration. But once you start seeing the signs, you’ll have a decision to make. Ask yourself these three questions. 

Is the overall condition of the piano in good shape? If the piano has been subjected to extreme neglect, severe fire or water damage, it may be beyond repair. 

Is the original quality of the piano good enough to restore? Some pianos were simply cheap imitations of the real thing. If it had little value when it was created, no matter how much restoration you do, you’ll never have a quality instrument. 

Will it take more money to repair it than it would cost to replace it? Now maybe the time to invest in something new. 

Only you can decide how much commitment you want to put into restoring an old piano. If you have any questions, we’re here to help. 

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?

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, off-white, 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.

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?