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? 

Piano Key Repair and Restoration

Piano Key Repair and Restoration

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

Your piano keys.

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

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

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


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

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

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