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 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 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. 


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. 

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. 

Choosing Piano Restoration In Memphis Tennessee

Choosing Piano Restoration In Memphis Tennessee

“I have a piano handed down from my grandma. I learned how to play on it, and now I’m hoping my kids will learn on it too. We’re moving to a new home here in Memphis Tennessee, and I would like to have the piano restored so it looks and sounds great in the main family room where it will be on display. How do I choose the right piano restoration company?”

We speak with many piano players in situations similar to this. And with good reason. When you have a piano that’s been in the family for years, and you want to breathe new life into it for the next generation, questions will arise.

That’s where reputation comes into play.Choosing Piano Restoration In Memphis Tennessee

Before you think about hiring a piano restoration company, start by talking with someone you can trust. We’ve been in business since 1960, and have worked with piano owners from all over the world. The best place to start is with someone who knows pianos well, and has made it a part of their lives for decades.

The first thing a piano restoration company will do is to determine the value of the piano and the probability of it being restored. If its been in your home and well taken care of over the years, there is usually no problem with the possibility of restoring it. Where pianos begin to fail is with years of neglect, often in storage or a garage where the elements can get to it. Once water seeps into a piano, its usually too late for the restoration process. But if it has been well cared for, restoration will only improve its current condition.

When it comes to piano restoration, there are three approaches to the project, depending on the level of repair your piano needs: repair, reconditioning, or rebuilding. Each has a separate process and a different level of investment; we can help you determine how much work your piano will need to return to its prior beauty. Checkout or piano restoration here.

If you are from Memphis Tennessee, the advantage of working with someone from Memphis Tennessee is you’ll have a resource you can rely on right in your own home town. Of course we’ve helped people with their restoration projects throughout the country, and take pride in every job we do. When you want to bring your piano back to life, the most important part of the project is finding the right person for the job. And with decades of experience, we’re happy to give you our approach to the project, and help you make the decision that is right for you.

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


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.


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 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.

Piano Restoration Is It A Do It Yourself Project?

Piano Restoration Is It A Do It Yourself Project?

I have a family friend who is downsizing and asked if I wanted their old piano. Its been down in their basement in storage for years and hasn’t been played or tuned during that timeframe. I have young kids that I would love to have learn to play, and this seems like a great way of getting a piano for them. Should I do it? Can I clean it up and make it playable on my own, or should I hire a professional piano restoration team instead. I played piano myself as a child, but that’s been years and I’m not sure I have what it takes to make this a do it yourself project and make the piano functional as well.

Some things are easy do it yourself projects. And some things aren’t. Piano restoration falls into the latter category. Here’s why.Piano Restoration Is It A Do It Yourself Project?

First of all, a piano has many different parts, each that have to be in good working order for it to be a playable instrument. Sure, you can play a piano even if its wildly out of tune, but will you have an enjoyable experience when nothing sounds quite right to your ear? Its hard for anyone to learn or appreciate music in that situation.

The first determination is to find out what works and what doesn’t. Soundboards tend to dry out, shrink and crack as they age, especially if they are in an environment they aren’t well suited for and has varying temperatures and humidity levels throughout the year. Keys can be worn, strings can be broken or missing, rust can be set in place, glue joints can be coming apart. In short, there are many things that may be wrong, and if you don’t have the knowledge or skill to look for the underlying problem, fixing it is an impossibility.

Your first hurdle is often the moving process. It isn’t like a chair or table you can pick up and put in the back of a pickup truck and drive back to your home. Depending on the size of the piano, you could do serious damage to the piano or even to you, the movers, if you attempt it on your own. Piano movers are always recommended as they have the experience to get it safely from one location to the other.

Piano restoration can be something as simple as restoring the case in which the piano resides, to something complex like restoring the entire piano, inside and out. Cost varies depending on the amount of work that needs to be done, and the type and style of piano we’re working with. The only way to truly know what work needs to be performed is to view the piano itself.

Would your family friend be open to having a piano restoration consultant come out and look at the piano before you consider the move? It’s the only way to determine what value the piano holds for you and your family.

Piano Restoration: What If My Piano Has Ivory Keys?

Piano Restoration: What If My Piano Has Ivory Keys?

I’ve been contemplating piano restoration for a long time now. I have an antique piano dating back to my grandmother. The problem is I know it has ivory keys. If I bring it in for restoration, what will happen to the ivory? I know ivory isn’t used anymore, but I would like my piano to remain as original as possible.

We get questions like this all the time. And the topic of ivory keys is a hot topic when it comes to pianos.

First of all, lets talk about ivory and how you can tell if its real.

As a part of the endangered species act, buying or selling ivory is illegal. Ivory comes from the tusks of elephants or in some cases walrus, and is taken in illegal, and often brutal ways.

Most pianos made up until 1956 used a thin covering ivory veneer over the top of the wooden key. Keys are not solid ivory.

Pianos built after this time will not have ivory on them.

To tell if your keys are made from real ivory, you can perform a simple test. Heat a needle with a flame from a lighter or candle. Stick the heated end into the key. If it melts into the key, its plastic; if it doesn’t go in, its ivory.piano-restoration-what-if-my-piano-has-ivory-keys

Ivory keys are almost always made up of the front, the head and the tail. If you shine a light at an angle across the keys, you will see a thin parting seam between the head and the tail with a wood-like grain to it. Ivory becomes rough when soiled, which suits many pianists because they don’t like to play on slippery keys.

If you have ivory keys, they really don’t have much value because of the legality issues. If your piano has ivory keys, it is important that you have CITES paperwork that proves what type of animal and scientific name of the animal used, as well as age, what date and what manufacturer was used in production. You can request a permit directly from the US Fish and Game Department if you plan on selling, or will be moving across state lines. If you can’t prove it, your piano could face a fine or confiscation by the US Fish and Game Department.

If you are debating about the best way to approach restoration, you have two options. If your keys are in good shape and you have the proper paperwork, they can remain intact. If they need to be replaced, we can replace them with simulated ivory or plastic key covers that provide you with a new look and feel to your treasured piano.

Have more questions? We would be happy to answer all of them, and show you how your antique piano can become a beautiful addition to your home once more.

Piano Restoration, Rebuilding and Reconditioning: Know What You Are Getting

Piano Restoration, Rebuilding and Reconditioning: Know What You Are Getting

Maybe your piano hasn’t been serviced in years. Maybe you’ve inherited your piano from a friend and you simply don’t know what condition its in. Is it worth saving? Is it worth investing the time and money necessary to bring it back to good working condition?

Piano Restoration, Rebuilding and Reconditioning: Know What You Are GettingIn the piano restoration world, the term “restoration” means a lot of things to different people. And just like every industry, “reputable” isn’t always in a persons vocabulary either, even though they are promoting themselves as a piano servicing company.

The best way to get what you paid for is to learn what you can before you hire someone, and ask as many questions along the way to ensure you piano received the treatment it needs.


The term reconditioning when it comes to a piano means improving what is already there. A piano that has moderate wear or one in the medium price range can almost always benefit from a reconditioning.

With a reconditioning, the piano is cleaned, repaired, and adjusted for best performance, and will only have parts replaced when absolutely necessary. It is not designed to improve the life span of an older piano, and will not improve overall sound quality above what the piano was capable of in the first place.


With a piano rebuild, the piano will be disassembled, inspected and repaired as necessary. All worn, damaged or deteriorated parts will be replaced. The piano is then rebuilt, tested and adjusted to the same or similar tolerances as a new piano.

A complete rebuild includes the entire piano’s structure, including soundboard, bridges, pinblock and strings, as well as the keyboard, action and case refinishing.

A partial rebuild includes only one or two of these areas: for example, it may include rebuilding the structure and the action, but not the refinishing.


Restoration is the catchall phrase many restores use within the industry. In most cases, restoration can include all of the above. Which is why it is important to talk with the person you are considering hiring, and make sure you understand exactly the service you will receive.

A reputable piano dealer and restoration service will welcome your questions and provide you with as much detail as you need to feel comfortable with the process.

What Does Piano Restoration Really Mean?

What Does Piano Restoration Really Mean?

Do you have an old piano sitting in your basement untouched? Would you love to bring it out into the open and enjoy it? Is piano restoration something you could easily do and add a whole new dimension to your entertainment area?

If it is an antique piano, chances are good that it could benefit from a restoration. But how do you know for sure? What does piano restoration really mean, anyway?

What Does Piano Restoration Really Mean?Piano restoration involves two things: the rebuilding of the internal parts as well as cosmetically enhancing the outside. The term “restored” refers to professional internal and external restoration and rebuilding. In some cases a previous owner may have taken on the project themselves, cosmetically enhancing the look. This, however, isn’t restoration. Restoration means focusing in on making the inside and outside look and sound its best.

Piano restoration takes a lot of patience and attention to detail. Which is why you won’t find a lot of companies willing to offer piano restoration – and why a true piano restoration company is worth the extra investment.

Good piano restoration shops work to preserve what is there and is working, and will purchase or custom make parts to accommodate a piano’s needs. No attention to detail is too great or too small. In some cases a restored antique piano may increase its value by tenfold – so it can be worth the investment if you are willing to put in the time and energy.

The restoration process involves documentation of the original condition of the piano. Yes, a piano has a history, and the more that is known about its history, the more valuable it becomes. Measurements used in the restoration of a piano include the down and up weight of the keys as well as the string height. Next comes belly repair and restoration. The belly is very important to the piano’s function. This is wear the music happens. Then, it’s time for the refinishing process and keyboard restoration.

Are you ready to move your piano up from out of the basement, and give it the attention it deserves? It all starts with a quote for restoration. Give us a call today and we can help you put the music back into your life.