Repair, Recondition, Rebuild – What’s Your Piano?

Repair, Recondition, Rebuild – What’s Your Piano?

Looking to restore your piano? The words repair, recondition and rebuild are often used in conjunction with the process. While there is no precise definition of these jobs, some may contain elements of more than one. It’s therefore very important that you ask questions to determine the type of restoration work done on your piano or the one you are considering for purchase.Repair, Recondition, Rebuild – What’s Your Piano?

Repair usually refers to fixing broken parts, such as a broken hammer, an improperly working pedal, or a broken string. Repair may not involve upgrading the condition of the instrument, rather it fixes a specific part on the piano and brings it back into working condition.

Reconditioning involves upgrading the entire piano, but with as little replacement of parts as possible. To recondition an upright might include resurfacing the hammer felt, and twisting the strings to improve the tone. However, the term reconditioning can vary greatly between technicians. Some would consider partial replacement of hammers, strings or tuning pins to be reconditioning, while others would look at that as a partial rebuild.

Rebuilding is considered the most complete of all levels. Rebuilding means putting the piano back to “like new” condition. Restringing the piano, replacing the pinblock, as well as repairing or replacing the soundboard would all be a part of a rebuild. Replacing hammer heads, damper felts, and key bushings would also be a part of a rebuild. It could also include refinishing the wood casing.

There is crossover between the terms all the time. There is no substitute for requesting a detailed description of all work done on a piano before you except work performed.

If you are considering purchasing a rebuilt piano, the rebuilder’s experience should be one of the main deciding factors. Keep in mind that the skills required for rebuilding a soundboard may be different from those installing a new set of hammers. Mastering each skill associated with the internal workings of a piano can take years.

Many rebuilders rely on a variety of technicians to complete a job. They may contract out portions to different people that have special expertise. Collaboration is often the best way to recreate a piano’s original sound from the ground up. But make sure you know whom your are contracting work from and who will be responsible for correcting problems should they arise.