PIANO RESTORATION IS A LONG, METICULOUS, PAINSTAKING PROCESS THAT INVOLVES GREAT TECHNICAL SKILL WITH SUPREME LEVELS OF CRAFTSMANSHIP… with the goal to restore the instrument to its former high level of performance.
One must combine the technology around sound, frequency and vibration with rebuilding the beauty around what many times is the centerpiece of a home, a business or institution. And it is a personal journey for the Master technician and the piano itself for every piano is made differently and needs its own process and touch.
With over 200+ combined years of experience in restoring extraordinary pianos, we understand the entire process and have seen every single possible complication and pitfall… surpassing every possible expectation from our customers.
The following is a list of the tasks that might comprise a fairly complete rebuilding of a grand piano. Any particular job may be either more or less extensive than shown here, depending on the needs and value of the instrument and other factors, but this list can serve as a guide. See also The Piano Book for information about specific rebuilding issues pertaining to Steinway and Mason & Hamlin pianos.
Notice that the restoration can be divided into three main parts: the soundbox or resonating unit, the action, and the cabinet. The soundbox (also known as the strung backor belly) includes the soundboard, ribs, bridges, strings, pinblock, tuning pins, plate, and the structural parts of the case; the action includes the keyframe and action frame, keys and keytops, hammers, dampers, trapwork, and all other moving action parts; the cabinetincludes cosmetic repair and refinishing of the case and of the nonstructural cabinet parts and hardware. Note that the damper parts that contact the strings are restored with the soundbox, whereas the damper under-lever action is treated with the rest of the action.
There is very little overlap among the three types of work; each of the three parts could be performed alone or at different times, as technical conditions permit and/or financial considerations require. In a typical complete rebuilding job, restoration of the soundbox might comprise 45 percent of the cost, the action 30 percent, and the cabinet 25 percent, though these percentages will vary according to the particulars of the job.
Soundbox or resonating unit
Replace or repair soundboard, refinish, install new soundboard decal (if not replacing soundboard: shim soundboard cracks, reglue ribs as necessary, refinish, install new soundboard decal)
Replace bridges or bridge caps
Replace or ream agraffes, restore capo-bar bearing surface
Refinish plate, paint lettering, replace understring felts
Replace strings and tuning pins, tune to pitch
Replace damper felts, refinish damper heads, regulate dampers
Replace hammers, shanks, and flanges
Replace or overhaul wippen/repetition assemblies
Replace front-rail key bushings
Replace balance-rail key bushings or key buttons
Replace or clean keytops
Replace key-end felts
Clean and refelt keyframe
Replace let-off felts or buttons
Clean and, if necessary, repair action frame
Regulate action, voice
Overhaul or replace damper underlever action and damper guide rail
Overhaul pedal lyre and trapwork, regulate
Repair music desk, legs, other cabinet parts, as needed
Repair loose or missing veneer
Strip and refinish exterior; refinish bench to match piano
Buff and lacquer solid-brass hardware, replate plated hardware