Rebuilding Your Family’s Piano
We feature a unique approach to rebuilding pianos. Of course, we have fantastic technicians with decades of experience. Still, a proper rebuild is the result of having qualified craftsmen, using the highest quality materials and doing the work in the proper environment. Each rebuilding job is different, so the process begins with a thorough inspection of your piano so that we can help you understand exactly what needs to be repaired and what should not be disturbed.
For more information about properly rebuilding your piano, contact Ben Garber.
What goes into rebuilding a piano?
A piano that has been properly rebuilt may offer performance close to that of a new piano. Proper rebuilding is an involved, exacting process that should be done by qualified technicians in controlled facilities. It should take about six months and it is not an inexpensive undertaking.
Rebuilding is required when the pinblock dries out and constricts, causing the tuning pins to become loose. At this point, the piano will no longer hold a tune. The only permanent repair for this condition is to replace the pinblock. If the plate hasn’t been removed, the piano hasn’t been rebuilt.
Other repairs, such as to the soundboard and bridges, can be done while the plate is removed. The plate and soundboard can also be refinished while the plate is out of the piano. It is usually a good idea to refinish the piano’s case at the same time, however, a piano does not have to be refinished to be considered rebuilt.
Note: A “rebuilt” piano has had – at minimum – a new pinblock and strings installed. However, there is no legal definition of “rebuilt.” Most pianos sold as “rebuilt” have old pinblocks. Only a qualified technician can tell for certain if a piano has been properly rebuilt.
When the plate is removed, the action (key and hammer assembly) is also removed. Actions do not always need to be rebuilt at the same time as the “belly,” and often only action regulation (adjustment) is required. Hammers may need to be completely replaced or only voiced. Complete action rebuilding involves replacing and calibrating thousands of intricate parts. The older the piano, the more likely the action will need replacing.
A piano that has been completely and properly (including action) rebuilt and refinished is likely to cost as much as a new piano. While most large cities have only one or two qualified piano rebuilders, it is important to be aware of the capabilities of your technician.
Rebuilt Piano Tips:
- Always see an example of a rebuilder’s work first hand before trusting them with your piano.
- Avoid rebuilders with “special methods” or who are evasive about answering questions about the parts being used.
- Never trust your piano to a rebuilder from the Internet.
- If someone tells you a piano has been rebuilt, ask a lot of questions. Before putting any money down, ask to see the packing lists for all parts that were replaced.
- It never makes economic sense to rebuild upright pianos.
- Beware of stores that claim to ‘specialize’ in rebuilt pianos or have more than a few of them around.
- Good rebuilt pianos are never sold online or on auction sites. The best rebuilders will only take select pianos to rebuild and will always want to sell them in the town where they do business.
- If it doesn’t say Steinway & Sons (or a very short list of other names) on the plate, the piano is not worth rebuilding.
We’ve only skimmed the surface of a very complex topic. Feel free to ask any other questions you have on the topic and we’ll be happy to respond.