THINGS YOU MUST KNOW
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While the piano is now celebrating some three hundred years on the planet, the piano, as we know it today, took its present form in the mid 1800's. There have been many patents and improvements in touch, tone quality and repetition since then, but the basic structure of the instrument has gone almost unchanged in the last one hundred and fifty years. This is important because the person who is going to restore your grandmother's piano must have a thorough understanding of the methods and materials used during the past century and a half. A novice, though highly trained in 21st Century techniques, is going to be in serious trouble trying to restore your fine old family piano or pump organ.
Antique pianos and organs were made from the best hardwoods, including fine veneers from South America for the cabinets, Sitka Spruce from Alaska for soundboards, Beech and Maple for bridges and pin blocks, fine Ebony for keytops and many other woods that are now enormously expensive, and in some cases hard to find. It is important to note that even in these modern times, very fine quality wood is available to build new pianos. But you will need to spend from $15,000, upwards to $100,000, to get the kind of quality, which was common in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, in a piano made today. In addition all those fine woods used in older pianos are actually glued together with melted animal hide, and the restorer must take great care to insure the integrity of the hundreds of glue joints all over the instrument. Likewise removal of the old finish, sanding the wood surfaces and applications of toner and finish requires special care and experience. But the finish and appearance is not the entire story.
The soundboard, which is almost as large as your entire piano, is only three-eights of an inch thick and is crowned towards the strings. The 235 to 250 piano wires generate twenty to forty tons of pull across the cast iron frame and a great deal of pressure is exerted down onto the soundboard. Improper service, or even a poor tuning job, can cause distortions in your soundboard that will ultimately destroy the tone of the piano forever. If your piano needs new strings, soundboard repairs or refinishing, you need someone who has done this hundreds of times.
Last, but not least, the piano action contains thousands of small pins, which hold all the moving parts together. There are also hundreds of springs, leather pads, tiny felt bushings, and cushions that make it all work. Leather rots after fifty years, springs suffer metal fatigue and felt simply wears out. Your piano action must be rebuilt with new leather and felt, regulated for touch and movement, lubricated with special lubricants (no oil), and aligned with the piano strings.
As you can see, the restoration of your piano is comprised of three different areas of work. Rebuilding the PIANO ACTION, which contains all the moving parts. RESTRINGING, which means replacement of the old strings, tuning pins, soundboard and bridge repairs, pitch correction and tuning. And CABINET REFINISHING, which does just what it says, restore the cabinet wood finish to its original condition. To achieve the best, you need the best working for you.
ONE MORE piece of information, which may help you with your search to have your fine heirloom piano professionally restored. In checking through various websites, be wary of firms that clam to be the only company in the business who will tell you the truth. There are even some sites, which go to great lengths to make you believe that everyone else out there is telling you lies. In general, if a company must devote pages of text to discrediting others, they are probably the ones who know the least of all. YOU BE THE JUDGE. Look at their pictures and work, read their testimonials, check their references and put nothing more than a token deposit up front, if any is required at all. In most cases, a deposit will only be requested if the piano must be picked up and moved to the restoration shop, as in the case of restringing, refinishing or the need for soundboard repair or replacement. Also, for repairs to the player parts of a player piano, a deposit may be required, as thousands of small valve parts must be custom made, and can't be used on any other instrument once they have been fabricated for your player. For action and key repairs, or work performed in your home, no deposit is usually required by a top, professional restoration expert.
With Action Piano Company, you will receive all your restoration details in writing, before any work is performed. Beyond a minimal deposit, which may be required for piano moving, or a deposit for special work to a player piano you owe us nothing at all, until you are 100% satisfied.
Action Piano Company
Stories of Rebirth