Reconditioning and Rebuilding Your Piano

If replacing noisy parts, regulation, and voicing don't cure your piano's ills, it may need reconditioning or even rebuilding.

Rebuilding

In rebuilding your piano (also called re-manufacturing), the instrument will be completely disassembled and major parts replaced. Generally this includes replacing the soundboard, bridge, pin block, pins, keyboard, strings, trapwork, and action.

Everything will be cleaned. The piano will be completely regulated and voiced. The case will be refinished. (This may or may not include refinishing of the piano bench.)

Rebuilding restores your piano to its original showroom condition.

This is expensive, as you might guess. ($15,000-25,000+, depending on the size of the piano). Your tech may advise you that such an expenditure and effort is not worth it. Ask her candid opinion. If in doubt, call in other techs and pay for theirs.

If you do go ahead, make sure your thoroughly understand what will be done, as there is no "standard list" of rebuilding tasks. Ask for a list of each job to be done and for each item to be replaced, no matter how small.

Just as with a new instrument, a rebuilt instrument will need to settle in during the first year and need touch-up regulation and voicing, as well as regular tunings.

Reconditioning

This is a lesser procedure at a lesser price ($500-2500+).

It involves cleaning, repair, replacement of parts as necessary, plus regulation and voicing. The woodwork of the case may be touched up, but the case will not be refinished. Soundboard, bridge, strings, and pinblock will not be changed.

As with rebuilding, there is no standard definition of reconditioning, so ask what your tech proposes to do in exchange for your money.

Refinishing

Refinishing has to do with the casework.

How long would case refinishing take? Figure about $500 per foot (for a grand piano); probably about $3000 minimum. The bench may be included or may be extra.

Use a real piano refinisher, not a furniture refinisher. (There are horror stories about furniture refinishers and do-it-yourselfers who varnished the soundboard "to make it look prettier.")

Ask a tech for a referral. Ask the refinisher for references.

copyright 1999, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me for reprint permission.


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