Rebuilding

A great achievement

The piano is a wonderful instrument! It has the capacity for a remarkable range of musical expression. Given its mechanical and structural complexity, it has impressive durability in the face of vigorous use and on-going exposure to climate stress. I regard it as a great, collective achievement of human imagination and craft!

Assessing your piano

A piano’s lifespan is a long one. It may have been new for the owner’s parents or grandparents, or have been through anonymous serial ownership before arriving in its present home. Its deterioration has probably been gradual. Knowledge of what it was when new has been lost to time and memory. A patina of sentiment may overlay one’s perception of its condition and needs.

The decision to rebuild a piano involves assessment of the piano’s condition and of its prospects as a candidate for rebuilding; information about parts, procedures and costs; a good relationship with a rebuilder; and, finally, a judgment that the outcome will give the owner satisfactory value.

Rebuilding

Rebuilding, as the term is generally used by piano technicians, indicates a thorough process. All parts that are not functioning at a high level are replaced or repaired; the case is refinished. The goal is performance, durability and appearance approaching that of a good quality new piano.

In recent decades, there has been an increase in piano rebuilding. As the stock of ‘modern’ pianos from the late 19th and early 20th century aged, the possibilities for rebuilding those pianos were explored. Methods were developed; parts and materials were brought to market. Piano owners and piano technicians are fortunate to have available good choices of high-quality parts and materials for rebuilding pianos.

Specifics

The piano can be divided into three areas for evaluating its condition and determining choices for rebuilding. These are the ‘belly’, the action, and the case.

Nelson Shantz

My goal is to offer a collaborative approach to determining the service appropriate to your piano. The result should be what serves you best, whether that is thorough rebuilding as described above or more limited work targeted to specific needs.

Choices in rebuilding procedures are considered in the context of the piano’s condition and quality with the objective of balancing a musically satisfying result with acceptable, reasonable cost. Beyond the visible major components in this kind of work, my habit is to also attend to the less apparent small tasks that produce a more pleasing and distinguished result.

I welcome your enquiries. I can provide more detailed information and references. For a modest fee, I can inspect your piano, discuss its prospects, and provide an estimate of recommended work and costs.