Restoring Pianos in Richmond, VA
Restoring pianos in Richmond, VA, takes on a wide range of meanings depending on how much work is necessary. We define total restoration as replacing everything but the case and the plate. Most restoration work, however, is not this extensive. Much of what goes into the restoration project depends on what you want in the finished product. Whatever condition your piano is in, you can count on us to reinstate it back to the condition you desire.
Different considerations factor into the value of restoration work. Not least of these is a piano’s sentimental value for a family. When a piano has been handed down through the generations, you want to preserve it, regardless of its financial resale value. We keep it looking its best and sounding great so you can pass it along to your children or grandchildren.
That said, our restoration services–including restringing pianos in Richmond, VA–also protect an instrument’s financial value. If you have an old Steinway & Sons Grand, for example, restoring it costs less than buying a new one and keeps its value high in case you ever decide to sell it. You can also always count on us when you need piano tuning in Richmond, VA. Below, we discuss the parts and processes involved in repairs and restorations.
New Pinblock: The installation of a new pinblock increases the longevity of the piano and improves tuning stability over many years. A pinblock’s life can be anywhere from 40 to 70 years. We start with the pinblock because it is the heart of the piano’s ability to stay in tune, which is essential to the piano’s value.
Repinning: We define repinning in a restoration job as installing new tuning pins in a new pinblock. In a simple repair job, though, where the piano will not hold a tune, repinning refers to new oversize pins in the original pin block.
Restringing: The process of restringing refers to changing out the piano’s strings or wires with new ones. Piano wire comes in different diameters, and the groups of different diameters create the scale of the piano. This scale is taken and noted and used for the restringing process.
Sounding Board: While a sounding board and bridges (what the strings cross over to transmit the vibrations to the board) can be replaced with a new one that improves the instrument’s sound quality and tone, this is very costly. In most restoration jobs, we use the original board. We apply heat to see if it splits and cracks, and then we repair those splits and cracks with spruce shims. Next, we glue the ribs underneath if necessary. Finally, we sand the board and put on a new finish. We apply new decals when necessary.
Dampers: In the restoration and repair process, we replace the damper felt whenever we add new strings. In grand pianos, it’s also necessary to clean the old felt off the damper heads, then clean the heads and wires. After we string the piano and assess the string tension, we install the new damper felt.
Plate Rebronzing: Here, we clean and prepare the cast iron plate for rebronzing. The first step is to apply primer, then apply the color (and any decals or lettering), and, finally, apply the finishing coat.
Key Work: If a piano has ivory keys, we clean, sand, and polish the ivory. We replace any broken or missing key tops. We clean the capstans and check the key bushings for wear. If the key bushings are too worn, we replace those, too.
Action Part Replacement: In some restorations and repairs, all of the action parts need to be replaced. These parts are the wippens, hammer shanks and flanges, and the hammers. Replacing these parts improves the touch and tone quality. However, in many cases, only the shanks, flanges, and hammers need to be replaced. Sometimes, too, it is necessary to replace the back action, which is behind the regular action and is responsible for making the dampers function properly.
Key Frame: During restoration, we clean the key frames and polish the key pins; we also reinstall the felt punching. This is prep work for key replacement prior to the regulation process. We then regulate the key frame to fit the key bed.
Regulation: Regulation is the process of making the various mechanisms of the piano, including the action and the keys, work properly for optimized sound and touch. In some cases, we make adjustments to the piano to suit the needs of the individual pianist. We do this process by working with mathematics and geometry; after at a certain point, we use sight and feel.
Tone Regulation: We work with the piano and the hammers to get the best tone and response out of it. We call this voicing, and we start by making sure strings are seeded on the bridge at the hitch pin and V-bar, and we also make sure that the strings are level. Voicing the hammers involves several techniques depending on where we need to take the tone. Some methods are needling, sanding, squeezing, and tapping.