Piano Reconditioning

What is piano reconditioning?

It is a process which aims to recreate a properly functioning piano at a reduced cost by dealing specifically with known problem areas within the action, keyboard, and strung back. If for financial or technical reasons a complete rebuild is not deemed appropriate, a piano’s performance may be greatly enhanced by reconditioning.

What is the difference between rebuilding and reconditioning?

  • In reconditioning, an instrument is not necessarily completely disassembled; instead, pieces may be cleaned (if necessary), repaired, and realigned, with only the essential minimum inclusion of new parts.
  • A typical reconditioning would include thorough cleaning of the whole instrument, with repairs to any damaged notes, followed by a thorough regulation, fine tuning, and voicing procedure.
  • It might also include a certain amount of renovation within the action, as its performance might be impaired by a fault in just one area. A set of weak springs, a row of tight centers, or individual degraded felts would all affect a piano’s repetition or touch weight. The hammers require special attention and, as part of a reconditioning, they are usually reshaped.
  • As a result of their being continually struck against the strings, the hammers’ noses become compressed and their form distorted, making the tone hard. A delicate process of removing the outer layers of felt in the hammers head produces a clean, fresh striking surface without changing the hammer’s original shape.
  • This does, however, alter the weight of the hammer head and this can make the touch of a piano too light, so only the minimum amount of felt should be removed.A set of hammers that are badly worn, misshapen, or cut by the strings should be replaced. Partial restringing may be necessary to improve the evenness and fullness of tone. Bass strings lose their resonance with age and their windings become loose,creating buzzes; if the piano holds its tuning and the steel strings are in good condition, then it is appropriate to replace only the bass strings rather than carry out a complete restring.
  • Likewise, the bass strings may sound fine and the treble section uneven, perhaps due to a number of replacement strings, in which case this section alone can be restrung.
  • A reconditioning will also typically include a touch-up of the piano’s case, including the repair of minor chips and either dewaxing or overpolishing to revive the shine.

As with a rebuild, a complete and accurate assessment of the piano has to be carried out by a qualified technician to ensure that all of the instrument’s actual or potential problems will be rectified by the work commissioned. For example, it would be pointless to improve a piano’s action response if the instrument’s strung back were not able to support the strings’ tuning; likewise, if the dampers felts were hard and the dampers and the hammers cut and misshapen, fitting new bass strings would be of little advantage.

It is not always necessary to move the entire piano to a workshop to recondition it. Regulating, voicing, and small amounts of stringing can be efficiently completed in the home and the action and keyboard can be removed and transported alone if they require considerable repair work.

A technician can decide whether it is appropriate to complete the required work on site or in a workshop.

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