Why Restore When You Can Buy New?

The dilemma a lot of piano owners face is what to do with that old, scratched-up, dinged-up, twangy sounding piano that can’t hold a tune anymore. There are only a few piano stores left here in Chicago-I’ve seen many go out of business in the 35 years I have been tuning pianos.

Buying a new piano is a rather large investment. If you or your children are serious players, you will want to check out many different brands of pianos which will require a lot of driving, and time. Determining the right piano for your pianist is a lot like buying a new suit, or dress. In other words, it has to fit right, be comfortable, and look good on you. Most pianos today come with 88 keys, 220 or more strings, and three pedals. They all use essentially the same type of mechanism in the action. So, what makes it so hard to find the right one?

The answer can only be given by the pianist. There is a connection-from playing a note, to the tone that you hear. That connection consists of an infinite number of variables. The response of the instrument, the touch weight, the ability to play and be in control in a number of expression levels, regulation, repetition, tone, volume, timbre, harmonics, voicing, fundamental vs. partials, and many other subjective points are to be considered.

The selection process can take a while. How long it takes depends on how accomplished your pianist is, and how sensitive they are to the nuances of the instrument. It is important to select the right piano, because once you buy it, it’s yours. And you are not likely to want to go through the process again if you make the wrong choice.

If you already own a piano that you really enjoy, but it looks like it fell out of an airplane, has worn hammers, and does not hold a tune, you might want to consider the option of rebuilding it. A properly rebuilt piano will have a new action, a complete refinishing, new keytops, new strings, tuning pins, felt, pinblock, a repaired or replaced soundboard, bridges, bushings, damper felt, and back action, everything to the decals that proudly display the brand name. What you will have is the piano you have always loved, but now it is new again.

Don’t expect to save money by rebuilding. In fact, you might spend more than buying new. Of course, the piano has to be good enough instrument to justify rebuilding it. But in the not too distant future, when you see the piano that has been in your family for generations, looking and sounding new, with that old familiar “connection”, you will know you made the right decision.

Kurt

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