Piano Restoration, Rebuilding & Refinishing FAQ

Here are some of the more common questions we receive. Have a question that’s not listed here? Let us know and we may post the answer here.

Should I rebuild my piano?

It depends on the quality of your piano. A well-respected name is usually worth rebuilding. If the instrument was cheaply made and/or has a bad design, it most likely should not be rebuilt. The cost of restoring some pianos may exceed it’s monetary value. However, a piano should not be looked at as strictly an investment. Sometimes a piano with a great deal of sentimental value may be rebuilt.

What is the difference between a custom shop and a commercial shop?

East Coast Piano Rebuilding is a custom shop. The advantage of this is that you will be dealing with one individual, Brian Grindrod. My skill, care, and passion will be put into the restoration of your piano. The cost is often competitive. A commercial shop has hourly paid employees who do not have the same experience, passion, or care to their craft. I will give you the personal service you desire.

What is involved in rebuilding a piano?

A piano is made largely of wood, felt, metal, and leather. All of these materials are susceptible to severe humidity changes and deteriorate over the years. Wood soundboards and pin blocks crack and dry out. Glue joints separate. Strings rust and corrode. Hammers and other felts wear, dry out, or become moth-eaten. Tone is lost. The action loses its responsiveness. Eventually, the piano will not hold a tune. This is the time to rebuild.

Rebuilding involves replacing or restoring all aspects of the piano. Typically the soundboard, pin block, action parts, and strings are replaced with new parts. Refinishing the cabinet is recommended to enhance the value and appearance.

Will my Steinway still sound like a Steinway after it is rebuilt?

The original design of your Steinway, or other quality make of piano, will not change during rebuilding. This is what makes your piano unique. Rebuilding simply replaces worn out parts and components with quality parts, restoring your piano to pristine condition.

How should I maintain my piano?

Controlling humidity is crucial to maintaining a stable instrument. Humidity levels should stay between 35% and 55% at 68 degrees Fahrenheit for reasonable stability. This is especially important in a rebuilt piano because new wood, which is found in the soundboard and action parts, is more susceptible to movement from changes in humidity. Using a good room humidifier is essential during the dry season, and air conditioning will help during the humid months. I also recommend installing climate control systems in pianos.

Pianos should be kept out of direct sunlight. Sun can damage the finish and fade the color of the case. Pianos should be kept away from direct heat sources to prevent over drying. In addition, open windows directly near a piano during humid weather can prematurely rust strings and tuning pins. It can also cause friction in the action to develop, resulting in “sticky notes.”

Pianos should be tuned at least twice a year. New or rebuilt pianos should be tuned four times in the first year. Regular cleaning of the interior should also be performed at the time of tuning.

Parts need time to settle in new and rebuilt pianos. Some action adjustments will need to be made in the first year. Most pianos will need a complete action regulation every five to ten years.

What are the benefits of buying a rebuilt piano over a new one?

A quality, well restored piano can be a better instrument than many new, mass produced pianos.

I will install higher quality parts and materials than what is typically found in most new pianos. I will be the person doing all the work. I have complete concern and control over the entire process. A rebuilt piano can be a better value than a new one. Buying a restored piano recycles an older instrument. It also supports the local craftsman.

Is my instrument an antique?

It is generally understood that a piano has to be over 100 years old to be considered an antique. Most pianos since the later half of the 1800’s have been mass-produced. Replacing parts in these pianos increases their value. Pianos from the 1700’s and early 1800’s are considered true antiques. These instruments require special care to maintain their original parts during restoration, because of their historical significance.