The GRADE 1 PACKAGE is the most affordable of the three restoration packages we offer, yet the quality is comparable to most other shops best packages. Our approach with the GRADE 1 PACKAGE is to RESTORE rather than REPLACE.
In other words, the GRADE 1 PACKAGE restores your piano to historically correct specifications while utilizing as much of the original mechanisms as possible. Materials that deteriorate such as felts, leather, strings, etc., are replaced, while the durable mechanisms like action parts are restored rather than replaced. The GRADE 1 PACKAGE includes a good quality cabinet repair and high quality refinishing job, all new strings and tuning pins (because a 100 year old piano will always need new strings). Uprights get re-drilled pinblocks with new tuning pins. Upright actions get new hammers, dampers, necessary bushings, felts & leathers, straps, and all necessary action refurbishing, repair and regulation necessary to make the piano play like new.
The keyboard is either restored or replaced with new keys as necessary. Soundboard cracks are glued and set as needed, and bridge repairs are made as needed. Upright plates are cleaned and re-gilded, and soundboards are cleaned and clear-coated. Piano is then tuned and regulated as needed.
It is very important to understand with a GRADE 1 PACKAGE is that pianos that are in terrible condition may need more than what is offered with a GRADE 1 PACKAGE. Most pianos in decent original condition will restore nicely with GRADE 1.
We find that most clients can compare our GRADE 1 PACKAGE to the average restoration shop's best package!
The GRADE 2 PACKAGE is our most popular restoration package. About 60% of the pianos we restore are GRADE 2. This package includes everything necessary to make your piano look like new, inside and out, as well as play like it did the day it was built.
With the GRADE 2, the cabinet gets a high quality, grain filled lacquer finish with great pains to repair all broken/missing carving, molding, etc. The keyboard is restored. If ivory is present, all possible effort will be made to restore and save the ivory. If ivory is not present, faux ivory will be used in restoration unless a new ivory or bone keyboard is requested (at an additional cost). NEW ACTION PARTS such as butts & flanges, shanks and hammers are included in the GRADE 2 PACKAGE. In all pianos, the harp (plate) is removed from the piano, re-gilded, and the soundboard is repaired, shimmed and refinished. (Any original internal art-work or stenciling on the plate will be saved and clear-coated if possible.) All internal decals are replaced as necessary. New strings and tuning pins are included. Upright piano pinblocks are plugged and re-drilled as needed (which prevents the pinblock from being cut from the case, weakening structural integrity). Lots of special attention to detail is included - all hardware, hinges, pedals, etc., get polished or re-plated to perfection as needed. Overall, our GRADE 2 is a top quality, prime restoration throughout.
UpRight Pianos - Grade 3 Package
The GRADE 3 PACKAGE is our premium package where cost is of no consequence where quality is concerned. GRADE 3 includes a new soundboard, new pin-block, all new action parts, and absolute perfection in every detail. Due to the immense detail involved, the GRADE 3 PACKAGE involves nearly double the amount of time and labor to complete! GRADE 3 isn't usually necessary for most pianos, and is generally reserved for exceptionally rare, valuable and historically important instruments.
Upright Piano Rebuilding & Refinishing
Grade 1 Package: $9,500 - $11,500
Grade 2 Package: $12,500 - $15,500
Grade 3 Package: $17,500 and up
*Please note that some antique pianos & organs manufactured in Europe may require additional expense.
DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT UPRIGHT PIANO RESTORATION SERVICES
Piano Stools & Piano Benches
All 3 PACKAGES above include restoration and refinishing of your piano bench or stool. If you do not have a matching piano bench or stool, we can supply a historically correct matching bench or stool from our vast collection, finished to match, for $500.00. Inquire for more information.
All of our packages include refinishing and cabinet restoration. We have listed more information here to help give you a better idea what might be needed for your instrument.
REPAIR: One of the most important parts of a finish is the condition of the cabinet including the carving, veneer, etc. All of our finishes include cabinet restoration so that carving, veneer and moldings are repaired/replaced as necessary. One of the most obvious weaknesses in the refinishing industry is the lack of proper repair and restoration of missing or damaged wood/carvings, etc. We often see beautiful finishes that have been applied to instruments that have had obvious poor quality repairs that stick out like a sore thumb - a finish will only look as good as the surface it is applied to. Our finishing crew is amazing at replacing missing pieces of carving and moldings.
SEMI-CLOSED PORE FINISHES: A semi-closed pore finish is a lacquer finish that is widely used in the furniture industry (and on piano finishes as well) which has a softer, satin look to it and leave the natural wood grain showing in the finish. The labor involved in this type of finish is less than the grain-filled finishes offered in the more expensive packages, which makes a very nice looking finish more affordable. In fact, some people actually prefer this type of finish over more expensive finishes saying that it looks "old world" or "antique". Customers have the option of this finish if desired.
GRAIN FILLED FINISHES: The grain-filled lacquer finishes are traditional high quality lacquer finishes that are standard in fine finishing throughout the industry. This is a "factory new" finish which would be closest to what the instrument would have looked like when it originally left the factory. Unlike the semi-closed pore finishes, all the grain is filled with this finish creating a silky smooth solid surface. Most of our clients prefer a "hand rubbed" matte or satin finish, but we do offer gloss and semi-gloss finishes as well.
With any package, we will always try to restore original ivory rather than replace it. Unfortunately, original ivory keys are often very brittle and in many cases so many are missing that restoration of an ivory keyboard is not possible. Here is more information about what is available for your keyboard:
BLACK KEYS: Most of the time, the black keys on antique pianos are made of genuine ebony wood that has been finished black and polished. Usually we can simply refinish the black ebony keys to make them look new again. In rare cases where the black ebony keys are so deteriorated they cant' be restored, we can replace them with new genuine ebony wood sharps at an additional cost.
IVORY RESTORATION: We estimate that about 40% of antique pianos and organs have ivory keyboards that are restorable. When an ivory keyboard is restorable, we can repair chips and splits in the ivory using similar methods one would use to fill a chipped tooth or fingernail! Chips can repair nicely, and if a keyboard has a few missing ivories, we can use our vast collection of ivory spares to match missing ivory keys in color and size. Once the ivory is repaired and missing ivories are replaced, we treat the keys with a peroxide solution and UV light to get them as white as possible - just like teeth whitening - then we polish them out to a brilliant and beautiful sheen.
FAUX IVORY: If original ivory is too deteriorated to restore, or if the keys have been replaced with celluloid or plastic in the past, we will restore the keys with new faux-ivory look keys or plastic keys on an individual, per-piano basis. The faux-ivory has the color and textured look of real ivory, and looks very authentic on antique pianos. If your ivory can not be restored, faux-ivory keys will make the piano look much better than stark white keys like new pianos have.
IVORY: New ivory is again available in very limited supply, and is very expensive. We are doing some new ivory keys on higher end antique pianos we restore for clients. They look amazing! Inquire for more information.
BONE: Bone has the same look as ivory, and is a fraction of the price. If you might be interested in genuine bone keys for your piano, inquire for more information.
Over the years we have experienced just about every trend and new idea that has come about in piano restoration. These trends come and go over time, along with their respective tools and techniques. Each piano rebuilder will have his or her preferred techniques; no two piano rebuilders are exactly the same. We have taken what has served us best through the years, incorporating it in our restoration work today.
PINBLOCK: Upright and square grand pianos (and some earlier Victorian grand pianos) have the pinblock actually glued, doweled and mortised into the cabinet. These pinblocks are sealed and virtually air-tight. When we expose the pinblocks in these pianos during restoration, the wood almost always looks brand new because it hasn't seen the light of day for 100 years. In most of these pianos, the piano cabinet would literally have to be sawed apart in order to get the pinblock out. We have found that sawing the cabinet to remove the pinblock in a square or upright piano will almost certainly damage the structural integrity of the frame, causing much more harm than good. Luckily, an excellent solution came about several years ago which is just now beginning to become standard in piano restoration. Rather than cutting out the old pinblock, thus damaging structural integrity of the frame, the original pinblock can be fitted with wooden dowels made of pinblock material, driven into the original holes and glued in place with high strength epoxy resin. Then, new holes are drilled out just as they are in a new pinblock, with the end result being excellent torque and tuning stability for long term durability. We have seen a handful of pianos with pinblocks replaced by cutting the case fail due to structural problems, but we have never had an issue with a restored pinblock having any problems, period!
SOUNDBOARDS: How many times have you heard "that piano has a cracked soundboard so it's no good"? CRACKED SOUNDBOARDS ARE COMMON AND NOT A PROBLEM! Before we go any further in soundboard discussion, please see this video about cracked soundboards:
Sadly, the "cracked soundboard" ploy has generated countless dollars for unscrupulous piano tuners over the years that use it as a scare tactic to earn extra money. As discussed in the Steinway article, a crack in a soundboard is not detrimental to tone and is more cosmetic than anything. In fact, the nature of the soft spruce wood a soundboard is made of needs to be able to expand and retract with changes in heat and humidity. This is why so many pianos have separations and "cracks" in the soundboards but still sound good. Any piano with a little age on it will have a cracked soundboard, and any piano that is restored by any piano shop can have soundboard issues corrected and addressed properly. Note: A cracked harp (plate) is an important issue, but in most cases can be remedied by new technologies in welding and mending.
ACTIONS: The piano's action is the conduit by which the pianist achieves the results desired in creating music and sound. A piano is only as good as the quality of the action's function, so action restoration is of most importance. In most upright pianos, the mechanics of the action are made of durable rock maple, material that is often superior to what is available new today. We find that these upright action parts are often better restored rather than replaced - new bushings, felts, leather, etc., applied to the original maple mechanisms - make the upright piano function like new again. If an upright piano has suffered from severe deterioration, moisture, or excessive hard use and abuse, new action parts are generally required. Luckily, most upright action parts are available by specialized manufacturers today. What isn't available, we are able to hand make in our own restoration shop!