3 Types of piano renovation


SAP Renovation presents 3 types of piano renovation:

  1. Rebuilding
  2. Restoration
  3. Refurbishment

These renovation types differ in range of work carried out on the piano and have impact on the following:

Tonal potential of the instrument ( increases together with the level of work on acoustic and action components of the piano).

Ease and safety of use (increase together with the level of work on cabinet and acoustic components of the piano).

Visuals and aesthetics (increase together with the level of work on cabinet, acoustic, and action components of the piano).

Reference value of each component stands on different level depending on renovation type:

a) maximum of 95% out of 100% in rebuilt version of the piano.

b) maximum of 65% out of 100% in restored version of the piano (acoustic part: max. 80%, action part: max 50%, where (80% + 50%) / 2 = 65% ).

c) maximum of 38,5% out of 100% in refurbished version of the piano (acoustic part: max. 49%, action part: max 28%, where (49% + 28%) / 2 = 38,5% )

Why piano component replacement is so important?

The majority of pianos undergoing renovation process are usually very old. That being said, their aged wooden components show progressing signs of general wear and tear.

Physical and chemical properties of wood diminish over time. Typical aspects suffering are:

  • looks,
  • moisture absorption capabilities,
  • density,
  • durability,
  • and acoustic insulation.

Apart from wooden elements of the piano, hardware replacement should be taken into account as well.

Cabinet hardware also ages over time losing its shape and durability. The following issues may occur if necessary replacements are disregarded:

  • mismatch of cabinet elements limiting their functionality
  • unstable connection of elements due to poor wood or screw condition
  • unsightly visual aspect of hardware elements which may be crooked, bent, or damaged.

The most serious outcome while deciding not to replace cabinet elements is a risk of mechanical damage. Although looking healthy, condition of case parts may be compromised. That being said, potentially healthy yet unstable elements like legs or leg fittings may fail causing damage to the piano and/or harm its users.

Lack of repair or replacement of acoustic elements of the piano may result in the following issues

  • poor clarity of sound and its acoustic properties – cracked soundboard or/and insufficient crown
  • unstable tuning – worn or damaged pin block
  • undesired noises accompanying tones – rusted strings, broken agraffes,    worn bridges
  • unsightly visual aspect of the piano caused by wear and tear of soundboard or bridge wood and
  • iron frame paint

Lack of repair or replacement of action elements of the piano may result in the following issues:

  • low regulation capabilities – general tightness or looseness in action and keys
  • poor sound quality and strength – worn hammer felts and/or neglected voicing
  • undesired mechanical noises accompanying work of action and keys – worn out felts and cashmeres
  • repetition and dynamic disability – general tightness or looseness in action and keys
  • playing discomfort – broken key covers, uneven spacing between keys, poorly matched keys with covers, stiff key bushings
  • damping disability – worn out damper felts, tight/loose damper guide rail bushings, stiff/loose trap work
  • unsightly visual aspect of the action caused by wear and tear of shanks, hammers, dampers, wippens, and other action, keyboard, and trap work components.

Range of work for all three types of  piano renovation has been pointed out below:

  1. Rebuilt piano

Cabinet:

Main components of the cabinet are replaced:

  • top lid
  • lock rail
  • lid prop stick rail or rosette
  • lid prop stick
  • music desk and music stand with prop
  • stretcher (*not always possible)
  • fallboard with hardware
  • key blocks with hardware
  • key slip
  • legs, leg fittings, casters
  • lyre, pedal rods, lyre braces
  • hardware connecting cabinet elements

Acoustic part :

Main components of the acoustic assembly are replaced:

  • soundboard
  • bridge caps (treble and bass)
  • strings (steel and bass)
  • tuning pins
  • pin block
  • agraffes (*not always possible)

Action:

Main components of the action are replaced:

  • action frame with let-off buttons
  • wippens
  • hammer heads
  • hammer shanks
  • keyboard with capstan screws and backchecks
  • damper levers
  • dampers
  1. Restored Piano

Cabinet:

Particular pieces of cabinet or hardware may be replaced base on (this vary from piano to piano):

  • disfigurement of the element  (irreversible loss of original shape)
  • general wear and tear of the element (rust, other signs of corrosion)
  • apparent physical damage or incompletion of the element

Acoustic part:

Acoustic elements replaced during restoration:

  • bridge caps (treble and bass )
  • strings (steel and bass)
  • tuning pins
  • pin block

Acoustic elements renewed during restoration :

  • soundboard
  • iron frame

Acoustic elements polished/cleaned during restoration

  • agraffes
  • duplex scales (if present)

Action:

Action elements replaced during restoration:

  • hammer heads
  • hammer shanks

Action elements renewed during restoration (cleaning, polishing, replacement of felts, leathers, bushings)

  • action frame and let-off buttons
  • wippens
  • keys and key covers, key frame, capstan screws, backchecks
  • dampers and damper levers
  • trap work
  1. Refurbished piano

Cabinet:

Particular pieces of cabinet or hardware may be replaced base on (this vary from piano to piano):

  • disfigurement of the element  (irreversible loss of original shape)
  • general wear and tear of the element (rust, other signs of corrosion)
  • apparent physical damage or incompletion of the element

Acoustic part:

Acoustic elements replaced during refurbishment:

  • strings (steel and bass)
  • tuning pins

Acoustic elements renewed during refurbishment :

  • soundboard

Acoustic elements cleaned during refurbishment:

  • bride caps (treble and bass)
  • agraffes

Acoustic elements left in original state (no repair or replacement)

  • pin block

Action:

Action elements renewed or cleaned during refurbishment (if necessary):

  • hammer heads (re-facing )
  • hammer shanks
  • action frame with let-off buttons
  • wippens
  • keys and key covers, key frame, capstan screws, backchecks
  • dampers and damper levers
  • trap work

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