Player Piano Restoration

Here are some of the items and definitions to consider in a piano restoration in order of the process. (by Kim Bunker)

1) Teardown - The piano is completely disassembled including Strings, plate, block, pins, action are removed.

2) Case Stripping - After the moisture content is brought down, the piano and all its case parts are thoroughly stripped and prepared to accept primer and the final finish coat.

3) Light Wood Sanding - Pianos that have slight indentations, cracks, worn edges / corners and other imperfections need to have fill ins and repairs to correct these flaws, making for a flat surface ready for primer and finish.

4) Plate Stripping - Cracks and verification of structural stability needs to be considered. Usually the plate is completely stripped and prepared for primer and painting.

5) Case Primer - Like many surfaces, there needs to be a rough layer on the case, in order to accept the multiple coats of lacquer and finish applied to the piano. Usually all case parts are coated with a special primer designed to accept the finish properly.

6) Case Refinished - The best quality finishing materials are lacquer, polyurethane and polyester. Usually you can pick the final finish color based on the veneer’s grain and style.

7) Plate Primed - This step is important for continutity in the restoration process. The plate must be primed in order to accept the final color and lacquer finish.

8) New Pin Block and Pins - Each piano should get a new pinblock cut specifically for the piano that meets original factory specifications.

9) Bridges / Bridge Repair - The bridge is one of the most essential elements of good piano tone. Each bridge should be inspected and either repaired or replaced to original factory specifications (if not already in excellent shape)

10) Soundboard Repair - Each soundboard should be inspected for crown and condition wear, such as any visible seams or cracks.

11) Strings - The piano should get a whole new set of strings including treble and bass strings.

12) Action Parts - Action part replacement is based on a case-by-case basis.

13) Hammers, Shanks and Flanges : The piano should receive a new set that meet original factory specifications.

14) New Key tops - Depending on the condition of the key tops, you might want to consider replacement to avoid chipping.

15) Bushings - You need to consider replacing key and action bushings,unless they are deemed in excellent shape.

16) New or Refinished Hardware - Be careful to decide ahead of time to match the authentic style, or to just replace. Usually hardware can be finished to the look fo the piano.

17) Logo or Label Replacement - Usually a final touch to the rebuild is applying the soundboard and fallboard logos and serial numbers to the action and plate.

18) Tuning, Tone and Voicing - Tuning should be done several times during the process. In addition to a basic chip tuning when the strings are installed, each piano will be tuned at least 4 times and thoroughly voiced.


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