Rebuilding / Remanufacture

Over the years at Piano Services we have been quietly been working on our Forte – Piano Rebuilding and Remanufacture. This is a craft that is not for the faint hearted – a job that needs to be done with great care and skill.

Rebuilding / Remanufacture a piano means making major repairs (and design changes) to each component to restore the instrument so it sounds, works and looks like as new as possible (or better). Typically, in order to accomplish this we will completely disassemble the piano, remove the strings and iron frame, replace the pin block (if required), repair the soundboard and bridges, re-gild the iron frame (yes, we use Gold gilt), renew the strings and tuning pins, renew all felt, cloth and leathers in the keyboard and action, including the hammers and damper felts and completely regulate everything during assembly, tune and tone/voice.

Rebuilding / Remanufacture usually requires a large expenditure of time and money, the customer needs to weigh several factors carefully before “taking the plunge”. How good will the piano be after the remanufacture ? Will its market value be more or less then the total remanufacuring cost? Does it have sentimental value beyond its actual market value? Do you want to restore a family heirloom to new condition even if it cost more then the instrument will be worth? (The following may help you answer these questions.)

I have seen many pianos that the owner claims had been rebuilt – but what has been done to the piano is far from a rebuild – rather some quick fix touch up job complete with a large price tag to make the customer think the piano has been rebuilt! If everything does not look brand new – it is not rebuilt!

If you want your piano rebuild and short cuts taken, want to set a price that ties our hands to do a poor job, or want a quick job – please don’t ask us to work for you, as our refusal may offend! Thank You.

The fleet of household pianos in New Zealand is getting older – many pianos built in 1890 – 1920’s still “operate” – these are sometimes very good instruments, but just worn out. These pianos have lasted 80-110 years and if they are remanufactured correctly then there is no good reason why they shouldn’t last another 80 – 110 years! This is the question that must always be be in the back of the rebuilders mind “is what I’m doing of a good enough standard to last another 100 years?”

The fleet of Concert / Professional pianos in New Zealand is also in poor shape (this is mainly due to the lack of correct tuning habits – tuners only pulling strings and not attending to the 3T’s of tuning – Touch, Tuning & Tone.). The replacement costs of these instruments is far above the cost of remanufacture (quality timbers are costly and hard to get, pushing the price up for new pianos).

The pianos for Concert and Professional work do have a shorter life span then the household run of the mill piano – they should be remanufactured every 10 years, and in the big concert halls that is exactly what happens! This is not over the top, this is needed to meet the ability of the Professional Pianist – These pianos are high performance instruments. Rebuilds also allow for any technological changes in action design and geometry to be applied – keeping the instrument it up to date.

Having said all the above, where does this leave you and your piano ?

1) Is my piano worth remanufacturing?

This question should be asked along with these two questions –
a) what is the cost of a new piano that will be as good as mine?
b) will a new piano last as long as mine once mine is rebuilt?

Lets answer these two questions first

  1. a) If your piano is of high quality the new cost is at the upper end of the price range – for uprights over $50,000 and grands over $170,000. If your piano is a massed produced instrument then the cost of a new piano as good as yours is in the lower price ranges – more around the $10,000 price for an upright and about $25,000 for a grand (prices as at 2001). Some new piano do sell for around $4000 (upright) and $11,000 (grand) and less but these are made of Partical Boards and are simply junk.
  2. b) The high quality pianos will last as long as the old instruments, but the lower priced mass produced pianos only have a life expectancy of about 40 years (parts become obsolete and can’t be replaced, poor qualilty timbers are no longer strong enough to hold the great stress’ that the 250 odd strings place on them).

>From this we can see that the old piano becomes an economic option to remanufacture (and we should by now have the answer to the first question “is my piano worth remanufacturing?”) – if for no other reason then that the timbers are of such good quality that they last.
2) Cost

The cost of a new piano that lasts only 40 years is around the price you would expect to pay for a piano to be remanufactured. The remanufactured piano is going to last about the same lenght of time that it has already lasted! If price is an issue, a better idea can be given once the piano is in the workshop.
3) How do I go about getting the work done?

Getting the work done by a professional piano rebuilders is a problem in New Zealand – very few people do this as a profession – there are lots of people who think they know what to do because they are piano tuners, but they are professional tuners NOT professional remanufactures.

Piano Services do piano remanufacturing as a profession, we know the pit falls, we have been there and done that and now boast a proud line of fine remanufactured pianos around the country.

Your first step in getting the work done on your piano is to make contact with us.

4) What happens next?

After Piano Services has spoken to you, and decided that the piano may be worth while rebuilding then Piano Services will arrange for the delivery of the piano to our workshop, this is to check the piano out, report back to the customer and commence work.(if the piano is un-rebuildable or not structurally sound, we return the piano to you, all transport cost too and from the workshop free of charge). The warranty, Terms and Condition of Sale are set out for both the customer and the rebuilder, all remanufacture work is accepted on the condition that the customer has read, understood and accepts these terms.

5) Delivery & Payment

Once the piano is remanufactured (allow 8 weeks on average) we return the piano and give one free venue tuning along with final set up.

Payment is sometimes asked for in progress, this is to cover the cost of materials and work in progress. Full payment is required on delivery.

To find out more about remanufacturing your piano contact Piano Services:
Remember always use a Registered member of the Piano Tuners and Technician Guild of New Zealand (Inc) if you are have any work done on your piano.