Common Minor Repairs
Sticking keys are most common in new pianos. Changes in humidity that have happened during shipping and tight tolerances can cause keys to stick. Sticking keys can also show up in older pianos when the wood swells with very high humidity or there is something between the keys (pennies, paperclips etc.). This problem is easy to remedy and often there is no additional charge to ease a few sticking keys or to remove items from the piano.
Buzzes, Rattles & Squeaks
Squeaking or sluggish action parts aren’t usually expensive to remedy. Often a few drops of center pin lubricant will fix the problem. A few rattling notes in the action are often a quick repair, but if the action is rattling throughout it may be an indication that the action is need of an overhaul. Buzzing can be caused by loose cabinet parts or items on top of the piano. At the worst, it is an indication that the soundboard or bridges are in need of repair.
Broken Action Parts
This will cost extra in addition to regular tuning cost if there are parts to re-glue or replace. Sometimes I am able to give a quote over the phone. At the time of tuning I will give an estimate before proceeding with the repair.
Treble strings aren’t expensive. I carry a complete range of plain wire gauges with me on all service calls. Bass strings however are expensive. They have to be custom made for your particular piano. This involves taking the measurements from the old broken string and having a new string made from them. It also requires coming back for a second appointment with the new string to install and tune it.
The piano action is the mechanical component of a piano. A piano is made up of a harp and a mechanism that strikes the strings of the harp, this is called the action. The action is made up of the keys and a system of moving parts that translates the movement of the keys into movement of hammers that in turn strike the strings. When a piano is new, the action is adjusted so that it will produce the best feel and response that the piano is capable of. Over time as the action wears in, the felt compacts and the hammers wear. Tone and the touch of the piano may start to decline. When this occurs it is time to look at regulating the action and voicing the hammers. Depending on how far the instrument has been allowed to decline, this job may take a few hours or a few days.
Signs that regulation is overdue:
• Keys seem to go down too far or seem too shallow
• Uneven touch from one note to the next
• It is difficult to play softly and still have the notes sound
• Notes do not repeat quickly
• Notes continue to ring after the key returns
• Piano has developed a harsh metallic sound
• Keys rattle, action is excessively noisy
What Is Rebuilding?
Rebuilding does not mean refinishing although refinishing may be included as a part of a rebuild. Real rebuilding involves restoring the musical instrument to like new condition. Typically this will mean replacing the strings, hammers, hammer shanks, damper felt, key bushings and keybed felt.
The old strings oxidize and loose their original elasticity, the tone suffers and the instrument becomes difficult to tune. The bass strings in particular get "tubby sounding" and the notes die quickly upon being sounded. Replacing the strings restores the clarity and sustaining qualities to that of a new piano. The tuning pins are also replaced with larger new pins during this procedure to ensure tight pins that will hold a proper tuning for years to come.
Unlike a violin, a harp, or a guitar, the musician’s hands never touch the strings of a piano. It is only through the hammers that the pianist can express himself through the strings of the instrument. The hammers create the tone. This is why replacing old hammers can have such a dramatic effect on piano tone. An extreme example of this is a "honky tonk" piano where the hammers are so worn out that it sounds like a completely different instrument.
New Hammer Shanks
When installing new hammers on a grand piano you must also replace the hammer shanks. This component of the action is where the pianist will feel the ability to control their touch. The flip side of this, of course, is a piano where the action centers for the hammer shanks are worn out. When this happens the pianist will not be able to control how hard they strike the strings. It often sounds like they are banging on the piano even though they are trying to play softly. New shanks will restore the solid feel of a new piano to the action.
Older pianos often have notes that don't stop cleanly after the note is played. Many of these pianos have a "echo" sound as the notes reverberate after the key has been played. New damper felt restores the dampers ability to stop notes cleanly.