RESTORATION

This page features various aspects of the restoration of, mainly square pianos, but also cabinet and grand pianos.  Please note, I do not undertake restoration for the general public, but only restore the instruments that are part of the collection.  Should you have a piano, square or otherwise  in need of restoration, and you do not wish to undertake the restoration yourself, there will be links to highly reputable restorers on the “links” page.

 

The first thing to do when you have aquired your square piano is to decide if you wish to restore it yourself or have a professional do it for you.  If the latter, see above.  If you would like to attempt a restoration yourself there are various things to take into consideration.

  1. Do I have the skills needed to do the job?  Depending on how much restoration is needed, this can vary from being able to use a craft knife, glue and an artists brush up to being able to fabricate wooden parts and make complicated geometric inlay.
  2. Do I have the space needed?  Don’t get me wrong, you don’t NEED a huge amount of space to restore a square piano.  Many restorers, myself included, work in tiny spaces.  It’s just that for the most part, the more space you have the easier and less frustrating it will be not having to constantly rearange things in your workspace.
  3. Do I have the patience to research and learn how to do a job properly before jumping in, to source and use the right materials for the job?  As a collector I spend a lot of time seeing the “restorations” of the past, half baked jobs done using totally the wrong materials with almost no understanding of why they are wrong and what properties were important in the original materials used.  I have seen restorations from the 1960′s where the base strings were made from something akin to copper electrical wire and were tensioned so high it caused the piano structure to fail drasically.  I have also seen soundboards replaced with thick pieces of wood with all the resonance of a paving slab simply because the person attempting restoration didn’t understand what was required to make a good soundboard.  Just because something looks the same doesn’t always mean that it will perform the same function.

If you can answer “Yes” to all of the above then you will get great pleasure from bringing one of these lovely instruments back to life.

So, you’ve got your piano and have decided to undertake the restoration yourself.  What now?  The next stage is to decide what sort of  restoration you want.  Do you want to conserve the instrument to be admired from afar and played occasionally?  Or do you want to restore it to full and reliable playing condition.  This is important as it will have a huge baring on how invasive you need to be.  Either way, careful documentation from the start is esential.  Buy yourself a box file, some acid free plastic resealable bags, and some acid free plastic sleves, of the A4 sort sold in stationers for ring binders. Document everything and save anything which you remove from the piano.  This may seem frivilous but it’s an important part of documenting something which your restoration will change forever and we don’t know what questions will be asked 100 years from now.  Take plenty of pictures.  Unless your living under a rock, everyone has a digital camera of some sort these days.  document as you go along, it not only records for posterity the condition the piano was in before you touched it, it can also prove invaluable when it comes to putting everything back in the right place.