Posted by: Jorge Andrade
Need input on Piano Restoration - Please - 01/10/13 01:26 AM
Is it worth restoring/rebuilding a piano? Not moneywise but sound wise and touch and feel of the instrument, having it retain its characteristics without sounding 'tampered with'. I don't really care as much about the cabinet as I do the sound and action response and accuracy, so if it was just to remove nicks, scratches, etc. I wouldn't do it, however my 1967 Bosendorfer Imperial has lost its thunderous sound it once had. I first got the piano in June of last year, it had a very meaty sound, with powerful bass, clear midsection and not super brilliant but defined upper register (it literally sounded like there was a subwoofer hidden inside somewhere). After the summer, a slit on the soundboard opened up into a nasty crack and now there are more cracks coming out in other areas, ever since then the piano has lost its thunderous sound, I'm devastated. The action also needs work (but I know we can still order original parts from Renner), according to my piano technician the knuckles are flat and the hammers are worn out, the keys have full ivory tops, they're in great shape, except for a tiny crack on one of them, the cabinet has everything you can imagine: dings, scuff marks, chips, stains, someone tried getting creative with a black sharpie (fail!), the finish is dull and tired but I could live with that, what I can't live without is my thunderous piano sound, hence the restoration idea, however, I'm afraid that after the restoration my piano won't sound like a Bosendorfer anymore; I don't have the funds to ship the piano to Austria to be rebuilt, so I'll have to have the work done here in the U.S., so hence my worry. Once they replace the soundboard with another kind of spruce wood and the strings with whatever strings they use here in the U.S. will it be noticeable? I have never dealt/played/seen a rebuilt piano in person so I can't attest for the before/after and I just want to make sure I'm not dooming my piano, now guys, I've seen lots of excellent works by reputable companies here in the U.S. and as far as cabinetry goes, I know they can make the piano shiny again with new finish, rebronzed plate, new strings, etc. but listening to these pianos online I'm honestly not impressed with the sound, not to say that the piano probably didn't have a great sound to begin with, but it's hard to tell since most companies usually only show photos of the before but don't record anyone playing them. I've watched a few videos of Steinways, Mason & Hamlin pianos being rebuilt and when they play them in the end it's really bad, it's like the piano has no life, I can't explain it but I wouldn't want my piano with that kind of weak, characterless sound, for that I'd keep things the way they are. I even found a comment from one guy that restores organs and he criticized the work currently being done and said that these soundboards sound like cardboards instead. I'd like some input from people that had this type of work done on their pianos, or technicians that service pianos that were restored but knew them beforehand, hopefully there are technical guys out there that went through this and can provide some quantitative and defined input, I’m looking for more than ‘my piano looks great’, ‘it turned out wonderful’, ‘my mom loves it’. Also, input from the professionals performing the work is welcomed but biased because I wouldn't expect someone that asks U$25K for a restoration job to raise issues and concerns about this type of work, we are all adults here. I thank you and hope to get some real useful input on this.