“Piano restoration” can be a complicated area to understand for a customer. Different retailers may use the term to mean different things. This can often account for wildly different prices for seemingly similar pianos. “Fully restored”, “reconditioned”, “refurbished”, “rebuilt” – what do all these terms mean?
To make life simple at Yorkshire Pianos we only deal in completely rebuilt period pianos. It’s best to think of this as a new piano in an old case. This represents the best of both worlds, the beauty of period materials and craftsmanship with the accuracy of a new mechanism. The original tone of the instrument is preserved through using identical parts and if at all possible reparation of soundboard rather than replacement.
Sadly, pianos do not last for ever. It is a popular misconception that a piano will last indefinitely. It is true, they do have a very long lifespan perhaps 60 or 70 years but after this time they will be worn out and, more importantly will no longer “hold their tuning”. A piano may look and even sound wonderful but if it no longer stays in tune then it is much like a shiny car that no longer goes along!
The replacement of the pinblock (also called wrest plank) helps provide a new lease of life for a piano and ensures tuning stability. A replacement of this sort is a major undertaking and well beyond the scope of most piano restoration workshops. Yorkshire pianos incorporates the manufacturing facility of Cavendish Pianos which provides the most comprehensive piano restoration service in the UK.
Hidden behind the tuning pins is the pinblock or wrestplank. This is replaced ensure tuning stability. In our estimation this is essential in a rebuild of any period piano.
Replacement of bridges. Over time bridges become cracked by the passing of seasons. The bridges ensure transfer of sound from the strings to the soundboard. Older pianos often sound muted and uneven, this is caused by cracked bridges. New bridges bring back the same sparkling tone as when the piano left the factory around one hundred years ago.
If you look carefully at the soundboard in this picture you will see stripes of slightly different colour wood. The soundboard is heated until it cracks. While still warm shims of wood of the same era are inserted. As the soundboard cools it contracts. Although it may appear flat, an active soundboard has a “crown” which, much like a tight drum skin, amplifies the sound.
Fully rebuilt Bechstein grand in mahogany with satinwood stringing
Yorkshire Pianos are happy to take on rebuilds of prestigious makes of piano on behalf of customers. Please contact us for details.