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Types of Piano Repairs

Your piano is designed to be played and enjoyed! However sometimes one of the 1,500 pieces of wood will break or become misaligned. When this happens it can cause a key to malfunction or “stick”. Keeping your piano in good working order is important.  A few small repairs, if left unattended, can add up quickly and sometimes cause damage to other components.

Most piano repairs are minor, such as removing a pencil dropped inside the piano or a coin dropped between the keys. We can handle any type of piano repairs from a sticking key to a broken hammer.

Minor Piano Repair

Most minor repairs take just a few moments to correct. 95% of our repairs are a quick and simple fix. Something gets jammed by a pencil dropped into the piano or a penny in between the keys.

If a repair only takes a few minutes, then it would be considered minor. Minor repairs are included with our charge for a Basic Service Appointment, and we can often take care of those types of repairs during a piano tuning. Examples of minor repairs would include:

  • Removing Foreign Objects

  • Tightening Bench Bolts

  • Single Key Adjustment

  • Pedal Adjustment

  • Preliminary Inspection

Major Piano Repair

A major repair could take as little as 20 minutes, but requires some disassembly or replacement of parts.  Examples of major repairs include the following:

  • Broken hammer shanks

  • Broken pedals

  • Keys that won’t play

  • Multiple sticking keys

  • Hammer reshaping

  • Action rebuilding

Regulation and Voicing

When it comes to piano repair, two important concepts to understand are regulation and voicing.

Regulation refers to the way parts move in a piano.  Age and use can wear down felt parts in a piano, causing them to travel further than they were designed to do. This can make the piano uncomfortable or even difficult to play. Regulating your piano creates a better “feel” when you’re playing. We make sure all moving parts are moving only the appropriate amount and are resting where they are supposed to.

Voicing refers to the quality of tone produced by a piano.  Humidity and use can cause the felt hammers to harden, causing a very harsh or “tinny” sound from some or all of the notes.  Sometimes hammers will soften over time, causing a muddy or dull sound.  Our piano repair services can fix both of these issues through voicing the hammers on your piano.

Piano Repair FAQs

Below are some answers to questions we sometimes get about our piano repair services:

How much does piano repair cost?

Our rate for piano repair services is $55/hr.  Many repairs, such as a stuck key, only take about 30 minutes.  If we need to replace any parts to complete the repair, the cost of the parts will be added to the charge.

What can cause a key to stick?

Because it’s only gravity that brings a piano key back to its rest position, there are many things that can cause it to stick. Examples include a coin, mouse dropping, or any other foreign substance stuck between the keys

There are mortises on the keys that are felt lined, and you only have a few thousandths of an inch between them…so if the balance rail pin or the front rail pin has anything interfering with it, the key will stick.

What is hammer reshaping?

When piano hammers are built, it’s done by pressing layers of felt onto the hammer molding.  As time goes on the outer layer can get crushed down by the striking of the strings and form grooves. It can also get “crusty” on the outside, and both of those things cause problems with the tone of the piano.

When we reshape hammers, we remove the outer layer of felt and get it back to the shape it’s supposed to be.

What is action rebuilding? 

Felt and wood both can compress and wear over time.  Wood is a biological substance, so it still continues to get older and brittle and rot. Since pianos last a very long time, older pianos—especially those built around the 1920s or earlier—can have a lot of worn-out parts.

Action rebuilding is the process of replacing all the brittle parts with new parts, possibly including new hammers, new shanks, new whippens, and new dampers.

Dampers are made out of wool felt, and over time, with humidity changes, they can shrink and/or get hard and not dampen the strings like they’re supposed to.

At the end of the action rebuilding process, the changes often are so dramatic that it almost feels like you have a new piano.

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