Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some questions and answers which we often deal with. If you have a question that is not covered here, please contact us.
Will restoration change the character of the instrument from its former quality of tone & touch ?
The ultimate aim of restoration is to return the piano to as close to its original style & character as possible. If the instrument is restored using the finest parts & materials, the original character should not be lost by restoration. (We cannot, for example, change an old Bechstein into a new Bluthner or Steinway).
How long does it take to restore an average piano ?
The usual time is around 4 months for an upright, and 5 months for a grand. However, if the work involves additional complex repairs or structural work, such as bridge or soundboard rebuilding, it can increase the time taken.
How can I be absolutely sure that I will like the piano once it has been restored, in advance of deciding to go ahead ?
The answer is that you can't. Having said that, this has never happened, we would not agree to take on the work unless the piano was of a high standard and structurally sound.
How long should I expect the restored piano to last ?
We would be disappointed if the instrument failed to provide lasting enjoyment for 50 years, assuming it is maintained, and not abused or played excessively.
What is the cost of a restoration ?
No two instruments are alike, so there is no standard figure, but for an average upright piano in average condition, a ball-park figure is £ 3000-3500; for a baby grand, £ 5500-6000; for a boudoir grand £ 6500-7500; for a larger grand, from £ 7500. (VAT and transportation costs are payable on all work carried out).
Do you take pianos in part exchange?
Yes! We are happy to take pianos in part exchange. Obviously the amount we can offer in part exchange depends on which piano you are buying and the type/condition of your piano.
What is the difference between upright overstrung and straight strung pianos?
Basically overstrung pianos are designed to have their bass strings crossing diagonally from top left to bottom right across the other strings. This gives the bass strings more length than that of the straight strung piano where all the strings run vertically from top to bottom. It also means that the bass bridge is better situated slightly closer to the centre of the soundboard which in turn transmits the sound vibrations better across the soundboard giving the overstrung piano a better tone than the straight strung piano.
As with most things there are exceptions to this rule eg. Bluthner made a very good quality straight strung piano which had a far better tone than many inferior overstrung pianos.
What is an oblique strung piano?
This is a hybrid neither overstrung nor straight strung. ALL the strings are strung diagonally giving the bass strings slightly more length.
What is the difference between underdamper and overdamper pianos?
The dampers on a piano are the action parts which 'dampen' the sound of the strings when you lift your finger off the key of the piano. On an underdamper piano action the dampers are underneath the hammers therefore being slightly lower down the string than the dampers on an overdamper action. On an overdamper action the dampers are right at the top of the string above the hammers resulting in them not 'damping' the sound as efficiently as in the underdamper action. As with most things there are exceptions to this rule eg. Bluthner made a very good quality overdamper piano which had a far better damping mechanism than some inferior quality underdamper pianos.
New, second hand or restored. Which is best for me?
If you like the look of the new or modern pianos you would usually have a pretty safe choice between a brand new piano or a second hand modern one. I say 'safe choice' as new and modern pianos (say from 1970s onwards) are made from wood that has been treated to withstand the drying out effect of central heating. A new or modern piano is unlikely to re-act badly to central heating. Obviously if the strings and action etc. are brand new you are very unlikely to have a broken string or suffer breakages in the action. Therefore a new or modern piano should only require tuning and minor adjustments to the action (regulating) on a regular basis. All pianos require tuning at least once per year and usually twice per year is recommended in order to keep the piano tuned up to concert pitch and to keep the piano regulated properly.
With older pianos you have to be more careful. You will need to know; has the piano been well maintained? Are the tuning pins tight (good) in the wrest plank? Or are they loose (bad) in the wrest plank? What condition are the strings in? How worn is the action? What restoration work has been done? Are there any splits in the bridges? Is there any woodworm?
On the plus side, with an older piano you may find a beautiful instrument with a pretty solid wood cabinet, ivory keys and in some cases a far richer sound than some of the new pianos. Providing the piano has been well cared for and has had the necessary restoration work done you could become the proud owner of a well made piano made by one of the world famous makers that will last a lifetime and appreciate in value over the years.