Piano “rebuilding” is a term that has become all encompassing with-in the piano trade. The word rebuilt is applied to work as simple as minor repairs to the piano all the way up to a comprehensive replacement of all key sound producing components. We began using the term “remanufactured” piano twenty-five years ago to differentiate the work that we perform on grand pianos from that of run of the mill rebuilding shops. The words “Caveat Emptor” surely applies when searching for a piano rebuilder.
We are a small family run shop catering to piano owners who are seeking the ultimate in performance of their pianos. Unlike other stringed instruments, pianos deteriorate over time with an average expected performance life span of fifty years. The structural components can last for centuries, if care is taken to preserve the pianos, but the sound producing components deteriorate over a much shorter life span. The piano has approximately 230 strings with each string pulling an average of 180 pounds of tension. A total exceeding forty thousand pounds. This tension leads to deterioration of the soundboard and tuning pinblock. Usage over time wears the playing parts. Humidity fluctuations over the years also take a toll on the piano. During humid months, the wood expands and during dry months, it shrinks. This leads to cracking of the wood, which is most evident in the soundboards of pianos. All of these factors combine to cause the piano to lose the high performance qualities that its design intended when originally manufactured.
Piano design has not changed significantly since about 1890, from a musical standpoint. The main area of change has been to the exterior cabinet of the piano. Back in 1890 the pianos were very ornate and today they have become more stream lined in appearance.
This allows us to take quality grand pianos from the last 120 years or so and remanufacture them to new condition. The methods of piano remanufacturing used by us were developed by us over a period of 50 years, gleaning knowledge from manufacturers, other piano technicians, available literature, and through our own experience working on various pianos. The result is a sound and performance level comparable to the best pianos from the golden era of the piano in the first half of the 1900’s.
In the early days, we performed our own refinishing of the pianos that we remanufactured. When Dave joined the firm, he learned the refinishing craft, but was aware that it kept us from concentrating on the musical function of the piano. Dave suggested to his father that this work should be subcontracted to a furniture refinishing company. Since 1980, our pianos have been “refinished” by Kahl’s Refinishing of Richland, PA.
We make all major case repairs, install the new soundboard, reset the cast iron plate and tuning pinblock and then the piano is sent out to be refinished. Once the piano is returned to our shop, we only have to insert the plate into the piano one final time. This eliminates possible damage to the new finish on the piano. Our pianos are refinished with the plates removed, which allows for a cleaner result.
Kahl’s Refinishing strips off the old “finish”, makes minor repairs, fills the pores of the wood and applies a multi-layer hand-rubbed satin lacquer “finish” to the piano. This is the type of “finish” that was used from the 1930’s onward in the piano manufacturing business.
We are a small operation geared to hands-on custom work. We do not hire cheap labor, we do not cut corners and we use only the highest quality parts available in the world today. Piano remanufacturing is a labor-intensive endeavor and therefore, our work is not inexpensive. Each piano is examined prior to determining a repair agenda and repair cost for each particular instrument.
Caring For Your Newly Remanufactured Piano
Tuning: Included in the contract is one free follow up tuning and servicing. This should take place with in two – three months after delivery. The piano should be tuned four times in the first year, as the new wire will continue to stretch and therefore go out of tune much quicker. Once the piano stabilizes, it should be tuned at least twice per year.
Action: The action will settle some during early usage. This is caused by the initial compression of the new felts. The action will be readjusted at the time of the follow up servicing. The action will need periodic adjustments depending on usage.
Voicing: The new felt hammers were voiced prior to delivery. Additional voicing may be done during the follow up servicing. The voicing will need adjusting according to usage and your preferences.
Exterior case finish: The refinisher does not recommend the use of polishes. Dust may be removed by lightly moving a tack cloth in the direction of the rubbing marks on the piano. Fingerprints may be removed with the use of a slightly dampened cloth and a little mild soap such as dish washing liquid. Please do not place heavy objects on the finish of your piano, especially the music desk. The music desk is not designed to hold a great deal of weight and heavy objects may cause it to sag. Further, rubber backed mats or objects may mar the finish.
Piano interior: From time to time you should request that your piano tuner clean the inside of your piano for you.
For a period of five (5) years from the date of delivery, Snyder’s Piano Service, Inc. warrants the pianos we have remanufactured to be free from defects of material and workmanship. This warranty does not include the checking or chipping of lacquer, the surface cracking of veneer, or the discoloration of key tops. If, during the warranty period, your piano is adjudged by us to be defective in remanufacture, we will repair such defect without charge for parts or labor.
Normal maintenance work such as tuning or regulation and the results of normal wear are not covered by this warranty.
Our five year warranty here stated is specifically in lieu of all other Express Warranties , And Snyder’s Piano Service, Inc. excludes and shall not be responsible for any and all incidental or consequential damages arising because of a defect in a piano remanufactured by us. (Note: Some states do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages.)
Our warranty does not apply to failures caused by the following:
1) Improper maintenance or repair or the lack thereof.
2) Abnormal strain, use, neglect, abuse, modification or exposure to sunlight, or extremes in temperature or humidity.
3) Accidental damage.
This warranty is not assignable.