How Much Does Piano Restoration Cost?

It’s not uncommon to find an old, neglected piano within one’s home. It may have been left by previous owners, or handed down through your family, or it may simply be something you purchased at a large discount. All of these scenarios leave you with an item that can likely be restored to its once glorious form. Unfortunately, piano restoration cost may be more than the finished value of the instrument. This is not a concern for a preservationist with money to spare, but most people regard the value as economic rather than idealistic. The cost of piano restoration can be very high (over $5,000) if the instrument is old and in need of many repairs. Then again, this price would be a pittance in comparison to the value of a fully restored antique Steinway piano. The average cost of restoring a piano is around $2,500, while a refinishing of the wood and other appointments can be $1,500 to $2,000 on its own. Determining the feasibility of restoring a piano takes research. You can discuss the task with local musicians, piano store clerks, or on internet forums. It will almost always require a full evaluation of your piano by a repair and restoration expert before you have a true idea of its cost and potential value.

Antique Piano Restoration Cost

The age of any instrument has a large part in determining its value, but the relationship is not exactly straightforward.

This is especially true when calculating the cost of piano restoration. A piano that is slightly aged would likely be a good purchase as the repair and restoration needs should be low or nonexistent. As a piano becomes neglected and older, piano restoration cost will rise higher and higher. This trend makes the value to cost ratio fall out of the owner’s favor. However, at a certain point in its history, the increasing age of a piano will begin to drive the value up. Antique pianos are usually primary examples of a very old instrument that can be very rare and potentially priceless. Unfortunately, the restoration and repair costs can be very high for an older piano. The primary reason for the high price is the scarcity of replacement parts. Antique piano restoration cost is also driven up by the need to be extra delicate when working with an instrument of such experience.

Piano Refinishing Cost

Quite often the restoration of a piano will include the need for it to be refinished, and this will add to the piano restoration cost. This process is composed of several parts. Initially, the piano is carefully disassembled and the remaining finish is stripped with a solvent. Next, a paste known as grain filler will be used to smoothen the stripped wood. The stain is applied next to achieve the desired tone. Staining may take multiple passes to achieve certain aesthetic properties. The filler and stain are sealed and separated from upcoming layers with lacquer sealer. A high quality and specially blended lacquer will provide several finishing coats to give the piano its trademark finish. The final step in refinishing a piano involves a process known as burnishing. This describes the smoothing of the lacquer layers (after they are cured) by rubbing it with sandpaper and other rough surfaced objects. This contributes to the classic look of the piano. The refinishing process will add $1,500 to $2,500 to piano restoration cost.

Piano Repair Costs

The repairs needed by a to-be restored piano may be easily performed, or they could be a major undertaking.

Piano restoration cost will certainly fluctuate widely with the type and amount of repairs that are needed. Voicing is a general term for a series of small repairs and tweaks that may include alignment of the strings, hammer reshaping, string tuning, and other possible fine-tuning needs. A good voicing will only add $25-$50 to the cost of piano restoration, and is required in virtually any refurbishment of an older piano. Other, more serious repairs may also be needed. The hammers may need replacement, and this will cost a few hundred to several thousands of dollars depending on the extent of the task. The unfortunate circumstance of string damage may lead to the need for total string replacement. Piano repair costs will be one to several thousands of dollars for the changing of strings alone, if necessary. Other structural repairs, or repairs to the soundboard, will be expensive and will certainly need to be performed by a professional (as it should be with most repairs).

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Steinway Piano Restoration Cost

The name Steinway has been associated with upper-tier pianos since the middle of the 19th century. The company is famous for its record-breaking prices, but also offers many models that are within a reasonable budget. Typically, an antique Steinway model is not something you will find for a low price, as these pianos are highly sought after, and the cost of piano restoration may be worth the value of a fully restored antique Steinway piano. There is almost a niche industry of its own in the restoration and resale of Steinway pianos. Many of these refurbished pianos can be obtained for a very reasonable price due to their high availability. However, once you reach the age of antiques (about 100 years old or more), the value of a Steinway piano can be immense. There is still the need for the comparison of the piano’s worth to potential piano restoration costs, but these instruments tend to carry a lot of inherent value in almost any state of disrepair.

Piano Key Repair

The keys of a piano are, obviously, a very important part of its form. When refurbishing a piano, you will need to evaluate the condition of each key to decide if it needs repairs or replacement. The repair of chipped or wobbly keys can be quite affordable at under $100 for the whole job. If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of needing total key replacement, you will end up adding thousands of dollars to the piano restoration cost. This is why it is supremely important to attempt to fix problem keys rather than replacing them. The cost to replace just one piano key can be as much as $400. The cost of piano restoration can easily get out of hand when key replacement is needed, and you should certainly consider this before making any kind of an attempt at refurbishment.