The Pianist As Woodworker

Piano Manufacturing

Pinblock Replacement

Soundboard Replacement


Soundboard Plugging/Crack Repair

Complete Restoration

Finish Touch Up

Polyester Finish Repair


Fire Damage Repair

Water Damage Repair

Action Replacement

In the area of woodworking, piano technicians have perhaps flexed their muscles most audaciously in recent years, and it is particularly impressive how technicians have forced piano manufacturers to modify production to accommodate the way this has changed the marketability of new pianos. The standards of manufacturing are, in spite of waning research and development, higher than ever.

Though this certainly has been no loss of face for the manufacturer, if in fact the manufacturer has survived the onslaught of restored pianos now so prevalent a presence on the market today. These pianos are built so well that the most indispensable parts of the piano do not need to be replaced. It is a testament to the quality of the instruments factories produced a century ago that these same instruments survive today.

Pianos, however, have the unique distinction as string instruments of being strung at a tension that can exceed a dozen tons, even approaching two. As a result, there is no foundation for comparison with the acoustics of any other string instrument, even the harpsichord. Due to the compression of the soundboard in a piano-created in process of gluing the ribs to the panel to create crown along the bridge by drying the panel of its humidity and creating an arch, then, loading the crown of the bridge with the downbearing of strings with tons of tension-it is impossible to compare the piano with a violin. The soundboard must be replaced periodically during what is proving to be the life of the modern grand piano, and engineering the piano in such a way that is effective enough to warrant so costly a process has made piano manufacturing a challenge great enough to put many remarkable companies out of business forever in some cases. However valid the claim that such an intensive restoration process will effectively make it a different instrument than the manufacturer designed, it is a necessity in many cases if the instrument is not going to be discarded.  

These things also prevent piano owners the luxury of being able to neglect regular tuning of their instrument. Alteration of string tension that will take place over time as the piano drops in pitch can cause stress to the soundboard panel leading to cracks, as the bridge is alternately loaded and unloaded of string tension when the piano is brought back to pitch years later, something the compression of the soundboard is calculated to counteract. It is best for the whole maintenance of the piano if string tension is static as possible, regardless of humidity changes. In fact, humidity control systems and marketing them for pianos obscures that fluctuating humidity does not damage a soundboard, and in fact is used to create most soundboards; it is fluctuating string tension, and stress over age, that can damage a soundboard.    

This tension is what amplified the piano in the mid-nineteenth century in such a way that only the microphone, and what the organ had been engineered to do, could compete with. It is no mistake with the invention of the microphone that piano sales went into decline, and that the piano as an instrument is so difficult to mike.