Cheap Rebuilds?

You may ask the question, “why do people do this?” The answer ranges from a mutitude of opinions. Sometimes, the buyer assumes the piano has been restored when the strings look new and shiny. Some people have major work performed on their old piano, then mistakenly sell it as refurbished to a buyer. I’ve seen this when only a re-finishing job was performed on the case of the piano. I believe it boils a lot down to business and demand. As consumers, we usually tend to want the best price. As business owners, we usually want to make the most profit. For both of these to occur, something has to give. Usually, it ends up being the quality of the work that suffers. Over time, it becomes worse and worse.

Purchase a rebuilt piano for $4,000? This would be an awesome deal if the piano is in fact rebuilt properly. I’ve seen prices of restorations range from $5,000 - $40,000. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for lack of quality. Just to a couple of random prices out for comparison; (prices are just random estimates)

Re-finish of small baby grand - $1,500 - $5,000 (This is only the exterior case work)

New bass strings  $300 - $900 (strings themselves, not installation)

Bass strings alone can very so much, depending on the quality of wire and quantity of strings. Price in the refinishing of the piano can vary on whether the old finish is removed to the wood before new finish is sprayed on, or whether new finish is put on top of the old one. 

These are just 2 examples of price differences based on quality. So to answer the question of the $4000 rebuild…what are you getting? Other factors start to get complicated. Is there crown in the soundboard? Does it need to be replaced? Does the pinblock need to be replaced? Quality of piano wire? Quality of felt? etc, etc, the list will go on.

This should help paint a picture of why pianos can sometimes be misleading. A great technician has the ability to take just about any life-conditioned piano and turn it into a true work of art. An artist should enjoy sitting down at the piano with no limitations caused by mechanical means.

© Joel Klar 2013