Artisan Rebuilding and Restoration
You’ve decided to finally take the plunge and invest in your piano by having her restored to her original beauty. The best thing that you can do is to seek out a professional piano restorer — someone who has the judgment, knowledge, and proficiency to guide you when making such an expensive and important decision. We always recommend asking for referrals and opinions from friends and family when seeking out a Seattle piano restorer. Angie’s List, Yelp, Facebook and Google all have excellent review sections to help you research piano restorers in Seattle.
The key question you need to answer: when are major piano repairs appropriate?
When you are seeking out a professional, keep in mind a few important factors:
- The overall condition of the piano. Pianos that are subject to severe fire, flood, or moving damage may not be repairable, depending on the damage to the instrument.
- The quality, size, and type of the piano. In general, low-priced, smaller pianos of a poorer quality and design have limited potential. It might be a better option to buy a new piano of better quality and design.
- Does the cost of repairs exceed the price of replacement? This usually depends on the quality and size of the instrument. Smaller, lower-quality pianos may exceed the replacement price, but high-quality, large pianos may only cost half of the price to replace the instrument.
- Then there is the sentimental value of the piano to you and your family. If a piano has been in your family for generations, the value of the restoration can have a profound impact on you! Check out our video below of a piano restoration project we did in Portland.
These guidelines on restoring your piano using a Seattle based piano restoration business should help you in trying to decide whether or not your piano is worth rebuilding or reconditioning. Again, ask for referrals from friends and family and read reviews online before making your decision on which piano restorer to use. Ultimately, this could help you save money in the long run, not needing to repair your piano again if it’s done well the first time.
Josh Mayfield, our lead technician in our Bellevue, Washington location, had a unique opportunity this week. While doing a cruise ship tuning on board the Zaandam, one of Holland America’s luxury cruise ships, a King 5 Seattle news crew came aboard to do a news story on what the cruise industry does for the local economy and small business like ours at Artisan Piano Services.
Josh explained, “As chance would have it they caught me tuning one of several pianos on board the ship and asked if they could get a few shots of me tuning and ask some questions. I was bit caught off guard but had a great time with them.”
[See Josh starting at about 2:15 minutes]
Josh has been providing tuning and piano repair services on cruise ships almost every week for a number of years in Seattle. With all of the constant movement, changing atmospheric conditions and the amount of use the pianos get, Josh needs to regularly be using his years of expertise to keep them playing and sounding their best.
Whether it’s at home, in a church, a school or on a massive cruise ship, Artisan Piano Service has you covered in both the great Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon areas. Let us know if you need your piano tuned or other services! We even do complete piano restoration.
According to the Piano Technicians Guild, piano tuning varies according to manufacturers:
“While pianos generally fall into vertical and grand model categories, each manufacturer selects its own materials and utilizes its own unique scale and furniture designs. Every piano requires a different level of maintenance, depending upon the quality of materials used and the design and level of craftsmanship. Manufacturers can provide general advice on tuning frequency but your technician can give specific recommendations based upon your usage and locale.”
Here’s what some of the major piano manufacturers recommend:
Baldwin Piano Company (also Chickering, Wurlitzer)
Professional service is the key. In the first year, the National Piano Manufacturers Association recommends that you have your piano tuned four times. This is a period of environmental adjustment for a new instrument, and proper attention is important.
After the first year, the piano should be tuned at least twice each year, depending upon the frequency of use and atmospheric conditions. Contact Artisan Piano Services to schedule an appointment with our professional technicians to perform this service.
Artisan Piano Services has recently have been given the rare opportunity to do some restoration work on a truly classic instrument: an 1840’s Boisselot et fils piano. This period instrument is very rare, and it is an uncommon thing to be able to see one of these pianos, let alone work on one. Restoring this piano is a great thrill!
We will be doing a partial rebuild of the ACTION, including: recondition the action parts to proper working condition, possible re-pinning, replacing key-bushings and key-bed felt as necessary, surfacing the hammers, lubricating the knuckles, and doing a touch-up regulation and voicing. Included is new damper felt and damper regulation.
Artisan has also been commissioned to provide a full restoration of the BELLY: replacing the strings, tuning pins, and pinblock. We will repair and recondition soundboard and bridges, as well as refinish plate and replace the plate felt and recondition plate hardware.
Importantly, our technicians will provide numerous in-shop tunings before the project is completed, and another one when the piano is delivered to our customer.
Finally, to preserve the original beauty and integrity of the cabinet finish, we will simply touch up the case and re-install some loose decorative brass trim pieces.
HISTORY of the Boisselot & Fils
“Boisselot & Fils [i.e. & sons] was a French piano manufacturing company established in 1831 in Marseille, France, by Jean-Louis Boisselot and sons, Louis-Constantin and Xavier Boisselot. The rapid increase in the production capacity of the factory with 70 workers to 300 pianos per year from 1834 shows that father and son had prepared their plan carefully. The constant expansion led in 1848 with 150 workers for the production of about 400 pianos a year. Highlighting this success, he was awarded with a gold medal at the French Industrial Exposition of 1844 (the 10th Paris Industrial Exhibition). Among other innovations Boisselot presented for the first time at the exhibition a mechanism by which individual notes and sounds were identified as Tonhalte or sostenuto pedal today.” (Wikipedia for Boisselot & Fils)
According to Pianos Romantiques, “Marseille turned out to be a good choice for setting up a piano factory: salaries were lower than those of the Parisian rivals, cheap exotic wood was [close] to hand thanks to the importance of the town as a port, and there was easy access to important export markets: Italy, Spain, and the colonies via the Mediterranean.”
The famous pianist and composer Franz Liszt was a patron to the Boisselots. He owned and performed on a Boisselot Fils. According to Alan Walker, Liszt traveled in October-November 1844 in Spain with his lifelong friend, Louis Boisselot, for a series of concerts. “Liszt played on a Boisselot piano, a powerful instrument especially brought in from Marseille by Louis Boisselot, which accompanied him on his journey across the Iberian Peninsula.” (Franz Liszt: The virtuoso years, 1811-1847)
Finally – Enjoy a Chopin Nocturne performed on a 1842 Boisselot!
We just finished restoring a 100+ year old Hamburg Steinway & Sons model “O” piano. Fred Riley, of Classic Pianos, recorded this video of Ruby Hall playing Beethoven’s Sonata op.2 no.3 in our shop.
Artisan restored this piano for our partners,Classic Pianos, to showcase in their “Classic Collection.” The pianos that we restore for this collection are second to none in terms of quality of workmanship, materials and tone.
With a full piano restoration, we not only refinish the cabinet
…but also completely restore the belly, including new strings
…the keys and action are reconditioned
…and we even polish up and regulate the pedals!
Although we do all of our piano restoration work out of our Portland, Oregon location, we have had several come to us from the Seattle, Washington area, and from other parts of the United States and Britain.
We do shop tours daily, and would be delighted to show you around!
We were recently featured in a news segment on a local ABC news affiliate in Portland, Oregon. It highlighted our piano restoration and rebuilding efforts, and was entitled:
A labor of love: ‘Completely redoing a piano is kind of where my heart is’
We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to involve one of our customer’s family story in the feature, which really helped to illustrate how important it is to us to help our customers “Continue The Story” of music in their lives. “We’ve had this piano in our family for 91 years, and my mother is 91 years old coincidentally,” explained the owner of this beautiful piece of history. After all these year, the piano is being given to the original owner’s grandson as a wedding gift!
After weeks of refinishing, re-stringing, regulating the action, tuning and all manner of detailed attentions – we were privileged to have the whole family present for the unveiling. It was such a thrill to see how happy they are will their newly restored piano.
For more than 10 years we have serviced families, schools, students, teachers and professional musicians in telling their story of music in the world. In addition to our local piano tuning, repair, evaluation and appraisal work, we have a growing number of customers from all over the United States for piano rebuilding, refinishing and restoration. We just started work on a 115-year-old piano that was shipped to us from the United Kingdom!