Custom Rebuilding -- The Belly

Rebuilding means different things to different people. At ANR Piano, rebuilding means to replace worn and broken parts with new. Our objective is to meet and exceed the performance of the original parts.

There are two components of a piano which can be rebuilt. The first, the "belly," includes the strings, tuning pins, pin block, harp, soundboard, the second component is the action which includes hammers, shanks and flanges, wippens, and keys. The underlever or damper system can fall under either category.

Check the action rebuilding link for info on action work.

The pinblock is located immediately underneath the harp in grand pianos and behind the harp in verticals. The usual life expectancy of a pinblock is 60 years. Pinblocks less than 60 years can sometimes be reused but any block over 60 years old is of questionable condition should never be reused.

The soundboard is a source of much mystery and misunderstanding. Cracks are a normal occurrence in the aging process of a soundboard. As the wood absorbs and releases moisture, the wood cells within the board are crushed and in time the damage results in a crack. If damage is not too severe and sufficient crown exists, the original board can be reused. On original boards we apply two coats of a marine epoxy to stiffen the cellular structure thereby approximating the original stiffness of the board, before the aging process weakened it.

If the sound board needs to be replaced it should be done. Nothing is lost by installing a new board. A new board always sounds better than an old worn out soundboard - often quite significantly. Soundboards do not improve with age, in fact quite the opposite. Every humidityand drying cycle damages the soundboard and this damage continues to build up through the life of the piano. The problem we face is this deterioration is so slow it is unperceivable to the average listener. However, when compared side by side, a new soundboard with have much greater power and sustain.

A recent experience I had illustrates this. I had installed a new soundboard in a very prominent music director in the Chicago opera scene's Steinway & Sons Art Case "B". After the piano was set up the maestro sat down to play the piano and his wife came running into the room stunned by how much sound was coming out of the piano. The old board had a very soft, sweet sound, while the new board retained the velvet quality but added twice the power.

All Soundboards installed at ANR Piano Service are rescaled with thickness tapers, rib scale and bridge placement to maximize the life and musical production of your new soundboard.

Custom Rebuilding can include any of the following:

  • String scales redesigned using the latest computer models
  • Soundboards and bridges redesigned to produce the greatest tonal variety
  • Soundboard construction methods used for extended soundboard life
  • Wapin Bridges

Even though the piano has remained essentially unchanged for over 100 years, modern advances in acoustics, material technology, and computer programs have allowed us to significantly improve on the original designs of even the best built Golden Era pianos.

Certainly in the area of stringing scales, the computer alone has allowed us to smooth out the tonal differences between wound and plain strings and improve the overall sound of bass strings, often giving the piano power and sustain which never imagined before.

Give us a call to discuss you piano: 630-852-5058