Wear and Deterioration within a Piano
Though pianos are very durable and many attain great age, they are made of natural materials that deteriorate, and the thousands of moving parts are subject to wear.
When a piano has had extended or heavy use, it will accumulate wear. If it has been exposed to large humidity swings over the years, it will accumulate deterioration.
Hammer felts will become thin and produce a poor tone. Keys will become loose and wobbly. Strings stretch and break. Wooden parts crack. Leather becomes weak.
Regular maintenance such as tuning, regulation, and voicing compensate for minor wear, but eventually a more substantial service is needed.
Reconditioning means putting a piano into good condition by cleaning, repairing, and adjusting the piano’s internal systems. Unsalvageable parts are replaced where necessary.
This process is appropriate for pianos with moderate wear because major components such as the soundboard, bridges, pinblock, and most action parts are not replaced.
When Is Reconditioning Required?
The rate at which wear and deterioration occur is variable. One piano may need reconditioning after only a decade, while another won’t need it until fifty years have passed.
Your piano should be inspected to see if a regulation and voicing will get the piano into good condition, or whether a reconditioning is needed.
For more information about reconditioning, see the Rebuilding/Reconditioning Technical Bulletin at the Piano Technician’s Guild web site.