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Understanding Repair, Reconditioning, and Rebuilding

In the realm of piano restoration, three terms—repair, reconditioning, and rebuilding—are frequently discussed, each carrying nuanced meanings without precise definitions. When commissioning restoration work or considering a piano with prior restoration, clarity on the specific tasks undertaken is paramount.


Declarations like "This piano has been reconditioned" or "I'll rebuild this piano" often lack uniformity, as what one technician terms rebuilding may be considered reconditioning by another.

Repair: Addressing Specific Issues

Repair jobs focus on rectifying isolated broken parts, such as a broken hammer, a missing string, or an improperly working pedal. Unlike reconditioning or rebuilding, repair does not necessarily involve a comprehensive upgrade of the instrument but addresses specific, broken, or improperly adjusted parts.

Reconditioning: General Upgrading with Minimal Part Replacement

Reconditioning encompasses a general upgrade of the entire piano, minimizing part replacement wherever possible. For instance, this might involve resurfacing hammer felt instead of replacing hammers and twisting bass strings to enhance tone.


Definitions of reconditioning can vary, with some technicians considering the replacement of hammers, tuning pins, and strings as part of a reconditioning job, while others might term such work as a partial rebuild.

Recon Piano
used piano sg

Rebuilding: Striving for "Like New" Condition

Rebuilding represents the most comprehensive level of restoration, ideally aiming to put the piano into a "like new" condition. However, in practice, the extent of rebuilding may vary based on the instrument's needs, value, available resources, and the meticulousness of the rebuilder.


Components like restringing, replacing the pinblock, repairing or replacing the soundboard, and overhauling parts in the action are typical of a rebuilding job.


Refinishing the piano case is also generally part of the rebuilding process.

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