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Steinway, Bosendorfer & other fine pianos. Regulation, Service, Restoration & Tuning. HHC
Alpha Entek
Steinway, Bosendorfer & Other Fine Acoustic Pianos.
Repair, Service, Regulation & Tuning.

Call us to have a cherished piano restored, serviced, regulated or tuned.


Telephone: +44 (0) 7710 723 814 / +44 (0)207 288 0037
We cover all high quality instruments, grand & upright.

A piano should be tuned after any move & before any critically important performance or recording. If even slightly out of tune it will lack brilliance, resonance & sustain. This may reflect on the reputation of both player & piano.

Reasons for this loss of quality are covered in 'Harmony & Tuning. (Piano Tuning & Tone.)'.

Steinway & Sons have built pianos for 152 years. Some early models are still in good playing condition. Their commitment to excellence & quality has remained constant. As with all fine hard working mechanisms, planned skilled maintenance is needed, to keep them at their best.

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This also applies to top class instruments from other classic piano builders, some of whom are nearly as old, or even older. The newer high end marques are no different in this respect, although it may be many more years before most need serious restoration work.

Strings are under high tension, the combined static stress on the frame (harp or plate) runs into many tons. Added to that are the rigours of heavy playing, transportation & storage. Regular tuning is essential, both to keep a piano playable & to maintain a balanced tension in the frame. Neglect can lead to higher service bills & possibly to long term damage.

The complex actions wear gradually with playing & tend to deteriorate with long periods of disuse. Storing an instrument for long periods on its side, as is common in a warehouse, stresses the heavy frame in a manner it was not designed for. The action, rim & soundboard also suffer under such treatment. On top of corrective work required, it may take a long time to settle down and be stable again.

Large companies may tend to play it safe, to protect their reputation. Often a customer, requiring a service, will be quoted for replacement of all action parts & strings. The bill may run into many thousands of Pounds or dollars. After extensive work, the piano will require a long settling in period, during which more frequent tuning & regulation is needed. An old instrument may need such work, but often will respond well to far less.

Our charges are reasonable & fair. No unexpected multi-thousand Pound shocks. We evaluate each instrument & give an estimate of what is required. We do not replace expensive components as a matter of course, only if genuinely needed. On the other hand we never patch up faulty parts to produce a short lived & unsatisfactory repair. It is a matter of experience, good judgement & care.

Occasionally a particularly old or heavily used piano may actually need many parts to be replaced. In such a situation we will advise on the best course of action, the viability & likely cost of the work. A point to be noted, if an eighty year old piano has its entire action & strings replaced what then is it? A classic piano or a set of new parts in an old case. A dilemma that must be faced in a fortunately rare situation.

Our view is that, to be a genuine classic, an instrument should most definitely have its original soundboard (its heart and soul) & retain a majority of its original action parts. Making allowance for necessary repairs over its long life. Otherwise it is more correctly considered as a hybrid, with substantially lower market & historic value. On the other hand its value as a performance instrument may be improved by drastic replacements.

Strings & dampers etc. do not improve with age. Strings should be replaced when corroded, lacking attack, brightness or sustain. New strings may show up deterioration in other strings previously thought adequate. Dampers should be replaced when thay can no longer do their job well.

On an older instrument the action parts are often appreciably different to available modern replacements. Very different for early pianos, particularly those made before the 1850s. If such an instrument genuinely requires such parts replaced, only correct replica parts will retain some semblance of originality in feel & touch.

Select this paragraph to see Music Play's excellent animation & description of a piano's double escapement repetition action. This clever mechanism, now common to most grands, makes very rapid playing possible. Its invention in 1821, by Sebastien Erard, was a major milestone in the piano's evolution.

The animation shows the action at full key travel, with escapement & hammer travel controlled by the 'jack'. The spring loaded 'balancier', heart of the repetition mechanism, is seen pivoting on the support lever. With rapid repetition, this balancier launches the hammer up again, before the key has risen enough to re-latch the jack. This deceptively simple action was the breakthrough needed by dazzling keyboard gymnasts of the day.

Piano tuning & overhaul

Restoration.

Over the years a number of dedicated craftsmen & companies have undertaken beautifully executed restorations of early classic instruments. Often a labour of love, running into many months or even years of work.

More on this subject shortly:

Piano tuning & overhaul

All LOGOs, Brand & Model names are Trademarks and/or Copyright of their respective owners. Unless otherwise stated, all other images & text are the Copyright of Ron Lebar.

All opinions in this section are those of the author, Ron Lebar.

Information given is generally brief & is based on our experience. If you spot any factual mistakes or 'typos' please feel free to let us know. We are not quite perfect & promise not to sulk over constructive criticism.

If you need more information on models listed or can suggest another instrument to add let us know & we will do our best. From time to time we may include comprehensive details of specific models.

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Pianos. Updated on the 3rd of February 2009. Ron Lebar, Author.