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40 West Pleasant St, Bristol VT 05443-1042
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Piano Repairs, Reconditioning and Rebuilding

Many simple repairs can be done right in your home, but occasionally the parts need to come to the shop for extensive work where we have specialized equipment necessary to do the job correctly and precisely.
Piano Repair Hilbert Pianos Bristol, VT
When explaining extensive work beyond minor repairs, various terms are used throughout the industry, but they aren't standardized, so the following are our definitions ranging from the least amount of work to the most.
“Reconditioning” is using original parts as much as possible and bringing the piano back to good playing condition. Some felts and leathers may be replaced to restore the original dimensions but, in general, parts are not replaced unless they can't be reused.
“Restoration” is bringing the piano back to its original playing condition using the original parts as much as possible in order to maintain the original design, tone and touch. Restoration work is commonly done on antique instruments or on instruments of historical value where one is trying to maintain the originality of the instrument. This work is often done for museums or musicians wishing to play on period instruments. As much of the original instrument is retained as is possible. The piano may not play or sound as well as it might with modern re-engineering and/or replacement of more parts; but, it will retain as much of its historical authenticity as possible. Many technicians do not enjoy this type of work or don't understand the historical importance. We enjoy this type of work and do our best to be historically accurate. Think of this as “historical preservation”, not modernizing or upgrading away from the original design.
“Rebuilding” will replace most all of the replaceable parts of a piano. This goes well beyond ‘reconditioning' and is extensive work. The intention here is to bring the piano to ‘like-new or better' playing condition, New parts are chosen to the owner's selection for both sound and playing characteristics. Replacement parts may be from the original manufacturer or other supplier depending on individual preferences. Often we can recommend new parts that will sound and function even better than the original parts.
In most cases, “Rebuilding” will essentially give you a new piano inside the original case.
We specialize in rebuilding of high-end pianos and piano actions (the playing mechanism). We use the highest quality parts in our action rebuilding and pinblock/soundboard/string replacements.
On piano actions we go beyond merely replacing action parts and regulating them. We feel that pianists want an action to be an extension of their fingers and that it should respond with ease to whatever nuance they are trying to achieve. It is for this reason we go the extra step of insuring absolute consistency from note to note. We make sure the friction is correct and consistent by checking all the moving parts. This means up to 1232 friction points are cleaned, adjusted, and lubricated in just the action alone! There are numerous other friction areas throughout the piano as well. Then we make sure the keys are properly balanced for consistent touchweight from note to note. The end result is an action that plays like velvet, leaving the pianist to enjoy being a better musical artist.
We specialize in the rebuilding of high-end pianos. Rebuilding will normally include:
  • Repairs and refinishing of all cabinet parts (optional if the piano still looks good to the customer)
  • Repairs to or replacement of the soundboard and bridges
  • Refinishing of the cast iron plate (harp) and replacement of plate felts
  • Replacement of the pinblock
  • Replacement of all tuning pins and strings
  • Rebuilding of the keyboard and piano action (the playing mechanism)
Rebuilt Piano Front - Piano Service in Bristol, VT
Rebuilt Piano Angles - Piano Service in Bristol, VT
Here are 2 photos of an 1892 Steinway A Grand we rebuilt and refinished around the year 2000 for Middlebury College. At that time we replaced the soundboard, pinblock, strings, plate felts, all action parts and refinished the cast iron plate and cabinet. These recent photos, taken in 2016, show the piano in the college environment. The piano still looks very nice and is holding up very well.
A Note On the Rebuilding of Actions:

While the rebuilding of the action is most always involved in the of rebuilding of an entire piano, it is also frequently done separately during the lifetime of a piano before a total rebuild is needed.

Action rebuilding is extensive and very time consuming. It requires a great deal of skill, knowledge, and patience - especially patience. However, done well, it will often restore a piano back to as good as new or better playing condition. The end result is an action that plays like a dream, responding easily to a pianist's every nuance and subtlety.

Quality of Materials: There are different quality levels and costs to the many parts and materials used in pianos. Many technicians, to save money, will use less expensive and lower quality materials. At Hilbert Pianos we prefer to use only the highest quality parts in our action rebuilding and pinblock/soundboard/string replacements.

The memory of money saved is forgotten long before the disappointment of an inferior job.”