We recently had an upright piano action in our shop that had no movement in the action and had not moved for almost 3 decades! Why? Because the customer, almost 30 years ago, hired a piano technician who decided to use WD-40 as a lubricant on all the piano action center pins. What a bummer for our customer and anyone else who had their piano serviced by a technician who used WD-40 on their piano action.
WD-40 is an amazing product but it has caused a lot of damage over the years in the piano world...and, while it worked wonders in the moment, it leaves a residue that takes a lot of work to repair.
In pianos, over time, the action center pins become sluggish because they tend to bind up and subjoin the felt bushings in their perspective flange. The best remedy for this natural occurrence is to recenter all the flanges. However, the process is quite pricey and so lubrication is often used as a temporary remedy to free up stickiness and sluggishness.
In this particular piano action where WD-40 was used, the customer stated that it worked really well for a short amount of time after the WD-40 was applied and over that short period, the entire action stopped working. WD-40 left an oily residue that attracted dirt and dust and caused the flange felt to harden onto the center pins.
This repair was quite a bit of work, as there are hundreds of pins and bushings that had to be repaired.
Just a tip: do not use WD-40 on a piano action!
The picture above is of Noah Lane with one of the pieces of wall art that he made out of reclaimed wood and old piano keys from an old piano that was going to the landfill. Noah spends hours and hours each month working on piano key wall art and he sells these pieces of art to fund his college account. If you are interested in getting one of Noah's pieces of piano key wall art, feel free to send Joel Lane an email. Here is Joel's email info:
At AAA Piano, we offer piano removal and piano disposal service in the Sacramento area and all of Northern California. We get quite a few phone calls from people asking how they can dispose of their old piano or simply get rid of it, and unfortunately, piano heaven is where a lot of these old pianos are destined to go. Side note, you could also get your piano refinished and here is a link to a blog that suggests "5 Reasons To Refinish Your Piano."
We are just like any other piano owner and we hate to see pianos go to the dump or into the landfill. Pianos have so much history and memories around them, and are often times just a part of the family. For this reason, we started offering a new service where we will create a piece of art or furniture out of the old piano. There have been quite a few clients who have enjoyed having us turn their old piano into a bookshelf, a bar, a coffee table, or even a bed!
We started saving some of the piano keys from some of the old pianos that were going to the dump and Noah Lane, who is the son of one of our piano technicians, Joel Lane, started to make wall art out of the old piano keys. He has had quite a following around this service that he offers. Some clients do not want to get rid of the piano completely, so having the piano keys converted into a piece of art works for them. This is just one of the many things that we do with old pianos that are destined for the landfill, in an effort to keep more old pianos around and out of the dirt.
Let us know if you have an old piano that you would like to have converted into a piece of wall art or a piece of unique furniture. Or, if you just need to let your piano go to piano heaven, we can help out with that. Call today for more info:
Piano Keytop Repair
In our piano workshop in El Dorado Hills, just east of Sacramento, California, we often have pianos come in that are in need of ivory key top or plastic keytop repairs. Many times these pianos will simply have missing keytops or have broken key-tops that need to be replaced. As well, the ebony keytops often need repair or replacement. This is a common piano repair...so, if you have quite a few ivory or ebony piano keytops missing or broken, don't feel like your problem is unique.
We have seen many different ways to do this repair, but here at AAA Piano, we have a process where we carefully measure the thickness of the keys and the weight of the new keytops compared to the key tops being replaced. We remove some of the material from the keys to ensure proper height placement as well as to create a smooth and even surface to place the new key-tops on. We also use a spray adhesive that is stronger than contact cement or some of the other glues that some piano technicians use, which also creates more of an even space in the middle of the new keytop and the piano key. Between the completely even/smooth surface and the spray adhesive, we've created the strongest bond possible for a keytop replacement repair, which will last for another hundred years!
Solid Ivory Piano Keys?
"Are my piano keys solid ivory?"
There is a common misconception that old pianos have solid ivory keys. This just simply is not true. Years ago, many pianos were manufactured with ivory keytops, not solid ivory keys. There's a huge difference. Most of the material of a piano key is made of wood and the keytops would be just a very thin piece of ivory or plastic material covering a small portion of the top and front of the wooden piano key. No wonder we get this question asked all the time, "Well, the piano has solid ivory keys...it must be worth a lot of money!"
Isn't The Ivory On A Piano Worth A Lot of Money???
It is true that, in most cases, the buying and selling of ivory was been banned years ago and would lead some to think that there would be some second-hand value. But, it is simply illegal to sell ivory in most cases. If you were to post ivory keytops for sell on the internet, your ad would be flagged for removal and you could face some serious consequences...with that being said, there really is not much value for the buyer or the seller. Remember that over the years, there has been an exorbitant amount of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trafficking. Stay away from any illegal activity around ivory. The best thing you could do with your old piano ivory keytops is to give it to your local piano technician. As piano technicians, it is still legal for us to use old pieces of piano ivory keytops to match up the color and size and replace missing piano keytop pieces. But, in most cases, we suggest having your old piano keytops completely replaced with new plastic keytops. Give us a call to get a quote on your piano.
4 Questions You Should Ask Your Piano Mover:
1. How Long & How Often Have You Been Moving Pianos?
2. What Type Of Insurance Do You Carry?
3. Are You Also A Piano Technician Or Just A Piano Mover?
4. Where Can I See Reviews For Your Piano Moving Service?
1. How Long & How Often Have You Been Moving Pianos?
How long have you been moving pianos?
While this is a very important question, an even better question might be, "how often do you move pianos?" An, "all the time" answer should not be sufficient for you...
It is very important that you, as the piano owner, know who and at what level of skill you are dealing with when it comes to piano moving. Many furniture movers will say, "we move pianos all the time!" However, "all the time" to them may mean 20-30 pianos a year, while piano movers may be moving 500 or more pianos a year. It's simply a fact that there will be a huge difference in skill and experience. If you have a furniture mover who moves 20-30 pianos a year, they will more than likely not know all the little quirks of the different styles and brands, which in some cases could mean the difference between a damaged piano and not. At AAA Piano, a huge part of our business is piano repair, and we often get calls from piano owners who had used a furniture mover or a bad piano mover and their piano now needs major repair.
2. What Type Of Insurance Do You Carry?
In our state of California, most movers that we know of, whether they are piano movers or furniture movers, only carry the insurance that is required by the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission), which reimburses you at a rate of $.60 cents per pound. Unfortunately, this kind of coverage would only cover a small portion of most major repairs. At AAA Piano, we do a lot of piano repairs for other movers who often damage pianos and most of the time, the piano owner is the one who ends up paying for most of the piano repair costs. At AAA Piano, we carry multiple insurance policies, which cover your piano's full value, no matter if we're moving or storing your piano. If your piano is in our care, your piano is fully covered. In the possible event of damage caused by us while in our care, your piano would be covered for it's full value and nothing less. That's a huge deal and very important to consider when choosing a piano mover. But, what's even more important is choosing a piano moving company who has an enormous amount of piano moving experience and skill. A testament to our experience would be the fact that in all the years we have been providing piano service, we have never needed to use our insurance. But even with our amazing track record, we still find it highly valuable to carry the best insurance to give everyone peace of mind. Don't be caught in the terrible situation where you use a bad mover and end up having to move your piano to a repair shop and then move it again back to your home, all on your dime. Get it done right the first time.
Call us today.
3. Are You Also A Piano Technician or Just A Piano Mover?
Most piano movers in the Sacramento area are not piano technicians. There are many intricate parts on a piano and as a piano technician, we have a different view of the pianos we move than a normal mover would have, which provides the opportunity for complete piano service. We often get called by homeowners who have had their piano moved by a regular mover and an issue begins to occur with the playability and total function of the piano. At that point, hiring a piano technician to asses and fix any issues would be ideal. Using AAA Piano as a piano mover has it's advantages, as we not only have over 4 decades of experience, we are also piano technicians and piano tuners as well. We would suggest, no matter where you live, hiring a piano mover who is also a piano technician, if at all possible.
4. Where Can I See Reviews For Your Piano Moving Service?
We believe that reviews and testimonials are very important to choosing a good piano mover. Piano moving is a trade that takes a lot of experience and skill and you deserve to have a successful move and a positive experience. You're paying for it! Read up. Do a little homework on who you're dealing with.
Check out AAA Piano's reviews here:
4 Questions Every Piano Mover Should Ask You:
1. What Is The Type & Size of Your Piano?
2. How Many Steps & Tight Turns Are At Each Location?
3. What Is The Address For Both The Pickup & Drop-Off Locations?
4. Are You Flexible On The Moving Time & Date?
1. What Is The Type And Size Of Your Piano?
This might sound like a very basic question, but often times people don't know what type of piano they have and it is very important for a piano moving company to know the type and size of your piano, before they arrive to do the work of moving your piano. There are so many different styles and manufacturers of pianos and some are easier to move than others...and some pianos take some extra experience and skill to move. All this information plays into the verbal quote given to you over the phone by your piano mover, so it is best to do your homework and find out as much information as you can, before you call your piano mover for a quote.
Here is a guide to the different types of pianos (and, a little help with the size):
Upright Piano, Studio Piano, Console Piano, Spinet Piano, Square Grand Piano, Grand Piano, Baby Grand Piano
2. How Many Steps & Tight Turns Are At Each Location?
As a piano mover, we try to get as much information about your particular move over the phone, as to provide an accurate cost to move your piano. It is very important to know how many steps and tight turns there are at each location. How many steps between each landing? How big is your landings between the steps? We will need to know the total width and length of the landings. These dimensions should include unobstructed measurements, as that extra couple of inches from the railing, may be the difference between a successful piano move and a failed attempt.
It is also important to know if there has been any construction done to either home, after the piano has been moved in. There have been multiple homes we have entered to move a piano and the homeowner didn't think about that new wall with a smaller door jam or that new curved stair case in which a piano would never be able to travel. I know it sounds far fetched, but just in the Sacramento area alone, we run into this issue about 5 or 6 times a year. If you have any question as to your recent remodeling around your piano, it's best to send us pictures, either through our Contact Page or through text: 916-397-7426 and then follow up with a phone call.
3. What Is The Address For Both The Piano Pickup & Piano Drop-Off Locations?
We have been moving pianos in the Sacramento area for many years and we started in El Dorado County, in the town of Placerville. We know firsthand the importance of knowing the addresses of both the piano pickup location and the drop-off location, as just the city may not tell us much about the distance. Just as an example, it often takes 35-45 minutes to get from one end of Sacramento or Placerville to the other end. Or, even 20 minutes to get from one end of Folsom or El Dorado Hills to the other end. It is very helpful to have the addresses to give you an accurate quote, but at the very least, it helps if you know the cross streets. The more accurate you are with your information during a piano move, the better it is for all involved.
4. Are You Flexible On The Time & Date of Your Piano Move?
If you plan your piano move out right, you should be calling to schedule your piano movers at least one week in advance, but two to four weeks could be more advantageous to you, depending on your piano mover's location during other moves throughout any given month. For example, if you live in Roseville, California and you need your piano moved to San Francisco within a week or two, chances are, we will be able to schedule more than one piano move in both locations, within your time frame, which could dramatically change the price and availability in your favor, as opposed to calling and asking to have your piano moved that day or within the next day or two. For many of our long distance moves, we have the option to pickup the piano and store the piano in our climate controlled piano storage for a short period of time, until we are planning to be near the drop-off location of your piano. Sometimes we won't have the option to add in more piano moves last minute, but feel free to give us a call to see what our availability is and remember to call in advance to make it easier on everyone involved. It's also important to note that most piano movers move pianos Monday through Friday, during normal business hours. At AAA Piano, we will additional offer to move pianos very early in the morning to give you a chance to get the job done before you even head off to work, making the timing more secured for you, being that yours could possibly be the first or second piano move of the day.
1. Keep Your Piano In The Family
Many of the pianos that we refinish here at AAA Piano are pianos that are family heirlooms...pieces of furniture that have been so alive in the past, but have become less attractive looking and do not sound as good as you remember. The piano that was once alive with action and wonderful sound, with the entire family gathered around, is now just collecting dust. But, even through all that, there is still life in that old family piano. Life that is waiting to be restored to once again fill the home with beautiful music.
There comes a time when a piano owner starts thinking about what to do with the family piano. They just can't bring themselves to give the piano away because the memories are too great and the bond is too strong. And, there is no way they would even think about throwing the piano away and sending it to the landfill. This is the time to make that decision to keep the family piano, in the family.
Refinishing your piano is an amazing way to breathe new life into the piano and into your family's memories. A refinished piano and completely restored piano, naturally draws people into it, as it calls to be played again.
2. Not Ready For Piano Heaven
As of 2017, the life expectancy of humans is between 85-90 years of age. As we age and get older, our bodies begin to break down, become tired and eventually fail. Our pianos are very similar, and just like with our bodies, we can do many things to prolong the life of our pianos, including routine maintenance, or in the case of a piano, a complete rebuild and refinish.
Here is some information taken directly from the Piano Technician's Guild website about what to expect as your piano ages, which, in a funny way, sounds very similar to our bodies:
"In the short term, leather and felt compact, affecting the adjustment (regulation) of the parts. The action becomes less responsive, and the piano's tone loses dynamic range. Squeaks and rattles may develop. Routine maintenance such as hammer filing, regulation, voicing, and tuning will correct these problems and maintain the piano in near-new condition. After extended or very heavy use, action parts become severely worn. Leather and felt wear thin. Keys become wobbly, hammer felt gets too thin to produce good tone, and the action becomes noisy. Regulation adjustments reach their limit. In addition, piano strings may begin breaking and the copper windings of bass strings lose resonance.
After decades of exposure to seasonal changes, the wood of the soundboard, bridges, and pinblock is weakened. This causes loose tuning pins, poor tuning stability, and further loss of tone. By this time the piano's finish will often be scratched or faded." - ptg.org
Excerpt quoted from: http://www.ptg.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=63&MenuKey=Menu7
Although the above describes what happens to piano as it ages, all these adverse affects of time can be fixed. Sometimes the choice is not easy to send a piano to piano heaven, but be assured, here at AAA Piano, no piano is beyond repair.
3. Memories Beyond Repair
Grandma used to say, "practice makes perfect!" Especially when playing the piano... practice is key! Practice, practice and more practice.
Many of us have spent numerous hours behind the keys of the family piano and have gathered around the piano playing duets with other family members. Those markers in time bring great memories that can be shared with family for many years to come...as long as the piano is playable.
Most pianos that have been well loved for many years, need repairs. Repairs can be costly, especially when multiple small repairs are done over many different visits from a piano technician. The key is to completely restore and refinish the piano and then have the piano maintained yearly.
If you were thinking about having your piano refinished, this would be the perfect time to have all the necessary repairs completed. The time to do all those repairs would be when the piano is in our shop.
During the refinishing process, you have the option to have AAA Piano completely or partially rebuild the "guts" of your piano. Before we start the rebuilding process, we provide a complete estimate based on our thorough piano inspection. Our technicians completely disassemble your piano and go through a very detailed inspection process where we look at any possible damage in the piano action, the piano strings, the bridges, the pin-block, the piano keys, the piano sound board, the piano plate, and throughout every area of the piano, to get a good understanding of any possible damage, wear, and/or deterioration in the piano that would need attention.
Once we contact you and let you know what we have found, we will let you know all the details, including the price to either partially or completely repair the piano. During the refinishing process, we will complete the repairs and reassemble the piano. At that point, your piano will be in great playable shape, which will match the look of your refinished piano. A great looking piano and a good functionally sound piano is our ultimate goal and we are confident you will be amazed at the transformation.
No piano is beyond repair and holding onto your memories, and creating new ones, will be worth every bit of work involved.
4. Less Expensive Than You Think
The cost to refinish your piano will vary with many different factors, but overall, the cost to refinish and completely restore your piano will often be much less than purchasing a new piano of the same quality. The different factors that determine the cost would be based on your choice to partially restore or fully restore and refinish your piano, which may be a combination of work done to both the interior and the exterior of the piano. Depending on the quality of the finish, and the amount of work needed on the piano action, the price will vary, however, it may be less expensive than you think to refinish or restore your piano. Give us a call to discuss your particular piano's needs and we would be happy to guide you through the process. 916-397-7426
We do all our work in house and we have plenty of years of experience to provide you with the highest quality piano restoration.
5. Give Your Piano A New Look
Is your piano's color or style outdated? Very similar to other pieces of outdated furniture and/or cabinets that are in your home that do not match your current decor, your piano may also have that same look, however, your piano no longer needs to be an eye-sore. We do all kinds of finishes, including flat, satin, semi-gloss and high gloss finishes. We also paint pianos in any style, including shabby chic, so make sure to ask us about our piano painting options.
a GRAND Birthday Surprise!
We recently received a call from a gentleman by the name of Rod from Sacramento. Rod was looking for a piano for his wife for a special day. But, this wasn’t just any special day, this was her birthday! Sondra and Rod have been together for over 16 years, and I guess you could say that they had celebrated just a couple of birthdays together in that time. But, this year, Rod wanted to not only come up with a gift that was special, but also a gift that he knew Sondra would use for years to come. Sondra had been taking piano lessons and practicing piano on a small keyboard, purchased from a local electronics shop. From her experience playing on a real piano as a child, Sondra knew that the touch and feel of the piano, versus a keyboard, was simply different and believed it hindered her ability to progress at the rate she expected. Rod, being the attentive and caring husband that he is, decided to do something about it. Rod found AAA Piano on the internet, and through a series of phone calls and emails with advice from AAA Piano owner, Steve Stokes, Rod found a piano in Roseville. We did an piano assessment in the seller's home, before Rod purchased the piano, and we agreed it would be, the perfect grand surprise for Sondra. A grand piano! And, that was the best part. Rod decided to make all this piano purchasing business a surprise and kept it a secret until we walked up to their front door at their home in Sacramento, with a baby grand piano, and...made a wonderfully grand entrance. Happy Birthday!
We helped rearrange some furniture and moved the grand piano into the perfect place in their home, and once we completed the piano tuning, we celebrated with Rod & Sondra’s family and ate some amazing cheesecake.
In the piano business, it’s surprises like these that make the day grand!
Creating smoother travel between the piano key assembly & key bed
The una corda pedal (or, "the soft pedal") on a grand piano, is used to move the entire key assembly ("action assembly") to the right of the piano, allowing the piano hammers to hit the piano strings in a different position than at the resting position, causing a more muted or "softer" sound. For example, with the una corda pedal depressed, the hammer on a single string note will hit on a softer part of the hammer, if the hammer is voiced properly. As well, with the una corda piano pedal depressed, on a bi-chord note, the hammer should only hit one of the two piano strings and on a tri-chord note, the hammer should only hit on two of the three piano strings, causing less sound during each strike of the hammer against the piano strings. Sometimes, the area between the action assembly and the key bed on a grand piano, which is the area directly beneath the piano keys, will have rough terrain, which causes friction, as well as undesirable noises when the una corda pedal is depressed.
During this repair, we first remove the piano fallboard. Then, we remove the cheek blocks and then the entire action assembly from the grand piano. Once the action assembly has been removed, we use 400 to 600 grit sandpaper to sand down the bottom of the action assembly in all areas where the action assembly regularly meets the key bed. As well, we use 400 to 600 grit sandpaper to sand down the key bed, where the action assembly rests and travels upon, while in the piano. Once we have finished sanding down those areas, we simply vacuum the dust created by the sanding process and then add teflon powder to any area where the action assembly rests and travels in the key bed once the una corda pedal is depressed. We then reset the action, cheek blocks, key slip and piano fallboard. Once complete, we test the progress by depressing the una corda pedal to compare the difference in movement and travel from before we began the repair process. The piano's action assembly should move much easier and smoother as a result.
In the following video, piano technician, Joel Lane, is in one our piano storage & repair buildings and shows us how he creates smoother travel between the grand piano's action assembly and the piano key bed, allowing for cleaner and softer movement when depressing the una corda pedal.
We often move pianos with a crane
Piano moving can be tricky when dealing with tight corners, flights & flights of stairs, new construction or simply just no possible way...in these cases, we often move pianos with crane service.
Here in the Sacramento area and in many other parts of Northern California, we offer piano hoisting with crane service, when the situation calls for it. On average, we do a piano crane move at least once a month and we are very skilled and experienced with the process of piano moving via crane.
In this video, our customer had a piano in his living room that he wanted in an upstairs area of the home where there was no other way in than a crane. The tight turn in the stairway didn't allow for a traditional piano move and he almost gave up on the idea until we offered another way in: move the piano with a crane! And so it happened...and in place of the piano in his living room, we moved his grand piano out of piano storage and into his living room, taking up the adjacent space where the upright piano hoisted by the crane lived at one time...
Whether you have an upright piano or a grand piano, pianos often have brass parts that become weathered or tarnished due to age, temperature and humidity changes and/or pet urine. Some of these brass parts include brass plated piano hinges and screws, solid brass piano casters, brass piano pedals and pedal rods, brass piano leg ferrules, brass piano knobs and more...
While either in our El Dorado Hills Piano Storage and Piano Repair shop or during one of our Piano Moves in the Sacramento area, we often see that the brass on the pedals, pedal rods and the casters (piano wheels) have become tarnished over the years. Unfortunately, this tarnish on your piano's brass parts, not only looks unsightly, but the tarnish will also begin to make some of these parts seize up, preventing movement and adding undesirable squeaking noises, especially in the pedals.
As a part of our piano refurbishing service, we offer complete restoration of these parts and they are often in better shape and will stay cleaner longer after we finish our process, than when the piano was first built. We are often able to get the brass parts on the piano smoother than when the piano was first built, which creates an environment that is less likely to allow tarnish to build up in the future. One of the processes we use is bead blasting, which is a process of cleaning with very fine pieces of glass through a high pressure system. Once the bead blasting of the piano parts are complete, we will then go through a process of cleaning and lubrication with compressed air and a dry teflon lubricant.
If your brass piano parts are well tarnished, we suggest using our cleaning service first and then maintaining the cleanliness with a product like Brasso. Or, if the brass parts of your piano have a minimal amount of tarnish, try cleaning up the brass on your own piano, with "brasso" or "flitz" and a soft cloth. You could either remove the pieces and clean them or clean them in place. While cleaning in place, be careful not to allow any of the cleaning compound to touch the adjacent parts of the piano, as it may leave an undesirable residue. For example, if you are cleaning the brass piano pedals, it is easy to get the cleaning compound on the felt around the pedal housing. We suggest either using painters tape, paper or cardboard to mask off the areas around the pedals, for the neatest result.