Lovely Rosewood Case and Ivory keytops


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                    This piano came into our shop for a restoration earlier this year.  Over the years, various types of patchwork had been done to it, but it never received a proper restoration.  


Plate and strings before

Rusty strings and a badly stained soundboard

Plate and new strings after

We retained the original artwork. Note the refinished soundboard under the plate

The Piano arrived at our shop with a crack in the cast iron plate

Many piano rebuilders today still think that such cracks cannot be repaired and thus the piano is worthless.  Technology has changed with regard to such repairs and fine pianos with cracked plates can often be repaired.

The Repaired plate ready for painting

The plate was properly repaired by use of steel locks installed across the crack. This repair is more reliable than welding cast iron.


A significant amount of case damage existed, calling for veneer work, especially on portions of the lid.

In the end, the lid turned out very nicely

Someone had installed a new aftermarket pedal lyre on the piano that did not fit well and looked awkward on this vintage piano.

We located an original 1860s pedal lyre and fitted it to the piano for an original look.

The Completed Piano


At Shaffer Pianos, we specialize in the restoration of American square grand pianos.  When properly restored, square grands can be appreciated as unique musical additions to homes.

We do every aspect of the restorations ourselves. We never contract out for cheap labor, including the common practice of some restorers to send the pianos to Mexico to be refurbished. We have heard from some of the unhappy owners of these pianos who sadly had to pay again to have the work done correctly. 

We are often asked if square pianos can be purchased unrestored and simply tuned or repaired in a customer’s home.

Generally our response is that these pianos, being 150 years old, will require complete restoration of the action (playing mechanisms), keys, strings, tuning pins, and more. The job requires disassembly of the pianos and requires space and time.







The table below provides an overview of some of the many facets of restoring antique pianos at Shaffer Pianos and illustrates why pianos should be restored in a shop and not a customer’s home. We offer moving from any location to our shop for restoration and then arrange for delivery following completion of the restoration.



Old pianos were often desirable nesting places for mice. They could nest in the back of the case, out of sight.  The nest to the right is what we found when we removed the action.

 After disassembly, we thoroughly vacuum, cleanse, and sand the entire piano to remove any and all traces of unwanted critters.  The wood is then sealed.

 This is a good reason to have an antique piano delivered to the restorer before you move it into your home.


The filthy soundboard to the right after the cast iron plate is removed.


This board will have a beautiful, new finish applied before we install the newly bronzed harp.




The entire piano is disassembled and stripped so all case and soundboard repairs can be made and a new finish can be applied.


The entire action is disassembled and cleaned. The photo to the right shows the action frame with all parts removed. Notice the worn felt and dust.

 After removing all the old cloth bedding and cleaning the action frame and key bed, we install all new felts of proper type.



This bass bridge had severe cracks.  The bridge pins came out by hand they were so loose.


If this piano were moved into the customer’s home without restringing and repairing this bridge, there would have been excessive string buzzing and difficulty obtaining a solid tuning.



We made a new bridge for this piano and installed new copper bridge pins.



Mounted on the back of the key in square grand piano actions is a “jack” that pops the hammer up to contact the string.  Jack springs were tied with a fine thread or cord which is often stretched and/or rotted.

We remove and retie all of the jack springs. Making replacement springs as well when necessary.

The jack on the left shows the old worn thread and the one on the right with a new black cord.

This is a tedious and time-consuming job that sadly most restorers skip.  When the customer asks them why the “restored” piano does not repeat well when they play it, they often respond that these pianos never played well.  In most cases, the problem is that the action was not carefully restored.