We invite you to visit our workshops at Landbeach, off the A10, just north of Cambridge. A prior call is helpful.
Can my player piano be repaired?
There is an important distinction between repair and restoration. Most player pianos were manufactured at least eighty years ago, and however carefully they have been maintained and however lovingly they have been cherished, the materials on which they depend for they operation will have perished or at least will have deteriorated. Full restoration, with the replacement of all relevant materials, therefore is likely to be necessary. Only when a complete restoration has been undertaken in the past is it likely that a repair, perhaps better described as servicing, will be effective. This is raises the question of what is meant by restoration.
Restoration to us means a complete rebuild, dismantling the piano action and the player mechanism into their individual components, refurbishing each component, which includes re-bushing a moving part, and stripping and recovering a pneumatic, before re-assembling and regulating. Similarly, with re-pinning and re-stringing, all ancillary work is included, such as refurbishing the sound board and repairing bridges, in addition to replacing the wrest pins and providing all new wire of the appropriate gauge and new covered strings wound to the pattern on the originals. When a keyboard is refurbished and the key bed re-laid, chipped and broken ivories are matched, badly glued key tops are relayed and non-ivory key tops that are broken or missing are matched with original reclaimed material. The scrapping of an original ivory keyboard is abhorrent to us.
With re-polishing we are not ourselves at present equipped to undertake complete original French polishing, but we do strip the instruments back to the wood after completely dismantling and removing all metal fittings, hinges and beadings. We repair the veneers, replace missing or damaged mouldings and re-polish with a hard finish using a base coat and curing agent resulting in a matt finish which becomes brighter with regular polishing. Quotations can be obtained for original French polishing on request.
However, many player pianos and conventional pianos of the period were spray finished rather than French polished. The finish we use has generally been found to be acceptable, and is much more durable and less vulnerable to accident damage than is French polish which can be irreversibly blemished by a spot of water or a carelessly placed drink.
Throughout, our restorations are as sensitive and authentic as it is possible for us to achieve in order to restore the instrument, as closely as possible to its original state.
Estimates and Quotations
We stress the distinction between an estimate and a quotation. The former is a general observation as to what the work is likely to cost, whereas a quotation is a firm commitment to complete the work satisfactorily for the figure given. The reputation that we have earned and seek to maintain is due at least in part to our appreciation of this distinction and our willingness to conform to it. Certainly on both sides it is essential in building and maintaining good customer relations.
Player Piano Spares
We have responded to customer demand by extending into the supply of a full range of materials for the restoration of player pianos including tubing, cloths, leathers, springs, ladder chain and other useful items such as leather nuts. All are listed in our Catalogue of Music Rolls and Accessories, price £3 This also lists restoration manuals and reference works on player pianos and other automatic musical instruments, accessories such as the Automation Kit for adding an additional function to your player piano and other items which only have to be purchased once, including tracker bar suction pumps, damp chasers and humidifiers. Other items not listed, and materials required for piano action restoration, can usually be supplied to pattern. See Spares and Accessories. For our general catalogue including repair materials, books, accessories and a wide range of music rolls please send Â£3. We aim to deal with all orders and despatch them within 7 working days of receipt.
All enquiries should be addressed to Cambridge Pianola Company, The Limes, Landbeach, Cambridge CB25 9FR for the attention of Tom Poole.