Piano RepairHave you already had the musical part of the piano restored? If not, you are approaching the thing in reverse.

piano tunningWhy do you want to restore the cabinet, only to later be told by a piano tuner to haul it to the dump?

Pianos RebuildingI have seen this happen. As I write, I am waiting for a customer to call whom I know has had the cabinet restored, and the inside works are a rattle trap.

piano serviceI shall have mercy on them and try to get the music back, but it may cost them far more than the beast is worth. Is there serious damage to the cabinet?

tuning servicesIs veneer falling off? Has it had serious water damage in the past?
piano restorationIf the thing is just ugly and black, and the varnish badly checked, don't worry-- it can probably be brought back.

Piano RefinishingBut, if it looks like a trash pile, you are wasting your life to go to all the work to restore the cabinet. You have many many hours of tedious work ahead of you. Start with a piano that has some promise. If it does not qualify, but it is playing pretty good, use it for you or your student, and start shopping for a better piano-- one worthy of restoration. Make sure all the veneer is firmly attached. If the veneer on the ends of the lower bar, which holds the front casters, is damaged, that can be repaired. If veneer has worked loose, but it is all there, I will tell you later how to reattach it.

Pianos RefurbishedIf it is a grand piano, are the lure, desk, and lid in good solid condition, and are they all there? You can tighten and restore them, but if they are broken up, you may have a hard time finding parts. We can usually find something to meet the need, but you should contact us before going on and starting the restoration. Grand lids can have ruptured wood at the hinges. This is very hard to repair. I have never even tried it.

piano salesA grand desk which is falling apart is highly suspect. Can your friend the piano tuner repair the desk for you? Also, check with a tuner to see if the brand of piano you have really has a good reputation. For example, if you first restore a Steinway, Knabe, Boesendorfer, Beckstein, Chickering, or Kurtzmann, these are well known high quality pianos. You should not toss out one of these pianos without making a try at restoration.

wholesale pianoThey may make good practice pianos, but beware of a full restoration until you have a second opinion. I mentioned Winter above. Before they got into trouble financially they made good full sized upright. But, their later grand and consoles were pure trash. One reason to paint a piano is seen in the photo at the right. Why are you restoring the piano? If it is a family heirloom, and you just have to have it back to perfection, that's a good reason. If you got it from a friend, it means very little to you, you have no budding pianist to inherit it, you are in for a let down. Try restoring an oak kitchen table of a hutch. When you are done, you will not have raised the value of this piano to cover the labor you put into it. So, you have decided you want to restore the piano, right?

     The Process | Our Facility

Michael A. White started his apprenticeship in 1967 while still in high school in Sarasota, Florida. Mike worked with H.E. Laubach for seven years as a bench tech and finisher before he began working in the field. Since the mid 1800’s, the Laubach family had been technicians and manufacturers of pianos. Mr. Laubach’s shop in Sarasota restored pianos, player pianos, and reed organs.

Mike was a service manager for a few large piano dealers in South Carolina, Minnesota, and in Texas. In the early 1980’s he attended the Yamaha School in California and the Steinway Factory School in New York. In 1983, he became staff technician at the world-renowned Round Top Music Festival in Central Texas. Since then, he has been well known as a Concert and Artist’s Technician.

Throughout the 80s and 90s, Michael White had a retail piano tuning business and he was rebuilding large numbers of pianos from his market in the Houston and Corpus Christi/South Texas area. In 2000, he opened a shop near LaGrange, Texas because of its proximity to Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Also, it’s just a few miles from Round Top. Because of this location, Plum Pianos can conveniently service the rebuilding needs of technicians from all these major markets. Today, about 20% of the instruments in the Plum Pianos shop come from out-of-state.

In addition to running Plum Pianos, Mike has a very large area to which he provides retail tuning and repair service. He also tunes for several symphony orchestras, Young Artist competitions, universities, and music festivals. Michael resides in San Angelo, Texas, with his wife and son.

Mike and his staff really enjoy rebuilding pianos. While most of the pianos they work on are Steinways, Mason & Hamlins, Baldwins, or Knabes, the shop occasionally gets a lesser-known brand. It is the odd Chickering or Weber or Sohmer that adds a new and interesting challenge.

“An old George Steck or Kurtzmann can be a magnificent piano when you put the time and effort into them, but they are not worth as much as a Steinway or Mason & Hamlin when you are finished. On the other hand, the old off-brand piano does not cost as much up front, and you still end up with a great piano.”

Plum Pianos will occasionally rebuild a more obscure brand of piano just for the pleasure of the outcome and to surprise those who may not realize what a rich history that America had in the manufacturing of fine pianos.

© 2007 by Plum Piano Restoration, Inc.