Piano Soundboard Replacement

A key factor in piano restoration is to leave no weak links. Often times, the piano soundboard is that weak link. If not replace when needed, the instrument will remain an old piano in need of restoration regardless of how much other work has been done. I am guilty of this myself with jobs I have done in the past. Given, I’ve been at it for over 40 years there is a good reason. A 100 year old piano today was a 60 year old piano in my early years. However, I have had to change my perspective. Nowadays I opt to replace boards in nearly all the pianos I rebuild. I some cases still though, a board will not need to be replaced.

What Necessitates Replacing a Piano Soundboard

Soundboards are made for solid wood. Generally a straight grain quarter-sawn spruce is used. Some of the finest woods have come from the British Northwest and Alaska, the Adirondack Mountains, and southern Germany. Like all wood, soundboards will natural fatigue. The wood will loose its moisture content and elasticity, resin becomes too hard, and glue joints fail. In addition, the built-in crown of the soundboard itself will collapse and fail, rendering the board no longer able to support the downward pressure of the string and its ability to vibrate correctly.

Pictured blow are some of the steps taken in my shop to manufacture and replace a new soundboard.

New Panel Getting Measure to Rim

New Panel Getting Cut
Ribs Stock Getting Fit to Rim
Soundboard with New Ribs Pressed
Bridge Locations Getting Scribed
First Coat of Hand Brush Varnish Applied to Back of Board
New Board Getting Glued into Rim
New Board with Bridges Attached

My Old Piano by Lucile Surface


My Old Piano by Lucile Surface

Who will want this old piano
After I can play no more?
Who will love and cherish it?
That is what I want to know.
Though it is scarred, its finish marred
It’s tone is as sweet and melodious as before.
Many were the tales of joy, laughter and grief
Played by our family and brought relief
As our faith in God raised to brighten our days
And help us go cheerfully on our ways

For years I sat in the dusk of evening
With my little ones gathered ’round,
And left my mind go wandering back
How they thrilled to its glorious sound.
It was played at the Chautauqua
About the turn of the century,
How its music soared in the summer air,
Bringing joy to all who gathered there.

It is there that my father found it
As he searched for one for our home,
How our hearts were filled with gladness
When he bought it to be our own.
Many years have passed since that day
But the beauty of the tones are there today,
In my heart I rejoice over its wonderful presence
That brings back those long gone days.
Who will want this old piano when I can play no more?
Who will love and cherish it, I would like to know.

My Old PianoLucile Surface

This piano is still in use by Lucile’s great grand daughters. A Davenport and Tracy upright built in the early 1900’s.I tune it twice each year. It is still loved and cherished. Lucile would be proud!


Related item: Diana Ross sings – My Old Piano.

Piano Climate Control Systems

I am often asked if I recommend piano climate control systems to be installed into a piano. No, I do not. I am one of the very few technicians who will take this position. It is for good reason. My reasons, straight out, are this – in some cases they will increase tuning stability but I have found that 100% of the time, over long term, they will cause damage. I am saying this from the point of over 40 years of observation.
In some situations climate control systems can be useful devices, but in most cases they are installed recklessly and unnecessarily. The manufacturers of the most popular climate control system have express to me that their biggest challenge is to see that their product is being used in the correct application and installed as intended. As a field technician I sympathize with them since most of what I see is detrimental to their cause.
The driving force behind the sale of these products is incentive for add-on sales by stores and technicians.
The best way to acclimatize a piano is to control the environment in which it is place. In some cases, such as with institutions and large halls, it is difficult to do this. In this case, the risks and rewards need to be evaluated and the lesser of two evils must be selected. If the selection is to install a climate control system than it must be done correctly.
The images on this page show a terrible situation involving a Steinway “B” concert grand belonging to a client of mine. Someone came along and installed a climate control system and it has caused severe damage to an otherwise magnificent instrument.


There was absolutely no need to install this system on this piano. The piano sits in a 7 figure house with a state-of-the-art heating and air cooling system. As you can see from the images the soundboard is damaged directly above the area where the water tank is located. This is what I find with most installations.
Pianos must be treated in a uniform manor with regard to humidity. The humidity needs to be  kept constant in the area surrounding the piano. In the installation shown the humidity is concentrated in a small area of the soundboard. Sadly, this is the case in most installations.
I suggest thinking very carefully about installing one of these systems in your piano. If a system is absolutely necessary, consult with an experienced and competent technician with experience in climate control and piano climate control system installation before making a decision. Consider instead acclimatizing the entire room with air cooling and heating.
Areas where the winters are long the air becomes dangerously dry the problem is easily remedied by humidification of the entire room or house. In climates of high humidity, consider a central or room unit cooling system.

Remember, however, that the key factor is stability. I maintain instruments for clientele in the northeaster US as well as in the southwest. Each climate is opposite the other. Regardless of the humidity difference between the regions I have found that minimizing the fluctuation in relative humidity within a 12 month period by keeping it within a 25% variance, pianos will not need a climate control system.

Steinway Walnut Console Piano For Sale ***SOLD***

Steinway & Sons Console Piano Sr.#378591 Built 1962 Walnut


This instrument has been in my care for over 30 years with regular scheduled maintenance. The action has been recondioned within the past few years. This piano has had minimal use and is in near new condition.

This model Steinway was constructed with the highest standards and materials. Nothing new in the US market compares in quality.

Steinway Piano






Baldwin Piano Model R Baby Grand

Baldwin Model “R” Grand Piano Sr. #242552 Built 1981

Baldwin Piano For Sale Model R Price $8,999.00 Includes delivery within New York State, excluding NYC and Long Island (a small surcharge will be applied).

Medium Walnut Satin Finish, Built 1981Baldwin Piano Model R





Baldwin Piano Model RBaldwin Piano Model RBaldwin Piano Model R


Baldwin Piano Model R

Fully reconditioned and in near new condition. This Baldwin Piano Model R has received minimum use and is in excellent condition with nice tone. Built in 1981 in the Baldwin factory in the US before company was sold and manufacturing went overseas. This is the original Model R.

This Baldwin Piano Model R instrument is high quality. The Rim (Body) is made of hard maple like Steinway uses, giving distinctive dynamic tone, unlike Asian made pianos with softer wood rims.

This piano features the patented Baldwin acujust hitch pins. This feature allow for precision setting of string hieght after the plate (string frame) is installed.

As you can see from the photos the action, bridges and soundboard are in like-new condition. Case is in excellent condition with the exception of a few cat scratches and slightly worn edges

Work done:

Action Reconditioned

  • Hammer Heads Reshaped and Voiced


Wear to the hammer heads is normal. Subsequently, reshaping and voicing is done for optimal tone and tuning ability. These hammers have been reshaped, a voicing procedure done by sanding the outer perimeter of the hammer head recreating a smooth striking surface and correct symmetry.

Baldwin Piano For SaleGrand Piano For SalePiano For Sale

  • Action Screws Tightened


  • Adjustments made to bring action back to specification.

Piano is Tune stable to Standard Pitch A440. This piano never tuned below pitch and is very stable at A440.


  • Notice how clean keybed is. Internally this piano is like new; better is some cases. Many new pianos use a CNC routed laminated panel for keybed. This one is a high quality spruce keybed made up with expnasion panels to inusre stability of the action.
  • Accujust Hitch Pins and Hard Maple Bridges


  • Soundboard in excellent condition. Made of high quality tight-grain Sitka pruce with mortised ribbing. Many new pianos in double this price range have laminated boards of inferior quality. The soundbard is the heart of the piano.


  • Case Finish Touched Up and Polished

This Baldwin Piano Model R is priced very fairly. This price is far below what an equal quality new piano would sell for. Anything in the new market at this price point is of no comparison.

Re-Glueing The Sides of a Console Piano

Here’s an interesting piano repair which illustrates and important point.

This instrument was sold to a customer looking for a second piano at an affordable price.Grand Workshoppe Piano Compnay Upon inspection the piano was determined to be a good instrument in good condition. However, there was an issue with the sides delaminating from the back. This caused a serious problem with structural stability and action performance. The symptoms seemed to be devastating. In most cases this piano would have been considered unusable and discarded. However, with less than one hour’s work both sides were reglued to the back, correcting the problem. In addition, action reconditioning was performed. This instrument will now serve a family (and at least one successive generation) with years of musical quality and joy.

The take-home here is to not discount an instrument until it is properly assessed by adfuscopiano.com competent technician. Customers are often ill-advised to replace pianos like this with expense new pianos of lesser quality. Most piano stores, technicians, and even piano shops are not well-enough equipped to do work like this at an affordable cost. Therefore, the option to fix a problem like this is not offered.

We always try to work out the economics of piano work so we are able to preserve as many instruments as possible. It would be easy to resolve that this piano is not worth this type work. It is our job to manage work affordably. Our experience and facility enables us to make big jobs small [and affordable]. Even though this instrument shares the shop floor with grand pianos worth 40 – 50 times its value it is important that each are treated with Daniel Fuscothe same attitude and integrity.

Work like this is a daily task in our shop. No big deal. To toot our own horn this is what sets Grand Workshoppe apart from all other shops in Central New York.  We are proud of this fact.



Blind Ambition – The Day I Met the Duport Stradivarius Cello

For those who appreciate musical instruments and their inherent heirloom qualities I’d like to share a story. It is a story of an experience I had years ago, with significance now more apparent. Like many experiences we (I) have we do not always realize the hidden messages that will serve us throughout life. This one is about blind ambition guided by the hands of a master.

In my work as a piano craftsman I had the privilege of working with the great maestroMstislav_Rostropovich Mistislav Rostropovich. He entrusted me with the restoration of several of his keyboard instruments. It was an honor to spend time with him, getting to know him and some of his family. One “family” member in particular was his cello. He had a collection of rare instruments with lineage going back hundreds of years.

One day he showed me his new studio on the third level of his home. It was designed by the great architect Ieoh Ming (I M) Pei, designer of renowned buildings such as John F Kennedy Library, National Gallery of Art, Bank of China Tower, and many other iconic commercial structures. He, however, took pleasure in designing this little room for Slava where the master could practice. It was a small room with an elevated ceiling that carried sound upwards seemingly into infinity while at the same time expanding in all other directions. I sat there in awe as Slava bowed his cello and the sound wrapped the two of us in a cloud of beauty that seemed to carry us upwards into Pei’s magic creation.

I commented on what genius the design of this room was and also on the unearthly sound of the cello. It was a rare Stradivarius, I knew, but yet I knew little of how I had just experienced something of tremendous privilege which would affect me for life.

I noticed deep scratches on the face of the cello and mentioned to Slava that we should fix that. It would be no different that work I do on the spruce bellies of pianos. In his wise, kind, and masterful way Rostropovich said to me; “no, no, we don’t touch this, these are marks made by Napoleon’s spurs”. He explained to me that this Cello once belong to the great maestro Jean-Louis Duport in the early 1800’s. He explained that once Napoleon snatched it from Duport’s hands saying “I can play that”. He swung the instrument around raising one of his short legs up and over. As he did his boot spur caught the face of the instrument and gouged into it. To this day the marks remain.

I think now how young and foolish I was to even consider working on this instrument. What a disaster I would have caused; yet, how bold and courageous I was with blind ambition. It leaves me today wondering how many other experiences I have driven myself into with such blind ambition and what damage I have unknowingly caused as life took the punches so I may learn.

The kindness of the Maestro, who patiently understood my unguided ambition yet firmly corrected me to no harm, I will never forget.

After Rostropovich’s death the instrument was reported to have sold for Twenty-Million Dollars (unconfirmed). It is known as the Duport Stradivarius Cello.