We are pleased to offer piano restoration of the highest possible standard. We have over thirty years of experience and regularly update our knowledge by attending courses by Steinway, Renner, The Piano Tuners Association and others. Our Sevenoaks showroom is located opposite Renner UK , the world’s leading action maker who supply all Steinway actions and with whom we work together on piano restoration.

If we have restored your piano please fill out the free follow-up assessment sheet (to download click the image below).

The Work We Specialise in:

We specialise in fine restoration of top quality grand pianos, using the best German piano parts and traditional French polishing or modern polyester refinishing as preferred. Before making a decision as to what work your piano needs to have done, we recommend you read the following information.

The Way We Assess Each Piano

Marcus has been a concert tuner and piano restorer for over 30 years and has a passion to see each piano perform to its best capabilities. In our experience we found that the majority of older pianos have been regularly tuned but never or rarely serviced; it’s therefore difficult to achieve a reliable soft touch, and the tone is also inferior. The quote will detail the most important work that needs doing and place tasks in order of priority. We work to a time sheet and you will be billed only according to the hours worked and parts bought.

Free Assessment In Transit

We do encourage you to make use of our combined removals and inspection service, removing your piano via our workshop where it will be assessed by Marcus Roberts, the owner of the business, who will write a simple report. Your piano is taken via our workshop for free assessment before delivery. We specialise in the removal, restoration and storage of fine quality grand and upright pianos by Bechstein, Blüthner, Steinway, Bösendorfer and other top makes. When a grand piano is in transit via our workshop, we offer a free assessment of any work, from minor repairs or casework improvements to hammer replacement and toning or full restoration and top quality French polishing. Free assessment is only available to makes of piano with a potential rating of over 60 on our Common Makes pages.

More About Restoration

Whilst specialising in Steinway, Bechstein and Blüthner we also restore all good makes of pianos, and encourage you to make use of our combined removals and inspection service, removing your piano via our workshop where it will be assessed by Marcus Roberts, the owner of the business, who will write a simple report. Marcus has been a concert tuner and piano restorer for over 30 years and has a passion to see each piano perform to its best capabilities. It’s our experience that the majority of older pianos have been regularly tuned but never or rarely serviced; it’s therefore difficult to achieve a reliable soft touch, and the tone is also inferior. The quote will detail the most important work that needs doing and place tasks in order of priority. We work to a time sheet and you will be billed only according to the hours worked and parts bought.

How Does An Older Piano Compare With a Modern One?

restored bosendorfer 170 grand piano

Fully restored Bösendorfer 170 from 1916

The short answer is that top makes of older pianos usually have a superior tone and appearance to modern ones, though good modern pianos will usually have a good touch, whereas badly restored traditional ones may not. The main reasons for the traditional pianos being superior is that from 1880 to 1940 when the piano was the main mechanical item in the home, there were a hundred times more skilled workers in the trade, competition was strong and time was less important. Good hardwood, ivory and other materials were also more readily available. There have been no significant changes in mechanical design since then, and all parts on older pianos are still readily available. Modern pianos from top makers from 1950 onwards can also be very good. They have the advantage of being usually less worn and therefore need less reconditioning. For good ones see the list of makes at the bottom of this page and also our piano makes page.

The Main Aspects We Take Into Account

What’s the pianos current state?

Is a full restoration a must or does it just need regulating and voicing?
We will tone the piano according to the kind of room and type of tone you require.

What kind of touch do you require?

Generally, a lighter touch for older occasional users but a down-weight of at least 50 grams is necessary for beginners as they need to develop their finger muscles and will take exams on a piano having this touch weight.


When we are asked to quote for work, we take into account the points in this section, always working within your budget.

Will the piano hold its value?

Will the piano hold its value? There is no question of this if it is one of the top German makes – Bechstein, Blüthner, Bösendorfer, Steinway, etc. German makes such as Lipp, Kaps, some Ibach grands, and some English makes such as Chappell and some Broadwoods will fare well in terms of value too. Modern pianos such as Yamaha and Kawai are not built with reconditioning in mind, though good German bass strings make a vast tone difference, and changing worn hammers is a possibility. Restoration includes the above, but implies much more fundamental work such as major casework repairs, tuning block and even soundboard replacement. Replacing the soundboard considerably alters the underlying tone of the piano and is not recommended except where it has lost its “crown” or is severely damaged in some way.
A piano that has lost its crown produces a thin and sometimes harsh tone in the mid treble, particularly noticeable around C to F in the octave above middle C (notes 52 to 57). We restore all good makes of piano, though our main full restoration work is on grand pianos by Bechstein, Blüthner, Bösendorfer and Steinway.

Steinway Grand Piano Restoration

Detailed Aspects Of Reconditioning


About thirty coats of French polish are applied and then polish made from beeswax is added to give an antique style look, bringing out the best grain contrasts. This is done by our team of professional French polishers and we can finish the piano in any style or colour. We try to re-polish the piano exactly as it was originally, though this can be a very lengthy process as “French polishing” requires a very large number of coats. A more basic finish is also available. Costs vary between £1500 and £4500. We can also change the colour of your piano if you wish or do modern polyester finishes if required.


A polished Steinway cabinet


Hammers often get too worn or soft, and cannot be made to reproduce the original tone. New hammers are the only solution. We usually fit new ones which are made in Germany, but sometimes recover the existing hammers, again with German or other top quality felt. The decision as to which route to take for a particular piano is one of the most important we make. After installation, the hammers then need accurate aligning to the strings, “travelling”, and once the piano has been fine tuned, toning or voicing. The new hammer makes a world of difference to the tone, bringing out the full harmonic range of the piano. This usually costs between £2000 and £3000 (2014), including voicing hammers and weighting the action. Please note that replacing the hammers on your piano will make the touch heavier unless you specify that you want lighter hammers fitted (see also “touch” below).


This is when there is sufficient felt on the hammer. A vast improvement can often be made by re-facing it. It will then require toning as well. The cost varies form £250 to £600 (2014). Re-facing will reduce the weight of the action, and may also affect balance on uprights.

Toning or Voicing

This is the fine skill of giving each hammer the correct tension. It is done by needling the felt, opening it out so that it rebounds off the string at the correct speed. Normally new hammers are too hard and bright and need “deep voicing” to cause them to bounce off the strings at the correct speed. The technician learns from experience what the correct tone should be. Once the felt is at the right tension, then the hammer is fine voiced. On grand pianos, this includes voicing the piano for “una corda” or soft pedal playing, giving it a mellower tone when the soft pedal is depressed. Cost of toning: full toning about £300 – £600.

Fitting tuning pins

Loose tuning pins often occur when central heating over time dries the wood on the piano’s pin block, causing the tuning pins to loosen. In most cases this can be cured permanently by replacing the tuning pins with larger ones, though in some pianos, such as the Bechstein upright models I to V, the pin-block itself may need changing. Changing tuning pins costs about £900 (2015), and it’s a good opportunity to re-string at the same time if this is thought to be an improvement. Restringing costs between £1,800 and £2700; this is usually combined with refinishing and repairing (if necessary) the soundboard, and refinishing the frame. If the pin block needs replacing too, replacing the pin block, repairing soundboard and restringing will cost about £3300. This is well worth doing on a good piano as it will make the tuning very stable in central heating. (Prices updated 2015)


Strings are changed less often as it’s extremely difficult to reproduce the appropriate tone with modern strings. In some cases, such as with Blüthner or Richard Lipp grands, the bass tone can be inferior with new strings. However, if your piano has several broken strings already, then changing them may be the best option. Modern grands can often be improved with new bass strings, sometimes because the original strings weren’t very good anyway! Our replacement German bass strings, for instance, will vastly improve a Yamaha grand piano. Replacing all the strings costs between £1600 and £2700 (2015), including refinishing the frame and soundboard. Also bear in mind that if the tuning pins are already large because the piano has been previously restrung, or if the tuning block or wrest plank is damaged, then it will probably need replacing.

Traditional Music Desks On Modern Pianos

Musicians often find that modern upright pianos don’t have a user-friendly music desk. We offer the service of fitting an old-style desk to your piano, with book holders to keep the pages open. We can also fit book holders to modern desks, though if you try this yourself be careful as many modern pianos such as Yamahas have plastic music desks that easily break!

Fitting A Practise Pedal (Celeste Mute)

Most modern upright pianos have a third pedal which when depressed puts a felt between the hammer and strings, allowing the midnight pianist to practice without disturbing anyone! These can be fitted to most good quality older under-damper upright pianos as a lever situated under the keyboard. The cost is around £200 + VAT.

Repairing Ivory Keys

 If the ivories are very yellowed, they may benefit from scraping and polishing. Ivory keys (and plastic) need regular buffing on a buffing wheel. We can usually repair or replace chipped ivories with a good match.

Key Touch


Refers to the smoothness, responsiveness and weight of the action. Top makes of piano can be made to be excellent in all aspects, while it’s often impossible to improve a piano that is cheaply made in the first place. There are, however, basic adjustments that can be made to vastly improve the touch of any piano, such as taking up the slack between the keys and the rest of the movement, adjusting the hammer blow distance or adjusting the “let off” – the distance the hammer travels to the strings before escaping, etc. However, to make fundamental improvements to the touch, extensive work needs to be undertaken. This is because touch is related to two opposing factors: down-weight and up-weight.


This is simply the weight needed to make the keys go down; but the pressure also needs to be smooth, which is related to good regulation and up-weight (see below). Normally down-weight is set to about 50 grams in the middle with it graduating to 40 in the top treble and 52 in the lower bass. This is ideal for study and powerful playing, but if you are an occasional player you may prefer a lighter touch, down to as little as 40 grams. in the middle. Indeed, the touch of pianos has increased over the years. Pianos were originally modelled on the harpsichord with very little weight; in 1900 the average would have been about 40 grams.


Is the force, exerted mainly by the hammers, which causes the action to return to rest. But the pianist needs to feel an even resistance throughout the travel of the key. Up-weight has to do with friction and geometric balance in the action. The up-weight should be between 20 and 25 grams but varies according to different factors and for different pianos. Worn hammers are lighter and therefore produce less up weight. A good pianist can normally tell instinctively if the action “feels” right. Up-weight can often be corrected by replacing loose hinge pins, springs and felts. We strongly recommend that you try the touch on the piano you are going to buy, or if you don’t have the experience or confidence to do this, then make sure you get expert advice on choosing your piano. Older pianos vary greatly; Steinway pianos tend to be heavier, Blüthners lighter, but all pianos can be customised to suit the player. Modern pianos also vary greatly and cheaply made ones often have heavy up-weight. Thoughtful modern firms such as Feurich pay great attention to up-weight. If you are having a piano restored, make sure you tell the restorer what your preference is.

Ratings Of Pianos That Have Been Reconditioned

Here is a very rough guide of common makes available in the UK. Please note that this is the rating of the piano once fully reconditioned. un-reconditioned pianos may have much lower ratings. An example of this is a Kaps upright we recently purchased and restored. I rated the piano at 35 when we bought it and it had a rating of 78 when it was finished! It cost us £150 and we spent the equivalent of £4000 on restoring it.The ratings are out of 100. For a more detailed list please see our “Common Makes in the UK” page.

make Rating Comments
Adam 60-70 Overstrung. Generally well made pianos
Aeolian 50-60 Varied. They made many player pianos.
Allison 50-60 Varied – low to medium quality; some baby grands quite good. Please see our piano makes list for more details
Amyl 40-50 The CWS brand name. Honestly made but mostly basic straight strung over dampers.
Apollo 50-59 Japanese; generally below Yamaha and Kawai quality.
Army and Navy 40-50 Usually straight strung over dampers, but quite well made.
Atlas 50-59 Japanese; generally below Yamaha and Kawai quality
August Foerster 50-70 Old ones well made. Went through “Iron curtain” bad patch. Post 1990s recovered in quality.
Baldwin 55-68 Varied. Most of the ones imported to the UK were basic models.
Barratt and Robinson 50-60 One of the last London factories. Satisfactory mid range uprights
Bechstein 60-85 Prolific make of top quality uprights and grands mostly made 1890 to 1930. Bechstein upright Models I to V often suffer from central heating and need new pin-blocks. Models 6 to 10 are very well made and have a rich tone. Modern ones good but varied. See grands and uprights pages for more details.
Beulhoff 50-60 Grands OK. Very varied, poor to medium quality
Bell 50-60 Generally overstrung. Very varied, poor to medium quality
Bentley 45-60 Very varied, poor to medium quality. Since 2007 the Bentley name has been used on Chinese pianos.
Berry 45-55 From very basic overdampers to medium quality overstrungs. Many 6 octave pianos made
Bishop 30-40 Common, mostly very old overdampers, good looking but not worth reconditioning
Bluthner 70-90 Prolific make of high quality pianos. All well made, (except for the “Iron curtain” phase from about 1958 up to about 1995), but often very worn and need extensive reconditioning. Rating is for fully reconditioned pianos. Unreconditioned ones may carry a very low rating. Please see our piano makes list for more details
Bord 45-52 Generally Straight strung overdampers. French piano; small, pretty with mellow tone, but usually need repinning
Boyd (of London) 35-55 From very basic overdampers to fairly good overstrungs
Bosendorfer 50-95 Austrian pianos of high quality. Older ones often have “Viennese” actions which are not suitable for all-round playing. Concert pianos have extra notes in the bass and are first choice for many musicians.
Branston 50 Mostly basic pianos
Brasted 50-65 Honest well made British pianos
Brinsmead 50-70 Very varied prolific English maker
Broadwood White 45-48 Mostly basic straight strungs
Burling Mansfield 35-40 Mostly old and not worth reconditioning
Cameo (see Lindner) 35-45 Plastic action. Parts no longer available
Challen 50-68 Can be quite reasonable but vary. The UKs most common baby grands
Chappell 50-70 Varied but generally good. Old ones can be quite basic. Please see our piano makes list for more details
Collard and Collard 40-68 Extremely varied prolific British maker spanning over 200 years. Get advice before buying one. Please see our piano makes listfor more details
Cramer 45-68 Plenty of variety. Good baby grands and post 1900 uprights. Please see our piano makes list for more details
Crane 35-50 Mostly basic uprights
Dalmaine 35-50 Mostly basic uprights and baby grands
Dale Forty 35-50 Mostly basic uprights and baby grands
Danemann 44-68 Varied. Made many pianos for schools
Duck Son and Pinker 35-50 Mostly basic uprights
Dale Forty 40-50 Basic British pianos
Erard 40-68 Very varied
Eavestaff 35-68 Mini Pianos generally basic. Baby grands fair. Other uprights medium to fair
Elysian 45-60 Name used mainly by Morleys of London. Varied
Fazioli 85-95 Fazioli was established in 1981. they are of a consistently outstanding quality, with great care given to each piano. As with Steinway, they are a powerful piano and need a room that can cope with the volume
Fazer 55-68 Modern Finnish pianos. Fazer are generally good with rich bass and firm touch
Feurich 65-75 Old and modern ones well made
Forster, August 55-70 Vary varied in quality – passed through “Iron curtain” phase. Best older and very modern ones are excellent
Fuchs and Mohr 40-55 Modern Eastern block pianos
(George) Rogers 55-70 Good factory with long history. Older ones may not be worth reconditioning
George Russell 50-55 Mostly basic straight-strung overdamped pianos, well made with a good tone
Giles 50 From the same factory as the very common Zender
Godfrey 35-48 Mostly basic uprights
Gors and Kallman 50-70 Older uprights overdampers but good tone. Baby grands generally good
Grotrian Steinweg 60-90 Prolific make of high quality pianos. All well made, but often very worn and need extensive reconditioning. Uprights from 1900 to 1930 outstanding. Rating is for fully reconditioned pianos. Un-reconditioned ones may carry a very low rating.
Hellas 50-60 Hellas are similar to Fazer but action generally not as good
Hickie and Hickie 35-48 Mostly basic uprights cheaply made
Hoffmann 50-75 This name is confusingly used on both basic British and high quality German pianos
Hopkinson 45-65 Very common British make. Older ones overdampers. Please see our piano makes page for more details
Hupfeld 45-60 Older ones good. Modern ones “Iron curtain” pianos and poor quality
Ibach 50-80 Older ones overdampers but good. Grands generally fine quality; modern Ibachs well made
John Broadwood 40-80 Inventive British firm with extreme variation in quality of upright and grand pianos from very old ones that aren’t really worth reconditioning to very good grands from about 1893 onwards, mixed with indifferent ones. Modern Broadwoods are made in a variety of countries. Please see our piano makes page for more details
Kaps 55-80 Mainly one style of upright piano made from about 1898 to 1930. They often have decorative cases and an excellent warm tone. Grands are generally older and more variable and we don’t usually deal in them
Kawai 55-85 Japanese pianos (later ones made elsewhere too) of generally good quality though upright actions can be a bit “choppy” and rely too much on plastic. Best small Kawai grands made 1975 to 1985 and can be of very high quality
Kemble 55-78 British firm still making pianos (2006). Varied in quality but best are very good. Some older ones overdampers. Kemble Minx minipianos well make but have “spinet” actions and therefore the keys are too short to give much control. Please see ourpiano makes page for more details
Kirkman 30-55 Mostly very old British pianos. Many grands
Knight 58-80

Respected British maker. Best between about 1960 and 1980.

Knauss 50-55 German maker of medium quality
Krauss 50-55 German maker of medium quality
Legnica 45-55 Polish maker, common in the UK 1980-1990


Irish pianos with revolutionary plastic action for which no spares are readily available
Lipp 55-90 German pianos made with great integrity. Rich warm tone. Baby and boudoir grands generally excellent
Lambert 48 Basic British overdamper
Marshall and Rose 50-65 British pianos of medium quality
Minstelle 40-50 Small pianos made by Barratt and Robinson
Monington and Weston 50-65 Many low quality baby grands made with “simplex” actions. Uprights can be very good
Murdoch 35-55 common basic British pianos
Moore and Moore 50-58 Fair quality British pianos
Morley, Robert 50-55 Fair quality British pianos
Neumeyer 50-65 mid-range German pianos. Best ones have rich warm tone
Niemeyer 45-55 Low to mid range German pianos
Papps 35-50 Mostly basic uprights. Portsmouth firm with specially designed metal wrest plank for environments with varying humidity
Petrov 50-80 Wide range of quality in uprights. Some early baby grands are outstanding
Pleyel 45-68 Much varietly in quality from this French maker
Psalmist 55 Made by Bentley
Reid Sohn 45-60 Large Korean factory
Rippen 60-65 Consistent Dutch maker of modern pianos. Rich bass
Reisbach 50-65 Fair quality British pianos made by Rogers with influence from Grotrian Steinweg
Rogers (George) 50-70 Good quality English pianos. Baby grands worth reconditioning
Ronisch 45-75 Older ones very well made. Modern ones more varied
Russell (and Russell) 45-58 Honestly made cheaper uprights mainly from early 1900s
Samick 45-60 Large Korean factory
Sauter 58-78 Well made German uprights and grands
Scheidmayer 58-78 Well made German uprights and grands
Schimmell 55-68 Mid-range German uprights and grands
Seiler 58-78 Well made German uprights and grands
Spencer 45-62 Common British maker from about 1900 to 1940. Modern ones from different factories
Squire (and Longson) 50-60 Mid range British pianos
Steck 55-70 Uprights have warm tone; baby grands vary in quality
Steinway 60-95 Best known of the top makes. Mostly German Steinway pianos found in the UK. Some older Steinways don’t recondition well (especially uprights). Grands excellent from 1877 onwards but may be very worn indeed. Modern Steinway pianos lack the richness of tone of the older ones, but make up for it with a superb action. One of the best concert grands. NB beware of buying a large Steinway if you are putting it into a small room. they are an intrinsically loud piano. Please see Steinway page for more details.
Ströhmenger 50-65 Good quality British pianos
Waddington 45-55 Basic British piano, can have a reasonable tone. Grands basic
Waldstein 45-58 Name used by British, German and Chinese pianos at various times. Modern Chinese Waldsteins are nothing to do with the older pianos
Wallace Ash 35-48 Mostly basic uprights
Weber 46-68 Older ones well made. Modern ones made in the Far East
Welmar 55-75 Good quality British pianos. Older uprights varied. Baby grands copy of Bluthner. Please see our makes list for more details
Witton and Witton 45-55 Basic British piano. Grands not well made
Woodchester 45-55 Uninspiring pianos made by Bentley in the late 90s
Yamaha 48-90 Most prolific maker in the world. Huge range in quality. When Yamaha first hit the world stage in the 60s, they made a concerted effort to copy good German pianos, making excellent uprights and grands. As competition gradually increased, so the basic Yamahas were cheaply made to try to keep the market share, some being of very poor quality. On the other hand, the top quality ones improved in quality and at the top end they produced an outstanding concert grand. See our Yamaha pages for more details
Young Chang 45-60 Large Korean factory
Zender 48-60 Sidney Zender contracted different factories with instructions to make a small piano. There were over 70,000 made in the UK, mostly in the 60s to 80s
Zimmerman 45-70 Pre 1940 ones good, but mostly modern baby grands and uprights of low to medium quality. Lately they have been taken over by Bechstein, who produce a fine piano with the Zimmerman name.