Age is hard on all of us, human, animal and piano alike. Time, weather and use will get the best of anyone, especially without proper preventative maintenance and a dose of loving care. Pianos are no different from people, in that they need attentive care, regular exercise and occasional checkups to be at their best. It used to be common for children to learn to play on the same pianos their grandparents used to practice their scales. Pianos are built to last for generations and often do. However, it's more common today to replace a piano that's in poor condition than it is to refurbish it. Piano restoration in California isn't as in-demand as it used to be.
Restoration is something that's gone somewhat out of vogue altogether. We replace more than we restore. We even buy things like computers and cell phones with the idea that they will only last a couple of years at best. Fortunately, there's been a growing trend in recent years toward simplifying our lives and revisiting the old ways of doing things. This is a trend that Paul Kolbisek embraces.
Paul has been in the craft of furniture and Piano restoration in California for over 35 years and was taking the artisanal approach to his job before we started using the word artisanal. Paul fits right in with the popularity of eating locally-grown foods and crusty homemade breads, growing heritage breeds of flowers and shopping from local, independent craftsmen and designers. Paul has always done his Piano restoration in California as a sole proprietor, completing each project painstakingly and alone.
Paul spent several years working for the Steinway Piano company before striking out on his own, and has an understanding of and appreciation for pianos as heirlooms, instruments and works of art. He approaches each project with an artist's eye, a surgeon's hands and an optimist's heart. This approach generally takes more time and a lot more attention to detail than the somewhat slapdash method that is more common. As with restoring a fine old house, a good deal of patience is required in thoughtful piano restoration. In California, fortunately, the trend toward this more organic approach is going strong.
Californians have always been known for embracing the new and exciting. When what was old became new again, Californians were first in line. Whether it was vintage clothing and house wares, mid-century architecture or heirloom varieties of tomatoes, we've been at the forefront of making it the "latest thing". That makes California a good place for Paul Kobilsek to be.
Who knows whether Paul's "vintage" philosophy will ever become the norm in piano restoration? In California, everything old is new again. In Paul's shop, it always has been.
If you'd like to learn more about Paul Kobilsek's Piano restoration in California, please visit his website. There are plenty of photos in the project gallery and a lot of interesting information about his "vintage" take on restoration and refinishing. He's still a one-man show, but he also welcomes your emails and calls.