Los Angeles has always been a great place for hunting antiques. With the city's age and its long history of making music, pianos of all styles and antiquities can be found quite easily. If you're an antiques fan or a lover of fine old pianos, you're in a great spot. Antique piano restoration isn't a simple undertaking, but it's still quite possible to restore a great flea market or yard sale find within a reasonable budget.
The majority of antique pianos readily available in the greater Los Angeles area are from the period ranging from the 1920s to the 1950s. Not only were pianos commonly found in many homes during this period, but movie studios, recording studios and nightclubs abounded. A good many of these pianos can still be had at an affordable price, but they will usually be in a good deal less than perfect condition.
There's a great deal involved in piano restoration. Los Angeles' dry hair and heat are unkind to fine woods, especially if they aren't cared for properly. A lot of the restoration needed is usually to the cabinetry and the wood used for the mechanics of the piano. Sometimes wood damaged by dry conditions can be restored, but severe damage may require remaking the pieces most affected. A true professional of piano restoration in Los Angeles, Paul Kobilsek says he often has to completely remake a piano's cabinetry. Fortunately, he spent years with the Steinway company and knows how to recreate a piano's original cabinetry. His shop, Paul's Furniture Restoration, is often filled with the pieces of a work in progress.
Paul says it's important to discuss your project thoroughly with the person who will be undertaking the restoration. Not only will they need to thoroughly inspect the piece, but they'll need to know what your priorities and your budget are. If your goals and your budget don't include restoring the piano to its original condition, complete with original decals and reproduction hardware, be sure to make that clear. If your main goal is to have the piano look better and play well, there are ways to accomplish this less expensively and more quickly than a pristine restoration and rebuilding.
There are many things you can do to preserve the beauty of your piano after the piano restoration. Los Angeles' sunshine is wonderful for us, but not so great for fine woods. Try to keep the shades or curtains drawn near the piano, to protect the wood finish from fading. Alternatively, you can use a sheet or dustcover to protect the piano's wood from excessive sunlight. The low humidity in our area will also need to be considered. Follow the restorer's advice about oiling and treating the wood regularly.
If you'd like more information about his work in piano restoration in Los Angeles, Paul Kobilsek is always eager to talk to others about restoration or about specific project pieces. You can also tour his gallery to see before, during and after pictures of completed projects.