Let me assume a few points from the question as to the repair of an
upright piano with an Ampico player action. If you are doing the work
yourself then the expense for materials is not super high.
The labor cost for someone else to do the work can be somewhat high
by some standards. Compare the labor to repair your computer or go to
the dentist or call a plumber (heaven help us). I work with several
full-time machine shops that charge $50.00 an hour for their services.
The amount of money invested in the machinery in a machine shop I would
think is far greater than the tools in the plumbers truck.
One of the shops I use has three Mazak lathes that cost well over
$200,000 each, which I would think is more than the entire plumber has
in his truck shop and tools, yet the plumbers charge $85.00 to $125.00
an hour for their services. A second shop I use has four CNC mills
and three CNC lathes in a building that is over 40,000 square feet, etc.
You get the picture. They charge $50.00 an hour for production machine
work. One tuner our shop uses on a regular basis charges us $50.00 an
I have replaced upright pinblocks in several old pianos and I usually
figure it is an eight-hour job including the drilling of the pinblock.
It used to take me five hours to string one from start to finish (now
I am older and get more interruptions so it takes longer).
If the soundboard has cracks then we usually fill them with shims,
level the shims, sand the board, and finish it. This can take anywhere
from 2 to 8 hours depending on the condition of the board. Let us
just say it takes a guy a week to do all of the above at 50.00 an hour
in a forty hour week. That would make the labor cost $2,000 and not
$10,000. A lot of the labor time would depend on how often the tuner
or repair shop does a particular type of work.
A new piano would cost more than restoring the old upright. I have
seen some old uprights restored that sound great. I would say learn to
restore your piano yourself. It is not all that difficult if you have
any mechanical skills. If the tuner you have in mind suggest it is
going to cost 10,000 to restore an old upright then shop around for
Don Teach - Shreveport Music Co.