Grand Piano Lab: a place where vintage grand pianos are transformed into modern works of art
A stunner with a flawless silhouette in a shiny black case stands in a beam of light and beckons with his majestic appearance. You’ve just imagined an expensive car, right? No, it’s not a car, it’s a grand piano, a vintage one that has been given new life in the Grand Piano Lab.
This is a story about a workshop where two experts restore and modernize vintage grand pianos, and then an artist turns them into unique works of art. Vintage grand pianos are like exclusive cars that you want to own and cherish.
About Grand Piano Lab
Grand Piano Lab is a workshop where vintage grand pianos are restored and modernized. Our experienced craftsmen not only bring worn out instruments back to life, but also unlock their true potential. In terms of technical characteristics, a grand piano restored by us boasts the same superb quality as the original one made many decades ago.
At Grand Piano Lab, we adhere to traditional restoration methods. We use high quality tools and materials, which we mainly purchase from Germany.
Internal mechanics of the Steinweg grand piano, 1907
Most importantly, our grand pianos are not just beautiful artifacts of the past centuries, but also perfectly functioning musical instruments. These restored grand pianos work real magic: you can literally hear the sounds of history. Our experts disassemble grand pianos down to the last screw to find and fix all the defects caused by the passage of time. And when restoring an instrument, we keep as many of the original parts as possible and modernize the worn-out parts. This is the philosophy of our workshop.
But this is not the end of the story. At Grand Piano Lab, the instruments undergo customization, and as a result, acquire an exclusive look. Because after restoration, grand pianos become the canvas for the artist.
The grand piano collection
The Grand Piano Lab workshop boasts a collection of more than a dozen vintage grand pianos of the 19th-20th centuries from well-known manufacturers, such as Blüthner, Steinweg, August Forster, Bechstein, etc.
The most veteran grand piano in our collection is 129 years old. This is Blüthner, born in 1894. Now it is fully restored and has a beautiful voice.
Among the instruments awaiting restoration, we have a lovely atmospheric and elegant piano made by Ed. Seiler in 1913.
We buy grand pianos from private owners. The places where we look for such instruments are advertising sections of specialized websites, and sometimes even resellers. Most grand pianos in need of restoration are usually found in big cities, with instrument evaluation and purchasing done remotely. Our restorers are assisted by a trusted piano tuner who inspects the selected grand piano on site. In addition, we, as professional specialists, can determine the condition of the instrument by its photo and video.
An interesting fact. The approximate condition of a grand piano, and whether there are any critical flaws in it, can also be noticed by specialist piano movers, they have a lot of experience.
For transportation, the instrument is covered with special sheets, then wrapped in various types of film, the legs are detached and fixed on a special wooden stand. Our grand pianos are transported in specialized vehicles that have internal body heating, heavy-duty holding straps and other special equipment.
Sometimes the most convenient and easiest way to transport a grand piano is through a window.
When choosing a grand piano, we focus not only on the condition of the instrument, but also on the eminence and traditions of the factory, because each manufacturer has its own characteristics and employs different technologies and patents. And it makes the process of working with different instruments very exciting. When a vintage grand piano is fitted with high quality parts and properly adjusted, it becomes a top class instrument that can proudly hold its own among the competitor products of modern industry.
Of particular value in vintage grand pianos are the excellent materials used in the factories at that time. Of course, a new grand piano, made from high quality materials, is always better than it will be 100 years later. But in the olden days, the wood used to make grand pianos was of a much better quality than what they are made of now. Back then, alpine spruce was in much higher supply, but nowadays there is a shortage of materials of this quality. Thus, an additional advantage of restored grand pianos are the high-quality natural materials from which the instrument was originally made.
August Forster, 1979
Another distinctive quality of vintage instruments is that they have a special, warm voice. We try not only to preserve the uniqueness of their voices, but also to reveal them in all their glory. There are aesthetic connoisseurs who value precisely this quality, and this is exactly what they are looking for. Nowadays, the philosophy of piano making has changed, and even premium brands produce their grand pianos with an open and strong concert sound. But a couple of centuries ago, things were very different. Back then, there were no huge concert halls, as there are now, and people gathered in the salons, so the instruments of that time were created to meet that demand. The largest grand piano in those days was called a “salon”, and now it’s called a “concert” one.
When choosing and buying our “heroes”, we are obviously trying to find out the story of their life. The richer, more eventful or even more complex it is, the more exciting it is for us, as well as for its future owners. However, this aspect is often the most difficult to accomplish. Often the history of the most interesting instruments is a blind spot for their owners. For some, this is simply part of their inheritance, others have antiques in their homes for decades, and some instruments are just completely shrouded in family secrets.
Just an example. Without a doubt, life couldn’t be boring for the Blüthner grand piano, 1894. Presumably, it belonged to the Academy of Music for many years. When we tried to find out the story of this grand piano, the seller told us that only her mother could know about this, because the instrument was precious to her. By that time, the instrument had lived in this family for several decades. But when asked, the mother flatly refused to share the story with anyone.
The pianists-turned-carpenters and the artist-illustrator: The Grand Piano Lab team
In the Grand Piano Lab team, we have expert restorers, painting specialists, Art Deco blacksmiths and an artist.
More about team
The expert restorers at work
The main work of reviving a vintage piano is carried out by two experienced restorers. Both of them are professional musicians with deep technical knowledge and extensive experience in carpentry. The specificity of their work requires the restorer to know his instrument from an engineering point of view and at the same time understand and feel it as a practicing musician.
Our specialists are constantly improving their skills, adopting best practices at conferences and master classes, as well as consulting with leading industry experts from around the world.
There are no such experts who can say they already know everything. The further you progress along this path, the more exciting things you will discover along the way. Professional restorers endlessly improve their skills and knowledge”.
— says Sergey Stetsko, the expert restorer.
A unique feature of the restored instruments at the Grand Piano Lab is theartistic painting. This is done by our professional artist, Anna Redko. Her works are in private collections in Russia, Poland, Germany, Great Britain, South Africa, etc. Anna turns grand pianos into works of art. The artistic painting on the lids and soundboards of grand pianos is the hallmark of our brand. It looks amazing. Anna paints the instruments with acrylic paints and also uses fluorescent paints for the lid. This picture will glow if you direct a beam of ultraviolet light at it.
We choose a musician whose personality is as close as possible to the character of the instrument. Each painting reflects my perception of the personalities of famous musicians. I combine music, their ideas and thoughts into one complete picture. Working with the lid of a grand piano as if it were an artistic canvas is a fascinating experience and a great responsibility”.
— says the artist, Anna Redko.
In the workshop, we create a series of custom grand pianos dedicated to famous pianists and composers. See how stunning their portraits and quotes look on our instruments?
Blüthner, 1894. The grand piano lid features Canadian pianist, organist and composer Glenn Gould (1932-1982). Luminescent paint glows under ultraviolet light
With proper restoration and further care, a restored grand piano can last 50 years or more.
A restored grand piano is of great aesthetic value. This is an aged instrument filled with fresh content, and a unique one that has no analogues. Grand pianos restored by Grand Piano Lab are exclusive items that you want to own. Vintage grand pianos were made according to the demands of that time and using the technologies of that time. They are witnesses of the bygone days. By preserving and restoring these instruments, we bring a piece of history into our days.