Pianola - restored or unrestored?

If you want to enjoy a pianola, we always advise to purchase a refurbished or restored pianola. Even if an instrument is very well maintained, the aging of materials (leather, elastic cloth, hose rubber etc.) or air ducts (bellows, connecting tubes etc.) will be advanced so far that reliable operation will not be possible any more. Even if a suction turbine may provide a higher amount of suction air and thus permit to play the pianola, it will no longer reveal the actual performance and function while the anyway aged materials will decay even faster from the high load.

Hence, our advice: Decide for an already refurbished or restored pianola from a trustworthy source, or take an expert to the inspection of an unrenovated pianola in responsible private possession. If you remind that, you may acquire a very nice good-quality pianola for rather little money. The follow-up costs of a decision for an unsuitable or badly refurbished pianola can be very high - thus, special care will be worthwhile. This way you will keep enjoying the instrument and, if at all, will feel hardly any financial loss from a hypothetical later sale.

According to our experience, you should initially invest at least enough to obtain decent joy in playing and music. Beautiful and unrenovated - but well preserved for restoration - branded pianolas are available at the second-hand market for 500 € to 1,500 €, usually including some piano rolls. These instruments will be operational only after refurnishing or restoration, though. Yet a well-preserved unrestored pianola is a good choice to allow an authentic restoration.

A purchase price of 2,500-5,000 euro must be invested for refurbished (well playable in its existing structure) pianola. Fully restored (complete, authentic renewal) pianolas of the “artistic piano” type are available in the price category of 5,000 – 10,000 €. A sophisticated restored reproducing instrument will cost between 10,000 and 25,000 euro, depending on design and manufacturer. Unique pieces and special makes may be more expensive.

We will gladly make you an offer for the refurbishing of an available pianola. The costs for a simple overhaul (make ready to play only, with the available structure being suitable) will be, say, 1,500 – 2,500 euro. The charge for a refurbishing of the self-playing mechanism (make well playable but do not refurbish everything) is something between 2,500 and 5,000 euro. Restorations will be charged in the range of 5,000 – 10,000 euro. Add possible costs for refurbishing/restoration of the acoustic piano.

These are of course only general values, meant to get an idea of the investment. Providing a branded instrument, the investment into refurbishing/restoring is not only a musical gain - according to experience, the attainable value of such a branded instrument will in the long run be stable or even rising.