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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014

    Default Converting upright piano into cabinet

    I have a beautiful tiger wood upright piano that is hopelessly out of tune. No one plays piano (once upon a time we had hopes of playing) so we would like to make something more useful out of it. My idea is simple - rip the piano guts out and covert the inside to cabinets. I don't necessarily want a display cabinet, just a place to store things while maintaining the beautiful outside on the piano. We already use the outside of the piano to display items.

    I've searched ****** and found some ideas. Most sites involve someone selling their services and/or just showing the final version of what they did. The one site that I found about removing the guts of a piano involved using an ax. I'm looking for advice on how to remove the guts in a more gentle manner without damaging the outside of the piano. And if you know of any sites offering advice on piano to cabinet conversion that would be helpful as well.

    Am also wondering what to do with the piano keys. They are most likely ivory as it is a Vose piano from early 1900's.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: Converting upright piano into cabinet

    1 - Disassemble VERY carefully, the wires are under tension and the sound board is extremely heavy.
    2 - Unless you intend to make a storage pocket out of the keyboard area, I'd leave the keys in place, keep that "piano" look and feel.
    3 - Find yourself a custom cabinet shop to take the piano carcass to and let them modify it to your specifications. Make sure you have plenty of pictures and ideas of exactly what you want so that they can give you what you're asking for.
    4 - Did I mention that the soundboard is heavy? Did you know that it's also metal that could be recycled? While you won't get a lot of money for it, a scrap yard will pay to take it off your hands, along with any other metal bits you find in there.

    Another idea, rather than converting the piano and still having a "piano" in the room, why not have the cabinet shop salvage the wood and build you something you can really enjoy? Again, have lots of pictures and ideas of what you're looking for, the shop can tell you how much they'll be able to salvage.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Converting upright piano into cabinet

    Before you do this....

    Not many people want upright pianos anymore but if it's in excellent (or sometimes even just restorable) condition, do some research as some of these are worth 4-5 figures. I renovated a house for a rental about half a year ago and there was the poor piano someone left behind. I told the owner they needed to get it out of there ASAP but as usual they didn't give it much thought. Finally it was too much in the way, the house nearly finished, and it had to go now. They finally looked on the web and discoverer a refinished one had sold for over $3K in NYC recently (which was about all this one needed) but now there was no time to market it so it simply got broken up and scrapped. Cheap but pretty uprights of little value can be had for projects like this, so check yours first or you too may be making a multi-thousand dollar mistake!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Pacific Northwet

    Default Re: Converting upright piano into cabinet

    As Phil said, it may be worthwhile to check the value of the piano first.

    The value of a piano (or any instrument, for that matter) is not in its appearance, but its tonal qualities. An ugly piano with a beautiful tone will be many times more valuable than a pretty piano that sounds like banging on a metal garbage can.

    Simply being out of tune is not a measure of tonal quality. Any good piano can be brought into tune by an experienced piano technician, and the tonal quality can be judged even when out of tune.

    If the sound board is cracked, the piano is junk.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Northern Virginia

    Default Re: Converting upright piano into cabinet

    A full rebuild on an upright is well beyond the potential resale. A full rebuild cannot be done for less than ten grand. And they are all of an age where even if some parts still appear to be stable, they are on borrowed time. Full rebuild includes, strings, action, dampers, hammers, pinblock, bridges and soundboard. The cast Iron harp, agraffes, (some other metal parts) and the maple frame are the only components retained.
    That said, a 56" upright is generally a superior instrument compared to any grand piano under 5' 7", because the bass strings are longer and there is more soundboard area. I admit grands have better action "touch" than uprights, but baby grands are just usually like squeaky-toys in the sound they make. Only spinets are worse.
    If you are in the market for a rebuilt piano, you will spend a lot more if you bring your piano to a technician than if you shop their showroom of pianos that are already rebuilt.
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

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