Eventually the action, hammers and strings will become sufficiently worn that regulation, reshaping and toning can no longer achieve a satisfactory result. When this point is arrived at the relevant parts can be replaced. This may be some or all the following: hammer heads, rollers, shanks and flanges, check leather, action felt leather and springs, key bushings, key coverings, key washers, bass strings, steel strings.
The most common parts to need replacing if a full reconditioning is not required are the key bushings and the hammer heads. When the key bushings (the pieces of cloth which line the sides of the holes at the front and middle of the keys) become worn and hard, the result is lateral movement in the individual keys and a very rattly feel and sound to the keyboard. Replacing the bushings transforms the feel of the keyboard, improving accuracy and response, and eliminating unwanted noise.
Replacing the hammer heads is probably the most technically demanding of all the various procedures that can be undertaken in reconditioning a piano. To achieve the optimum sound it is absolutely crucial to have the correct weight and dimension of hammer, with perfect travel and strike position. Without this foundation, proper toning and voicing cannot be achieved. (It is also my favourite part of reconditioning, because the results of getting it right are so satisfying!)
I can normally carry out most of this work in your house without having to move the piano, and the result is a piano which has a new lease of life and which sounds as good as, if not better than new.
I make a point of only using the best quality materials: Renner and Abel hammers, Renner action parts, Roslau blue steel wire. I always source from the manufacturer where appropriate; for example Steinway’s own hammers.