Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/broken hammers


I am considering getting a Wm. Knabe & Son (65519) piano for free.  The owner says it has two broken hammers. The keys to those hammers do not make any noise.  Is this an easy fix or too expensive to repair?  It is otherwise in good shape.  Thank you.

Well, the price is right on the piano!  Broken hammers should not be a big deal.  But if the key doesn't work it does not necessarily mean that a hammer has broken.  One of the worst cases is if the key itself has broken at the center rail. Fortunately, this seldom happens.

The best case scenario is one you can fix yourself.  If the hammers are snapped off and the owner has them,* they can be glued back.  The dowel stick that the hammer itself is glued to is called the hammer shank, and most of the time it breaks along a diagonal grain line making a long break, and that is the best.  All you have to do is get a soda straw and some wood glue, cut the soda straw to use as a splint while the glue is drying, and glue each one back being careful to align it exactly with its neighbors.

*(The owner may not be aware of this; they may have fallen into the action or down into the bowels of the piano, and if you remove the lower frame [big panel that your knees face into] you might find them there.)

Other repairs are not that simple, and if the action needs to be taken out it could cost some extra money, especially if this is a short [spinet] piano with a drop action.  Best bet in that case is to get a technician to look at it and give you an estimate.  My own estimate for similar repairs would run $25 to $50 dollars depending on what is broken and if it is a spinet or not.  This would be in addition to the fee for tuning the piano, estimate $90 to $100 depending on the going rates in your area.

Good luck!

Piano, Organ, and Keyboard

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


William Rowland


PLEASE NOTE! I do NOT give values of pianos OR dates! The piano service questions I can cover include general information about piano tuning: how often should a piano be tuned, what if a piano has been neglected, what is a pitch raise, how long does it take, how much should I expect to pay for service, and so forth. I can also provide information about common repairs and adjustments, such as keys that don't work, those that continue to sound after you have let off the key, how important is the regulation, can I change the tone of my piano, how can I get the keytops repaired/replaced, and so on. I DO NOT provide resale values of instruments for two reasons: first, a technician has to physically check out a unit in order to appraise its value accurately, and second, values vary widely from one part of the country to another. I also do not offer advice as to care of the piano case, as that is better left to woodworkers and cabinet makers. I also DO NOT provide information about the age of a piano, that info can be accessed at http://www.pianoatlas.com.


I have been a piano tuner/technician in the Midwestern USA since 1974, working with customers and music stores to provide service to their pianos. I do tuning and repairs and provide free estimates on my services and have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Empire School of Piano Technology, 1973, Apprenticeship at Century Keyboards, Joplin, MO. Also I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science at Missouri Southern State University in 1990.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.