The first step in unveiling the clarity, warmth and beauty of a piano, dramatically changing the esthetic experience for both the player and the listener.

“Christopher Ris has an extraordinarily precise ear, tunes
impeccably, and is fully expert at everything from minor regulation
to full-scale rebuilding.”

Denny Zeitlin


Voicing tools

Voicing tools



Hammer Shaping

Hammer Shaping

All pianos need periodic attention to the more than 10 adjustments per note. A precise regulation brings a piano to it’s highest potential and gives the pianist the fullest range of expression.

“. . .his work on the action has made the touch so precise that playing softly on any note is a dream.”

Bob Dell
Tiburon, CA

Clean your piano!

“I am especially pleased with your work on the actions. Both pianos now “float” under the fingers in a way that is extremely unusual and very special indeed. For the greatly increased expressive possibilities I am very grateful. Those who play the Baldwin in concert are consistent in their praise of the instrument.”

With gratitude,
Jim Bisbing
Director, St John’s Episcopal Church Concert Series


Steinway action model

“I now have a tremendous level of control when playing; the action allows very fine gradations of dynamic levels and tone quality.”

D’Arcy Reynolds
Pianist and teacher, San Francisco, CA



Checking the front weight of the keys

Checking the front weight of the keys

Fine old pianos can be made ‘like new’ or even ‘better than new’ with a complete restoration (“rebuilding”). Stringing scale (the wire gauges and string tensions) improvements, the damping mechanism (“dampers”) as well as the internal geometry of the keyboard mechanism. Cracks in the soundboard and bridges repaired or soundboards replaced and bridges recapped if necessary. Today’s selection of quality strings and parts coupled with a sophisticated knowledge of action geometry can match and even improve on a piano’s original touch and tone.


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Hammer Leading

Adding weight to the hammers

Every action that comes to Ris Piano for restoration is evaluated and balanced according to the Stanwood Method: a system that analyzes and describes how each action part contributes to the feel of the keys in terms of weight, leverage, and friction. The “action ratio” is measured and necessary changes made by parts selection or moving the fulcrums on which parts rotate. There is no guesswork involved; each decision is based on detailed measurements.


Measuring the strike weight of the shanks

Measuring the strike weight of the shanks

Unlike many other rebuilders that use standard modern replacement parts that are heavier than the originals and who compensate by using parts that change the internal geometry of the action mechanism, Ris Piano uses hammers that are custom made and modified to match the originals as closely as possible. Modifications are made to the hammers to compensate for differences in dimensions in individual instruments (for example the distance between the key bed and the strings can vary dramatically even between pianos of the same model and vintage, and the “sweet spot” where the hammer hits the strings can vary by up to 1/8” from factory specs.) Changing these specifications can make the difference between a good piano and a fabulous piano.

Rebuilt action

Choosing hammers whose weights are close to the originals allow the use of original dimension parts (wippens, shanks and flanges) that give consistent results and the magical “feel” of the best made pianos. Optimal tone is maintained as the soundboard and strings of the piano were designed to be activated by a hammer of a certain mass; a heavier hammer can over drive the system and diminish the subtleties of tone intended by the builder.

New wippens

New wippens

In the process of restoration each individual piano hammer is weighed and modified to within one tenth of a gram to create a smooth change in weight from the heavy bass hammers to the light treble hammers (see accompanying chart). Without this modification, hammer weights can vary by as much as 20% from note to note which will cause dramatic differences in the volume and tone as well as the touch of adjacent notes.

Four types of felt are available for the hammers that offers a wide range of tonal characteristics, from warm and rich to crisp and bright.

1B Too may key leads

Too may key leads

“Our family is most grateful to Christopher Ris for the magnificent restoration work he has accomplished on our 1928 Steinway grand piano. . . We all recognize and recommend Christopher Ris as a superb and highly skilled piano technician!”

Betty Conner and family
Tiburon, CA

2 Mason Hamlin

Mason Hamlin BB

“Thank you for the joy you have brought into our lives . . . the new responsiveness of the keys and the wonderful resonance keep me happily at my practicing.”

Sue Scott
Pianist and teacher
San Rafael, CA

Grand Action Diagam

Grand action diagam

“Chris genuinely loves bringing old pianos back to their prime, and for my money, no one does a better job.”

Prof. Robert Leachman
Berkeley, CA


“So many times piano technicians do not understand what to do to make the touch correct and ruin pianos when they work on them. The actions (on Christopher’s pianos)  from note to note and had exactly the right amount of resistance. It was very easy to bring out nuances and interpretation in the music. . .


In my fifty plus years of teaching piano and performing experience, it is very rare to find someone as committed to excellence in piano rebuilding as Christopher and I would recommend that you try his pianos and see for yourself.”


~Barbara Wilkens, performer, teacher, and Certified Balance Instructor




1Steinway photo

A selection of hand-picked vintage pianos from around the world. Specializing in vintage “West Coast” pianos that have been spared the intense temperature and humidity changes of the Midwest and East Coast that prematurely age pianos.

“I took one look around the place (Ris Piano) and concluded that this was a man who loves and knows his pianos on a level that few human beings reached. I played the Steinway M for sale for about thirty seconds before deciding to buy it. The piano near perfection restored, and Chris, much to his credit, was quick to point out its remaining imperfections. I had my own technician look at the piano and she quickly agreed: the restoration work was phenomenal. I didn’t bother haggling over the money because the asking price was very reasonable. It was clear Chris put a ridiculous number of hours into restoring the 1927 Steinway M to its original glory. I’d hire him as a technician in a heartbeat. I’d recommend him as a tech in a heartbeat. And I’d buy a piano from him in a heartbeat.”

Dylan Schaeffer, Oakland, CA



For insurance, estate evaluations and sales.



When parts are no longer available for historic pianos, actions can be restored using the original parts through a process of refelting the originals. Period specific wire is available to match the metals of the original strings.



Piano Lifesaver

Piano Lifesaver

Installer of Piano Lifesaver Systems

Changes of temperature and humidity are the main cause of tuning instability and premature aging. This system stabilizes the climate inside the piano and dramatically extends the longevity of the tuning. Ideal for sensitive pianos and unstable environments such as homes with radiant floor heating.

“My Mason Hamlin Model A grand was needing tuning every 3 months . . .Chris fixed that pronto by putting in a DampChaser system. Once a year was all it needed after that. An ample demonstration of him putting customers before his own profit. I suspect this is why there are not more DampChasers installed by other piano tuners. ”

Jason Schwager
San Rafael, CA

Ivory Repair



Ivory chips repaired, missing ivories replaced and worn out keytops replaced with highest quality plastic.

Ivory keyboard