Sign up for the Total Shop Experience!

For two solid weeks (12 full days) have the time of your life working along side a select group of technicians in a full-service piano restoration shop (Chuck Behm's River City Piano Restorations, home of "Small Shop, Big Results") helping to bring a vintage grand or upright piano back to its glorious original condition!

Upcoming Sessions: 

2017 Winter Session

Enroll for two weeks (12 days, Jan. 23 - Feb. 4, 2017) at the Small Shop Academy to restore a vintage 1904 Geo. Bent upright. You and a hand-picked team will focus on the following goals: 

Starting with a piano which by anyone's standard would be considered a "basket case" we will do a thorough restoration. We will install new pinblock panels, pins and strings, repair and refinish the soundboard, and do necessary bridge repairs or replacement. We will replace the hammers and dampers and restore (releather and refelt) the hammer butts and wippens. We will replace all action springs and install new keybed felt, key bushings and keytops. We will refinish the original sharp keys and also repair all broken or missing case parts and will refinish the case with our specialized brushed-on finishing techniques. In two weeks the piano will be transformed from an eyesore to a highly desirable instrument! Price for this hands-on shop adventure is only $1600, which includes housing for the first 4 registrants. Maximum total enrollment 6 attendees.


2017 Summer Session

Enroll for two weeks (12 days, July 24 - Aug. 5, 2017) at the Small Shop Academy to restore a vintage home-sized grand piano. You and a hand-picked team will focus on the following goals: 

Starting with a quality grand piano which has definitely seen better days we will again do thorough restoration. We will remove the cast iron plate to duplicate and replace the pinblock, pins and strings. With the plate out we will repair and refinish the soundboard, and do necessary bridge repairs or replacement. We will replace the hammers, dampers and wippens. We will install new keytops and key bushings. We will refinish the original sharp keys and also repair all broken or missing case parts and will refinish the case with our specialized brushed-on finishing techniques. In two weeks the piano will be transformed from an has-been to a highly desirable instrument! Price for this hands-on shop adventure is only $1600, which includes housing for the first 4 registrants. Maximum total enrollment 6 attendees.


Are either of these courses for you? Would it be worth your time and financial investment? Is it really a "hands-on" experience, or will you be standing around and listening to someone talk most of the time? 


Here's what previous attendees have to say:  
     I wanted to briefly share my experience from Chuck Behm's "Small Shop Summer School." My previous experience was with the Randy Potter course and many PTG meetings. What I was missing was the hand-on experience of doing much of the work that I've only read about. Safely tilting a piano, replacing castors, disassembling the case of an upright piano, removing the plate, routing out a pinblock, cutting/fitting/drilling a new one, and applying a professional finish to a piano are just some of the things that I learned in this course.       I was worried at first that I would either be watching and listening, or waiting for something to do while someone else is completing a task. Luckily that was not the case at all - for almost two weeks straight we were all working independently on the different tasks rebuilding a Starck upright piano. I was especially impressed by Chuck's shop design and organization. For example, he had three different SETS of sanders with custom made holders which made preparing the case for refinishing go quickly. 
     For anyone thinking about starting a piano shop, Chuck's space is exemplary. Lastly, the camaraderie of the event was wonderful. We all shared the love of music and supported each other in every step of the process. I would highly recommend this class to anyone remotely interested in rebuilding pianos. 

Alan Lynch, Syracuse, New York.

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     Wow - this is a great deal! Including housing with tuition is brilliant. Even with the modest price increase, that puts the total cost at less than what I paid after housing and rental car. If you are considering this as a student, I cannot recommend it highly enough. The skills you learn can be put to use immediately. You could easily see a return on your investment within weeks of the end of the class. It has been about a month since I returned from Chuck's workshop, and next week I will have sold a job that covers the cost I paid.  

Larry Rhode, Atlanta Georgia.

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     I attended Chuck's first session this past summer. For many years, I had the idea of doing piano restoration in the back of my mind, but life got in the way. Now I'm finally in a position to live my dream, but I still had doubts. How do I set up a shop? Can I do these things by myself? And most importantly - would I enjoy it? When I saw he was offering this class, I jumped at the chance to try it out, and I am so glad I did! The many things I learned and had the oportunity to try myself over the course of the class has given me the confidence to start work on my own. I'm not sure Chuck realizes what a gift this has been to me. The words "thank you" just aren't enough!  

Elizabeth Hoenig, Winterset, Iowa

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During the last two weeks I attended Chuck Behm's Small Shop Academy in which we restored a 100 year old upright piano. It was a great time by all and I learned a lot.

Here is a cursory list of what we learned.

Rebuild 100 Year Old Upright Piano:

1) Disassemble, strip, sand and refinish Case/Bench
2) Replace broken and/or reglue loose key tops
3) Clean and polish all key tops
4) Remove rust and polish all hardware
5) Install new heavy duty casters
6) Remove base strings and ship to vendor to fabricate new ones
7) Remove Pin Block, fabricate and install new pin block
8) Install new tuning pins and strings
9) Repair cracked sound board
10) Reshape hammers
11) Install new Dampers
12) Tune and regulate reassembled piano

In Addition we learned the following skills working on several other upright Pianos:

13) Removed #2 Tuning pins and replaced with #4 Tuning Pins
14) Removed outside hammers to be used as a model for fabricating new hammers
15) Installed new plastic key tops
16) Applied new decals

I now feel comfortable using these new skills to work on upright pianos in my own workshop. Some of the skills still need practice and I will use one of my "beater" pianos to hone them in. 

Rick Parfitt, Los Gatos, California

Sign up to be a part of the team for the upcoming 2017 Winter Session, and you'll get to witness this piano being transformed from an eyesore into a jewell before your eyes - and you'll be helping every step of the way!

I'm looking forward to meeting you and working together with you at the upcoming session! If you would like to visit about this opportunity, feel free to call me personally at 515-212-9220. Chuck Behm