Eco-friendly Piano

Restore a piano using upcycled felt and wood. Write a report on Pianos & the Environment.
Noah Frere
Knoxville, Tennessee
United States
2 Team Members

Hi. My name is Noah Frere, and I am a a Piano Tuner and Rebuilder. My business of 7 years is called Know-a Piano, and has always been interested in the environment, giving 3% of profits to organizations such as Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and more local groups like Riverkeeper of Tennessee. 


The Need

In speaking with other Piano Techs, I soon realized that there wasn’t much interest in Eco-friendly pianos. Often, a response is that we are “too small” to matter. However, nobody is too small to matter. Tough there has been some work done by a very few far-sighted individuals, the lack of Eco-friendliness in the piano business is apparent everywhere from materials available in piano supply catalogs, to the dominant attitude that old pianos are worthless, or aren’t worth the money it would take to restore them. I challenge these attitudes. 

Below is copying a paper pattern of the old Pinblock.

Copying Pinblock

Gerard the MiniPiano

One client has agreed to rebuild her mini-piano named Gerard, and expressed interest in using Eco-friendly materials. She has already agreed to pay more money to rebuild the piano than what the piano can sell for, which is a bold challenge to society’s prevalent attitudes. This is important, because we can’t let the status quo attitudes stop our progress towards a sustainable healthy world. We must allow the possibility that new attitudes can, and do, develop as the the world changes from decade to decade. 

 Below is homemade Red Oak blocks from a Knoxville client's felled tree that he turned into lumber. Homemade Blocks

Glueing red Oak blocks to support the Pinblock.

Glueing blocks

Installing Pinblock for the last time.

Installing Pinblock

Where’s the Money Go?

The funds will go toward researching different felts and wood, and research on the telephone with suppliers concerning the Eco-friendliness of their products. I have ordered a little up-cycled felt (old sweaters cut and felted), but need specific thicknesses and densities for the detailed technical work inside a piano. This will take experimenting and trial and error. Wood comes from dubitable sources, and pianos use specific types, such as spruce for the soundboard. Alternative sources need to be explored. 

At the end of the rebuild, I will write a report on the current state of pianos as it relates to the environoment. It will talk about supplies and materials, and highlight somes directions to best pursue Eco-friendly pianos. 


Technical Details

Ideally, I will order new felt Hammers custom-made from recycled felt fibers, which would take a lot of negotiating between the felt provider and the hammer manufacturer. 

Ideally, the Dampers will be likewise made. There are about a dozen separate pieces of felt in each note of a piano. All of these need special attention. The Hammers and Dampers may be the most difficult to source, but the others may prove to be equally challenging. $2000 isn’t enough to do ll the research and order parts, but at least it will get a good head-start. 

 The picture chosen to represent the Eco-friendly Piano project is a Red Oak block glued and clamped into the back of the piano where there was just a space. This back needed to be stronger to support the Pinblock, which holds the immense tension of the piano strings (about 25,000 pounds.) The Red Oak came from a local Knoxvillian’s lumber yard, full of wood from a giant tree that fell in his backyard a couple years ago. It has been seasoned by time - and it doesn’t get any more Eco-friendly than that! 


The Pinblock has already been ordered and fashioned and installed in the usual manner. However, I’d like to continue researching for the next piano I rebuild. I wonder if the next Pinblock can be made from this same Red Oak...


What Else?

See my website  for more information, and my Facebook page  

The Gerard Project can be seen in pictures at  

 This Project is not just about a single piano. It is about changing the attitude in our society that old pianos are junk. Old pianos are not junk. They are amazing pieces of technology capable of producing some of the most spectacular music. They are antiques and family heirlooms. They are stories and treasures.

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This campaign ended on August 7, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Thank You Card

    Made from recycled paper & a Report.

    1 claimed
  • $25USD
    Piano Hammer Necklace

    A Necklace made from one of the old Hammers. Decorated and finished. PLus a Report.

    1 out of 20 claimed
  • $50USD
    3 Piano Hammer Necklaces

    From 3 different sized Hammers - a large Bass, medium Treble, and narrow high Treble. Plus a Report.

    1 out of 20 claimed
  • $100USD
    Necklace and Free Tuning

    If you live in Knoxville, TN :) Plus a Report.

    0 out of 20 claimed
  • $500USD
    Above plus partial Regulation

    I will spend 1 day on regulating the piano, making adjustments to the action that make the most difference in improving the touch. Must live in Knoxville, TN. Plus a report.

    0 out of 2 claimed
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