February 2023 … 

Shop trains next generation of piano techs

Tucked among the number of antique shops within Kansas City’s Historic West Bottoms is All Keyed Up Piano Shop, a place to shop for your ideal vintage piano, or to get yours serviced by professionals who can give it a second life.

Owned by Steve Waters, All Keyed Up has been in business for nearly five years, with an impressive inventory of spinnets, grands, uprights, organs and more. Waters, who has more than 30 years of experience in the field, says he draws the instruments from a variety of sources, including donations, consignment, estate sales, and pieces he’s purchased himself. Many of the pianos have been produced during the Golden Age of Pianos, usually between the years of 1875 and 1932; the era is defined as a time when pianos were built not simply as instruments to be played but as works of art, constructed with care and superior craftsmanship.

“The craftsmen who were caring for these pianos had a lot of pride and love for what they did,” Waters explains. “It wasn’t just for profit; their motivation was creating a great product. … You don’t cut corners to help the bottom line; you make superior instruments.”
What sets All Keyed Up apart from other piano sales and repair shops is Waters’ mentorship program, in which those interested in vintage piano repair and restoration may work directly with Waters and his team in order to learn the trade. The shop has drawn apprentices from a variety of backgrounds and ages, from Vietnam veterans to teenagers (his youngest apprentice, a 17-year-old named Ethan, is intelligent, hard-working and “has a bright future ahead of him,” Waters says).

He says he has two primary reasons for staying in this type of business for so long.

“Making people happy is a big motivator, and so is preserving history,” Waters says. “I’m able to save a lot of pianos that may not see the light of day again.”

For more information, call All Keyed Up at 816-699-6332 or visit www.allkeyeduppiano.com.


C.C. Briggs Upright Style piano

C.C. Briggs Upright Style piano

This restored 1888 C.C. Briggs Upright Style piano features “beautiful Rosewood & Mahogony woods with elaborate carvings throughout, including the front panel inlays,” according to the business’ Facebook page. In addition to selling and repairing pianos of all kinds, shop owner Steve Waters also takes on students who work directly with him and learn how to keep such pieces in good condition. (Image courtesy of Facebook)