Tuning and maintenance           Repairs and restorations

Repairs and restorations

Left: An eight foot long Bechstein grand with badly cracked soundboard and bridges.
Centre: Measuring the old soundboard and planing many spruce planks very precisely together.
Right: The soundboard planks all glued together and shaped to fit exactly into the piano. The curved ribs of various lengths, thicknesses and widths are ready to be glued to the rear of the soundboard after the soundboard is thicknessed identically to the original soundboard.

Left: The new varnished soundboard with ribs in place is ready to be glued in its place.
Centre: The top surface of the soundboard and internal woodwork is cleaned and newly varnished. The metal frame is repainted in gold and garnished with red cloth. Screws and bolts have been re-nickel plated and all brass polished and lacquered. The piano is fitted out with new tuning pins and strings. The last of the hand-made copper-wound bass string is being fitted.
Right: The fully restored action mechanism is regulated outside and inside the grand piano.

Left: A Richard Lipp grand piano fully restored to original condition.
Centre: The cracked cast iron frame is skillfully welded and is repainted in gold prior to refitting.
Right: Old copper-wound bass strings often sound dead and new ones are not readily available. Therefore Guus van den Braak makes precision bass strings on his own string making machine.

Left: Carving new bridges on the soundboard of a G.Schwechten (German) upright piano.
Centre: The frame refitted and checking the string angles.
Right: Fitting new tuning pins and strings to the Schwechten upright piano.

Left: Overhaul to Steinway & Sons model D concert grand of the Elder Conservatorium.
Centre: After replacing all damper felts, dampers are refitted, adjusted and regulated.
Right: Regulating the Steinway & Sons action mechanism after being overhauled.

Left: Old discoloured keys can often be restored to as new condition.
Centre: Do not play the piano at all with ivory missing and have ivory immediately and professionally reglued as the sharp joining edges between head and tail will become rounded with only one playing session, leaving a permanent ugly, dirty black line. Do not rub the sharp ivory edges either or the fine white gauze on the wood as it will wear off immediately. It takes skill to reglue ivory and is not a job for the do-it-yourselver. White animal hot glue should be used to glue ivory as other glues do more harm than good. Ivory has the best feel on a keyboard and should be respected, valued and preserved as it is no longer available. If too many ivories are missing and the rest of the ivory is in poor state, new ivory colour plastic key tops can be fitted.
Right: Lead is used to balance the keys, action mechanism and touch. Wooden keys may split due to swelling and corroding lead. Corroded lead is removed, keys repaired and new lead is fitted.

Left: The decal on the cracked Schiedmayer & Soehne upright piano soundboard, anno 1900.
Centre: A soundboard is made up of many planks which are planed and fitted one to another extremely precisely to ensure a strong glue joint that is never to come apart. This requires very high woodworking skills. A tricky clamping job, as planks want to "swim".
Right: The new soundboard is thicknessed precisely to the original. New ribs are made and glued to the back of the soundboard.

Left: After gluing the new soundboard into the piano, the cracked pinblock is removed as tuning pins were slipping, causing strings to go out of tune.
Centre: The piano with new unvarnished soundboard and pinblock completely removed.
Right: A section of a European Beech pinblock with many laminations. The piano is fitted with this extremely strong and durable pinblock.

Left: With the pinblock glued in the piano, the soundboard varnished, the bridges repaired, the frame painted and fitted, it is time to drill holes to fit the new tuning pins and strings.
Centre: Now that new strings are fitted and brought to full tension, cabinet parts are polished and reassembled. The keyboard and action mechanism are restored and can be installed and regulated inside the piano.
Right: The piano restored to its original beauty and if well maintained, this instrument can live another 100 years.

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