Best Seat in the House for One of My Faves: Allen Toussaint!
The Raymond Anthony Myles Singers Sing Out! At the Gospel Tent!
Zachary Richard Rocks the House!
René Marie and Kevin Bales
July 2015 Registered Piano Technician Certification
St. Augustine Church New Orleans
Jam Cruise 2016 Pool Deck
Jam Cruise 2016 Main Stage
Jam Cruise 2016
Jam Cruise 2016 Atrium
After many hours of playing, pianos -such as this Yamaha U1 from a university practice room- begin to show signs of wear. The hammers develop deep grooves, dust collects, screws and pins can become loose. On some uprights the tiny cords that hold the hammer-butt springs rot and break. All of these issues can make the instrument less responsive and can diminish the sound quality. Fortunately, with a little time and care, improvements can be made that will extend the piano's life and make it much more pleasing to play and listen to!
Practice Room U1: Before
Close-up of broken cords
Loose Screws Cause Pins to "Walk out"
Walking Pins Causes Loose Hammers
Re-shaped Hammers for Better Tone
Ready to Play!
Some old pianos still have their original ivory keys. These can be very beautiful and have a pleasant touch. However, the ivory doesn't always age gracefully. Cracks and chips appear in the surface, yellowing is caused by age and grime from our fingers, and sometimes the keytops fall off all together.
Fortunately keys can be re-glued, repaired, sanded and polished; often with good results and can also be replaced by new plastic keytops.
Missing key tops
Re-gluing key tops
There are a couple of different adhesives that can be used to re-attach missing ivory, the important thing is to line it up correctly and remove all the old glue so as to have a tight bond.
A pretty nice set of ivories.
Sanded and polished
An acrylic is used to repair the chip in the ivory, the repair is sanded and polished to match the shape.
When doing any restoration or rebuilding there is always a lot of cleaning involved. All the old felt must be removed, the wood carefully sanded around the pins and screws, the pins polished to minimize friction and new felt -of the correct thickness- applied.
Mason & Hamlin Key Frame, Before
Keys have been removed for routing, sanding and reconditioning. The frame will be cleaned, pins polished, and re-dressed.
Close-up on key pins
Covered in dust, crust, and sometimes rust! The old felt is compressed and unyeilding.
Mason & Hamlin Key Frame, After
Fortunately, this one wasn't too terrible to start with and the end result is pretty spiffy.
The keys are the interface of the piano. The player is connected to the machine inside the instrument through them.
The unsung heroes of a piano key are the felt bushings that hug the front and balance pins.
If they are too tight, there will be too much friction and the keys will feel heavy and difficult to play. Sometimes they even stick! If the bushings are worn out or moth-eaten the keys are sloppy and noisy, the player loses control.
Sometimes the existing bushing felt can be sized but often, the worn felt must be stripped out, the keys routed, and new felt glued in. Afterward, the keys glide on their pins smoothly.
old felt is removed
a routing jig is used to ensure precision
the edges of the mortise are now nice and clean
New felt is glued in and trimmed
After years of playing, a piano's hammers begin to wear, dust accumulates and grooves are worn in the felt from repeatedly striking the strings. If the instrument warrants it, or any time a full re-build is taking place, the hammers and shanks can be replaced.
A brand new set of hammers
The angle of the strings is measured
Bore distance is calculated
A jig is used to ensure the correct angle, rake and bore distance
New shanks are attached to the action frame
Using one of the old hammers as a sample, new hammers are hung at the end of each section to be used as guides
A jig is used as a guide to duplicate the correct length, rake and angle.
Excess shank length is removed with a bandsaw
A disc sander and jig are used to tail the hammers so they will go into check