The stringing doesn’t take too long but It took many weeks to get the soundboard repaired (detailed in an earlier post) and to refinish and refit the frame. Now the strings are all on (picture taken part-way through). It usually takes about 7-8 hours to get the strings on. So when we talk of restringing a piano it’s as well to know that the restringing is only a very small part of the overall project. All this coupled with preparing sold pianos, tuning for regular and new customers, removals and work for other piano companies means that October is shaping up to be one of the busiest months ever. Shouldn’t forget there’s a new baby at home too! Someone should have advised me to have a ‘Normal job’ …or restring guitars and violins? Click the image for a closer view.
Where do you get a screwdriver for those massive piano frame screws? Well, not down at your local DIY supershed we discovered. It turns out that there aren’t any screwdrivers available which happily fit a screw with a head size of nearly 1 inch! So imagine my delight last year when I unearthed this huge and otherwise useless screwdriver in an antique/bric-a-brac shop in Oxfordshire; so there will be no more struggling with slightly undersized tools! It might please people with a penchant for tool history to know some names for the different patterns of old screwdrivers too. Check the right hand picture. Who knew that screwdrivers could be so much fun? Remember – clicking on the image opens a larger version.
Part of the work involved when reconditioning a good quality grand piano includes recreating the artworks found on the soundboards. The Scheidmayer above was a particular favourite, taking about 22 hours. Painstakingly tracing every little line means hours at a time in front of the computer. The picture above is my starting point. From here to the finished article involves numerous cups of tea, the odd computer crash, a couple of emails and phone calls and more patience than is called for in almost any other area of piano reconditioning. The finished article fills an A3 sheet (in this case) and looks like the ‘Letraset’ sheets that some will remember from the 1970/80’s. They are mini works of art though, do you think?
The little Chappell hire piano made an appearance at the inaugural ‘Tandem’ festival, where a great time was had by all (1). Sometimes accordions land on the workshop doorstop and I’m not one to turn away an ailing squeezebox! Quite a few reeds to tune and get working, one or three of them will need new valves (2). It’s always exciting when a new tool comes along and speeds up an otherwise dull and laborious task and the new whizzy dentist drill type mini-brush-wheel thing is great for tiny cleaning jobs (3). The seventh and final coat of traditional polyurethane yacht varnish has been applied and the Bechstein soundboard is looking fabulous (4). A steady hand is a must when re applying the lettering on a grand frame (5) …remember – clicking on the image will open a nice big version in a new window!
May has been an eventful month and despite a few days off to nurse a cold progress has been good. The soundboard and the bridges of the Bechstein grand are all repaired and nearly ready for the first coat … Continue reading →
Repair work for April carries on apace. Hammer reshaping on a grand that had been stored on it’s side for many years; a couple of days’ hard work and the 1930’s ‘Ralph’ boudoir grand is back in playing order ( left). Centre … Continue reading →
Left: A nice neat result following the recent ‘mobile restringing’ job. Centre: Putting the name back on the fall of a Broadwood (I make and supply these transfers). This piano is gradually being prepared for it’s new home in a few weeks. Right: The ongoing shimming repairs to the soundboard of the 1880’s Bechstein grand. There are around 70 individual repairs so far; it’s labour intensive but essential to return the soundboard to a good state of health. Once all the repairs are done the old varnish will be painstakingly scraped away and 4-5 coats of traditional yacht varnish applied. Remember – clicking on any image will open the image in a new window at a larger size!
This month saw an extra restringing job added to the schedule. A couple of days out in a client’s front room with their beloved Bechstein model 10 upright over on it’s back. Due to a previous rather rough restringing of the treble section the quality of sound we expect just wasn’t there. The restringing of just the top couple of octaves ensured that the piano has a cleaner sound and can be tuned properly, a comfort to the customer and anyone who has to tune the piano in future!
The Crane has been out again as the latest reconditioning job gets underway. Here we have a 120 year old Bechstein grand. The first job is repairing splits in the soundboard, approximately two day’s work (likely to become approximately three days). The hammers are away for recovering in Germany and the Bass strings are with one of the UK’s finest remanufacturers.
Following the de-string, frame removal and cleaning it’s time to start the soundboard repairs.
Also, new homes are being found for pianos in the collection or via the piano re-homing service (where pianos in the wider world are located to suit size and taste). The latest instrument located and put into good order for a customer is this charming little Zender, probably the smallest 85 note piano ever made at just 50 inches wide, that’s smaller than any full scaled digital piano (and far better looking)!
Probably the smallest 85 note British piano ever made!