This is a brief introduction to this manual.
In this preface I explain my reasons for writing this manual.
A brief history of the development of the piano.
This section deals with the design & construction of the various components of the modern piano.
The "Basic" division of this manual deals with subject matter suitable for the beginning piano technician or the do-it-yourselfer. The material is essentially the same as in my "How To . . ." series of eBooks. Just click on the "eBooks" tab at the top of this page for a more detailed description of each topic.
This division deals with more advanced techniques as described below . . .
There are three different types of springs in a vertical piano: the damper spring, the hammer butt spring and the jack spring. These springs may require replacement if they have become weak, damaged or broken. The procedure for replacing individual springs or whole sets of springs is covered here.
Damper work in vertical pianos can be very difficult, and at times very frustrating. The following instructions should be able to take a lot of the difficulty out of the job.
The reasons for filing hammers and the procedure are discussed here. When hammers become excessively worn, no amount of filing, re-shaping or voicing will make much improvement in the tone of the piano. The best solution is to install a set of new hammers. Hammer hanging is described in detail here.
The procedure for filing grand hammers is somewhat different from that for upright hammers which is described here. Hammer hanging for grands is also very different and much more complicated. A detailed outline of all the steps involved are presented in this article.
This section deals with choosing the correct damper felt, re-bushing the damper guide rail, servicing the damper underlever assembly, gluing on the damper felt, damper regulation and correctly bending the damper wires.
There are many different factors that determine the touch of a piano. It is important to investigate all of these factors before attempting any re-weighting of the keys. The touch of a piano is constantly changing with use as the key bushings wear, the flange bushings wear, the hammers wear and loose felt through re-shaping thus changing their weight, climatic changes around the piano, plus other factors which are discussed here.
If you choose to do your own key recovering, there have been a variety of approaches to this job. The method that I have found to give the best results is described here.
Before beginning, it is important to observe a few necessary design considerations. The new plastic keytops will be considerably thicker than the original ivory, therefore, in order to maintain the same key dimensions as the original, it will be necessary to mill down some of the wood from the top of the key before gluing on the new tops.
If this is not done you will usually have regulation problems. There may not be enough room between the key tops and the nameboard. The sharps will be too low in relation to the white keys. If you raise the sharps to the correct height, then the white keys may hit the front rail punchings under the sharp keys before seating on their own felt punchings.
Sometimes the key top may not be square with the side of the key. If you mill down the top with the key on its side the tops will not be level in the piano. They will all be slopped to one side. I provide two different options for preparing the key top for the new material. Also included are detailed diagrams for building all the necessary jigs for key recovering.
The condition of the bridges in a piano is critical to the production of good tone and tuning stability. Loose bridge pins, cracks in the bridge and improper notching all have a detrimental effect on the ability of the bridge to transmit the vibrations of the strings to the soundboard. These issues are discussed here.
Bridge recapping is an essential skill that the serious piano rebuilder must develop. There will be situations in which merely repairing the bridge, will not restore the piano to optimum condition. Recapping is definitely a major procedure and the steps presented here should be followed closely.
Bridge removal, new bridge design, construction options and bridge installation are covered in detail here.
The importance of soundboard crown and the various methods used to put crown into the soundboard are the subjects of this section.
As the strings pass over the bridge they are deflected in a direction down to the soundboard because the bridge surface is higher than the plane of the strings. This causes the string to exert downward pressure on the bridge and soundboard which is essential to the transmission of the string vibrations to the soundboard.
Ideally, this force should be evenly distributed along the bridges so that each string exerts the same amount of downward pressure as the next string. This section deals with the method of setting the correct downbearing on new bridges.
Assessing the condition of the soundboard and making any necessary repairs is the subject material here.
It is the purpose of the soundboard faithfully to reproduce and amplify the vibrations of the strings that are transmitted to it through the bridges. The design and construction of such a soundboard is discussed here.
Pinblocks are fastened into piano cases in a variety of ways. Some are simply held in place with screws at each end and are therefore quite easy to remove. Others are also glued in place and require a little extra effort for removal. Still others have dowels at each end going down into the support shelf plus blind dowels joining the pinblock with the stretcher. These present a bigger problem for removal. Various methods of pinblock removal are discussed here.
Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether or not to replace the pinblock. How to fit a grand pinblock as well as repairing or replacing an upright pinblock are described here.
The following points are discussed here: drill press set-up, cooling the bit, drill bit size, drill speed, feed rate and drilling accuracy.
Repair or replacement of the agraffes, dressing the capo bar and dealing with cracked plates are discussed here.
There are various situations that require the height of the plate to be adjusted. The method of installing the plate with the Baldwin suspension system is described in detail along with instructions for copying this system when installing a plate in a rebuilt piano that was originally set on dowels or shims. Also, setting the plate on dowel supports is presented when such a method is desirable.
Plans for building a great tilter for upright pianos.
Links to various suppliers to the piano industry.
All of this invaluable material is available in eBook format that you download to your computer so that you can have immediate access to all of these detailed articles along with about 200 images, original drawings and diagrams.
This eBook is available as an executable file for Windows PC as well as an application for Mac computers. After you make your purchase you will be able to select which format you require.
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