This particular model of Bechstein seems to confuse my electronic tuner – something to do with the scaling and bridge design in the second section. So this afternoon I decided to tune the piano aurally, which is something I haven’t done for a long time. It was rather liberating to be honest! I found myself remembering my apprenticeship days sitting amongst a sea of pianos while I learned to tune with all sorts of workshop noises going on around me (good practice for tuning in restaurants and so on!).
I’m definitely out of practice, but was happy with the result. Probably the last tuning I’ll do before Christmas, so I’m glad it was such a nice piano! Along with my Fujan carbon lever, I also got to try my new 30mm wide felt wedge. It’s so nice to use good tools.
You can see the piano here (apologies for the first picture – someone leaned against the keys whilst taking the pic, so it looks like the hammers are out of regulation!)
Fitting the Aliquot studs in my current Style-VI rebuild. The piano has had a new soundboard, wrest plank, new turned legs and lyre, and black polyester finish – I’ll be stringing the piano this week before completing the action rebuild in the week leading up to Christmas.
After rebuilding the action for my Bechstein “A” Sheraton, and fitting new hammers, a few of the keys were too light touch wise. I removed an old key lead, plugged the hole (you can see the new plug just behind the black portion of the key), then re-assembled the action with the newly plugged keys in place.
In the picture here you can see the 52g touch weight on the front of the key, and a new 15g lead resting on the top of the key near the balance point, with a mark on the side of the key ready for drilling.
The finished piano can now be viewed at Handel Pianos.
Last week I made a (very rare..!) trip outside the workshop to my local timber merchant. I was buying Maple stock to make new legs and a lyre for a Blüthner Style-VII I bought last year. Currently the piano is finished in black polish, but it’s my intention to re-veneer the piano in maple.
There is SO much going on in the workshop at the moment that I’m not sure when I’ll get round to this rather special project piano. Keep an eye out for further information!
Polishing the new wrest plank for a Sheraton Bechstein model “A” grand. Another late night in the workshop!
Note the old plank just behind (underneath all the tools) being used as reference for the new plank.
Such a long time since my last post, but felt I just had to share a picture of my latest acquisition – a pair of Starrett pliers top-cut. They’re something I’ve always wanted, but could never really justify since the pliers I use for cutting piano wire work perfectly well.
A dear friend of mine recently gave me his collection of piano tools, and yesterday I found these splendid pliers in amongst them. They’re really lovely to use, cutting through piano wire like it’s not there – I can’t wait till my next stringing job!
After a very enjoyable Christmas break, I’m once again in the workshop!
I realised today I’ve not updated my website for many months – I’ve been putting a lot of hours into piano work, and just haven’t had time to add pictures to the site. One of my new year resolutions is to keep the website ticking over a bit better…
Happy new year everyone!
Such a long time since I added anything new to my website! Here’s the piano I’m currently working on. The soundboard was in rather a sorry state, and I’ve done a number of repairs to it. Seen here, just after trimming the new shims, and just before scraping the old finish away ready for sanding and lacquering.
I like the rather “snaily” shaving taken from one of the shims…!
After rather a lot of measuring and calculating, the specifications for a new keyboard were sent to Aug. Laukhuff in Germany. Seen here, part of the working drawing for the new keyboard.
The Style-X Blüthner now resides in the showroom at Handel Pianos in Sunningdale. The piano looks and sounds even better I’d hoped it would – please get in touch with the chaps at the showroom, and go along to play it for yourself!
Seen here, the dampers in the third section of the piano, complete with a little damper on the side of the head for the Aliquot string. At this stage they’ve not had their fine regulation – that will happen this evening!
The piano is starting to sound very nice now, and will be finished and ready for shipping to the showroom at Handel Pianos by the end of the week.
Style-X is now ready for dampers to be fitted. First regulation complete, and the piano is up to pitch.
Seen here just after positioning the socket rails (which guide the dampers) – you can see them just under the strings in the bottom right corner of the picture. In a few hours they’ll be hidden from view by the newly rebuilt dampers…
The Blüthner Style-X is approaching the end of its first regulation. The next job will be to weigh the action to ensure an even touch weight.
After weighing, I will tune the piano once more before fitting the dampers. The next job will be to sit and play the piano for a few hours to get the action settled, and start work on toning the hammers.
As you can see in the picture, the key spacing isn’t correct at this stage – this is one of the things that will be addressed during the second (fine) regulation. The letters on the front of the key frame refer to different thicknesses of washer (which are used to adjust the height of the keys) on the balance rail – Blue, Green, Paper, and Telephone…!
Fitting “hills” to the underside of the new WNG levers (which are also known as a “whippen” or “repeat”) in the Style-X. The action is almost ready for assembly and regulation…
Strike hammers (guide hammers for positioning the remaining 82) for the Blüthner Style-X. They were custom made for the piano by Abel in Germany. The felt is Abels “Natural” quality, which uses less processing than normal hammer felt, resulting in a hammer that is easier to work with for toning, and hopefully longer lasting and more resilient.
Today, I finished stringing the Style-X. Here you can see the second section of the piano – the brass plate held in place by many screws, wrest pins (which are used for tuning the piano), and nice neat coils of steel string. In the background the blue felt is to stop the small sections of string between the wrest pins and the studs from vibrating.
The first job I did with my early Christmas present was to carve the notches on the Style-X bass bridge. Having done this, the bridge pins were fitted, the tops filed flat, then the notches were varnished, and the tops of the pins lacquered.
A little extravagant perhaps, but I decided to buy myself an early Christmas present – a 15mm Japanese white steel chisel. It will only ever be used for carving the notches in bridges.
If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see the blade is laminated – flexible but tough steel on the back to support the much harder white steel cutting edge. It had not been sharpened in this picture, but after some time sharpening and honing the edge, it was sharp enough to shave with. A very nice tool to use!
Todays work was preparing the inside of the Style-X case for the frame to be fitted. One of the jobs was to scrape and sand the inside of the pianos rim. It was originally polished black – scraping the polish away revealed some rather nice wood underneath…
I continued scraping away the old polish, then sanded the wood to a fine finish before polishing it with clear shellac. The rim came out a little darker than I’d hoped, but the piano will now have a nice piece of polished walnut to compliment the gold frame. That was a nice surprise!
The Style-X studs (also known as “Agraffes”) have had their first clean in preparation for buffing and lacquering. The stud at the front has been buffed to make sure the cleaning was adequate to achieve a good finish.