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Restoration questions... #1246155
08/09/09 11:50 AM
08/09/09 11:50 AM
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edzio Offline OP
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Hello everyone. This is my first post. I am a newbie who is about to inherit a family heirloom from my in-laws. It's a circa 1935 George Steck 6' grand piano. My wife and I are very excited about it. We took it to what we believe is a reputable restoration business and got some recommendations for various work needed to restore the piano. We are leaning toward restringing and new tuning posts as well as a complete reconditioning of the action. We also have the option of refinishing the soundboard and plate which we were not going to do. My question is would we be foolish to not refinish the soundboard and plate at this time? As a classical guitar player I have always heard discouragement toward refinishing a sounboard if at all possible. This idea discourages me from doing this to the piano as well as it may change the sound of the piano for the worse. Am I worrying about nothing and is this commonplace for a piano? The soundboard is in good condition as is the piano overall. Cleaning the soundboard and the plate is included in the repairs mentioned above. Mainly it seems we're dealing with normal age related repairs and it needs a good cleaning. Any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Re: Restoration questions... [Re: edzio] #1246164
08/09/09 12:03 PM
08/09/09 12:03 PM
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Vancouver B. C. Canada
Silverwood Pianos Offline
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It is not always necessary to refinish the sounding board or re-gild the plate unless they have been stained badly over the years.

Un-like a guitar or violin sound body, the piano sounding board can be refinished without changing the sound, if done correctly.

You might consider these repairs while the strings are off, because this is the only time these types of repairs are completed. Also it will give the instrument a better finished look in the end. New strings with a new plate gild and new sound board finish look sharp indeed. Have a look at some of them if you have the opportunity. The extra cost is not that much considering how far you are planning on going with the string repairs and action/keyboard re and re.

Oh and welcome to the Piano Forum


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Re: Restoration questions... [Re: Silverwood Pianos] #1246307
08/09/09 04:30 PM
08/09/09 04:30 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 4,346
North Hollywood CA.
pianobroker Offline
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To me ,part of restoration is preservation.The original lacquer,shellac or ? finish on the soundboard,I'm sure is crazed,broken down and is need of refinishing for preservation and esthethic reasons.That piano doesn't fall into the antique "keep it all original category".Also you need to address any existing cracks or ? in the soundboard itself over the years.Maybe not!As Dan mentioned,It would help to have someone who knows how to strip and refinish the board correctly without damaging it.Such materials such as bleach and stripper can be lethal in the wrong hands. As for the harp ,the same thing applies though it is just cast iron.When one tears down the piano,one may as well go that extra and make that top end look like a million bucks.It looks kinda strange to see NEW strings,pins,understring felt,agraffes, braiding etc. on a grungy looking soundboard and harp. Shabby shiek only goes so far with piano restoration. smile


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Re: Restoration questions... [Re: pianobroker] #1246377
08/09/09 06:43 PM
08/09/09 06:43 PM
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edzio Offline OP
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Thanks for your replies. I would be lying if I said money was no object in this restoration. Our main focus was to make the piano as good mechanically as possible. The soundboard and plate are in quite good condition and mainly look "dusty/dirty" to me. I really could see no stains on either. We also have the option to refinish the cabinet as it is somewhat worn and has the usual "alligator" checking that comes with age. There are no gouges or significant damage to the case and in some areas looks quite smooth. Refinishing the case would double the cost of the work however and It's just not in the budget. It may seem superficial but I would think a brand new interior and a 79 year old exterior would not match very well. Should I not be worrying about this?

Re: Restoration questions... [Re: edzio] #1246384
08/09/09 07:21 PM
08/09/09 07:21 PM
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North Hollywood CA.
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Once the piano "top end" is disassembled, refinishing the soundboard and regilding the harp is minimal $ more. The original "patina" of the case is acceptable but to do the internals and top end leaving the soundboard and harp original is a not the way to go.If you did the internals and top end in it's entirety,you could address the finish/case later making the restoration complete. If you addressed the inside rim with the top end,it would make it much easier once you did do the finish /exterior later if you do decide later to do the finish. Good luck!

Last edited by pianobroker; 08/09/09 11:26 PM.

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100+Steinway and M&H grands
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Re: Restoration questions... [Re: pianobroker] #1246518
08/10/09 01:44 AM
08/10/09 01:44 AM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 478
Whittier, Calif
Roxy Offline
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Speaking from experience I would also like to reiterate the caution of hiring someone who really knows hoe to strip and refinish correctly without damaging your instrument. I tis leathal in the wrong hands and once the damage is done it cannot be undone at least in my experience. Good luck

Re: Restoration questions... [Re: Roxy] #1246977
08/10/09 09:43 PM
08/10/09 09:43 PM
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edzio Offline OP
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Thanks for the helpful replies. I'm going to sleep on it one more night but I think I've decided to go ahead with the plate and soundboard refinishing. I will also replace the decal when finished. I've attached some pictures in case anyone is interested. I will be taking photos during the process so I have a documented timeline. We're pretty excited! Thanks again.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

Re: Restoration questions... [Re: edzio] #1247236
08/11/09 11:39 AM
08/11/09 11:39 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 4,346
North Hollywood CA.
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North Hollywood CA.
The soundboard actually looks to be in very good condition though downbearing and crown are the pertinent criteria as for "sound" to the rebuilder.When the rebuilder pulls the plate one has the option of lowering the plate if need be.
You definitely are making the right decision to address the top end as for refinishing the soundboard and harp. It is advisable to change the agraffes most definitely after one regilds the harp.
After the piano is finished with the new glistening "top end",brasso or buff the brass hardware and the piano will look Nice! with that natuaral "patina" finish.Good luck in your endeavour. wink


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Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
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Re: Restoration questions... [Re: pianobroker] #1247412
08/11/09 05:17 PM
08/11/09 05:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Silverwood Pianos Offline
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I would second the opinion of pianobroker. This instrument looks in good shape for its age. Hopefully you will be able to obtain the original decal once again….

Good luck with the project..........


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: Silverwood Pianos] #1252695
08/20/09 02:58 PM
08/20/09 02:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
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edzio Offline OP
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Just thought I'd share the progress on the restoration of our George Steck. Once the plate was off they determined that the soundboard didn't need refinishing and they were able to clean it up, put a fresh coat of lacquer on it and leave the original decal intact. The pin block was in excellent shape as well. I was very pleased at the look of it and thank you for your encouragement to address the plate and soundboard. It is really quite a difference. You can compare it to the before pictures earlier in the post. More later!

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: edzio] #1252747
08/20/09 04:03 PM
08/20/09 04:03 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 4,346
North Hollywood CA.
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In essence they still refinished the soundboard,they just didn't feel the need to scrape and or strip it.Actually I like the look of natural wood as opposed to a near white bleached original soundboard. They did address the bridge caps.Looks very nice! wink


www.pastperfectpiano.com
Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
Hailun dlr.818-255-3145
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo0zumHGgE
Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: pianobroker] #1258429
08/29/09 09:47 AM
08/29/09 09:47 AM
Joined: Aug 2009
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edzio Offline OP
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The piano is basically finished. It needs a few tweaks and a couple more tunings and will be delivered on Tuesday. It will then be tuned once in the house. We are very excited so I thought I would post more pictures. This process has been very interesting and rewarding and I appreciate the advice we received here.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: edzio] #1258434
08/29/09 09:59 AM
08/29/09 09:59 AM
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 94
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vandyboy Offline
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That piano looks awesome. I think you did the right thing in addressing both the top end mechanics and esthetics. It's a beauty!


1902 Steinway A, Ebony Art Case
Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: vandyboy] #1258466
08/29/09 11:18 AM
08/29/09 11:18 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,881
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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Beautiful instrument. Great job of bringing it back to life.


Clef

Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: Jeff Clef] #1258574
08/29/09 02:54 PM
08/29/09 02:54 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,178
Minnesota
Marty in Minnesota Offline

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Your piano is lovely.

I am sure it will sound as good as it looks.

Comparing the before and afters, was a cabinet pro brought in to do a "rub-n-buff" on the lacquer case finish? Now the mahogany veneer can clearly be seen through the "aligator." The harp and soundboard are indeed beautiful.

It certainly seems to be an instrument that all of us would love to have in our homes. Tuesday can't come too soon, I'm sure.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!


Marty in Minnesota
Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: Marty in Minnesota] #1258586
08/29/09 03:09 PM
08/29/09 03:09 PM
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Georgia
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ChasT Offline
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Georgia
I think it looks great! I like the original finish with the restored but not too new looking top end. The soundboard's amber hue and the original decal are perfect. It's going to look great in your house. I can't wait to see the pictures.

Charles

Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: Marty in Minnesota] #1258769
08/29/09 11:30 PM
08/29/09 11:30 PM
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edzio Offline OP
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Thanks everyone. We are about as excited as we could be. The restorer is good player as well as a fine craftsman and even though it wasn't perfectly in tune, I could tell the sound would suit me very well. I have never actually heard this piano in tune before and my wife and I have been together (dating and married) for 18 years. It hasn't been tuned in the time my in-laws had it (about 30 years). I can recall what the bass register sounded like before the new strings and it was pretty dead and rather "tubby" sounding. Now it's a rich mellow tone that is very focused and clean. It's not very loud but very full and wonderful. I hope it will be well balanced once tuned and in the house. Luckily my neighbor next door is a professional pianist, so he's as anxious to hear and play it as I am.

Originally Posted by Marty in Minnesota
Comparing the before and afters, was a cabinet pro brought in to do a "rub-n-buff" on the lacquer case finish? Now the mahogany veneer can clearly be seen through the "aligator."


Marty, nothing was done to cabinet at all. It must be the way the light is hitting it. I noticed that too in the photo, but in normal light conditions it still looks like the before pictures. You mention a "rub-n-buff" treatment... I didn't realize anything could be done for the finish except a re-finish. I would love to do something to improve the look of the cabinet that's not terribly expensive. Could you direct me in any way toward that end?

Again, thanks for the many kind words and I will post pictures on Tuesday. I can't wait!

Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: edzio] #1258801
08/30/09 12:54 AM
08/30/09 12:54 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,881
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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Some of those pictures are art quality photod, You should submit some of them for exhibit somewhere.


Clef

Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: edzio] #1258816
08/30/09 01:33 AM
08/30/09 01:33 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 4,346
North Hollywood CA.
pianobroker Offline
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North Hollywood CA.
Originally Posted by edzio
Thanks everyone. We are about as excited as we could be. The restorer is good player as well as a fine craftsman and even though it wasn't perfectly in tune, I could tell the sound would suit me very well. I have never actually heard this piano in tune before and my wife and I have been together (dating and married) for 18 years. It hasn't been tuned in the time my in-laws had it (about 30 years). I can recall what the bass register sounded like before the new strings and it was pretty dead and rather "tubby" sounding. Now it's a rich mellow tone that is very focused and clean. It's not very loud but very full and wonderful. I hope it will be well balanced once tuned and in the house. Luckily my neighbor next door is a professional pianist, so he's as anxious to hear and play it as I am.

Originally Posted by Marty in Minnesota
Comparing the before and afters, was a cabinet pro brought in to do a "rub-n-buff" on the lacquer case finish? Now the mahogany veneer can clearly be seen through the "aligator."


Marty, nothing was done to cabinet at all. It must be the way the light is hitting it. I noticed that too in the photo, but in normal light conditions it still looks like the before pictures. You mention a "rub-n-buff" treatment... I didn't realize anything could be done for the finish except a re-finish. I would love to do something to improve the look of the cabinet that's not terribly expensive. Could you direct me in any way toward that end?

Again, thanks for the many kind words and I will post pictures on Tuesday. I can't wait!
edzio,You are correct,as for the finish. In that the finish is very much original being what,70, 80 years old, the lacquer is crazed,cracking,broken down giving that natural "patina" look which looks kinda nice. When a finish gets to this stage the proper procedure is to strip it down to the wood and start over. Thats only if you want it to look like a "new" finish.
If the original finish is not all that old,many would just do what I call a minor refinish. Instead of stripping it down to the wood,you just wet sand it,repair any minor scrapes and damage,shoot numerous coats of ? and clear and hand rub it out. This piano finish is much too old to consider this. There are tricks of rhe trade to make it look better but they are what they are ,tricks of the trade. One thing I would not recommend ,is to pledge it. The oil will sink into the pores of the wood being highly suseptible because of the present cond. of the finish. It is very difficult to rid 20-30 years of pledge/oil from the inner pores of the veneer. So until that decided time to refinish,leave it be.It looks very nice as is.
wink

Last edited by pianobroker; 08/30/09 01:50 AM.

www.pastperfectpiano.com
Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
Hailun dlr.818-255-3145
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z8RvhXGKzY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo0zumHGgE
Re: Restoration questions...(new pics 8-20-09) [Re: Jeff Clef] #1258842
08/30/09 02:56 AM
08/30/09 02:56 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 4,683
San Francisco
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FogVilleLad Offline
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
Some of those pictures are art quality....


edzio, I've had travel and sports photos published and did some portait photos for local boxers. Your piano photos are publishable.


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