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#1997052 - 12/09/12 07:07 PM A wee bit of rust on the strings
fnx Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/12/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Belmont, CA
I bought a 30 year old Grotrian piano. It looks great and sounds good. There are some minor(?) rusts on the strings. What does one do about this.

The guys who sold me the piano suggested using a mildly abrasive eraser to go over the strings. I tried that it does remove the rust a bit.

I have the urge to use some kind of oil to treat them, so they don't keep rusting.

But what oil would one use? Furniture oil?

Here are some pictures of the condition.

Edited by fnx (12/09/12 07:09 PM)
Phoenix Tong :: Programmer :: Belmont, CA :: Piano dad :: Kawai MP10, Grotrian Model 189

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#1997080 - 12/09/12 08:06 PM Re: A wee bit of rust on the strings [Re: fnx]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014

Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
This very topic is currently being discussed in the Tuner/Tech Forum. You might check out the thread as it has some very good suggestions.
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

#1997473 - 12/10/12 05:51 PM Re: A wee bit of rust on the strings [Re: fnx]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4756
Loc: San Jose, CA
fnx, congratulations on your very fine new piano.

If it were mine, I would not be trying self-help measures like using abrasives on the strings, and certainly not putting oil on them. You need the advice and help of an experienced piano tech; it is quite possible to do more damage than you can fix.

Rusty strings suggests that the piano was in a high-humidity environment, or spent time in a place were the air held corrosive agents such as sea salt or chlorine (for example, near the coast or close by a swimming pool.) If that is true, there may be more difficulties than rusty strings alone. Very high humidity can affect the action parts, felts, soundboard, and even the laminated parts if the exposure was extreme.

An abrupt change to a much drier regimen can be problematic because the swollen wood parts can then shrink, although truly, a steady and moderately humid environment (45% RH is a pretty good target to aim for) is a good place to begin this fine instrument's new life under your care.

Marty is right that our Tuner/Tech forum is a good place to seek advice from people who know what they're talking about (I am only an interested student, myself). I feel glad that a caring person has saved this instrument, and wish you the best of luck in bringing it back. Excellent photos! It surely is rusty--- strings, pins, God knows what else. There's a four-letter word I don't like to use in regard to pianos, but I'll give you a hint: it's spelled m-o-l-d. But a Grotrian is worth the effort and expense.

A local performer rescued a very old piano from a basement in Paris, where it was actually under dripping water for no telling how long. Yet, she brought it back. It was a different kind of case, for it was a historic instrument and the cost didn't really enter in.

#1997506 - 12/10/12 06:42 PM Re: A wee bit of rust on the strings [Re: fnx]
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10896
Loc: Georgia, USA
I started to respond to this thread earlier, but decided to hold off...

If that piano were mine, I'd get some 0000 steel wool and buff the rusted strings with it. There will be some residual dust particles from the steel wool, but nothing a small vacuum cleaner or dust cloth wouldn't take care of. Use NO oils or chemicals.

I'm sure the piano techs will have a better suggestion, but that is just me. I've done this in the past and it has worked for me.

Good luck, and congratulations on your fine piano!

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1997548 - 12/10/12 07:41 PM Re: A wee bit of rust on the strings [Re: fnx]
OG Ryder Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/12
Posts: 40
Loc: San Diego
Yes, fine steel wool just to knock that surface rust down. Any more aggressive than that (like a metal brush) and you are potentially removing even the smallest amount of metal from your strings which you don't want! Have the vacuum ready for dust. BTW, piano looks nice and clean!
"I have never in my life written another such beautiful melody" - Chopin Etude Op. 10, No. 3

#1997700 - 12/11/12 02:11 AM Re: A wee bit of rust on the strings [Re: fnx]
fnx Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/12/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Belmont, CA
Thanks for the advice.

I am surprised that on one here told me to leave it alone.

I think the action are not in bad shape. I am pretty sure there are no mold. The piano spent the last 30 years in the bay area between Atherton and Tiburon. These are not super humid places, compared to Hong Kong where I grew up. The piano is in Belmont now. Belmont is fairly dry except on the few days a year when it rains.

The pictures I showed early were the worst parts. Other shots look clean.

My tuner didn't even remark on the rust, when it was tuned. Perhaps he had adjusted his expectation according to the age of the instrument. It would interesting to compare it with other 30 year old pianos?

The tuner/tech thread's suggestion ranges from chemicals (TSI-321 and TSI-301) to ink eraser. I went over it once with an ink eraser. Where once was rust is now dull blue/black. The non rusty part are now shiny.

I will stay away from chemicals and oil.

Thanks again.
Phoenix Tong :: Programmer :: Belmont, CA :: Piano dad :: Kawai MP10, Grotrian Model 189


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