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Old finish improvement?
#2132154 08/13/13 07:30 AM
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I have a 1961 Yamaha G7 that I've had since the middle 60s. I had extensive work done to the innards a few years ago and I'm very happy with it except for the finish. It was going to cost too much to refinish to be worth it to me for that piano.

I don't know what the finish is and wonder if someone here does. It's not (and never was) high gloss but it's not what we call satin finish these days either. It actually looks more like what a semi-gloss finish looks like. The finish is sort of uneven and -well- old looking. No big nicks or dings or anything and it's not worn through anywhere. There's a little checking on the lid but the rest is smooth.

Is there something I can do to it to improve it somewhat without refinishing? In the past I had tried various furniture polishes with no results. At this point I just dust it and smile when I play it. It sounds and plays beautiful but looks a little shabby.

Just wondering.


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Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2132243 08/13/13 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Roger Ransom

I don't know what the finish is and wonder if someone here does.


Not without seeing the old finish.

Originally Posted by Roger Ransom

Is there something I can do to it to improve it somewhat without refinishing?


Sure but first one has to establish what the old finish is by testing with various solvents.

Originally Posted by Roger Ransom

In the past I had tried various furniture polishes with no results.


Furniture polishes are exactly that; the job they do is to polish an already existing finish.

Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2132267 08/13/13 01:02 PM
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Thanks, I just thought maybe there was a standard finish that Yamaha used then.

Nothing is ever easy, thanks for the response.


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Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2132309 08/13/13 02:10 PM
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My money says it's lacquer.

If it's a wood finish, you can try, for just a few dollars, some of this stuff:

[Linked Image]

There is a neutral color, plus different tints for different types of wood. It's really easy to use (be sure and have good ventilation), and I think it does a great job of covering scratches and brightening the appearance of the wood.

It certainly doesn't hurt to try.



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Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2132312 08/13/13 02:12 PM
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You should consider an aggressive cleaning that would remove built up polishes and waxes and dirt.
If the finish is on solid possibly just adding some texture to it could improve it a great deal - at least even it out a bit.
This can be done with fine grey or gold scotch bright pads or fine steel wool.
work on small sample areas first - use nice straight lines.


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Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2132317 08/13/13 02:15 PM
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Good point, Gene, and that's one thing Howard's does.

Depending on how bad the finish is damaged, Howard's can also be used with 0000 steel wool. Gently...



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Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2132342 08/13/13 03:01 PM
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Great, I'll try some of these ideas on something that doesn't show first.

I agree, it can't hurt to try and might make a big difference.


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Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2132356 08/13/13 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Roger Ransom
Thanks, I just thought maybe there was a standard finish that Yamaha used then.


Most likely they did.

However, I can recall a long time back I stripped one of the early benches that came from Yamaha in the late 50’s early 60’s.

It was one of those pianos finished in what Yamaha called limed oak; this yellow pecan colour over a very strange grade and grain of wood.

The outside coats stripped off like no finish I had ever seen before or since. The dichloromethane stripper would not penetrate in the usual way and the finish came off more like an early plastic than any type of lacquer or other type of wood finish.

I would test the finish first to see what you have previous to applying anything to remedy. Try an area that does not show like along the cheek below the cheek blocks.

Re: Old finish improvement?
Silverwood Pianos #2132756 08/14/13 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted by Roger Ransom
Thanks, I just thought maybe there was a standard finish that Yamaha used then.


Most likely they did.

However, I can recall a long time back I stripped one of the early benches that came from Yamaha in the late 50’s early 60’s.

It was one of those pianos finished in what Yamaha called limed oak; this yellow pecan colour over a very strange grade and grain of wood.

The outside coats stripped off like no finish I had ever seen before or since. The dichloromethane stripper would not penetrate in the usual way and the finish came off more like an early plastic than any type of lacquer or other type of wood finish.

I would test the finish first to see what you have previous to applying anything to remedy. Try an area that does not show like along the cheek below the cheek blocks.


Yes do not use anything without knowing what is the finish. Petrol based products can make a mess with some finishes, penetrate and soften it.


If a streak have a white bottom it is polyester (chances are that it is).
Black polyester on Yamahas : the hard and shiny coat is very thin. Under it there is a more grey and more supple bottom coat that you cannot polish (so sanding and polishing black polyester on those pianos must proceed with caution)

If the shiny coat have been sanded too much you have grayish surfaces, and the finish cannot be polished.

If the case is in wood, this is yet possible a similar finish have been used. In that case I suggest that you may use French polish (after surface prep) or even a simple wax (or automotive wax) those will need to be stripped to refinish the piano anyway.

French polish (the fast variety - contain some shellac waxes and fast solvents possibly - which is easy to rub - ask Douglas Gregg about where to find it) can bring back a nice gloss, and the job can be done by a dedicated amateur, with a good arm and some "arm's oil".

The prep can be a fine water sanding for transparent gloss, or even a rubbing with fine scotch brite on a leveled surface, for a black shine.

Dan, for waht I know, polyester is stripped with heat guns. paint strippers does not relaly work, unless very large quantities are used, covered, by a plastic film left a few hours, strip, and go again... hard work.

The undercoat on Yamahas is may be not Polyester but possibly PU (lesser cost) but I also have been said that a bottom coat is used to be in Polyester, then a high gloss coat is sprayed that can be polyester (special high gloss for pianos) or Polyurethane.
The undercoat is supposed to be a little supple so the top coat does not crack. But 1961 finishes where not as good as of today and old polyester are often crocodile looking !)

A common solution used was also the spraying of "shellac" (in fact a mix of cellulose and shellac in Nitro solvents) with final coats sprayed or hand rub, and a last high gloss obtained by rubbing benzoil (Benjoin) - case of some German instruments from that era and up to 80's certainly.
The bottom coat whiten and crack with time, often.
The surface can be sanded and rubbed with shellac with good results , only if the bottom is clean.

"amalgamator" , may be, but not many polishers trust in that product, mostly used to finish/rub the gloss of mixed products cellulose/shellac/wax (name is "mattine" in French)

Last edited by Olek; 08/14/13 11:46 AM.

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Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2132765 08/14/13 11:43 AM
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There is a "quick and dirty" solution by spraying Nitro satin lacquer (or even matte) on a cleaned surface.

Better than nothing. All the inside of the piano must be well protected from the spraying dust (paper/plastic film).

If the spraying is done correctly it can give acceptable aspect (a little "cheap" but clean) despite orange skin/spraying traces - must be sprayed moistened so good temperature and good spraying distance and crossing the spray are important.


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Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2133334 08/15/13 12:12 PM
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Hi Isaac,
I never thought the product was poly but rather one of the lacquers from the early 50’s when acrylic resin, a synthetic polymer began to be used in the mixtures.

Transparent thermoplastic is a polymer that becomes pliable at a certain temp and then hardens as it cools down.

Re: Old finish improvement?
Roger Ransom #2133677 08/16/13 03:18 AM
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Hi Dan, I mostly can say it is repaired with poly and can be polished.(is not the technical name hard top?)

The undercoat I dont know what is (gelcoat ?).


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