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Posted By: LovingPianos Estonia Concert Grand - 06/26/19 05:31 PM
Hello all!

We're long-time lurkers here reading so many interesting topics, and we're glad to finally join the forum! The timing is also good, since we'd never have expected to imagine ourselves owning, let alone rebuilding, a concert grand piano so soon!

For a bit of our background, we have a 17-year-old Yamaha C5 at home (just our age!), and we've been using it for the past 10 years of daily practicing. Recently we had the desire to have a better piano, and with the Yamaha being a pretty decent intrument we ended up replacing some action parts (Abel hammers and new knuckles) and treble strings. That was a huge improvement, but certainly not enough for us twin pianists.

We then became obsessed with finding, playing, even getting a look at any larger grands we run into. At the university's school of music where we study, it is a pure joy just to sneak into rehearsal rooms/concert halls and find a concert grand piano sitting in the corner! Last month we came home for the summer break, and got in touch with a former piano teacher in Thailand who repairs and sells used European pianos. Out of 3 Blüthners, an August Förster, and an Estonia he had, we chose the latter, mainly for its "voice", even though they all sound good (despite being equally out-of-tune and unregulated!).

Other than the (moderately acceptable) refinishing, the Estonia was all in original condition of circa 1973 Soviet-built standard, so a few things were looking apparently in need of repair; the rusted strings in particular. This led us to the idea of repainting the iron frame, since it's now or never for the strings to be completely taken out and replaced. The work wasn't short of difficult, so we're taking one step at a time, and thanks to the kind helps from the piano teacher and his skilled piano technician friends, we're progressing steadily, and safely! Being painters ourselves, we have all the ideas drafted for this restoration, so it won't be just technical improvements!

Here are some photos of the piano in its poor, humid storage room, and after arriving in its new home and hyper-cleaned (every accessible corners!):

Before:
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After:
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We'll be posting more pics of the restoration process as we progress!

Cheers!

SKs
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/27/19 12:17 AM
Good luck and keep us posted.
Posted By: Maximillyan Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/27/19 02:15 AM
There are "licked " pins of sides. A tuner used non professional hammer. It's metal of a (hammer) have soft material . It's great tragedy for a piano.
Posted By: malkin Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/28/19 01:53 PM
Enjoy your new (to you) piano!
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/28/19 04:26 PM
Thanks for looking in and commenting!

@Maximillyan, we suspect the previous tuners used incorrect tuning hammer size on the pins, and then they were let to rot in the humid storage room along with the strings. We'd describe the piano as a red army grave site! And yes, we've seen pianos that are in much worse condition! eek

Some further background of the intrument:

This piano was built in Tallinn, Estonia, and the serial number 2256 indicates a year of ca. 1973. On the underside of the piano just under the keyboard, there is a handwriting in white with the letters Д.К. (D.K.), which likely refers to Dom Kultury, the Soviet-era Houses of Culture. Therefore, it is quite likely that this piano was from one of such places in Moscow Oblast.

Anyway, let's jump straight into the actual rebuilding process!

As you can see in the previous photos, the piano is in pretty good condition. The high-gloss polyester finish was redone in Bangkok, and it looks very good at a distance. A closer inspection, however, reveals some defects, like air bubbles and uneven clear coating in some areas. Being a northern european piano, the wood from very cold and dry baltic regions seems to be affected by the extreme contrast of very hot and humid climate of Thailand, especially in the storage room it has been sitting in for almost a year. This might explain the noticeably uneven reflection of the piano interior on the inside of the lid. The soundboard was in very decent shape despite the said condition, but it wasn't until after the piano arrived at our home for about week, when, surprisingly, we noticed an improvement in the tone and sound quality. This may be due to the fact that our tiny "concert hall" was built with only clerestorey windows, therefore the optimum humidity and temperature in the room provided a perfect spot for the piano to recover.

[Linked Image]

Moving on to the especially worn-out interior. As with most old-generation european pianos, the tuning pins are smaller, and their wrecked appearances greatly spoiled the look of the piano. These will be replaced along with their wooden bushings. The cast-iron plate paintwork was original, and it certainly wasn't the best finish. There are dark brown stains all over the areas around the tuning pins, which strangely cannot be removed with even the strongest cleaning solutions. With the decision to completely restring the piano, it is the best idea to rebronze the iron plate as well.

Well, repainting a piano iron plate isn't so much of a simple task. We needed to disassemble the piano almost entirely....and that is...uh...quite a lot of work! But before we could think twice, here we are....

Our teacher helping with removing the bass strings:

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Red Army comrades at work!

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Stripped bare of all strings and pins:

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This process of removing the strings and driving the old tuning pins out actually required so much effort and time, and we thought...this isn't what pianists are supposed to do!! Anyway, it was a great way to exercise, and we did lose some 20 lbs....wait... ha

Now, it was time to lift the iron plate off the piano. We had to unscrew the legs and put the piano down on the floor in order to make room and ease up the process. With a weight of around half a ton, we needed help from a team of builders who were renovating our house:

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Note the decorative piano strings wreaths on the wall!!

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The original wood bushings were very old, some even had rust streaking down the holes, and a few others were badly damaged while the tuning pins were being removed. We noticed that the rust caused tuning problems back when we tuned the piano when it arrived, but well...how much rust can you have in a piano? crazy

Here they are being hammered off the plate:

[Linked Image]

We must say that Estonia's iron plate is definitely one of the most beautiful designs! Here is how it looks after extensive degreasing and cleaning:

[Linked Image]
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Time to put it back in the piano....let's waste all the effort getting it out!! grin

More works on the plate coming!

SKs
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/28/19 04:34 PM
Originally Posted by malkin
Enjoy your new (to you) piano!

Thanks! It is indeed a new old piano that is going to be even newer and older! Sounds confusing enough? Haha smile
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/28/19 08:16 PM
I'll watch with interest as you continue this rebuild! The plate is so delicate looking! I assume you're replacing the pin block as well and maybe reshaping the capo d'astro bar if needed.
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/28/19 10:05 PM
Best wishes for the rebuild.One day you will send us a
recording made on this piano !
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/29/19 12:13 AM
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Best wishes for the rebuild.One day you will send us a
recording made on this piano !


I second that motion.
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/30/19 04:15 PM
Originally Posted by AaronSF
I'll watch with interest as you continue this rebuild! The plate is so delicate looking! I assume you're replacing the pin block as well and maybe reshaping the capo d'astro bar if needed.

The original pin block is still in very good shape, so we won't be replacing it. As for the capo d'astro reshaping, we have never been aware of the process! Intrigued, we asked our technician about it, and he indeed advised us to file the contact string grooves, as they could sometimes create noises. Thanks for the suggestion!

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Best wishes for the rebuild.


Thank you! Please wish us more time and patience!

Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
One day you will send us a
recording made on this piano !


I second that motion.


Absolutely! Although for the post-restoration version, it's gonna depend on whether or not we will be able to finish the piano this year, since we have only less than 2 months to go before returning to the U.S. to continue our studies. We DID record some excerpts back when we tried out the piano for the first time, so just to give an idea of how the piano attracted our attention, here is a link to our youtube video:

https://youtu.be/kd1zANUb2q4

Please excuse the poor quality of both the video and, more importantly, the playing!! Note: there are two people playing in the video, and the second one starts at 3:00....there's not much telling as to who's who!

Anyway, does anyone else think about the sound resembling a bit of a New York Steinway D? No? How about a really bad one? No?..... crazy

Well, let's continue with some further progress on the iron plate! One thing to mention: for those of you who might be thinking we are working way too fast...actually, what we are posting is from about a month up to a week ago, therefore this isn't the current stage we are at!

Anyway, let's continue....

Since we'd already got the plate on the floor and cleaned, the next step was to prepare it for rebronzing. Please keep in mind that we are just ordinary pianists, and nowhere near amateur piano technicians, and this is the first time we would ever experiment painting anything inside a piano. Nevertheless, besides being keen painters ourselves, we have been building ship models since a very young age, therefore we are very familiar with high precision and quality works; only this one is on a much larger scale.

After degreasing the entire plate, we started checking for surface defects and evaluate the extent of sanding and filling works. We then began sanding with 320 grit wet sandpaper, and that was already a good smooth surface. Here is a picture of the sanding in-progress:

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What we needed to do was filling all the potholes, paint chipping, and other damaged areas with modeling putty. This particularly big chipping was caused by the huge Estonia music rack base crashing down onto the plate, and it's one of the few places where we needed to use epoxy putty for strength.

Before:

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After:

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This picture shows the damage caused by the removal of the bass strings around the hitch pins. These are pretty shallow, so we used green modeling putty.

Before:

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After:

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Everything was then sanded to a smooth mess, so we cleaned it again in preparation for a coat of white primer. We finished off with 800 and 1000 grit sanding, and, of course clean it once more. It's nothing more than sand, clean, sand, clean, sand, clean, sand, clean, sand....and clean! cursing

But before we could move on, we're stuck with the 53 agraffe pins, which all had some extent of oxidation:

[Linked Image]

Here's how they look after being individually sanded with 320 grit sandpaper up to 1000 grit, then finished with Brasso metal polish:

[Linked Image]

There are still some minor scratches and oxidations left in some areas, but the tight working space didn't really allow any further refinements. Nevertheless, we'll try polishing them once more before restringing the piano.

For the umpteenth time, we cleaned and degreased the whole plate free of the oily Brasso and hand stains in preparation for the primer. Here is how it looked after one coat:

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The primer barely covered the whole plate, but still enough to show all the remaining rough spots, and give a good surface for the final sanding. Then we went back to sanding and cleaning, and the plate was ready for rebronzing!

[Linked Image]

Stay tuned for more progress!

SKs
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/30/19 05:47 PM
This is really fun to watch the progress.
Posted By: ando Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 06/30/19 08:33 PM
Originally Posted by LovingPianos
As for the capo d'astro reshaping, we have never been aware of the process! Intrigued, we asked our technician about it, and he indeed advised us to file the contact string grooves, as they could sometimes create noises.



You should check in with Ed McMorrow here on the forum regarding this point. He is very adamant that a correct "V"profile must be observed when reshaping the capo d'astro - not just removing grooves. He believes it is responsible for a lot of unpleasant sounds in pianos - even new ones. You really want to get that sorted now rather than have to live with having done it improperly. No disrespect to your mentor in this project, but he may not be up to speed on this particular issue - even if he does advocate reshaping/resurfacing. What Ed has said on this makes total sense to me.
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/01/19 06:22 PM
Originally Posted by ando


You should check in with Ed McMorrow here on the forum regarding this point. He is very adamant that a correct "V"profile must be observed when reshaping the capo d'astro - not just removing grooves. He believes it is responsible for a lot of unpleasant sounds in pianos - even new ones. You really want to get that sorted now rather than have to live with having done it improperly. No disrespect to your mentor in this project, but he may not be up to speed on this particular issue - even if he does advocate reshaping/resurfacing. What Ed has said on this makes total sense to me.


Thanks for the advice! We just checked the capo d'astro, and there seems to be almost no groove at all! We'll recheck again and consult with Mr. Ed on here when we get to that part.

As for the progress, here comes the most satisfying of all!

After cleaning the whole plate again, we masked the agraffe pins with masking tape:

[Linked Image]

As for the hitch pins, we tried masking them with various methods, including tapes, straws, and even painting white latex glue on them. The latter actually worked pretty well for covering the pins, but removing it afterwards was not at all what we imagined! The glue on a whole section of hitch pins had to be painstakingly removed with cutter knife and sandpaper...so obviously this was the worst idea. We decided not to cover the pins, and scrape them off later, as this turned out to be much easier.

For the rebronzing, we found several methods that people use, including gilding powder, airbrushing, etc., but our paint technician, who specializes in furniture finishing, recommended the fast-drying rattle can paints. We then searched for various golden spray paints, and came across Rustoleum Specialty Metallic spray. We tested it on a small area, and it's possibly the best gold paint we've ever used! It also looked very close, if not the perfect match, to the original paint, but with an even better shine! We decided to use just the gold color, and no clear coat, to keep the brilliant shine of the paint. The spraying process was pretty simple, so without thinking, we started applying the first coat from the tail up, before realizing the room was turning foggy with the haze and dust from the spray! So it was back to square one after our mother ordered the whole room cleaned (!) This time we set up a spraying "tent" around the iron plate:

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The two of us entered the tent, restarted the process with one of us spraying while the other use a vacuum cleaner to suck as much dust as possible, and came out for air every now and then (even with the dust masks). Here are some pictures of the process:

Before:

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During:

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After:

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And here are pictures of the fully cured paint in the morning daylight:

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Here is the before and after comparison of the heaviest damage:

[img]http://i.imgur.com/SvkFFNJ.jpg[/img]
[img]http://i.imgur.com/Rk5STup.jpg[/img]

We used a total of 2.5 cans finishing roughly 3 coats. We're pretty happy with the result, and it's quite a drastic improvement for such a significant part of the piano!

There's just a few more things to post before we catch up with the current progress, but we'll try to keep the updates coming!

SKs
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/01/19 07:57 PM
What a labor of love! It looks like you're having fun while doing good work. Keep the posts coming.
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/02/19 12:31 AM
thumb grin
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/02/19 12:54 AM
Wow! That plate is so pretty now!!
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/05/19 06:50 PM
Hello guys!

Thanks for all the compliments! We've been very busy with some huge works on the piano, but we're just going to follow the timeline here for continuity's sake. So here's another old yet important progress, this time involving the Estonia case!

This is a picture of how the piano looked lying on the floor, before cleaning:

[Linked Image]

After:

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As you can see, the soundboard is still in excellent condition, and the piano plays well, good sound, comes with a high-quality bench, free shipping.....wait...who's selling what? crazy

Moving onto the actual work....as in the previous photos, the interior rim of the case is the same high-gloss black as the exterior, and this seems a bit rare for a European piano. But a 9 ft Estonia IS a weird Steinway D, is it not? confused

Although it looks just fine, we wanted an upgrade! As you all know, the rims are either black or wooden color, which is in fact wood veneer integrated into the laminated rim. Most of the Yamaha, Hamburg Steinway, Fazioli, etc., etc. pianos have these veneered rims, and Estonia also has them in their newer models (perhaps late 1990s onwards?) as well. And we thought we should put one ourselves! Thanks to our furniture-designer (actually interior designer) grandmother, we didn't have to look further than a veneer company she knew that sells a vast variety of veneer woods...unfortunately without discounts!! To make a perfect match for the black piano, we chose a darker-tone walnut burl veneer. There was one downside, however; all of their veneers aren't any longer than 50-60 cm, so we would need to arrange them on the entire rim length. Luckily, the wood burl pattern is joinable, so it wouldn't be too hard with the final finishing to blend in the edges.

We sanded (or basically destroyed) the inside rim surface with the roughest sandpaper we had, in preparation for the veneer application. We seeked help from a furniture technician, but in the end we did the whole thing with his guidance (he was responsible for the sole task of applying the rubber glue, period). The works include measuring the veneer sections, cutting to a close fit, then test-fitting, then trimming to the correct size. All of the 6 veneer sections covering a length of around 6 meters needed numerous trimming and test-fitting. The fit has to be perfect, since the rubber glue won't compromise for the tiniest movement once attached. Thus, it took many hours just to cut and test-fit, but we managed to get it done that day. We thought it's an excellent addition to the plain black exterior with a bit of a luxurious touch!

Here's how the rim looked like earlier:

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A test-fit of the veneer sheets!

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Disclaimer: Graphic content. Piano lovers may find content disturbing:

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Applying glue on both the veneer sheet and the sanded surface of the rim:

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Attaching the perfectly-cut veneer sheets. Precision is key here...

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We taped the top of the rim to protect it from possible damages:

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And the final reveal!

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And YOU wait til this thing gets a proper lacquer finish!
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/05/19 09:40 PM
smile wow
Posted By: ChatNoir Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/05/19 10:13 PM
That's going to be some piano when it is finished. Keep on posting the photos, this is more fun than going to the movies.
Posted By: ando Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/06/19 12:50 AM
That looks quite magnificent actually - completely changes the "grandness" of this grand! I hope it won't degrade over time though and become a problem for you (like with buzzing or detaching over time). Also, how did you manage to get a neat line between the veneer and the black rim - as well as strengthen that join? I have to say, everything is looking spectacular.
Posted By: Maximillyan Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/06/19 04:15 AM
Originally Posted by LovingPianos

Maximillyan, we suspect the previous tuners used incorrect tuning hammer size on the pins,

May be so it was.
I've grand respect feel when i'm looking yours fotos and I'm hearing sound yours ESTONIA video!
HUGE good JOB!
Posted By: Mark... Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/06/19 04:16 PM
I'm surprised you are not replacing the pin block. Such a critical piece.
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/09/19 03:58 AM
Originally Posted by AaronSF
smile wow


grin

Originally Posted by ChatNoir
That's going to be some piano when it is finished. Keep on posting the photos, this is more fun than going to the movies.

We really hope the final result will worth the tremendous effort! Get yourself some popcorns while the magic (tragic?) unfolds!! grin

Originally Posted by ando
That looks quite magnificent actually - completely changes the "grandness" of this grand! I hope it won't degrade over time though and become a problem for you (like with buzzing or detaching over time). Also, how did you manage to get a neat line between the veneer and the black rim - as well as strengthen that join? I have to say, everything is looking spectacular.

Our idea was to add a bit of color to the piano, and that couldn't really be acheived anywhere but the veneer rim. We also chose the dark walnut burl style over the more commonly used reddish mahogany (Yamaha and Steinway) and lighter wheat color (Fazioli, Steingraeber, and even the new Estonia). The technician used rubber adhesive to attach the veneer sheets, which can be reheated if becomes buckled or detached. Therefore, we hope it won't be a problem, unless the piano gets exposed to too much humidity....that might be another story for another time... crazy

Originally Posted by Mark...
I'm surprised you are not replacing the pin block. Such a critical piece.

Perhaps it's better for us to re-examine the pinblock, now or never, before it goes under the iron frame permanently.

Here are some photos....

The overall look of the pinblock:

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As you can see, it is in pretty good shape for a piano that is almost half a century old. Nevertheless, if you take a closer look at it, as in this picture, there is a visible crack or split in the laminated wood....

[Linked Image]

....which, once we flipped over to the underside, there has already been repair works done to fix this particular issue...

[Linked Image]

Only one other area developed a similar hairline split:

[Linked Image]

Our technician had already inspected the pinblock in person, and his suggestions were to apply wood glue to areas where the cracks or splits developed, then tighten using a wood clamp.

That would pretty much be the only thing we can do for now. There isn't any professional piano rebuilders in Thailand who would actually be able to accurately duplicate the pinblock, and we suspect wood-working factories wouldn't be able to do it either. I would let you all evaluate the situation here and tell us how you think, because if we really need to have the pinblock replaced, the piano might have to be postponed to be finished around this time of next year, since we have to leave the country in 1.5 months, only to return in May!! frown

Regards,

SK
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/09/19 11:34 AM
Originally Posted by AaronSF
smile wow


+1
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/09/19 02:17 PM
I am far from an expert on this but think that replacing the pin block is the only way to go.


Maybe email the factory and see if they can get you one for a reasonable price.
Posted By: BDB Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/09/19 03:53 PM
Whether you need to replace the pin block or not could depend on whether it held before you disassembled the piano.

If you can get decent pin block material, making a new block should not be that difficult, just time consuming.
Posted By: Skjalg Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/09/19 08:32 PM
Originally Posted by Learux
Maybe email the factory and see if they can get you one for a reasonable price.


The factory has summer holiday in July.
Posted By: Mark... Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/10/19 01:47 AM
Not an expert, but you should wait till you get a new pin block.
Posted By: ando Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/10/19 06:11 AM
I would change the pin block too. There are probably people you could send your pin block to and have them duplicate it. You might still need to adjust it slightly when fitting it to your piano. Just make sure they are extremely accurate with their dimensions and drilling. CNC machines can help with a lot of this. I think sending it away would give a better result than getting a local woodworker with no pin block experience to attempt it.
Posted By: Joseph Fleetwood Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/10/19 09:48 AM
Oh please put a new block in it, just hold up the restoration until you can get one.
Posted By: Mark... Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/12/19 08:25 PM
Originally Posted by joe80
Oh please put a new block in it, just hold up the restoration until you can get one.


Its like restoring a classic car and ignoring the engine.
Posted By: BDB Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/12/19 08:51 PM
There are three possible outcomes when you replace a pinblock (or do any other major replacement):

1. It can be better.
2. It can be worse.
3. It can be the same.

There are factors that influence the odds of any one of those being the result. Experience is one. Not having experience skews the expectation heavily towards outcome 2. Of course, if you have lots of experience and you still do something poorly, that skews it even more towards 2.

Whether there was a problem before you started is a factor. If there was, the odds of outcome 1 improve, but 2 and 3 are still possibilities.

Factor 3 is only a possibility if you discount the time and money that it costs, otherwise it is the same as 3.

There are a lot of ways that one can end up with a worse job by doing more. They can be mitigated with experience and learning, but a concert grand is probably not the best piano to use to get experience.
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/12/19 09:24 PM
Well that answers that question. Looks like the original block is the way to go.
Posted By: China_Jack Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/13/19 06:54 PM
how do I post some pictures from my computer ? I am sure you guys will like it , its about the Estonia
Posted By: Norbert Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/13/19 08:18 PM
Yours is an admirable and certainly interesting job but it needs saying again and again that the "Estonia" of old, even when fully restored, have nothing to do with their present day counterparts. I know these pianos for over 25 years and have personally played on some of this and earlier vintage myself. Any 9' grand has the potential of impressive sound, especially when being rebuilt. Hoping you will enjoy the ride & the experience! thumb
Norbert smile
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/13/19 09:07 PM
This is a really inspiring thread! I'm enjoying keeping up with it.

As BDB pointed out, if the original pin block can hold a tune, then it may not need to be replaced.

The usual rationale to go ahead and replace it while the piano is opened up is because to do it later means redoing a bunch of work, when the cost to add it in now is marginal. But... you're looking at a couple of do-it-yourselfers who are tearing this thing down and putting it back together themselves. That significantly minimizes the downside risk of needing to do it later. They just do it themselves then, like they'd do it now.

The upside is that they avoid the extra costs/hassle of doing it now, and be playing it that much sooner.

Also, if the pin block becomes a problem at some point after reassembly, there are other means to address problems that can often breathe new life into an old pin block anyway (e.g. C.A. glue).


Anyway, again, awesome thread.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/13/19 09:11 PM
Originally Posted by China_Jack
how do I post some pictures from my computer ? I am sure you guys will like it , its about the Estonia


This is the official way to link pictures.

Alternatively, you can link to pictures already online by putting its URL in between [img] [/img] tags unless the picture hosting site disallows the links.
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/13/19 11:44 PM
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
This is a really inspiring thread! I'm enjoying keeping up with it.

As BDB pointed out, if the original pin block can hold a tune, then it may not need to be replaced.

The usual rationale to go ahead and replace it while the piano is opened up is because to do it later means redoing a bunch of work, when the cost to add it in now is marginal. But... you're looking at a couple of do-it-yourselfers who are tearing this thing down and putting it back together themselves. That significantly minimizes the downside risk of needing to do it later. They just do it themselves then, like they'd do it now.

The upside is that they avoid the extra costs/hassle of doing it now, and be playing it that much sooner.

Also, if the pin block becomes a problem at some point after reassembly, there are other means to address problems that can often breathe new life into an old pin block anyway (e.g. C.A. glue).


Anyway, again, awesome thread.


I am enjoying watching this thread as well.
Posted By: Maximillyan Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/14/19 07:47 AM
Originally Posted by Retsacnal

Also, if the pin block becomes a problem at some point after reassembly, there are other means to address problems that can often breathe new life into an old pin block anyway (e.g. C.A. glue).

seldom cardboard shim too
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/25/19 01:02 PM
Hi all!

Apologies for the long absence....but so many...MANY......MANY.....MANY things have happened since then, and we didn't know how to even start posting! Anyhow, thanks for all the comments, suggestions, and information regarding the pinblock!

Let's see....how do we start here?

Regarding the pinblock, it's quite a bit of a coincidence how the things we did to it actually went the way you guys recently suggested on here, and we didn't even have time to log in and look at the thread! What we did first was consulting a furniture builder about replicating the old block, and both him not having time and us realizing the impossibility (quality-wise) of such work led to this idea being eliminated. We did look into pinblock manufacterers, and although it's the one and only way, it takes time to make, not to mention the cost. What DBD has said is very true; sometimes doing more doesn't get you a better result, so we started re-evaluating the situation of the old pinblock.

Going back before the piano was moved here, when we first tested it (see the Youtube link from earlier posts), we tuned it for the first time in almost a year of neglect. It has since been holding tune pretty well. The only problem was the tuning difficulty itself. Some strings couldn't be fine-tuned, but they held their pitches. We have a video of some more proper playing recorded on the piano just before it was disassembled, and we'll try to get it posted soon.

One thing we forgot to mention earlier is that we initially planned to use larger pins, since it's no good to use the original size after their removal. And we indeed got new pins that measure 7.20 mm in diameter, compared to the original 7.00 mm. Although they are a tad shorter in height, they will work perfectly well, as confirmed by two piano techs we consulted with. We think this will definitely help with better holding of the old pinblock.

Here is a picture of the new pins vs old:

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Nope...they weren't burned!

For the pinblock itself, we solved the tiny splits with CA glue and wood clamps:

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Now that the pinblock is fixed, let's move on to the iron-plate. As you can see in the previous photos, the Estonia iron plate did not have any decorative letterings on it, as seen on most pianos. As always, we decided to do something to it.

The plate design has an area towards the tail that's suspiciously large enough to contain a lettering, so we duplicated the Estonia letters on the fallboard (which to our eyes is a very neat Art Deco style) on Adobe Illustrator. But the letters alone aren't enough; we sketched up some designs for a logo! The layout is similar to that of Steinway, but we emphasized on the Deco style subtly evident in the piano's overall design itself. This is what we came up with!

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The double-headed eagle contains engraved details of the year the company was founded and the city of manufacturing. Perhaps inspired by its association with many European cultures, and the symmetrical shape of the wings, the Deco flare, sharp edges.....what-knots. But that's what we decided on using for the piano! Hint: this will also be used on the side of the piano! We also added the piano's model as well as its serial number on the bottom right corner of the plate to add a bit of detail (There wasn't even any serial number on the plate).

We sent the files to a laser-cut shop to have the letterings made in white acrylic, then we spray painted them black:

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More in the next post -----> smile
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/25/19 01:16 PM

We had to split the post due to picture limit, so...let's continue.

We used super glue to attach the letters onto the plate

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However, there was a bit of a problem with the gold paint, as we began detailing the plate with the letterings after the finish had completely dried, and while doing so, everywhere we touched became unremoveable finger stains (this is common for some types of gold paints). To solve this, we set up a new spraying tent, and touched up the stains with gold spray. We took the chance to spray the letterings gold, and gave them a dark metallic gray accent. A Rustoleum glossy clear lacquer spray finished the job.

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Attention level 1,000,000 here! sick

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And this is how the finished plate looked like!

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Everything was going according to plan....and we put the plate back in the piano:

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Quite a nice progress eh? How would you feel if it's all lost? Hmm....we're about to know the answer!

Happy reading.....until something else happens! eek
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/25/19 01:30 PM
Good job guys, it looks so nice. Keep us posted.
Posted By: ChatNoir Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/25/19 03:32 PM
I just cannot wait to hear the final result.
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/25/19 07:21 PM
Originally Posted by ChatNoir
I just cannot wait to hear the final result.



+1. Waiting for the final results.
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/25/19 07:21 PM
Originally Posted by ChatNoir
I just cannot wait to hear the final result.



+1. Waiting for the final results.
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/25/19 07:47 PM
Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by ChatNoir
I just cannot wait to hear the final result.



+1. Waiting for the final results.


Me, too!
Posted By: Jethro Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/25/19 08:21 PM
Who would have thought rebuilding a piano would be this easy. It's like when I watched the video of my grandmother getting a total knee replacement. I thought to myself, gee, I could do that. All you need is a few Black and Decker tools and a hammer. No prooooblem!

Seriously though guys, looks great! More excited to see how it eventually sounds. I imagine that could range anywhere from a broken typewriter, a warped xylophone, or a world class instrument. If you pull it off I'll be on my knees worshipping you guys. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you guys! Good luck!
Posted By: Norbert Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/26/19 06:31 AM
Very interesting project!
Most likely will turn out a very worthwhile venture! Good luck and let us know!
Norbert smile
Posted By: Maximillyan Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/26/19 08:09 AM
+10!!!
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/26/19 04:20 PM
Thanks for the kind words! We glad you all are enjoying the progress! Rebuilding a piano might look easy, but there is a gazillion amount of tedious details we have to work on that are not posted. Of course, if we can do it, so can you! Probably a million times better too! That's why an old Estonia is always worth ANY rebuilding attempt!

Originally Posted by AaronSF
Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by ChatNoir
I just cannot wait to hear the final result.
+1. Waiting for the final results.
Me, too!
Us too! Lol grin Fortunately, we are almost there!!

Let's continue with some more progress.... Now that we WERE done with the plate..........let's try hammering the first wooden bushing into the tuning pin holes in the plate.....

WHAT THE!!

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Okay...that was a little too dramatic and scary, but...THE PAINT CRACKED!! mad cursing We realized right away that, firstly....well....that it was a DISASTER! Secondly, the wooden bushings are not the right size....they are way too big! And thirdly, the Rustoleum spray paints weren't durable enough. The damage was not from direct hammer impact, but rather the side of the bushing pulling down the paint with it. We tested it again by stretching old strings over the hitch pins, and sure enough the paint flaked very easily! Even a slightly careless handling on the plate resulted in deep paint chipping, so we knew this would not survive even the most careful, softpawed restringing technician! It was quite a huge failure, but...the problem didn't just end there....let us explain... grin

We had a paint technician come in to inspect the damage, and he explained that the paint layer might be too thick, and that initially applying a lighter coat would help prevent such damages. However, he emphasized that ALL paints WILL crack upon severe impact...but more durable paints chip on the spot, and don't flake and peel around like flimsier paints. We checked our Yamaha C5 plate, and sure enough, the few scratches in there don't flake. Nevertheless, we all agreed on taking the plate out for another round of repainting!! Hopefully this will be the last!!

We brought in the same team of house builders to lift the plate off the piano once again, and this time we got help from the paint tech to help with the repainting process. As if we haven't got enough bad luck...the biggest disaster struck when he used a paint remover to strip the entire plate!! As some of you might know, this technique is a total no-go!!! The cast iron plate out of the mould is very rough, and piano factories refinish it with fillers to achieve the very smooth and even surface, before applying the primer and gold paint on top. We knew about this, but we didn't expect him to completely strip the paint AND filler layers! The paint remover nearly stripped everything down to the bare iron, and the whole plate simply looked like a huge piece of shi...uh...trash!

This picture....

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...was taken seconds before....

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...this happened! cry cry

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Muddy agraffes?

!!!!!!!!!!

At that moment, we actually thought of throwing the plate away....but on a second thought, that would take too much effort to get it disposed of!!! It required so much work just to get it back to how it looked originally, but the only thing we could do was to simply get down to our knees and start working!! We think it took well over half a can of red auto filler, and over 10 sheets of wet-sandpaper along with a dozen buckets of water just to get to where we were in the photos below!! We worked on the plate around 10 hours a day for a week.

Photographic proofs coming in the next post!

And meanwhile....enjoy the before and after pics!

Before:

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After:

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What on earth have we done????????????????????????????????????????????????

T_T T_T T_T T_T T_T T_T T_T
Posted By: Jethro Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/26/19 05:12 PM
I think if I was attempting to do what you guys are doing I would have powder coated the iron plate. Rustoleum is best left for stuff you want to eventually throw away like rusty old bikes that I had when I was a teenager.

I'm also wondering whether or not the process used to strip the paint might have weakened/corroded those pins to the point that they can't the tons of force applied from the piano strings.
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/26/19 06:38 PM
Dang guys, what a setback.

Better luck on round two, I am rooting for you!
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/26/19 10:29 PM
OUCH!!
Posted By: LarryK Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/26/19 10:37 PM
I was hoping the Before and After shots were swapped. Is it just me? I thought the plate looked beautiful.
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/26/19 11:09 PM
As they say "looks can be deceiving".
Posted By: Qwerty53 Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 12:19 AM
Good luck, guys! You have earned it! Thank you for taking the additional time and trouble to share the process with the rest of us.
Posted By: Morten Olsson Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 12:28 AM
You guys are awesome - the dedication is inspiring - thank you.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 03:33 AM
I'm still inspired! You guys are indomitable!

You're learning some lessons the hard way as you go, but if you ever rebuild another piano, then it'll go that much easier.

I'm anxious to see the finished product.
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 08:58 AM
Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging words!

Originally Posted by Jethro
I think if I was attempting to do what you guys are doing I would have powder coated the iron plate. Rustoleum is best left for stuff you want to eventually throw away like rusty old bikes that I had when I was a teenager.

I'm also wondering whether or not the process used to strip the paint might have weakened/corroded those pins to the point that they can't the tons of force applied from the piano strings.

Powder coating seems like a good idea, but it's not something we could do ourselves (the kitchen oven is a bit too small to bake!), and transporting the plate to a facility would be very difficult. If we could for next time, we would! thumb
Wait...but...this is an old rusty piano we have as teenagers! What do you mean by throwing them away? grin grin grin

Apparently, the paint remover wasn't really the cause of this whole mess, as it was not very strong. Much of the original filler and primer (even some gold paint) were left intact throughout the plate, especially around the hitch pins base, therefore we don't think they would have sustained any damage. The real culprit was the spatula scraper used to scrape the paint itself. The tech guy wasn't aware that the frame originally had a lot of filler, and that damaging the smooth surfaces would lead to much more work. He wasn't careful with his tool, but no one expects you to be careful when stripping paint, right? cry grin

Originally Posted by LarryK
I was hoping the Before and After shots were swapped. Is it just me? I thought the plate looked beautiful.


Not just you! Lol! But the following pictures will hopefully leave you a little more light-hearted!

First round of red auto filler (out of an umpteen):

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First round of sanding (out of a gazillion!):

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First coat of gray primer...

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The rough surfaces are still visible at this stage:

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....so we filled and sanded:

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After a coat of white primer:

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Filled and sanded again:

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More filling and sanding!

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Here, the letter "P" was re-engraved according to the original:

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Any idea what this might stand for?

To be continued ------------->
Posted By: LarryK Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 12:00 PM
Fascinating. I never knew automotive filler, what we called Bondo when I was a kid, was used to fill piano plates. With cars, people would use small magnets to figure out how much of the car had been “Bondoed,” not a good sign, but I guess it doesn’t matter for pianos plates.
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 02:44 PM
You guys so deserve a good sounding piano when it is all done!
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 05:35 PM
Originally Posted by LarryK
Fascinating. I never knew automotive filler, what we called Bondo when I was a kid, was used to fill piano plates. With cars, people would use small magnets to figure out how much of the car had been “Bondoed,” not a good sign, but I guess it doesn’t matter for pianos plates.


Thanks for the comment! We're not sure if the Bondo most people use is the plastic type. We tried using one made by a different brand, but the extremely hard property of it made sanding very difficult, especially in areas with details or edges. We instead used the red auto putty, which is a glazing type, similar to the green putty scale modelers use (we were one of them, too!). This is much easier to sand, shape, and applied in large areas. As for the amount of filler used on the plate, it is indeed a lot....but that has always been the case for sand-cast frames, like Steinway (as opposed to smoother vacuum cast, like Yamaha), so we doubt there will be any effect on the sound. Interesting question for a piano expert though! confused

Originally Posted by Learux
You guys so deserve a good sounding piano when it is all done!


Thanks for the kind words! We hope everything we've put into it will pay off sooner or later! thumb

Now....onto the next progress!

The completely fixed plate was then given new sets of laser-cut letterings:

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Note the yellow-ish tint on the primer; this was a coat of shellac applied to prevent paint blistering.

Someone is waiting for her new plate! And oh! notice the painted pattern on the leg? We will cover that in the later posts!!

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The painter guy came for the final round of primer:

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And finally, the plate is ready for the final finish!!!
We had a hard time deciding on what to use for the gold paint. We went to a home supply store and bought a can of oil-based acrylic gold paint that's suitable for outdoor metal works. The color, however, was such a cheap-looking yellowy gold with little brilliance, so we returned it the next day. We then found an art supply store selling a vast range of metallic pigment powder that can be readily mixed with any type of clear solvent. We pondered on the choices of gold they have, and decided on something different!

This is what we got:

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Here it's being mixed with the clear lacquer:

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And now the moment of joy begins! (Yes, for him, too!)

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Ready to see the result? Here it is!

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Wait....not again!! grin grin

Let's try again!

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grin grin grin grin grin grin grin grin grin grin

And now we have a Bösentonia! The color matches what Bösendorfer uses almost exactly! The metallic powder projects a really pretty shine, and the overall look is very pleasing to our eyes.

Let us know what you all think! Were we better off with the stripped plate? laugh laugh

There is still some more progress to post, so watch out for that!

SK
Posted By: Morten Olsson Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 05:49 PM
Bravo !
Posted By: ando Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 05:54 PM
I think I prefer the gold plate colour over the bronze - mainly because of the contrast with the wooden veneer you installed, but I'm sure it will still look magnificent when it's all assembled. It's certainly a different (darker) direction than your first attempt. Sort of like Steinway vs Bösendorfer, I suppose. In any case, it's been fascinating to watch the twists and turns of this project - and also how rapidly it's all happening. Usually these things move along at a glacial pace, so it's great to see it evolving from day to day. I've never seen a piano project advance so quickly. I like how you just attack it like there's no tomorrow! Can't wait to see it strung up and playing.
Posted By: MarkL Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 06:15 PM
You deserve a nobel prize in piano restoration. Beautiful work.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 06:52 PM
Originally Posted by ando
it's been fascinating to watch the twists and turns of this project - and also how rapidly it's all happening. Usually these things move along at a glacial pace, so it's great to see it evolving from day to day. I've never seen a piano project advance so quickly. I like how you just attack it like there's no tomorrow! Can't wait to see it strung up and playing.

^^^ this ^^^

Couldn't have said it better myself. smile

Like I keep saying, it's inspiring.
Posted By: adamp88 Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 07:28 PM
Were there any clear coat layers put on top or is that the bare metallic paint?
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 09:26 PM
What a great recovery! Yes, you'll probably want to put a clear coat layer or 3 on top to protect the metallic layer so when you restring there will be little or no chipping of the metallic layer.

Here's a link to a rebuilder who use modern catalyzed acrylic enamel automotive paints when re-bronzing plate:

Piano Plate Refinishing
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 07/27/19 09:54 PM
SWEET thumb
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/03/19 06:42 PM
Thanks for the comments! We really appreciate them!! smile smile

Originally Posted by ando
I think I prefer the gold plate colour over the bronze - mainly because of the contrast with the wooden veneer you installed, but I'm sure it will still look magnificent when it's all assembled. It's certainly a different (darker) direction than your first attempt. Sort of like Steinway vs Bösendorfer, I suppose.


We agree with you that the gold is a better match in general, but to be honest, we are quite used to the usual shade of gold, besides our intention to make the estonia uniquely different and more distinctive than other pianos. Therefore shifting to a bit of a darker orangy brass color would be more interesting. Not to mention that there will be other elements alongside the plate that will compliment it, and basically we wanted to make this piano a work of art! (which you will see in the next updates, and hopefully agree with us!)

Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Originally Posted by ando
it's been fascinating to watch the twists and turns of this project - and also how rapidly it's all happening. Usually these things move along at a glacial pace, so it's great to see it evolving from day to day. I've never seen a piano project advance so quickly. I like how you just attack it like there's no tomorrow! Can't wait to see it strung up and playing.

^^^ this ^^^

Couldn't have said it better myself. smile

Like I keep saying, it's inspiring.


Thank you so much for the compliments!! Your comments inspire us to continue working even more!

Actually, we'd say that things has been going really slow over the past two months!! In fact, the rate of us posting updates doesn't reflect the pace of the actual progress at all! Surprisingly, much of the work put into the piano was actually on the plate alone; it took us a whole month for the first plate refinishing and veneer installation! The second rebronzing took less time; only a week, but we had to work 10 hours a day, merely fearing that we would not be able to finish it in time before the end of the summer break! So yes, there is no tomorrow!
Anyway, things are going really well as of now, but we won't say anything until we have photographic proof! grin

Originally Posted by adamp88
Were there any clear coat layers put on top or is that the bare metallic paint?


We mixed the bronze paint pigment powder in the clear-coat itself....such a simple and effective method, right? wink

Originally Posted by AaronSF
What a great recovery! Yes, you'll probably want to put a clear coat layer or 3 on top to protect the metallic layer so when you restring there will be little or no chipping of the metallic layer.

Here's a link to a rebuilder who use modern catalyzed acrylic enamel automotive paints when re-bronzing plate:

Piano Plate Refinishing



Thanks for your suggestion! We did use that as a guide for the repainting works!

So...onto the next section!

This is an old progress we made before the final plate refinishing. As always, we repeated the process twice....there's definitely something wrong with us! crazy

As you might notice in the earlier pics that the veneer looks a bit different now, and to answer the question originally posted by ando:

Originally Posted by ando
Also, how did you manage to get a neat line between the veneer and the black rim - as well as strengthen that join? I have to say, everything is looking spectacular.


We began preparing the veneer for the clear coat, and the excess glue on the edge of the veneer sheets was carefully removed with a cutter:

[Linked Image]

Areas with screw holes that were covered by the veneer, like this lid hinge, were cut to the exact shapes to maintain the original attachments:

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Before moving on, we re-applied graphite on the bridges using 4B pencils. It was quite worn previously:

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Next, we ironed the veneer surface to eliminate all the few glue bumps remaining, then sanded it smooth:

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Here the tent was moved from the plate to the piano case!:

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With our piano technician's permission to re-coat the soundboard lacquer, we began working from the bridges, onto the soundboard, and then the veneer. The paint tech recommended this wood lacquer:

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...which frankly proved to be (yet) another disaster!

Initially, where was no problem with painting the bridges, and the veneer was fine:

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However, painting the large soundboard area soon became a problem, as the lacquer was too thick, producing uneven brushstrokes. Everything dried so quickly that what looked like newly applied uneven patches of lacquer were actually already dried! We tried mixing more thinner into it, to no avail...there simply was no way to brush-paint it! We were quite horrified with how the soundboard finish went from "decent" to "terrible" afterwards!

Look at the nasty, uneven gloss!

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To be continued.....(why do we have to post so many pictures??)
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/03/19 06:53 PM
Now....we decided to sand the soundboard, starting from 320 up to 2000 grit, to flatten out the uneven surface, and prepare for the "re-refinishing" (lol) with a rattle-can spray. Note that the paint technician wasn't working at our house back then, so we didn't have the option of spraying the lacquer with his gun...otherwise it would have produced the perfect result!

Here's a picture after sanding. We used a wood sander to help ease up the process.

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The Estonia badge decal was originally under a pretty good layer of clear lacquer, so sanding wasn't an issue.

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Spraying in-process! It took us two cans of Rustoleum satin clear lacquer spray to finish the job, soundboard and veneer included.

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And here's the result!

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Here's the veneer:

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Notice the almost invisible joints:

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Once again....disaster narrowly avoided!

Next up, the veneer rim was touched up with black paint to blend the edge even more:

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P.S., we got help from our mom here, as we got a handful of works to do back then (pinblock fixing, plate cleaning, anti-rust painting, plate installation preparation, etc.) Thanks mom! At least she seemed more pleased with the piano afterwards!

Then we put the doomed plate in place, right before we took it off again! It was all in all far from tiring and tedious work! tired

Still more to come!
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/03/19 07:11 PM
Originally Posted by LovingPianos

Here the tent was moved from the plate to the piano case!:

[Linked Image]


Wow, a concert grand doesn't look so big when it's on the floor!
You guys are amazing.
Keep it up.
Posted By: LarryK Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/03/19 07:15 PM
You guys are awesome! Watching this come together is better than any reality TV show. Keep up the good work!
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/03/19 08:57 PM
The refinished sound board looks great! Good work, guys!
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/09/19 03:56 PM
Thanks for the kind words guys!

Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Originally Posted by LovingPianos

Here the tent was moved from the plate to the piano case!:

[Linked Image]


Wow, a concert grand doesn't look so big when it's on the floor!


Exactly our thought! Could it possibly shrink after the plate was removed?? whome


Now for the progress...so many things were posted, and there's still something to write about! This one is, by far, the most bizarre of all!

It all began simply when our tolerance for the wavy black paint on the inside of the lid came to an end! As mentioned earlier, the piano was refinished with the high-gloss black that looked just fine, but the lid couldn't be worse! The paint itself wasn't the problem, but the wood surface produced the ripple-like effect, which might have been a result of expansion along the joint of the cross-banded wood due to humidity....and the fact that the wood used in the construction of the instrument was from the cold and dry Baltic regions, then came across the continent and stored in a humid storage room for almost a year. We were told by a piano technician that old European pianos (or old pianos in general) usually have the same problem with wood expanding over time as soon as they are exposed to the tropical humidity, and uneven wood/paint surface is common. The only way to fix this problem is to sand the wood to make it completely flat, before refinishing it again. Even so, it's an extremely difficult work, as the high-gloss black finish doesn't compromise for even the tiniest imperfections. Besides, the cost for a skilled technician to do the job would be very high, so we didn't go further with this idea.

This was before the restoration works:

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After putting the refinished iron plate (1st round) back on the piano, we knew something wasn't right. And indeed it was the lid that was supposed to mirror a perfect reflection of the new golden plate....and it did not! All we saw were wavy ripples...

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We were fine with it...so what's the matter now?

Well, we just had to get ourselves busy with another task, and this time a bit more artful!

This is how the lid looked lying on the floor, after we cleaned and masked the sides in preparation for...something interesting!

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Notice the uneven ripple effect...

Well.....this is what we decided to do!

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We basically made a textured surface with gold acrylic paint, then glazed it with orange and green tints to balance out the monotonous color, as well as mimic an antique gold look.

Then, we went to the drawing board, designed a theme for the lid, then started painting! But before we get to that, let us explain the concept behind this. Being painters and musicians ourselves, we have always liked the idea of combining the fine arts and music fields together, and artcase pianos have always fascinated us. Now that we have a concert grand with a lid like a big painting canvas, we knew exactly what to do! The idea here follows the Deco theme we have been trying to implement on this project. The semi-realistic wing feather design drawing introduces, once again, the characteristic Deco flair, and we thought it's a nice, fitting subject for the whole piano....apart from the fact that the german word "flügel" (grand piano) also means wing! The design was also partly influenced by the old Egyptian art, which was actually one of the biggest influences on the Deco style itself.

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We kept the free-handed brushstrokes, without going overboard with unnatural, life-less outlining.
And here's the result!!!

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We touched up some lines and made adjustments here and there later on after test fitting the lid on the piano, but the overall concept was already in place.

Now...this is a picture of the test fitting:

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Note the painted leg once again! We'll go into detail on that later...
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/09/19 04:08 PM
As soon as we were done with the lid painting, it was given 3 coats of automotive clear lacquer to seal the artwork.

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And now the final test-fitting! We lost count of how many times the lid went on and off the piano! grin

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Some more interesting lighting...this girl is on FIRE! cool

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And finally, the rebronzed plate went in for the LAST time!!!

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Note: this update is actually as of July 17th! We've already advanced far ahead, so we'll try to write more updates soon! It's a project in itself writing all these stuffs! tired sleep
Posted By: MarkL Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/09/19 04:19 PM
Stunning! The lid artwork is one of those bivisual things where if I focus on the gold color I see feathers, but if I focus on the black lines I see an abstraction of the black keys on a piano with the gold in between becoming the white keys.
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/09/19 05:00 PM
3hearts 3hearts 3hearts 3hearts 3hearts 3hearts 3hearts

I love it!!!
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/09/19 06:15 PM
That looks amazing, in German a grand piano is called a Flügel meaning "wing".

Not sure if this was intentional but very fitting indeed!


Keep us posted, love the work!
Posted By: ando Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/09/19 06:22 PM
I'm not sure how I feel about the lid work, but I must congratulate you on your creativity and work ethic! I think the reason I'm hesitant is because it looks like it would argue a bit with the veneer you put in the inner rim - both in terms of colour palette and visual clutter. Do you find that these two elements sit comfortably next to each other when you see them both in the same field of view?
Posted By: noyes Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/10/19 12:01 AM
This is so fascinating to watch!

I think I should stop complaining about piano prices. Now any price on any piano feels like a bargain.
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/10/19 01:23 PM
This has been a fun journey to watch!
Posted By: panche23 Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/10/19 05:17 PM
Maybe you have inspired some piano manufactures to think out the box and use more creative finishes besides the typical shiny ebony on almost all pianos.
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/10/19 06:29 PM
It’s maybe strange but I do really enjoy the pictures taken at each step of the rebuild and refinishing. It’s completely amazing how much work and effort each step takes. I probably won’t stop complaining about high piano prices but at least I know why they’re so expensive.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/11/19 01:35 AM
I read this update earlier today on my phone, and the new pictures wouldn't load. I have to confess that I did not think I would like it, based on the description, but now that I've seen the pictures I have to admit it doesn't look too bad. And I understand the rationale for doing it.

Keep going guys. I'm hoping to see this finished before you go back to school!
Posted By: ChatNoir Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/11/19 03:13 PM
This is fascinating. It ain't everyday one sees a piano with no strings attached.
Posted By: Man Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/12/19 10:43 AM
Originally Posted by LovingPianos
As soon as we were done with the lid painting, it was given 3 coats of automotive clear lacquer to seal the artwork.

[Linked Image]

And now the final test-fitting! We lost count of how many times the lid went on and off the piano! grin

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Some more interesting lighting...this girl is on FIRE! cool

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

And finally, the rebronzed plate went in for the LAST time!!!

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Note: this update is actually as of July 17th! We've already advanced far ahead, so we'll try to write more updates soon! It's a project in itself writing all these stuffs! tired sleep



What you have achieved so far is utterly amazing! Absolutely wonderful job!
Congratulations!

Who said that your piano project is not going to fly?
Posted By: joggerjazz Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/12/19 03:04 PM
Beautiful. I hope when it's all done you make a Youtube playing it so we can hear it too.
Posted By: BruceD Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 08/12/19 03:12 PM
Originally Posted by LovingPianos
[...]
[Linked Image]

Note: this update is actually as of July 17th! We've already advanced far ahead, so we'll try to write more updates soon! It's a project in itself writing all these stuffs! tired sleep


The Eagle has landed!
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/03/19 06:34 PM
Guys, how is the piano doing?
Posted By: trandinhnamanh Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/03/19 09:49 PM
Awesome lid! Why didn't make the interior rim the same way?
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/03/19 10:20 PM
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Originally Posted by ando
it's been fascinating to watch the twists and turns of this project - and also how rapidly it's all happening. Usually these things move along at a glacial pace, so it's great to see it evolving from day to day. I've never seen a piano project advance so quickly. I like how you just attack it like there's no tomorrow! Can't wait to see it strung up and playing.

^^^ this ^^^

Couldn't have said it better myself. smile

Like I keep saying, it's inspiring.

True ! inspiring is the word !
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/03/19 10:51 PM
Originally Posted by Learux
Guys, how is the piano doing?



Yes, any updates??
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/15/19 03:57 AM
Hello everyone! smile smile smile smile smile smile smile

Apologies for the cliffhanger!! grin

It's been so long since we last posted.....time flies by so fast!! The biggest update for now is likely the fact that we have left Thailand for 23 days already! That means the Estonia is currently sitting quietly and alone in the house, wondering why we need to study piano so far away from her... Here in Indiana, we are surrounded by herds of Steinway Ds.... crazy which are frankly boring, but in a good way! We're also enjoying Baldwin, M&H, and Steinway COFFINS in the practice rooms...no offense, but they are really abused! ....and the worst part, we still continue to abuse them...

Now back to the Estonia, our pride and joy. The real question is...did we ever manage to finish what we started? Honestly, we don't even know!

We'll just go by what we initially wrote over a month ago....it's not easy to pick up writing from so long ago! Note: many super-exciting stuffs we wrote are no longer THAT exciting as of now, but we don't want a boring finale, so here goes....

Now...where we left off, was the preparation for the restringing! laugh

We got in touch with a professional piano technician (frankly who, together with our piano teacher who sold it, are both Uzbekh...) to take care of the restringing works, with us assisting him in whatever ways we could. The plate preparation began with the wooden bushings installation...which came with a new problem; making them fit! Sounds like an easy job, but it's not when the bushings we purchased were 1 mm (in diameter) too big!!! They ruined the plate earlier, too! mad

We initially thought of ordering a new set of bushings that would be a better fit for the Estonia plate, but they are very hard to find. Local woodworking shops could custom-make new bushings, but the high cost, unsuitable wood type, and time limit made this option less preferable. After some more searches, we realized this is a very normal adjustment work regularly done by piano rebuilders, and it seemed like one of the easier tasks for them. By then we had a few days before the technician comes in and start killing us one by one! (He certainly is NOT someone to be messed with!) crazy

We took a step back and re-inspected the bushings we had again, and with nothing to lose, we started looking for ways to down-size them. We had the idea of mounting the bushings on a drill machine and sand them off in a similar way to a lathe. The problem was, there was nothing on earth that could fit the bushing holes tight enough to make a good spinning axis! We couldn't produce more than a few bushings per one sanding 'session'. We had to persevere working on them, with the help of masking tapes, and lots of positive thoughts! sick We masked the tapes on a suitably-sized screwdriver shaft, to increase the diameter to a good tight fit with the bushings, mounted it on the chuck, and worked our way with 100 grit sanding block.

The tough and time-consuming part was getting them out of the taped rod. We could sand 14 bushings at most (and not often!), in a time span of around 20 mins! So as you can imagine, it's a painstakingly tedious job!

[Linked Image]

A few days later, the technician came in to start the restringing work. With the slow bushing works, we prepared them section by section, just to cover what the technician could do for the day. All was going pretty well, and he was just finished with the 2nd high-treble stringing, when he notified us of an issue. He pointed out that the Capo D'astro bar is putting too much tension on the strings, and the angle of the string from the bar to the bridge was too steep, potentially causing bad sound and short sustain. In other words, he suspected the down-bearing to be too much.

Since all the wooden plate supports were installed correctly in their original places, there is no way this could result from any error in the mounting of the iron plate. We suspected that this was the Estonia plate design itself, and that it shouldn't be a problem, but we followed our tech's advice anyway. He then proposed a solution of raising the height of the rear duplex bar to even out the angle.

Here is a shot of the angle, measured with a down-bearing gauge:

[Linked Image]

There is a gap of around 1.5 mm, meaning there is a good amount of down-bearing...but could that have been too much? We don't know...

So, we glued thick cardboard on the underside of the bar, cut to shape, then test fit. We painted the cardboard part the same plate color.

Gluing the cardboard:

[Linked Image]

Now in place:

[Linked Image]

It did reduce the angle, but before anyone yells at us for this, yes, there was a problem with the new fix, too!

So, once the down-bearing of the high treble was adjusted, and the piano was tuned to some extent to inspect the tone, the problem that came up was...they still sounded pinched, and the sustain decayed quickly, particularly in the highest section! We re-inspected the down-bearing to see if anything was wrong with it....and after a lot of research into this subject, we learned that the raised bar height introduced the worst problem -- a negative downbearing!!! The angle of the strings going through the Capo d'astro up to the bridge wasn't a problem, but the section after the bridge angled upwards slightly. The string's pressure therefore rest pretty much on the front edge of the bridge, and halfway into it, the string contact was lost. To our untrained eyes, this "half bridge" contact seems like a big issue, so we'd appreciate anyone in the know clarifying this.

The negative bearing is greater on the upper capo d'astro section:

[Linked Image]

A little less on the lower section, but it's there...

[Linked Image]

Now, going fast forward, when the restringing was complete, we consulted with the technician, and he agreed to let us reverse the process and get rid of the negative bearing. What we did was simply reduce the rear duplex bar height, but it was by no means simple! We started by releasing the string tension in the capo d'astro section to an extent enough to be able to push the rear duplex bar out. Then we removed the glued cardboard, and, together with the front bars, polished to a shiny brass color! Putting them back wasn't very easy, but we managed after a while.

Here is the result! And we did it all ourselves, just to be able to brag about it! cool The tech gave us the tools, and along the process, we got to go through some of the final steps of restringing.

[Linked Image]

Now...after this fix, it frankly didn't sound like a big tone improvement either! And this scared us quite a bit! It wasn't after we pitched up the entire treble section, however, that it started to sound pretty decent! Our technician ensured us that once the strings start settling in with the tension, the sustain quality will improve. This could take up to a year for a piano that will never get tuned for two school semesters...which we are of course away for the whole time anyway... Missing her a lot already! cry cry

As of then, the piano had been settling down for few days, and after several tunings, she started to hold tune with a nice clear treble!

Another big disaster avoided! Next section will cover the restringing progress from start to finish! And don't ask what color those felts are....they're red, but the camera obviously didn't pick it up! We'll go into that later on...
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/15/19 04:28 AM
Thanks for the update, I have been thinking about you guys.

Sounds like this is heading into the right direction. When will you be back home?

I have learned so much about piano's through your detailed reporting, thank you for that!

Still keeping my fingers crossed.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/15/19 06:01 AM
Thanks for the update!
Posted By: tend to rush Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/15/19 12:45 PM
Bloomington, Indiana?
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/15/19 01:43 PM
Appreciate the update!
Posted By: VladK Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/15/19 03:37 PM
I hope we will listen soon to you playing Beethoven's "Eroica" on this lovely Estonia. What a thrilling journey! Fingers crossed, and good luck to you!
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/15/19 09:46 PM
Thanks for the update! I always look forward to your posts on this project.
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/17/19 04:29 AM
Thanks for your continued interest on this lovely lady, guys!

Originally Posted by Learux
When will you be back home?

Next May!! It's a long time, but we're enjoying things here a lot, so it's a nice long-distance love here! 3hearts Lol...

Originally Posted by tend to rush
Bloomington, Indiana?

Yes!
[Linked Image]

Originally Posted by VladK
I hope we will listen soon to you playing Beethoven's "Eroica" on this lovely Estonia. What a thrilling journey! Fingers crossed, and good luck to you!

Eroica variations?? Very nice piece, but not sure we'll get around to playing it soon...
We will DEFINITELY do some really good quality recordings on the Estonia once we are back home!! There are two recordings we made on the piano before we left though!

Now, onto the restringing progress. The technician was responsible for all the pin hammering, strings installation, etc., but we were around him helping hold things here and there, masking the plate to prevent damage, and after some time observing him, handing him the right tools at the right times! All this was done along with our primary responsibility of bushing sanding and installation, punching hitch pin felts and duplicating understring felts (many of them are glued up to 3 layers), polishing screws and bolts, and all else that might be needed at the moment. This proved that no-brainer technician-wannabes CAN be good assistants! Well...not sure if the technician would agree.... confused

The thing that might catch you guys' eyes is the color of the felts....that's right!! So, we intially wanted to go with red, of course, but after the first iron plate refinishing (in lighter gold), we reconsidered our choices. We thought that something like violet, or some sort of purple would go pretty well with the light yellow. But then after the second orangy bronze refinishing, we had a hard time trying to come up with the best match for it. We could not use red for sure, as it will heat the piano up visually. Some cool tone colors will give the needed balance, so we went for the classic sap green used in some Bösies and Bechsteins. We proceeded to buy some cheap sap green felt, which turned out to not be firm enough for the use. And the color was too dull...so we looked for something else -- turquoise! It's one very pretty color that no piano has ever really used, and this time we made sure to get a quality product. It turned out to be a very nice match to the bronze, as well as bringing forth the Egyptian scheme we've been trying to achieve!

Now...fast forward with the pictures from various steps...

The very first tuning pin installed!

[Linked Image]

Punching (or deafeningly loud hammering) of the hitch pin felts:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Note: some of the uglier ones were thrown away and repunched.

Cutting understring felts:

[Linked Image]

Under supervision of the ladies we painted! Lol... And the monster tech is lurking in the background. mad

[Linked Image]

Here the tech's making some serious noises! And the soundboard made it even louder!

[Linked Image]

Progressing steadily!

[Linked Image]

We also sanded and polished the screws on the damper wooden bar attached to the soundboard by putting them on the drilling machine, from 320 grit up to 2000 grit, then polished with Brasso. No pics to show the result, unfortunately.

[Linked Image]

Here are the iron plate screws. This one we managed to take a before-and-after shot:

[Linked Image]

Brass ones:

[Linked Image]

The plate screws had already been polished prior to putting the iron plate in place. We also lubricared the coils with soap to reduce wood friction and ease up screwing....and not screwing UP the plate!

In this picture the few remaining bushings were put in place...by which time we got so exhausted!

[Linked Image]

They sit a bit low in the holes, but this was not a problem....and we think they look much better than the original, which 'floods' over the plate surface.

After one section was done, we removed the masking tape. Notice the new paint is much, much more durable, and nothing gets peeled or scratched! And if something were to happen, we always have spare paint to do touch-ups later!

Last treble strings to go!

[Linked Image]

More pictures on the bass section coming in the next post! smile
Posted By: Qwerty53 Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/17/19 04:39 AM
Wow! Love the color choices! A feast for eyes as well as ears.
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/17/19 11:29 AM
Love the pictures and the update.
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/17/19 01:53 PM
Wonderful work. Can't wait to hear it.

Start looking for a winter coat I lived in Indiana for 3 years, It does get very cold in Jan/Feb and March.
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/19/19 05:08 AM
Thanks! The camera didn't quite capture the true shade of the turquoise felts, but perhaps some pictures are close enough.... We'll try to find and post them!

Originally Posted by Learux
Start looking for a winter coat I lived in Indiana for 3 years, It does get very cold in Jan/Feb and March.

It does get too cold, indeed! Nice to hear someone else went through the same torment! eek Safe to say though, we got kind of used to B-town at this point, as it's already our 5th visit! Our first time in Indiana (and essentially the U.S.) was back in 2015, then we started college last Fall, and are (hopefully) quite prepared for the winter! As a safety precaution for everyone, especially pianists, always wear gloves or something to protect your hands when the temperature is freezing outside during winter!

Now, let's continue on the bass section! These are custom-made strings by Heller Bass in Germany, according to the measurements we made on the original strings.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

And after a couple of days, the A0 pin was finally hammered down!

[Linked Image]

Note: a few of the tuning pins became slightly loose, and we knew this from the beginning when we test fitted every holes in the pinblock. The technician fixed this problem simply by replacing the loose ones with slightly larger pins that measure 7.30 mm in diameter.

Overall look of the restrung piano! Note: the back duplex felt has since been trimed and adjusted with a similar cleft ends. Also worth noting was the extremely difficult part was where the treble strings pass under the V-shaped beam (almost an hour of trying!)

[Linked Image]

So, now that the stringing was done, it's time to install the dampers. The technician replaced all the felts with german Abel felts. It took a considerable amount of time to carefully adjust them one by one.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

The technician was away for a few days, before coming back to install the rest of the dampers and start working on the action regulation. We took it as an opportunity to pitch up the piano to a decent level, then test-fit all the parts into the front of the piano to make up a complete look! Plus, we had time to detail the letterings as well!

We used semi-gloss black (XF-18) modeling paint from Tamiya for the lettering.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

At this point, the plateworks were pretty much done, and the next steps were all adjustments and regulation. We weren't completely done with the decorations, though, so watch out for the next post! grin
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/19/19 11:24 AM
Keep the pics and updates coming.
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/29/19 04:49 AM
New update -- The Estonia logo!

Most of you might not have seen piano logos with brass letters fallen off, but trust us, it, along with the chipped cabinet, is in no way a great sight to behold! We don't know the approach of piano manufacturers exactly, but the brass letters, which are roughly 1 mm thick, sit seamlessly on the surface. Obviously, we don't have the tools (nor any idea on how) to do that on the Estonia, and a stencil or decal will not match the existing fallboard logo at all. So here's what we did:

We sent the same AI files used on the plate logo, this time to a company specializing in metal laser-cutting service. To closely mimick the fallboard letters, the new logos were made in 0.1 mm thick brass shim.

[Linked Image]

Before proceeding with any work, we photoshopped the letters on a photo of the piano in order to locate the best placement of the logo in proportion to the whole profile, then made some measurements and masking on the piano before the actual gluing. Super glue was used for this process, and we mounted it with a modeling clay to ensure good alignment.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Then we (very) carefully polished the new logo with Brasso, as one clumsy stroke can bend and detach the part easily. Since the parts don't lay completely flat like they would in an engraved slot, even a slight brush of clothes/fabric can get caught in the sharp edges, and you can imagine the result. We have addressed bent edges from such accidents a couple of times, so this is certainly a problem we have to figure out in the future. Such addition might be best done before the clear coat application, so that the logos get completely sealed...

The result is worth all the troubles though!

[Linked Image]

Notice most of the dampers were still not installed.

The fallboard also received a new logo, as well as the missing "i" dot. The eagle over the letters sort of defines it as our own special edition piano:

[Linked Image]

So far the new and old brasses got along pretty well!

Honestly, though, this technique is not so efficient; it was very difficult to glue the brass pieces, which were far from being perfectly flat, while maintaining exact alignment. But it was well worth the effort, and we felt the piano finally looks like a true concert instrument.....and we're emphasizing the looks here - it had yet to have a proper piano sound!

More to come! laugh
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/29/19 06:02 AM
I like it a lot, I hope it is going to sound as beautiful as it looks!
Posted By: joggerjazz Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/29/19 12:10 PM
Looks Great!
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/29/19 03:18 PM
It is coming along nicely!
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/29/19 03:18 PM
It is coming along nicely!
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/29/19 06:39 PM
thumb wow
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 09/29/19 09:57 PM
Beautiful! Love the turquoise felt! Can't wait to hear how it sounds!
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/10/19 04:31 AM
Thank you guys! smile smile

-- Update --

A few days later, the piano technician came back to resume his....well...technical works. But while he was away, we worked on perhaps one of the most vital parts in piano restoration -- the keytops!

The original plastic keytops were in pretty good condition -- only a few had permanent stains. The color was quite a lot more yellow than standard keytops, likely as a result of sunlight exposure, but it might not have been originally super white to begin with, maybe more off-white, similar to Yamaha's ivorite.

Here's an overall shot of the keyboard:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

There was a stain mark somewhere in the lower treble:

[Linked Image]

The original C1 and D1 keys down in the bass were damaged, and replaced with white keytops by our teacher long before we first saw the piano. They did make a nice comparison with the original keytop color, albeit looking completely out of place:

[Linked Image]

Later on, we asked him to try replacing them with salvaged ivory keytops from his spare box, and they matched almost perfectly:

[Linked Image]

Still, we didn't like the fix, as the touch feels very different between the ivory and plastic. There was also a problem with the original plastic keys; they had over time, through lots of playing, become so "polished" in a way that no longer feels smooth for the fingers to slide with ease. Occasionally, our fingers would get stuck between the keys while trying executing fast passages. This was one evil piano that will make you play wrong notes!

So, we decided to search online for a new set of plastic keytops, and after a while came across this:

[Linked Image]

They are plastic keytops that has a simulated ivory effect, and also a satin finish, so you've got looks and touch all in one. It was quite fitting for the overall vintage look of the piano, so we proceeded to order a set of 52 keytops along with keyfronts, which also have the same finish.

When it arrived, we test-fitted a few keys on the piano, and they were just ever so slightly undersized. We did measure everything just to be on the safe side before ordering them, so it shouldn't have been a problem....and they looked gorgeous! However, we didn't take into account the fact that the Estonia's original keys were relatively small in comparison to other pianos, and there was already a considerable amount of gap between keys. The new keytops would produce even larger gaps -- almost that of an antique piano.

This is a close-up shot of the synthetic ivory keys....looks can be deceiving!

[Linked Image]

Some weeks later, we unexpectedly obtained a new set of keytops from an american friend of our technician, who was a piano enthusiast. The new glossy, off-white keytops happened to be the ideal size -- about 0.5 mm wider. The test fit was excellent, and the keyboard looked almost as seamless as a brand-new Steinway! At this point, we were ready to proceed with the work.

This is a comparison of the original Estonia keytop, the new keytop, and a sheet of plain white paper:

[Linked Image]
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/10/19 04:32 AM
Now, let's go about the actual process of replacing the keytops!

The first thing we needed to do was to remove the original keytops and fronts. This might sound like an easy task, but it certainly wasn't! We searched for guides and advice on how to go about the process, and in several how-to videos on Youtube, the keytops were removed with a kitchen knife to separate it from the wood. It didn't look like much effort at all. However, the Estonia keytops proved to be extremely difficult to deal with.

The wooden part of the key was made of very soft wood, so much so it can be scratched very easily with just fingernails. The glue also appeared to holding the plastic and the wood together so well, and this made it extremely difficult to retain a straight and flat surface on the wooden part while removing the plastic top. Knife slip was all too often, carving layers of wood off with the plastic piece. Some tutorials recommended using iron on damp cloth to soften the glue, but this did less improvement than damage for us! Our technician recommended soaking the keys in wet cloths for a few minutes before removing the keytops. This technique actually helped, but again the wood became even softer and easier to split, and it was an extremely painstaking process just to finish 52 of these. It was a very dangerous task as well; one of us got cut by the slipping blade, and it was literally bloody scary! Working with piano keys can make you bleed in more than one way!

Here's a key taken off the keyboard. Notice how very dirty it was originally!

[Linked Image]

We removed the old keytop, lightly sanded the sides to remove the greasy stain, and filled the top to make it level. Here it is ready for a new keytop:

[Linked Image]

We used the excellent PVC-E glue from Howard Piano for the keytops.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Here one of us put all the keys back, while the other touched up on the lid painting:

[Linked Image]

Last but not least, we checked the clearing between all black to white keys, and indeed every single one of them needed to be notched at least 1 mm. Precision and tidyness is key here, and you want there to be as little trace of notching as possible.

Here's the result!

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

More to come! grin
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/10/19 12:41 PM
Great update- keep them coming.
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/10/19 03:12 PM
Nice work, getting closer.
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/10/19 07:47 PM
Beautiful new key tops!
Posted By: cagal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/11/19 02:02 AM
What a fascinating thread. Great job
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/11/19 02:44 AM
thumb
Posted By: ando Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/11/19 03:52 PM
I get pains in my back and knees looking at those photos of you both working on your keys on the floor! I'm a stool and bench guy, for sure! It's funny because 20 years ago in my 20's I thought nothing of being on my hands and knees or crouched down for hours working on my old muscle cars. Time catches up with us though - mid-40's now and the wear and tear is noticeable.

Thanks for all the updates. Would love to come see this piano someday when I'm in Thailand!
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/11/19 09:40 PM
Originally Posted by ando
I get pains in my back and knees looking at those photos of you both working on your keys on the floor! I'm a stool and bench guy, for sure! It's funny because 20 years ago in my 20's I thought nothing of being on my hands and knees or crouched down for hours working on my old muscle cars. Time catches up with us though - mid-40's now and the wear and tear is noticeable.

You're singing my song, Ando! Except I'm not in my 40's anymore... frown
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/25/19 11:30 AM
3hearts CHRISTMAS UPDATE!!! 3hearts

Hello everyone!! First of all, Merry Christmas!!! (FESTIVE CHRISTMASSY EMOJI ICON)

mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad sick mad

Red and green! These should do....

Also it's 6 AM sans sleep...we were up to spot Santa!! sleep sleep

It's been SO long since we last posted. Apparently we were unable to find sufficient time during the past Fall semester to even think about the Estonia, let alone writing stuffs about it, even with the few breaks we had (Thanksgiving was fun with homework assignments). sick mad sick mad Mostly though, whenever we did have time, we had to work on one our big project, which is designing our new home (real reason for staying late today)! In the near future, it'll also be home for the Estonia!!

As enjoyable and productive the semester was, we're happy that it's over! Now, let's quickly dive into this before Spring starts again! thumb

A bit of a timeline information: it has been 4 whole months of staying in Indiana since leaving Thailand on August 22nd, and the very first day of restringing work was on August 1st. Therefore, the following posts will cover everything done during that 3-week frenzy of trying to wrap up the Estonia and her too many beauty enhancements. Hint: we succeeded!

Now...back to where we left off! Uh....well....hmm.....what was thaaa........can't quite remember! Well...meanwhile, here are some photos from way back when we "reverse-engineered" the down-bearing, that we forgot to post. Also, please ignore my weird plate-colored double-jointed finger:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

And....ehm......uhh.....oh yes! Where we left off! crazy The technician came back to install the rest of the dampers, and started setting up the action works. By then we were slowly approaching the final steps of the project! yippie

Hammer flange screws adjustment:

[Linked Image]

This seems to be the adjustment of the drop screws, since there isn't anything else to be tweaked there. The tool he was using didn't look like a regular drop adjusting tool though...and its shape actually allowed such adjustments to be done with the action in place: confused

[Linked Image]

Escapement (regulating screw) adjustment. This was where the hammer striking heights are adjusted (mostly reduced), and the piano was finally playable as a result...not that we didn't try to play before they were... whistle whistle

[Linked Image]

The rest was simply finishing all that was started for the day...and apparently there weren't many. Unfortunately, that was the last day the technician came in — he got back to his busy schedule afterwards and wasn't available again for weeks, meaning that the Estonia was left unfinished, untuned, her action unfinalized, and most importantly, unvoiced.

This was quite a bummer for us being so eager to try her out...well...biggest bummer of 2019 so far! mad mad However, since the escapement has been adjusted, the piano was playable, sans tonal adjustments, and the only thing left to do was tuning, which the technician never got to do.

We figured it would be of best benefit during the long period away if we tune it at least once...so we did....or actually overdone it — we tuned a dozen more times during the few remaining days! It was an amazing experience for us to battle with young rebellious strings against new tension in unfamiliar environments of a refurbished piano. grin

On our part, we finished up everything left of the aesthetical additions, one of them being the fallboard felt replacement...in tortoise...no..turquoise!

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

And other stuffs being...well, we don't remember now! crazy

All in all, the Estonia is visually complete, and pretty darn close functionally!

STAY TUNED FOR THE UNVEIL NEXT POST!!!!!
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/25/19 02:17 PM
Love the pictures and love the update. I’m even more interested in your work now because I traded in my Yamaha C3 then wo months ago for a new Estonia L190. Thus way U get to see first hand how the work was done. Merry Christmas!
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/27/19 11:05 AM
Originally Posted by ando
I get pains in my back and knees looking at those photos of you both working on your keys on the floor! I'm a stool and bench guy, for sure! It's funny because 20 years ago in my 20's I thought nothing of being on my hands and knees or crouched down for hours working on my old muscle cars. Time catches up with us though - mid-40's now and the wear and tear is noticeable.

Thanks for all the updates. Would love to come see this piano someday when I'm in Thailand!

That's actually a good reminder for us young ones to take better care of ourselves! Our father also have back problems, so we know it's never fun! Time flies, and sooner than you think, your body feels much older than your mind, doesn't it!

We would love you to visit the Estonia if you have the chance to come to Thailand!!

Originally Posted by j&j
I’m even more interested in your work now because I traded in my Yamaha C3 then wo months ago for a new Estonia L190. Thus way U get to see first hand how the work was done. Merry Christmas!

Congrats on getting the new piano! We've read a lot about the newer Estonias being very well-regarded and much improved in their build quality. Out of curiousity, what price range was your L190 around?

Also, we forgot to mention one other important work on the action, and that was regulation of the key pin holes. These holes go over the balance rail pins on the keybed (inner row), which function as a pivot point for the keyboard. Over time they get worn out a lot from constant playing, therefore the technician assigned us a task to check each of the 88 pin holes in the keys for loose/tight fitting. This was the case for almost all of the white keys, so they were given a coat (or two) of white glue inside:

[Linked Image]

To check if the fix is good, the key was laid back onto the rail pin without pushing all the way in, so that with a gentle tap it should slowly fall into place. A loose, prestissimo fall or no fall at all means more adjustments are needed. This isn't the most special task, except for the fact that it took hours of painstaking focus! Why do we have so many keys! But as pianists, why don't we have enough? grin

Now, stay tuned for the next post!!!
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/28/19 01:20 AM
Wonderful work ! Just keep up the vision of a beautiful Estonia concert piano !
You will soon be playing it !
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/28/19 04:23 AM
Can't wait to see the finished product.
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/28/19 02:01 PM
The Estonia L190 with Bubinga on the inside lid, the music desk, and sides and inner fallboard was on sale for $41,200. I got full trade in for my C3 so it cost me about $11,300 and my 8 year old Yamaha. Ya know buying and later trading up is supposed to be the worst way to buy pianos, but since I was working with a top notch dealer it was very easy and painless.
But restoring an older Estonia concert grand is a great way to learn every detail of the piano. But I don’t think my back or knees are up to the work you’re doing anymore. And I’m positive I don’t have the patience. grin
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/28/19 04:06 PM
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Wonderful work ! Just keep up the vision of a beautiful Estonia concert piano !
You will soon be playing it !

Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Can't wait to see the finished product.

Just keep going!
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 01:03 AM
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Wonderful work ! Just keep up the vision of a beautiful Estonia concert piano !
You will soon be playing it !

Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Can't wait to see the finished product.

Just keep going!



Yes, keep going as your project is really moving along.
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 08:30 AM
The long awaited post is finally here!

First of all, it has been such an amazing journey through rebuilding this piano, considering it was something we had never ever imagined of doing before. We did not only learn so many new things, but also found ways to apply techniques we've been practicing to good use. As children, we discovered ourselves to be little "reverse engineers", taking toys apart and study them purposelessly. Later on, we found better use of this skill and started scale modeling (warships in particular), and most days would pass by with hours of filling, sanding, and painting the tiny little models. And this past summer, a piano was deconstructed!! Ironically, it didn't look the same when we put it back together!! crazy crazy

It is also amazing to see how this experience affected the way we see, hear, and even play a piano now that we know so much more beyond the fallboard...and to realize there is even more we don't know about.

The Estonia proved itself to be an excellent "core" piano, and how its plain and very “Soviet” quality called for such a crazy makeover. Had it been a newer Yamaha CFX or Steinway D, we wouldn't be so inclined to do so, much less even dare to touch it!

Having said all that, may we present you all the photographic evidence!


[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
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Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 08:46 AM
- PART 2 -

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
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Here we put some LED lights in for some interesting effect on the lid.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

Obviously at this stage it's a happy ending for us!!! There are still a few more things we wish we had time to do, so there will definitely be a part 2 to this project when the time comes (in a few months)!

Here's the to-do list:

- Voicing
- Fine-tuning
- Any other necessary adjustments
- Finalizing leg decoration works
- Side lid lock repair

And here's the crazier to-do list:

- New larger casters
- New music rack
- New piano restoration project

Well....the last one was a joke....at least for now!

A proper voicing and fine-tuning will finally reveal the piano's true sound quality, and by then we will be able to make a recording on it!!! There will also be other minor adjustments, perhaps on the action regulation, screw polishing, but mostly for a squeaking pedal (felt replacements). Most pianists wouldn't call it a minor problem though!! The decorative leg painting will be finalized for all three legs, and they might be given some darker washes (TBD).
The lid lock knob on the bentside is missing both the hook and pad eye plate on the lid, which was a bit unfair since the Blüthner concert grands in the same storage room had two complete sets of these! Interestingly, the old-model Estonia seemed to have a different type of lid locking mechanism that looks a bit...weird:

http://parlonspiano.com/public/user/65/38/382d_e9d2.jpg

For the caster fantasy, it's actually something necessary. Moving a piano this size with so small casters is a cumbersome task for at least three people, so we plan to change to concert-size double casters. The only problem is, these are ridiculously expensive to get — a SINGLE caster costs from $610 to $1,200+ depending on design and lock options. Two more and you can buy a small piano! Hence, we'll be drafting our own design, and if we succeed, they can be produced by some CNC milling company. Take it with a grain of salt, though, and wish us luck! crazy crazy

The original Estonia music rack is very heavy and unwieldy, as well as a bit..basic, industrial style, and...well...ugly. sick We already have a few designs drafted out, so hopefully we will get to do it next time.

Anyhow, enough about the day-dreaming! That is about all we have for the Estonia, and we hope you all enjoy this journey as much as we did, and still do!! Oh...and next time you see the piano, call her Sofia, as we have named her in honor of the birth city of our beloved piano professor at Indiana University, Mr. Émile Naoumoff!

Happy Holidays to everyone, and please anticipate for a new year full of pianos, A.K.A happiness!


— Sippakorn & Sippapas Kaewthamai
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 06:52 PM
She looks great ! You have turned soviet piano into something with an art case .
That wing looks great, so does the rest of the piano.So now it's voicing ,adjustments and fine tuning.
It's a pity you have to worry about replacing the castors if the old ones are not damaged.
But I am sure you know best .We would love to hear a recording some time.I suppose voicing the
piano will take some time.
Actually even soviet era Estonia's still have "an element of respect here." A while back a rebuilder of
pianos said that he even rebuilds soviet era Bluthner pianos. Perhaps it is just the name but there have been members on PW who have bought soviet era pianos and are happy with them.(in their original condition.(perhaps some have been restored)
Do not go too wild with the art now.The wing is perfect by the way !
The piano looks gorgeous!
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 06:57 PM
The new Estonia’s come with big double brass casters. I wonder if you could get in touch with a local Estonia dealer or not so local depending on where you’re working and ask them if you could buy casters from Estonia Piano itself. I can’t image they cost the price you were quoted. The other thing you could do is post a request for suppliers of concert level double castors with locks on the Piano Technician’s Forum. Those folks have surely replaced more than their share of castors. Good Luck!
Posted By: BDB Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 07:05 PM
The large casters are very expensive, and require shorter legs. They are also prone to running away if you forget to lock them.
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 07:08 PM
Gosh! She does look gorgeous. I for one, love the name posted on the side of my pianos. I love the inside eagle feather on texture design on the underside of the lid.
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 07:14 PM
Wow, after reading that I’m gonna go gently dust and enjoy the big brass castors on my piano. Mine lock only because they’re in caster cups. I guess sometimes you don’t know what you’ve already got.
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 07:26 PM
The piano matches beautifully with the gorgeous painting next to it.
Posted By: Norbert Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 07:35 PM
Quote
The Estonia proved itself to be an excellent "core" piano, and how its plain and very “Soviet” quality called for such a crazy makeover.


While I agree with the first part, not sure about the latter. Contrary to what people believe, Estonias had always been special pianos, especially with regards to "sound".
I immediately noticed this some 25 years ago when playing these pianos first. It became obvious to me Estonia's sound is not just the some of the sum of its part, but - like a Spanish Flamenco guitar - something strangely more. IMHO the way these pianos are being made by the Estonian people, almost unconsciously so. Perhaps less so than is today, but this overriding factor had never been completely gone. Let's not forget, Estonia's culture is widely based on "song" with a singing quality of sound anchored in their national language. Something that had always been a major part of Estonian culture. My prediction [again...] is that this piano will not only be be outstanding but SPECTACULAR! It could become a historical cultural icon for Estonia itself. Proving that the spirit of its people may have been oppressed in the past but had never been really broken. Let's see if I'm right with this.

Norbert
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 08:10 PM
Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
The Estonia proved itself to be an excellent "core" piano, and how its plain and very “Soviet” quality called for such a crazy makeover.


While I agree with the first part, not sure about the latter. Contrary to what people believe, Estonias had always been special pianos, especially with regards to "sound".
I immediately noticed this some 25 years ago when playing these pianos first. It became obvious to me Estonia's sound is not just the some of the sum of its part, but - like a Spanish Flamenco guitar - something strangely more. IMHO the way these pianos are being made by the Estonian people, almost unconsciously so. Perhaps less so than is today, but this overriding factor had never been completely gone. Let's not forget, Estonia's culture is widely based on "song" with a singing quality of sound anchored in their national language. Something that had always been a major part of Estonian culture. My prediction [again...] is that this piano will not only be be outstanding but SPECTACULAR! It could become a historical cultural icon for Estonia itself. Proving that the spirit of its people may have been oppressed in the past but had never been really broken. Let's see if I'm right with this.

Norbert


As an Estonia owner for a mere two months, I believe you are right. To me, Estonia pianos are somehow enchanting. Beautifully built with a singing tone. Plus, still reasonably priced. What’s not to love? laugh
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 09:15 PM
While I have never actually heard an Estonia piano, I can imagine that they really are
wonderful pianos! I also think that this piano could have a great future......so it
is really important how things develop musically from here.
Apart from that I feel this instrument is a symbol of "freedom".
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/29/19 10:24 PM
Gorgeous piano and great work on your part!
Posted By: Jethro Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/30/19 01:05 AM
Beautiful job guys! I’m looking forward to how it sounds. The work you have done on it is exceptional given that neither of you have apparently never done this kind of work before.
Posted By: jazzyprof Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/30/19 02:49 AM
Congratulations on an amazing job of piano restoration! You guys (twin?) have turned an ugly duckling into the belle of the ball, Lady Sofia. The painting on the lid is so beautiful and so appropriate for a flugel. It goes really well with the side lettering, which is also lovely. You have so many talents: artists, pianists, piano restorers, story tellers!

My only question for you is this: How did you find time to practice piano during this monumental project?

Again, congratulations and Happy New Year!
Posted By: Man Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/30/19 10:07 AM
Again, congratulations for your fabulous piano. Reading your thread is far better than watching Netflix (I do not have Netflix though, just a figure of speech).
No doubt that Dr. Laul would be pleased to learn about your rebuild.

Really impressive. I - and certainly many here - cannot wait to hear it played.

Go, go!
Posted By: Jethro Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/30/19 12:01 PM
If I also may be bold to ask if someone wanted to restore an old Estonia concert grand like you did what would it cost in US dollars?

It looks like you put a lot of sweat equity into yours but what if the regular Joe wanted to do something like this?
Posted By: Jethro Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/30/19 12:18 PM
Hope I wasn’t being rude by asking BTW. Also you seem to have connections with various artisans. Have you done restoration projects in the past in other areas? It seems as if you guys have a lot of experience with a restoration process in general.
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/30/19 02:10 PM
Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Congratulations on an amazing job of piano restoration! You guys (twin?) have turned an ugly duckling into the belle of the ball, Lady Sofia. The painting on the lid is so beautiful and so appropriate for a flugel. It goes really well with the side lettering, which is also lovely. You have so many talents: artists, pianists, piano restorers, story tellers!

My only question for you is this: How did you find time to practice piano during this monumental project?

Again, congratulations and Happy New Year!

I am enjoying your beautiful restoration work on your Estonia concert grand. You’re taking away the ugly duckling’s mottled feathers (compromised Soviet era fit and finish) and with your painting and painstaking labor are revealing the beautiful swan of true Estonian craftsmanship. I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous New Year.
Posted By: Qwerty53 Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 12/30/19 06:33 PM
Glorious!
Posted By: Learux Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 01/03/20 12:36 AM
Nice to see it is almost finished. Well done!
Posted By: LovingPianos Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 02/02/20 09:39 AM
Hello guys! Thanks so much for all the compliments!

It hasn't been easy finding time to sit down and write...and when we do, it's endless! There's just so much to talk about when it comes to pianos! grin grin

Originally Posted by j&j
The Estonia L190 with Bubinga on the inside lid, the music desk, and sides and inner fallboard was on sale for $41,200. I got full trade in for my C3 so it cost me about $11,300 and my 8 year old Yamaha.


That sounds like an excellent deal! New Estonia pianos are quite reasonably priced, as you mentioned. The bubinga finish must look gorgeous! Do you have any pictures of your instrument on the forum? #GoEstonia!

Speaking of Yamahas, we also initially thought of trading/selling our C5 for the Estonia, but didn't go for it for the fact that the Yamaha is such a special instrument for us, having grown pianistically from it for over ten years. The piano itself was from 2001, according to the serial number, so not only is it the same age as ours, but it's already losing resale value (at least for Thai piano market). Most importantly though, the piano has such a very warm, clear, and projecting sound – quite a rare gem among non-concert Yamaha pianos. Plus, the new Abel hammers worked magic! So, with a small negotiation, the Estonia was quite affordable, so we decided to keep both instruments with us, as it's never good to fight over practice times!

Fun fact: this Estonia concert grand actually costed less than our used Yamaha C5!!!! Will get back to this with Jethro's question. cool cool

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Actually even soviet era Estonia's still have "an element of respect here." A while back a rebuilder of pianos said that he even rebuilds soviet era Bluthner pianos. Perhaps it is just the name but there have been members on PW who have bought soviet era pianos and are happy with them.(in their original condition.(perhaps some have been restored)


Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
The Estonia proved itself to be an excellent "core" piano, and how its plain and very “Soviet” quality called for such a crazy makeover.


While I agree with the first part, not sure about the latter. Contrary to what people believe, Estonias had always been special pianos, especially with regards to "sound".
I immediately noticed this some 25 years ago when playing these pianos first. It became obvious to me Estonia's sound is not just the some of the sum of its part, but - like a Spanish Flamenco guitar - something strangely more. IMHO the way these pianos are being made by the Estonian people, almost unconsciously so. Perhaps less so than is today, but this overriding factor had never been completely gone. Let's not forget, Estonia's culture is widely based on "song" with a singing quality of sound anchored in their national language. Something that had always been a major part of Estonian culture. My prediction [again...] is that this piano will not only be be outstanding but SPECTACULAR! It could become a historical cultural icon for Estonia itself. Proving that the spirit of its people may have been oppressed in the past but had never been really broken. Let's see if I'm right with this.

Norbert



Thank you for the comments! In regards to sound, we absolutely agree with you — in fact, the Soviet-made Estonia pianos were regarded as the very best in the entire USSR, demonstrating immense power, projection, and surprising stability and reliability. Nowadays these instruments are very rare (at least outside the former Union), and most of them have never been properly maintained, therefore it's not so fair for some people to simply judge them in that state. The Estonia sound, as you mentioned, is really unique; a warm and ringing sound with a VERY singing treble matched with an explosive, deep bass. These characters are also found in many "Golden age" New York Steinways of the 1930s up to 1950s, among other makers, but they seem to be very rare in pianos made these days.

Also, Norbert, what you said reflects our thoughts exactly!
Just to clarify, the "Soviet" quality we so often mention refers to the build quality, and aesthetic aspects only. In fact, Estonia pianos symbolized the glorious days of Soviet musical culture.

Going back to the history of the maker, the name Estonia didn't come into existence until after WWII, when piano builder Ernst Hiis sent an Estonia piano (likely a concert grand) as a required Soviet republic gift for Stalin's 70th birthday in 1948. Stalin was so impressed with it, he ordered Hiis to be the sole manufacturer of concert grand pianos for the entire Soviet Union, and renamed the company Estonia. Production peaked at around 500 pianos per year, indicating there really was a widespread demand for such instruments. The pianos occupied concert halls, houses of culture (Dom Kultury) and music conservatories all around Russia and Europe.

Perhaps the way they were mass-produced called for lower build standards, and hasty assembly. Doesn't mean that they would intentionally simplify the piano's design though; it might have very well been the style of that era — the post-modern brutalism mixed with art deco that dominated the Eastern Bloc, somewhat reminiscing the preceding Soviet constructivist architecture of the 1920s.

For our piano Sofia, this effect was evident in the build quality and crude craftmanship, most noticeably the pinblock, lid prop, and the whole cabinet surface works. Other areas include the pedal lyre and its mediocre mechanism quality. But the worst part was likely the assembly; it's just so badly done. A few hinge screws were badly drilled (angled), some screw heads had defects and got stuck, and the leg screw holes have particularly bad fitting. It just seemed like they were trying to screw up the piano...pun intended!

However, the main assembly of the vital parts, and the construction of the bridges, soundboard, ribs, etc. are well executed, showing that they really focused on the functionality of the instruments. It's a bit ironic though, as the design is one of the most beautiful we've seen, and they simply didn't do it any justice.

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Do not go too wild with the art now. The wing is perfect by the way ! The piano looks gorgeous!


Thank you! For the artwork, it's pretty close to how we imagined at this stage. Any additional touch would mostly go to the music desk. Since it will be completely replaced, we will do some redesign to match the new piano. And yes, we'll be careful not to overdo it. We're aiming for continuity and harmony within the whole instrument, so the goal is to keep things tidy and uncluttered, as well as preserving the curvaceous lines of the piano. We will likely tone down the leg ornaments, as they might be a bit too striking. The legs themselves need some repairs on split veneers, so we might do some slight redesigning there as well, and perhaps add a bit more elegance by shedding some of the bulky blocks. Still a few things TBD...(to be destroyed!)

One thing we'll do for sure is replacing the casters. We already have some ideas on how this could be done, so we'll cover about this in the next posts.

We'll try our best to keep you all posted! grin grin
Posted By: j&j Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 02/02/20 03:18 PM
[Linked Image]
Estonia L190
I posted a picture and then the thread with more pictures.

I’m really thrilled with the “hidden beauty aspect”. Closed it looks like a shiny black grand and matches as well as any other gloss black piano. But open the lid, music desk, and fallboard, there’s the beautiful Bubinga. Much like you are doing with Sophia.
My first grand was a polished walnut GB1K. The walnut veneer was to me drop dead gorgeous. Then I traded up for a polished ebony C3. The piano is beautiful and stately but I missed the wonderful walnut wood grain. My Estonia provides both.
Posted By: Maestro Lennie Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 04/23/20 01:19 AM
Looks lovely and I really like the “hidden beauty” trick.

Related to that, had anyone thought to get a piano covered in quarter-cut, straight grain bubinga? I would think that especially for larger surfaces (not this model!), it might have some interest. The same beautiful color but less busyness, if you could find the right stain to highlight the grain just so.
Posted By: Jethro Re: Estonia Concert Grand - 10/14/20 05:58 PM
Originally Posted by LovingPianos
Hello guys! Thanks so much for all the compliments!

It hasn't been easy finding time to sit down and write...and when we do, it's endless! There's just so much to talk about when it comes to pianos! grin grin

Originally Posted by j&j
The Estonia L190 with Bubinga on the inside lid, the music desk, and sides and inner fallboard was on sale for $41,200. I got full trade in for my C3 so it cost me about $11,300 and my 8 year old Yamaha.


That sounds like an excellent deal! New Estonia pianos are quite reasonably priced, as you mentioned. The bubinga finish must look gorgeous! Do you have any pictures of your instrument on the forum? #GoEstonia!

Speaking of Yamahas, we also initially thought of trading/selling our C5 for the Estonia, but didn't go for it for the fact that the Yamaha is such a special instrument for us, having grown pianistically from it for over ten years. The piano itself was from 2001, according to the serial number, so not only is it the same age as ours, but it's already losing resale value (at least for Thai piano market). Most importantly though, the piano has such a very warm, clear, and projecting sound – quite a rare gem among non-concert Yamaha pianos. Plus, the new Abel hammers worked magic! So, with a small negotiation, the Estonia was quite affordable, so we decided to keep both instruments with us, as it's never good to fight over practice times!

Fun fact: this Estonia concert grand actually costed less than our used Yamaha C5!!!! Will get back to this with Jethro's question. cool cool

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Actually even soviet era Estonia's still have "an element of respect here." A while back a rebuilder of pianos said that he even rebuilds soviet era Bluthner pianos. Perhaps it is just the name but there have been members on PW who have bought soviet era pianos and are happy with them.(in their original condition.(perhaps some have been restored)


Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
The Estonia proved itself to be an excellent "core" piano, and how its plain and very “Soviet” quality called for such a crazy makeover.

While I agree with the first part, not sure about the latter. Contrary to what people believe, Estonias had always been special pianos, especially with regards to "sound".
I immediately noticed this some 25 years ago when playing these pianos first. It became obvious to me Estonia's sound is not just the some of the sum of its part, but - like a Spanish Flamenco guitar - something strangely more. IMHO the way these pianos are being made by the Estonian people, almost unconsciously so. Perhaps less so than is today, but this overriding factor had never been completely gone. Let's not forget, Estonia's culture is widely based on "song" with a singing quality of sound anchored in their national language. Something that had always been a major part of Estonian culture. My prediction [again...] is that this piano will not only be be outstanding but SPECTACULAR! It could become a historical cultural icon for Estonia itself. Proving that the spirit of its people may have been oppressed in the past but had never been really broken. Let's see if I'm right with this.

Norbert


Thank you for the comments! In regards to sound, we absolutely agree with you — in fact, the Soviet-made Estonia pianos were regarded as the very best in the entire USSR, demonstrating immense power, projection, and surprising stability and reliability. Nowadays these instruments are very rare (at least outside the former Union), and most of them have never been properly maintained, therefore it's not so fair for some people to simply judge them in that state. The Estonia sound, as you mentioned, is really unique; a warm and ringing sound with a VERY singing treble matched with an explosive, deep bass. These characters are also found in many "Golden age" New York Steinways of the 1930s up to 1950s, among other makers, but they seem to be very rare in pianos made these days.

Also, Norbert, what you said reflects our thoughts exactly!
Just to clarify, the "Soviet" quality we so often mention refers to the build quality, and aesthetic aspects only. In fact, Estonia pianos symbolized the glorious days of Soviet musical culture.

Going back to the history of the maker, the name Estonia didn't come into existence until after WWII, when piano builder Ernst Hiis sent an Estonia piano (likely a concert grand) as a required Soviet republic gift for Stalin's 70th birthday in 1948. Stalin was so impressed with it, he ordered Hiis to be the sole manufacturer of concert grand pianos for the entire Soviet Union, and renamed the company Estonia. Production peaked at around 500 pianos per year, indicating there really was a widespread demand for such instruments. The pianos occupied concert halls, houses of culture (Dom Kultury) and music conservatories all around Russia and Europe.

Perhaps the way they were mass-produced called for lower build standards, and hasty assembly. Doesn't mean that they would intentionally simplify the piano's design though; it might have very well been the style of that era — the post-modern brutalism mixed with art deco that dominated the Eastern Bloc, somewhat reminiscing the preceding Soviet constructivist architecture of the 1920s.

For our piano Sofia, this effect was evident in the build quality and crude craftmanship, most noticeably the pinblock, lid prop, and the whole cabinet surface works. Other areas include the pedal lyre and its mediocre mechanism quality. But the worst part was likely the assembly; it's just so badly done. A few hinge screws were badly drilled (angled), some screw heads had defects and got stuck, and the leg screw holes have particularly bad fitting. It just seemed like they were trying to screw up the piano...pun intended!

However, the main assembly of the vital parts, and the construction of the bridges, soundboard, ribs, etc. are well executed, showing that they really focused on the functionality of the instruments. It's a bit ironic though, as the design is one of the most beautiful we've seen, and they simply didn't do it any justice.

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Do not go too wild with the art now. The wing is perfect by the way ! The piano looks gorgeous!

Thank you! For the artwork, it's pretty close to how we imagined at this stage. Any additional touch would mostly go to the music desk. Since it will be completely replaced, we will do some redesign to match the new piano. And yes, we'll be careful not to overdo it. We're aiming for continuity and harmony within the whole instrument, so the goal is to keep things tidy and uncluttered, as well as preserving the curvaceous lines of the piano. We will likely tone down the leg ornaments, as they might be a bit too striking. The legs themselves need some repairs on split veneers, so we might do some slight redesigning there as well, and perhaps add a bit more elegance by shedding some of the bulky blocks. Still a few things TBD...(to be destroyed!)

One thing we'll do for sure is replacing the casters. We already have some ideas on how this could be done, so we'll cover about this in the next posts.

We'll try our best to keep you all posted! grin grin
Just wondering if there is any update on this piano restoration project?
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