This has probably been discussed before but I keep seeing it on almost ALL rebuilt grands. Tuning a 1904 S&S "B" restored today but with original soundboard and bridges. The stringing and action work is next to impeccable and the rubbed finish is flawless. But, all the agraffes have the gold paint just hanging off the edges. Yuck! Is there no need to update this? I always replace them whenever restringing to hopefully correct any termination issues from worn string points of contact. It's not a involved procedure and it look good when it's all done. I've seen one rebuilder use bullet casings over the agraffes to protect from painting. Seems to me it's a point tragically missed in the process.
Many will recondition the original agraffes since new ones require the same kind of pre-installation treatment, anyway (refer to Paul Revenko-Jones' article in the Journal
about agraffe reconditioning). A select few even go so far as to electroless nickel plate their agraffes for wear resistance and low friction, or even machine custom agraffes out of steel.
What pre installation treatment do you mean for new agraffes? Is it the shim process? Yes, I do remember that article but I'll have to refresh myself. I'm still wondering why an important point in tone termination is over looked so often. Same goes for string wear against bridge pins and their not as soft as the brass. Maybe I'm just too picky.
The article is way too in-depth to fully cover, so I recommend reading it yourself, but R-J basically says that it's usually not worth it to buy new agraffes because they still require the same amount of prep that used agraffes do. His reconditioning process, if you want to call it that, entails buffing the outside of the agraffes on a buffing wheel, cleaning residue from the holes and exterior with Noxon 7 metal polish, and then reaming the holes at high speed using Foredom tool, Q-tips, and Flitz. This last step reprofiles the holes for optimal performance. Pictures are included, so go have a look!
If you want to read about EN plating agraffes, just do an advanced search for Ron Overs' old posts on the subject (image, here: http://overspianos.com.au/more_info.htm
). He has also used custom steel agraffes: http://www.overspianos.com.au/BG7.htm