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Joined: May 2021
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First time poster!

So I've always wanted an upright piano and one finally landed my way by coincidence - it's a Finnish-made Fazer from 1971. These pianos often had plywood/laminated soundboards and are generally not much to speak of I guess (?) but this particular model has a regular solid spruce soundboard as well as a Renner action - and a majestic bass register - so I kind of fell for the thing and decided I want to keep this piano and have it tuned.

It hasn't been played -that- much and there are no dysfunctional or stuck keys, but being 50 years old it will need a bit of looking after - and at this point I'd like to note, I realize this piano will never be a Steinway and does have a couple of cracks across the soundboard as well (I couldn't spot any extra noises though and it all seems to be very firmly in contact with the ribs) but I'm mainly looking to make it a nice, playable living room piano without it costing me too much.

Anyway, I wanted to ask about fixes which I could do myself - I will leave tuning etc. to a professional of course, but I like fixing things and would like to do some repairs my self, I might even learn something about the mechanics while I'm at it.

So I noticed the most-played mid register has the keys sitting a little lower than the rest and would like to even them out. The key dip on them feels a bit too short. A couple of years ago I did this to a Rhodes electric piano, and while an acoustic piano will be a much much more complex creature than a Rhodes, I'm under the impression that sorting out the key dip issues will be a very similar thing, with the keys sitting on balance and front pins, am I right?

Next, I would like to order some of the stackable "paper washers" that go on the key pins as well as felts (best to replace these at the same time I assume?) from within the EU and would like to ask:


- Can you guys recommend an online shop in Europe which would have a good selection of piano spare parts and which doesn't sell just to businesses?

- While I'm ordering the paper washers and felts, are there some other relatively simple fixes that I could do myself - such as, applying oil to some parts of the mechanics or perhaps replacing something in regard to the hammer tips? If there are, I'll order some other parts at the same time as well.


If there are more complex issues to sort out (but ones that don't require taking apart the whole piano) I will leave those to a professional.

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There is no place for oil in that piano action. You may want to polish the pins the keys ride on, and the "washers" are called punchings. The middle of a piano usually gets more play than the ends, so the keys commonly settle lower in the middle. You will do best with a straight-edge that goes from end to end of the keyboard and will stand on the front of the keys. You can prop the end keys at their present height, (a stack of washers on the front pins that will keep them from depressing will do this). Determine the punchings that will give the proper height by finding out which color allows you to put two of them between the straight-edge and the key-top, since they go under the middle of the key. If you have a lot of lost-motion, this won't leave a very good result. So, take up the lost motion, first.

If it hasn't been played that much, I don't think you need worry about changing parts. What you will want to do is regulate the action, and there are lots of threads you may search up here and elsewhere for that.

On balance, I usually find that the customer's attempts at self-work on their piano only raises the cost of me fixing it by 25% or so.
Regards,

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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
I usually find that the customer's attempts at self-work on their piano only raises the cost of me fixing it by 25% or so.

I hear you. I have a lot of respect for piano tuner-technicians' craft and wouldn't want to mess up the piano in any case, but I figured I may have some understanding on how the key balancing / key dip thing works (if I just take my time with it and do a little more research beforehand) so it might be a fix I'd like to get started with myself, even if I leave everything else to professionals.


Originally Posted by Ed Foote
If you have a lot of lost-motion, this won't leave a very good result. So, take up the lost motion, first.

This is a great tip. I'm going to take a look into adjusting lost motion before proceeding with anything else.

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Lost motion and let-off are the two most important adjustments in an upright, and the most likely to be off. Adjusting them is fairly low risk. Replacing part is much higher risk.


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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
On balance, I usually find that the customer's attempts at self-work on their piano only raises the cost of me fixing it by 25% or so.
Regards,

Ha ha! There's a whole lot of truth in that statement.


David L. Jenson
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Originally Posted by BDB
Lost motion and let-off are the two most important adjustments in an upright, and the most likely to be off. Adjusting them is fairly low risk. Replacing part is much higher risk.

Thank you. Sound advice.

This is not a high-end piano and I got it for free, not saying I want to treat it with neglect - on the contrary - but it would not make much sense for me to spend hundreds on a repair, so I'm eager to learn about it a little first, and try and do some light 'preliminary' work on the instrument before hiring a tuner-technician (which I will do).

Good pointers everyone.

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So I'm finding out that I should not remove the back touch unless there's a real reason to. I will gladly leave it alone. I won't start on the piano until I have some more understanding on the do's and don'ts.

What about the green front baize washers and the smaller red felt washers around the middle pins - is it better to just leave them alone as well (instead of replacing with brand new ones) if they are still in a relatively ok shape? (=So that I won't mess with the original key height settings by accident)

...I would then just use the lowest and highest keys as guidelines for key height (maybe compensate/add just a tiny amount, as they have probably lowered a little 50 years as well? At least my initial feeling is that the whole thing could have a little more key dip) and work from that, following Ed Foote's straight-edge instructions above.

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It will pay you to get a copy of the Arthur Reblitz or John Bishop piano manual ...


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Howard Pianos has some DIY video's on YouTube that you should watch before diving in too much.

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Originally Posted by Withindale
It will pay you to get a copy of the Arthur Reblitz or John Bishop piano manual ...

thumb


Originally Posted by TBell
Howard Pianos has some DIY video's on YouTube that you should watch before diving in too much.

I actually stumbled upon some of these just the other day, great stuff. I'm thinking I really want to leave most of the stuff (and tuning of course) to a trained professional, as I think the piano is quite nice with its solid build, Renner action and ballsy tone. I even like the understated, boxy looks - though I do hate the fact it's mostly chipboard, with one cracked corner. frown

Here's what I'm thinking about doing myself, in this order:


Inspect the insides once more in bright daylight, so I don't spot any "deal breaker" issues (making further repairs futile) like a cracked bridge
Adjust lost motion
Adjust letoff if it looks like it needs adjusting (to be honest I might just leave this alone and have a pro adjust later, if needed)
Take note of original key height (assuming lowest, highest are very close), remove keys, a couple at a time I'm assuming, polish pins as needed
Level the keys (I will not achieve 100% perfection here and that's ok)
Leave all the felt punchings / felt washers intact (=don't buy new ones)
Adjust key dip


I wouldn't want to overdo any of the above, so if I see something is already working well or I don't know what to do to improve it - I will rather leave it alone than try something at random, and just have a professional tell me whether he/she feels it needs something to be done. Let me know if you spotted anything wrong with that list.



Couple of questions:

I have a small bag of pink paper punchings left, with no marking on the bag, which height are those in millimeters? Howard pianos mentions "seven thousands of an inch" and I'm trying to figure out, which size it is in mm, this website for example, has four different sizes: https://www.pianoaccessoryshop.co.uk/product/paper-balance-washers/

And if I order, say, one bag of paper punchings, would 0.3mm be a good compromise... I'm assuming I could probably work with these two sizes (combining / stacking on top of each other if necessary)?

Thank you for your patience. wink

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Take several punchings and stack them up until you can measure them with a ruler, then count them and divide the measurement by the punching count. I think my pink punchings are 007".

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Originally Posted by TBell
Take several punchings and stack them up until you can measure them with a ruler, then count them and divide the measurement by the punching count. I think my pink punchings are 007".


Thanks. You're right, this link I found would seem to confirm that: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Balance-Ra...-007-thick-1-000-punchings-/111418127759

In millimeters that should be about 0.18 mm - and another link seems to state the pink ones to be 0.1 mm.

Yep. I'll get some 0.3 mm ones to accompany these thinner ones, so I have two sizes to choose from and stack as needed.


Having a really tough time finding the slightly larger diameter ones (for the front rail, setting key dip) here in Europe though - I have no idea why piano spare parts seem to be so scarce here - can I use the smaller diameter punchings for the front rail as well?

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Originally Posted by SpareKeys
Having a really tough time finding the slightly larger diameter ones (for the front rail, setting key dip) here in Europe though - I have no idea why piano spare parts seem to be so scarce here - can I use the smaller diameter punchings for the front rail as well?


Nevermind, just ordered two assortments of punchings in neat boxes with size-labels, in both diameters and in different thicknesses, just so I get it done properly the first time round - and so I have some spare ones if I need to re-do my Rhodes piano sometime later. The price was ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. Smoke coming out of my ears right now. But I couldn't find them anywhere else even after days of looking, only B2B shops.

It would be very interesting to know why it's like this with piano parts here in Europe. Sigh.

Well, I think I have what I need, thanks again for the pointers, I know this forum is primarily for technicians.

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Originally Posted by SpareKeys
It would be very interesting to know why it's like this with piano parts here in Europe. Sigh.

Well, I think I have what I need, thanks again for the pointers, I know this forum is primarily for technicians.

It does sometime seem that the piano industry is like some mediaeval guild system where normal people are not allowed:-). There is a piano industry in China that works differently so perhaps something like this? PunchingsOnAlexpress

If you haven't used it before I think of AliExpress as a sort of Chinese Amazon. I have been ordering things from there for what seems about ten years now and have never had a bad experience myself, although you often have to be prepared to wait a few weeks for the goods but at least the shipping is usually free. Lots of interesting stuff there.

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Originally Posted by gwing
[quote=SpareKeys]
It does sometime seem that the piano industry is like some mediaeval guild system where normal people are not allowed:-). There is a piano industry in China that works differently so perhaps something like this? PunchingsOnAlexpress

If you haven't used it before I think of AliExpress as a sort of Chinese Amazon. I have been ordering things from there for what seems about ten years now and have never had a bad experience myself, although you often have to be prepared to wait a few weeks for the goods but at least the shipping is usually free. Lots of interesting stuff there.

Good tip! Phew, these prices are certainly -very- different from what I just paid for a bunch of paper pieces...... Basically just trying to forget about it now, lol...

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I'm inspecting the piano more closely here and I just wanted to check something with you guys.

This part (it's the treble bridge am I correct?) has some side-to-side cracking in the wood near the metal pins - to my eyes it only looks to be shallow, on the surface, but I wanted to check if it's something more serious? In the second pic you can see that the crack doesn't reach any deeper in the block - and there are no vertical cracks anywhere, either.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]





Another one, on the underside of the keybed:

[Linked Image]

...but this shouldn't have anything to do with the functionality of the instrument, right?

And as I mentioned earlier, there are soundboard cracks as well (quite long ones, even) in this 50-year-old piano that has seen many winters and summers, but everything seems to be very firmly connected to the ribs and I can't hear any resonances or such. I read somewhere they are very common and best left alone if there are no issues.

So just looking for some peace of mind, I suppose.

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Yeah, it's treble bridge.

ok seriously, that crack is not good, you may end up with a non-functioning piano, but it's hard to say when that will happen, it needs repair, may not be cheap.

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That is the bass bridge, there is still side bearing and it's laminated. I would not worry about it. Same with the keybed, nothing to worry about.


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I somewhat didn't notice it is laminated, it is less of a problem in this case

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Originally Posted by accordeur
That is the bass bridge, there is still side bearing and it's laminated. I would not worry about it. Same with the keybed, nothing to worry about.


That is very reassuring, you made my day, thanks.


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