I have a 1961 Steinway B and I am considering replacing the keytops, which I believe are original. At this point, I only want to replace the sharps, but may in the future do the naturals as well. I am a bit of a hobbyist as well so I plan on doing this myself.
1. Does anyone know if Steinways during this period used plastic for the sharps or could they possibly be a lacquered wood? I'm having difficulty identifying them. They don't appear to have any grain whatsoever. They are not glossy, but they are also not a matte finish either (perhaps just worn?)
2. I've seen various options for the sharp keys including real ebony or gloss/matte plastic. Another option i've seen is something listed as "German plastic." I am confused as to what "German" plastic means.
3. The reason I want to change them is that I would prefer a little more "grit" on the key surface.
4. If in the future I decide to also change the naturals, I am curious if it is possible, without large alterations to the action itself, to use naturals with slightly longer heads. When I bought this piano, it was partially restored, but the action and keyboard are all original. As such, it seems the white tops are slightly shorter than what seems to be the current standard. By my measurements, the heads on my piano's naturals are 47mm or around 1 7/8", where as a Yamaha I measured and my digital piano have 50mm or 2" heads for the naturals. This seems like a relatively small discrepancy, although truth be told I would rather have a modern key size and feel throughout the piano. Since the smallest size I am aware of is the 50mm, I'm assuming you would have to file them to get them to fit. I suppose my question is could I get them to fit without altering them?
Thank you for any insight.