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#3213796 05/04/22 01:42 PM
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Kernzy Offline OP
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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.

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Sorry for no replies 😢 I’m not sure.

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Greetings,

I would suggest you consider simply changing the finish on the sharps with whatever grade of steel wool leaves the "grit" you are looking for. Replacing the key-tops on a piano has a lot of room for botching. Are you an experienced tech?
Regards,

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I agree, SANDing should be less costly than replacing lol.

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Sand and refinish the black keys as stated above. Steinway, Yamaha, and Baldwin have used different size key sets. I've seen shorter heads on both Baldwin and Steinway, in fact, the two Steinway D's at the university have different size key sets. Circa 1992 has "standard" and Circa 1980 has shorter heads. I don't recommend changing a 47 mm front to 50mm yourself. Many of us send keys out to technicians that are experienced in recovering them. That's what you should do, especially since this is a concert level instrument. Speaking of which, a 60 year old piano with original action parts is due for an action rebuild.

Bob #3214833 05/08/22 12:15 PM
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Yes, the action is due for a rebuild, but it's likely going to run $10k to have everything I want done. In the meantime, you're probably right that sanding them down is probably the safest bet. In my spare time I've been trying to teach myself the piano repair trade, although it's rather difficult to get experience working on pianos, especially when this is the only piano I own and as you said, its a high quality instrument that I wouldn't want to mess up. Perhaps I should buy an old clunker and start there. Thanks for the replies.

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You need not buy an old clunker. There are plenty available for free.


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What don’t you like about the surface of your sharps to begin with? Are they wood with the lacquer wearing off? It really scares to think of your sanding on them.


R.M. Walford

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