It’s been one busy, productive summer. 3 re-builds were completed: a 1912 Steinway O, a 1922 AB Chase, & a 1922 Steinway M. Of these the model O was the most challenging, for it required a bass bridge re-cap in addition to soundboard repairs. This instrument had been re-pinned & strung back in the early 70’s w/ nothing being done to address thequite serious negative bearing issues (more than 5/16″) of the bass bridge or the soundboard cracks. Problems had clearly been encountered before in that an attempt was made to stabilize the bridge cap from being pulled loose from the upward pressure exerted by the strings by installing screws in the worst areas. A complete re-cap, re-pin of the enitre bass bridge was thus necessary. In the end the piano came out w/ a smooth, even tone across the keyboard. It’s soundboard had several cracks but still had excellent bearing (w/ exception of the bass bridge).
By far, the Chase grand had the most soundboard issues. There were approx 8 – 10 cracks, large and small, w/ rib separation. Spruce shims were used to repair the largest and System 3 epoxy for the smallest. Before that, however, the ribs had to be glued back to the the s. board above using special clamps for the process. The original plate finish was in such bad shape that re-guilding was necessary; there were areas where the orig. bondo-like filler was coming loose – along with numerous scratches, dings. Renner hammers, shanks, flanges were used and helped the instrument really come alive in the end with great sustain & ‘bloom’. The dampers, at first, seemed almost hopeless but cleaned up to reveal a lovely burl walnut which looked great teamed up with crimson-backed damper felt. The owner decided to leave the inside rim, along with the fall board, mahogany and ebonize the rest of the cabinet for an interesting 2 tone effect.
The Steinway M had only 2 minor cracks in the soundboard which were easily repaired. The original pinblock had been repinned in the 1980’s w/ # 4 & 5 tuning pins and thus needed repacement. After the repaired & refinished soundboard came out so nicely, it was decided to spray the plate with steinway gold and to replace the agraffs. Pinblock aside, the biggest issue this particular piano had was entire sections of veneer on the cabinet were loose and literally falling off at the mearest touch. It looked like the case had suffered either water or intense sun damage at some point. Getting the proper bearing was challenging, also, in that the litttle dowels that the plate rests on were already trimmed down to almost level with the s. board; this was circumvented by grinding off some from the plate’s footings – esp., around the bass bridge which had little or no bearing contact. The hammers/ shanks had been replaced with genuine steinway parts so they were left in place.
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Alexander D’Von Boggs
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