Conservation

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Steinway Grand Piano

January 25, 2015

Specifications:

Steinway Model A Grand Piano #67453
Date of mfg. 1890
Major restoration 2014
Condition: Excellent
Price $25,000.00. SOLD

Size: 6-foot
Mahogany
Compass AAA-a”” ( 85 notes )

Restoration Details:
New Sitka spruce soundboard; new maple tuning plank; new bridge caps.
New strings; new tuning pins; new damper felt.
New hammers; new shanks and flanges; new repetitions; new key coverings.
Refinished in hand-rubbed lacquer.
Warranty: 10 years parts and labor

Restorer: Ken Eschete dba Bentside Arts
RPT member Piano Technicians Guild
Professional Associate member American Institute for Conservation (AIC)
Graduate Steinway Academy
Director of Keyboard Maintenance (retired); Northwestern University School of Music

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Steinway Model A 1890.

Price $ 25,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2009 while on contract at Jenkin Piano in New Zealand, I participated in the rebuilding of the 1903 8ft Ibach grand that had formerly been in the drawing room of the Sisters of Mercy convent, where Dame Sister Mary Leo taught. The brief was for us to rebuild this heritage instrument to performance standard so it could be used at Auckland’s St Patrick’s Cathedral.

This was a major rebuild which included a new soundboard, tuning plank and bridges. Major technical problems had to be overcome, not least of which was the original poor design of the capo bar – a part of the frame.

The treble of this piano can never have been great as the capo bar was made of wood, with steel wire embedded in it – all sitting on a layer of lead. As you can see from the photos, over the years the force of the treble strings had crushed the wood, resulting in the strings being muted by the timber. Astonishingly, the piano had been restrung and left like this.

To solve the problem we designed new capo bars, good string approach clearances and a functional capo radius, as well as correcting the hammer strike line. We had CAD drawings made of the replacement bars and used a 3D printer to create 1.5-percent oversize “masters”. Then we used the masters to cast the new capo bars in phosphor bronze. The underside of the frame needed to be machined to accommodate the new bars. This was certainly not conservation work, as parts of the original iron frame were destroyed in the process.

Completing the rebuild: We adjusted the tenor string scaling by adding new wound strings and added specially-manufactured hammer shanks. We also used NWG adjustable frame fixtures to fasten the frame and refreshed the cabinet polish. It is unfortunate that some of the original decorative elements of the iron frame were lost while I was back in the USA.

A unusual feature of this 19th century instrument’s design is that the una corda (shift) pedal moves the keyboard to the bass side, not the treble side. Interestingly, a pianist who had been playing the piano for a while hadn’t noticed until I pointed it out. So although technically not very unusual, it doesn’t seem to worry players.

It is particularly pleasing to hear this instrument now being used at the cathedral again.
Christine was the choir director and we were both at the concert celebrating it’s return.

See photos of the rebuild below