Piano tools

Questions about tools and jigs you want to buy/build/modify.
Steve Senseney
Posts: 673
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Piano tools

Post by Steve Senseney »

This tool is a voicing tool. It really looked cool in the catalog.

It does not work well in practice.
Voicing tool.JPG
Voicing tool.JPG (28.26 KiB) Viewed 3700 times
The problems are that it is bulky. You can't easily get the entire tool around the hammer head. It is not very specific about where you are needling. The needles eventually (and fairly quickly) bend and break off.

Don't buy one.

Steve Senseney
Posts: 673
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Piano tools

Post by Steve Senseney »

To redo the action, I used screwdrivers, pliers, sand paper, chisels and other standard tools any one would have.

There are a lot of other things being sold, many of which are easily made out of a block of wood and a few nails or pieces of wire.

Steve Senseney
Posts: 673
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Piano tools

Post by Steve Senseney »

Electronic tuners-

First, before you buy a tuner, you need to understand stretching the octaves, and why the stretch on a instrument with a certain size and length of strings is different than the next piano which is built differently.

Second- the standard method of tuning consists of muting the center section to a single string, tuning the octave, then using overtones to tune the strings above and below. Then you can tune all of the other strings to unison with all of the strings which you have previously set. At that point, you are done with tuning. You will find that the "beats" are really cool and easy to hear, for a while. As you move lower, the beats are different until it is hard to figure what you are listening to in the bass. As you move higher, the overtones on the higher notes are so high you cannot hear them unless you are a dog.

The point is, an electronic tuner helps a lot to set the temperament, but there is a lot of theory and practice beyond any electronic tuner.

I have the Yamaha PT100. I only tune my own piano, and I generally do it about once a year. (My piano holds tune very well.)

There are tuners which can be downloaded to your hand held electronic device or to your computer. These are as powerful and useful as the Yamaha PT100. I have not personally used them, but I did down load something called "Piano Tuner" for my Samgsung phone. It appears to be as sophisticated as the Yamaha device.

Steve Senseney
Posts: 673
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Piano tools

Post by Steve Senseney »

One other thing I have in my collection is shellac/lacquer sticks. I thought I would repair finishes easily with these. I tried them a little, but never got around to ever repairing a piano with these.
lacquer burn in sticks.JPG
Here is the tool, with several different attachments to facilitate finish repair.
electric burn in knife.JPG

Steve Senseney
Posts: 673
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Piano tools

Post by Steve Senseney »

This is one more tool, a guillotine type of cutter to cut felt in consistent sizes.

Of course I made this with a few screws and a razor blade.
felt guillotine 1.JPG
felt guillotine 1.JPG (28.77 KiB) Viewed 3700 times
felt guillotine 2.JPG
felt guillotine 2.JPG (34.72 KiB) Viewed 3700 times
It works well, and I have used it.

I should mention that I have various supplies of bridle straps, nameboard felt and felt for placing around the pedal wires. I have a few left over pieces of spare dampers and used hammers, and other action pieces of of old pianos. I save old ivory any time I find pieces.

I definitely use my calipers when I am working on the strings to make sure my sizes are correct and when measuring the tuning pins.

I think that about covers my "piano tools".

David King
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Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR
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Re: Piano tools

Post by David King »

Steve,
A fantastic overview to a fantastical world. Just the sheer number of parts (5900+) puts them in their own realm (with some of those crazy accordions).
Do you have the little tuning pin winder that puts the 2.5 turns of string on before you pound in the pin? I haven't restrung a piano yet but that one seems like a handy one to have. I also got a pinblock jack that's supposed to keep the pinblock from splitting out the bottom as you drive the new pins in. My project is on indefinite hold although I was given some hope when I heard that Steinway had a legendary fellow who could restring 4 pianos in a day!

Steve Senseney
Posts: 673
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Piano tools

Post by Steve Senseney »

The string winder is one of the tools I don't own. I suppose I would like it, but I don't have experience with it. If you have it, use it. I managed to get by without it, but my coils are not as pretty as they could have been.


The Pinblock Jack is only for doing grand pianos (as I understand it).

Restringing a piano is not really that hard.

When the old strings are off, the piano is cleaned, my tools are out, the pins are in the pinblock, it probably takes 4 to 6 hours to accomplish.

The high strings are smaller diameter, and easier to bend, cut and install as they are easy to get to.

The middle section involves heavier strings, and these are long enough you have to take them below the key bed area. This involved getting up and down again and again.

The bass strings are really easy to put in place. I try to put a half twist as I install them to keep the windings tight.

The cost of doing the entire restringing is the cost of the bass strings at about $10 per string, and getting all of the different sizes of the unwound strings.

A minor nuisance getting the restringing is putting the understring felt in place. Ordering the proper felt can be confusing, so read carefully and look at your materials on you piano.

Jason Rodgers
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Piano tools

Post by Jason Rodgers »

This is amazing stuff, Steve, and you're into piano work a lot deeper than I had previously known. I watched that Steinway documentary a while ago, and it blew my mind. Sure, there's the construction of the frame and inserting the soundboard and pin blocks... but THEN the real work begins. This is the end of things the repairman has to deal with.

David, are you talking about the piano in your front parlor?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

David King
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Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR
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Re: Piano tools

Post by David King »

Jason that's a 1976 double B which is in almost perfect shape. My family has a little 1910 5' 8" grand in VT that has been in the family since it was new. It needs a complete rebuild. All I've been able to do is replace the felt disks under the keys and now they are terribly out of line because I tossed out all the old paper disks that had mostly turned to dust. It desperately needs new strings and hammers but a new set of whippens, new shanks, new strings, a new pin block and a new soundboard would be nice if I ever get the time to work on it again. It's probably a better instrument in the long run than the modern one but since I don't know how to play either of them it's not really an issue.

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