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More Piano Restorations
In 1876, this 6'6" piano left the Bluthner factory in Austria as a rosewood piano. As often happens on older pianos, as fashions change and pianos change hands, things get changed. What started out as rosewood eventually became black, and then the last owner got a can of white oil paint and a brush and painted it white. The piano had been through several refurbishments over it's life, but they seemed to be cost-conscious rebuilds. The current owner wanted to spare no expense to bring this piano back to it's former glory, which it certainly deserved as one of the world's most respected brands of fine, hand-crafted pianos.
After removing the white paint, then the black paint, we discovered the beautiful underlying rosewood, and the likely reason it was painted black. Missing, chipped and cracked veneer would have made for a costly restoration, so the easy answer was to patch it and paint it black. Since the owner wanted this piano back to it's original splendor, the only answer was to re-veneer the case with new rosewood.
The first step was to repair, patch and level all damage to the case to ensure a structurally sound foundation for the new veneer, bringing the case back to it's original integrity. Then veneer was carefully applied, being sure that the grain followed the the step along the lower rim and folded over the upper edge of the case.
Plates on modern pianos are lowered in from the top of the piano after the frame, soundboard and rim are assembled. In 1876, Bluthner built the frame and soundboard, then attached the plate, and then built the rim around that structure, notching the rim to cover the edge of the plate. This makes removing the plate extremely difficult, which is why during previous rebuilds of the piano, the plate was left in, masked off and painted. By now, the layers of paint were chipping off. Also, not removing the plate made it impossible to repair the cracks in the soundboard. With great difficulty, I was able to remove the plate over 2 days, then repair the soundboard, and strip and refinish the plate. In 1876, iron castings weren't as smooth as modern castings, so the owner wanted the plate filled and leveled, and the correct color was applied to the plate
After nearly 140 years of large bass strings pressing down on the bass bridge, the bridge had tipped forward, compromising the tone af the the bass section. The bridge was removed and re-profiled to create the proper bearing (downward pressure) on the bridge.
With the soundboard and bridge repaired and refinished. and the plate patched, leveled and refinished and back in the piano, it's well on it's way to completion. The trademark blue felt under the strings sets off the unique gold color of the plate, and new strings (right) with nickel plated tuning pins make the interior sparkle and prevent future corrosion.
After making the piano perform like new, the owner wanted to make it look as special as it sounds, so a 2-tone, high polish finish was chosen to make the piano "pop" in any environment. The inside of the rim, the end blocks, and the inside of the fallboard were finished in high polish black, with the Bluthner name in inlaid brass. The original scrolled music rack had been replaced at some point with a plain, flat music rack, so a new scrolled music rack was sourced and finished to match. Naturally, all brass was polished as new, and this piano is truly back to it's original glory.