The touch of the piano is the connection between player and instrument. The key must translate the energy from player's fingers and hands into sound. A finely functioning piano action gives control to the pianist so they can use the palette of sound and volume. When there is excess wear in the piano action the touch becomes indistinct. With correct analysis of action geometry, a piano action can be restored to as new or better than new condition. Leverages with the action stack have to support the basic piano action design. Touch is the combination of balanced forces within the mechanics of the action and how that collaborates with the performers artistic sense.
A piano may have a touch weight that is heavy or light depending on the make, action style and action geometry. The choice of hammer,key weights and other elements of the piano action will influence the touch weight. Also the level of friction within the piano action can inhibit the perception of touch. The types of materials within the piano action can modify touch weight and friction levels. All is taken into account when choosing piano action parts or rebuilding procedures. The touch must supply moderate weight while staying responsive.
Piano action rebuilding includes the installation of new piano action assembly parts such as the hammers and hammer shanks, repetitions and possibly the dampers and under levers. After the new piano action design has been studied, the parts are installed with great care. Being made from organic materials such as wood, felt, leather and silk, each piece is slightly different, and must be individually installed with meticulous attention to detail.
Restringing the bass section of the piano is the easiest and most effective way to improve the overall tone. If the bass strings are 25 years old they have probably lost some presence and dimension of sound. Bass strings are compound strings, steel wrapped with copper. They deteriorate more quickly than the plain wire of the mid and high treble. All stringed instruments need new strings occasionally. If you are personally acquainted with this concept as a guitarist or violinist would be, no further convincing is needed. Heritage instruments can be rescaled to modern standards. This means that the wire sizes and alloys can be altered to produce consistency.
The pianist's relationship with the piano begins with the key. The key moves on two stationary pins that guide the key travel. The key pin bushings wear and keys can become loose. This affects perception of touch and changes the feeling of stability on the key. Keys with worn key pin bushings feel wobbly, loose and unstable. They might lean slightly or even click against the next key. Key frame rebuilding includes replacement of key pins when necessary and replacement of key pin bushings. Replacement of back rail, front rail and balance rail felt cloth is a valuable part of key frame rebuilding. An experienced pianist listens with his fingers and plays with his ear. Touch translates to sound through the sensitivity of the key.
Refelting is the replacement of felts within the piano action, damper action and pedal lyre. This includes the keyframe, piano action, pedal mechanism and cabinet parts. Refelting is often a generic term referring to the replacement of any damaged materials such as leather, silk, cloth, felt pads, or other fabric. We use fabric from many sources. To maintain a piano's authenticity we purchase bulk felt supplies from German, American or Canadian supply houses. Specific parts for models still currently in production may be obtained from factory locations in Japan, New York, Austria and Germany.
Ivory is a substance banned from import into Canada. I support the ban on ivory imports. I have collected and recycled piano ivory since the 1970's. Chips in ivory can be replaced using matched chips from old ivory keyboards. In this way I can maintain an old keyboard without causing any ivory to be harvested. Often plastic key tops are also referred to as ivory. I can repair or replace plastic "ivories" with either individual replacements or replacements of whole sets. The sharps can also be replaced in like manner.
Piano restoration is more the "spit and polish" method of piano maintenance. This does not include piano action rebuilding but more the restoration of original parts. The cabinet can be refinished for a final touch. A piano that was once unplayable can be made to look like new and be very pleasant to play, much improved from its present status. Cabinet refinishing is an integral part of piano refurbishing. I use George Marioni at "Top Drawer Finishing Inc." George and his staff are experts at restoring the exterior cabinet surfaces of all makes of pianos. I can provide copies of original nameplates and cabinet decals. The vintage qualities of these decals are as new.