Bringing a Steinway Back to Life

Today we are beginning the journey of partially restoring a Steinway Model M baby grand piano manufactured in 1917. The piano has run in the owner's family since the 1940s but hasn't been played very much. I am going to be partially restoring this instrument - installing a brand new set of strings and tuning pins, new felt, cleaning the instrument, and reshaping the hammers.

As you can see in the pictures, the piano was just a tad bit dusty! The strings sound old and dead, certainly not the Steinway sound!

One of the first steps is to take the tension off the strings gradually, and you can see the strings are already a little loose. With 100 trips around the sun, the felt on this piano is showing it's age; you can see how it has cracked and broken down. So, to return it to beauty we will replace that too!

Here, we have de-tuned the strings and removed them completely. You can see just how much dust gathers under the strings on the bridges after 100 years.

When the strings are on the piano, it can be pretty difficult to clean the soundboard. Every little thing that is on the soundboard effects the tone, even dust! So now that we have all these strings off we can work on cleaning and polishing the soundboard to a like-new condition. That will make a huge difference not only in the sound, but the appearance as well. You can see that hiding under the layer of gunk, there is beautiful woodworking just waiting to be revealed!

Steinway is particularly proud of their craftsmanship, as they ought to be! You can see on the soundboard they've not only inscribed their logo, but they've also listed some of the royalties they manufacture pianos to. As someone with a great interest in history, particularly military history, I think this particularly fascinating.

In 1917, when this was manufactured, the Great War was raging all across the globe. Often called the Year of Revolutions, 1917 saw the rise of the Soviet Union, the execution of the Romanovs and marked the beginning of the end for the Ottoman and German Empires. If you look at the inscription, you can see that Steinway was manufacturers by appointment to His Majesty William II of Germany, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and Sultan Abdul Hamid II of Turkey, along with other big names such as George V of England and Alfonso XIII of Spain.

We've began to bring the life back into this Steinway, but the work isn't done yet! We still have to install the new strings, do some more cleaning, and work on the action over the next few days. Take a look at your own piano, perhaps you have wonderful treasure sitting in your living room as well, that just needs a loving touch from a skilled technician.

Stay tuned (pun-intended) for more pictures as this project progresses. If you'd like to have your piano cleaned and brought back to life, contact us here.