This 9 foot Baldwin SD-10 concert grand from 1977 is located in the Levi Graft Recording Studio in Connellsville, PA. It has seen quite some action over the years, including being played by Jorge Bolet. The action was very worn out. By the end of this restoration process, this piano will be ready to serve for classical recordings of the highest caliber. We are very happy with the result so far.
Here's an audio sample from before the work was done:
Scroll down to hear a sample of the result!
The hammers are played down and flat. This causes them to excite an unfavorable mixture of harmonics when striking the strings, resulting in a thin, ugly, tinny sound. ----- The felts on the whippen saddles were quite compressed as well, so we decided to replace them for a smoother touch.
The caliber of breakfast required for a job of this complexity. Can't beat the Hometown Diner of Connellsville, PA. God Bless America.
Steaming out the old key bushings.
The process of replacing key bushings, which line the mortises that guide the keys on the front and balance rail pins of the keyframe. These wear out after years of heavy use and cause the touch to feel quite sloppy.
The finished front and balance rail key bushings. These were glued with warm hide glue so they can be easily steamed out and replaced years down the line.
Replacing the whippen flange center pins as well as the jack center pins. These were loose and constantly sliding out of position, severely inhibiting the functionality of the action. ----- Cleaning the saddle and preparing to glue new felt.
New felt on the underside of the whippen saddles.
The old hammers and shanks. ----- The new hammers (Abel Special Pressing) loaded onto a bench vise for deep-needle pre-voicing and subsequent shaping. The hammer must be elastic on the sides and solid at the crown to maximize its dynamic range.
Installing the new shanks, using the old hammers to guide the spacing. ----- Gluing the new hammer heads onto the shanks. Hide glue is optimal because of its rigidity, causing it to reflect rather than absorb vibrations.
Glued in bass and tenor hammers.
The glued hammers. A slight V curve is visible where the hammer line needed to be modified to optimize the strike point. ----- Shaping the tails of the hammers to accommodate standard backcheck configuration.
Outside Bud Murphy's of Connellsville, PA for a good meal, good company, and some beer.
Using an alcohol lamp to heat up the shanks, allowing for perfect alignment of the hammer to its blow axis. ----- Adjusting the springs. Just a few examples of the many steps required to regulate a piano action.
The final filing of the hammers in order make sure they are hitting the strings squarely. ----- The serial number of this instrument.
After a final tuning, we tested it out. We were extremely pleased with the result. The hammers are only pre-voiced and already sounding great, and after they are broken in the voicing needs to be touched up. Next upgrade will be replacing the damper felts.
This is what it sounds like with the work done so far: