Pianos Inside Out - A Comprehensive Guide to Piano Tuning, Repairing and Rebuilding

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Pianos Inside Out - A Comprehensive Guide to Piano Tuning, Repairing and Rebuilding

In Tune Press, LLC, a publisher focused on music education and technology, is pleased to announce Pianos Inside Out, a new book by Mario Igrec, an award-winning pianist, piano technician, and rebuilder. Igrec takes an in-depth look at the history, design, and maintenance of the piano, and provides practical guidance to anyone who wants to learn how to tune, repair, regulate, voice, rebuild, or improve the action performance of pianos. The reader will discover how to evaluate the piano, assess what is needed, and develop a rebuilding plan. He or she will learn how to restore a keyboard and action, select and install new hammers, rebuild dampers, restring the piano, replace its pinblock, repair the soundboard, regild the plate, and refinish the case.

Covering a wide range of concepts, from introductory to advanced, Pianos Inside Out puts between two covers all the advancements and understanding gained by the piano industry over the last 30 years. It provides a coherent, in-depth view of that much-needed information, including such topics as:

- Wave impedance and soundboard performance

- Coincident partial tuning

- Interval inharmonicity

- Touchweight analysis

- String leveling

- Modern lubricants

Pianos Inside Out is written for hobbyists, students, and piano technicians, but it will also help pianists and owners of pianos to better understand their instruments and to communicate more effectively with their technicians. The book is full of clear, concise, step-by-step instructions, and more than 700 illustrations and diagrams. Featuring “Myth/Truth” boxes, and enhanced by multiple sidebars, tables, worksheets, and troubleshooters, the book is “very articulate, yet has a casual readability and isn’t off-puttingly wordy or overly complicated or presumptuously definitive” (Allen Wright, RPT, consulting technician and restorer for Steinway & Sons London, John Broadwood & Sons, and Period Piano Company).

Many books in this genre present a simplistic view of piano work, encouraging a casual and sometimes careless do-it-yourself attitude. Pianos Inside Out presents more accurate descriptions of—and warnings about—the complexities and pitfalls one is likely to encounter in this work, providing an “introduction to the profession and the scope of work involved that might encourage some people to become techs and others to forget about it” (Laurence Libin, Editor-in-Chief, Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments).

Pianos Inside Out isn’t merely a book of recipes that regurgitates instructions from service manuals—rather, it shows how to create one’s own recipes. In addition to suggesting methods and specifications, Igrec discusses the reasons for and the dependencies among various aspects of design, regulation, tuning, and voicing, thus enabling the reader to draw his or her own conclusions while gaining a deep understanding of this complex subject.

About the Author

Mario Igrec, a native of Croatia, taught piano technology and served as piano technician during his eight-year tenure at Louisiana State University. As an independent concert technician and master rebuilder, he has serviced and rebuilt many pianos in southern Louisiana, and has worked for Richard Goode, Jon Kimura Parker, Garrick Ohlsson, and other renowned pianists. Himself an award-winning pianist, with a Master of Music degree from SUNY Stony Brook, Igrec brings to the field a unique perspective that bridges piano technology and pianism.

Table of Contents

 Acknowledgments  ix

 About the Author  xiii

 Introduction  xv

How to Use This Book  xvi

Online Resources  xvi

Patent Search  xvi

Precautions  xvi

Materials and Products  xvii

Terminology  xvii

Conventions  xviii

 

Chapter 1: History  1

The Early Piano  1

Rising Popularity 1760–1800  8

Advances in Technology 1800–1850  11

Almost Modern 1850–1900  13

Steinway since 1880  16

Market Trends  16

 

Chapter 2: Construction and Design  19

Overview of Construction  19

Structure  24

Generating Sound  33

Strings  33

Bridges  36

Soundboard  43

Plate  50

The Piano Mechanism  57

Keyboard  58

Piano Action  63

Piano Hammers  70

Dampers, Backaction, and Pedals  74

How the Piano Mechanism Works  76

 

Chapter 3: Maintenance  83

Environment  83

Preventing Damage by Insects and Rodents  88

Preventing Corrosion  89

Periodic Maintenance  89

Institutional Maintenance  90

 

Chapter 4: Tuning  93

Theory  94

Inharmonicity  101

Stretch  103

Tuning Technique   107

Choosing a Tuning Hammer  109

Learning to Tune  111

Electronic Tuning  124

Special Tuning Techniques  128

Factors that Affect Tuning  129

 

Chapter 5: Regulating  135

Protection  135

Gaining Access  136

Cleaning the Interior of the Piano  141

Work in the Piano or on the Bench?  141

Guide Notes  142

Friction  142

Grand Action and Keyboard: Evaluating and Preparing for Regulation  148

Regulating Keyboard (Grands and Verticals)  158

Regulating Action  166

Regulating Grand Action  166

Regulating Pedals in Grands  179

Regulating Grand Damper System  180

Regulating Vertical Action, Pedals, and Dampers  189

 

Chapter 6: Voicing  199

Sanding Hammers  200

Strings: Seating and Leveling  202

Mating Hammers to Strings  207

Functioning of the Piano Hammer  208

Preparing for Voicing  208

Voicing Down Dense Hammers  209

Voicing Up the Hammers  216

 

Chapter 7: Repairs   221

Tool Kit  221

Broken String  223

Removing a Piece of Broken Metal  233

Repairing Keys  234

Repairing Action  240

Repairing Dampers  248

Repairing Grand Pedals and Lyre  249

Repairing Vertical Pedals  252

Repairing Cracked Plate  253

Repairing Pinblock  254

Repairing Bridges  256

Repairing Rattling Soundboard  261

Extracting a Broken Agraffe  262

Touching up and Repairing Finish  263

 

Chapter 8: Moving a Grand Piano  267

Music Rack, Fallboard, Key Slip  267

Grand Lids  268

Putting Piano on Skid Board  268

Reassembling the Piano  270

Grand Lyre  271

 

Chapter 9: Touch, Geometry, Playability  273

How to Proceed  274

Force or Weight?  274

Interrelated Aspects of Action and Keyboard  275

Static Touchweight (TW)  276

Action Leverage  279

Hammer Weight  283

Other Weights and Weight Ratios  287

Leads: Measuring and Calculating  295

Inertia  298

Backaction  300

Keeping It All in Perspective  301

Diagnosing Playability Problems  303

Improving Playability  306

 

Chapter 10: Rebuilding  317

Evaluating a Piano  321

Developing a Plan  323

Shop Requirements  327

Equipment and Tools  329

Materials  334

Replacing Felts and Leathers  340

Rebuilding the Keyboard  342

Restoring Key Frame  344

Replacing Key Bushings  347

Replacing Key End Felts  353

Replacing White Key Tops  354

Replacing Sharps  365

Rebuilding Grand Backchecks  368

Rebuilding Grand Action  373

Replacing Wippens and Let off Buttons in Grands  379

Replacing Grand Hammer Shanks  380

Replacing Hammers in Grand Pianos  383

Rough-Regulating a Grand Action  394

Adjusting Touchweight  396

Rebuilding Grand Damper System  400

Rebuilding Vertical Action  408

Measuring String Downbearing  416

Restringing  418

Restringing a Grand Piano  423

Restringing a Vertical Piano  430

Removing the Plate  433

Agraffes: Reconditioning and Replacing  436

Regilding the Plate  439

Replacing Grand Pinblock  440

Rebuilding the Soundboard  457

Rebuilding Bridges  472

Introduction to Refinishing  479

 Appendix A: Troubleshooting  489

Buzzes and Rattles  489

Echo  490

Action Noises  490

Pedal Noises in Grands  492

Pedal Noises in Verticals  493

Missing Notes  494

 Appendix B: Glossary  495

 Appendix C: Selected Bibliography   509

Books, Articles, Videos, Online Resources  509

Journals  516

Online Groups and Forums  516

 Appendix D: Resources  517

 Appendix E: Technicians’ Organizations  523

 Appendix F: Measurement Conversions  525

 Index  527

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