Sunday, February 26, 2012

Loose hammer head clicks (Watch and listen)

The video will show what a loose hammer head looks and sounds like. It will also show the process of re-gluing the hammer head back onto the hammer shank.

Things to be aware of when making this repair:

1.  The glue joint between the hammer head and hammer shank can be loose but when you wiggle the hammer head you don't feel it wobble.  This will require a specialized tool to remove the head.  You may also want to check for a loose hammer butt dowel, it has a similar sound, but the pitch of the click is a bit higher and more focused or precise.

2.  When pulling the hammer off the shank, be careful not to break the shank (dowel).

3.  After pushing the hammer filled with glue some will seep out. Do not let any glue come into contact with the felt that cushions the hammer shank (in the video this is green yours may be a different color) as it could cause the shank to be glued to this felt and potentially harden the felt causing an additional noise.

4.  Though you can't see in the video, there should be a collar or glue around the hammer shank where the hammer is glued.  Look at the neighboring parts to see what they look like.  The better the collar, the less likely this will be an issue.

Be patient and take your time.  This is one of the easiest repairs to make. Good luck!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sticking Keys

Have you ever had a piano whose keys stuck down when you played them?  This annoying little behavior is often quite easily resolved.  If you look at the front of the key, as you can see in this picture, you will notice the key front appears to be scratched.  Sometimes you will see color, other time just faint lines, on this piano you can see the transfer of black paint to the key front.
Rubbing key slip causing cosmetic damage to key fronts.

Key slip laid face down. A spline has been attached
to the back for correct placement in the piano
When you play the piano you should never rest your thumbs on the keyslip seen removed from the piano and resting face down.  This manufacturer has installed a spline to the back of the keyslip which provides the proper placement when installed and gives the screws a place to hold the keyslip.

Stuck Key

If your keys stay down and you notice the keyslip rubbing the key fronts follow the directions below to correct the problem.

Keyslip screw

1. Remove the keyslip (uprights).  Look under the keys searching for screws, you should see something like this:

There will likely be 3-5 screws, remove these and set them in a safe place.  I like to put them on the keys just above where the screw was removed.

If you have an grand piano you may need to remove the cheek blocks in order to remove the keyslip. Some pianos (Steinway, Baldwin, etc) may require no screws to remove the keyslip, just slide it up.

Keyslip removed exposing the dado and spacer

2. Remove the keyslip, on most pianos uprights and grands you will slide the keyslip up.  On this piano (Kawai) you will need to pull it away from the key fronts.

Look at the picture to the right and notice the half round spacer. This was placed there by the manufacturer to help prevent the issue in the first place, however, they did not use a thick enough material.  I use various different materials,, depending on what I have in my travel kit.  For this repair, I will use a rubber "donut".

Rubber Donut

3. Put a dab of glue on one side of your selected spacer and place it between keys # 44 & 45 which is the center of the keyboard.  FYI this is between E4 and F4 (E & F above middle C)

Donut Glued

Donut set in place

Now it is time to replace the keyslip and test your spacer.  I suggest placing the keyslip in place and adding the screws on at a time checking the notes that were sticking as you go.  If the keys continue to stick, remove the keyslip and add a thicker spacer.  Ideally you want to have a gap between the key fronts and keyslip that is uniform and not bowed out, however it is perfectly acceptable to allow the keyslip to have a bow to prevent your keys from coming into contact with the keyslip.

Check for space between the key front and keyslip.
They should never touch!
Congratulations! You've successfully taken care of your sticky keyslip.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are cool and all but they don't belong anywhere near your piano. When your jacks have "jumped" the key often will move normally, going up and down, however when you look inside you will see no hammer movement.  Check for the placement of the jack, if it looks like the picture to the right, your jack has jumped and will need to be glued into place.

Looking at the first picture you will see a dislodged part in the piano. Take note of the red block of felt in the circled area. This is the top of your jumping jack.

Look at the second picture to see it glued back into place. This loose part we call a "jack" and it drives the hammer to the string.

A quick 8 minute fix if you have good access to the parts and great mechanical dexterity. (Remember to re-seat the jack spring)

This is occasionally a problem with older pianos where hide glue was used in the parts. If you look into your piano and the wooden parts are a similar dark color you may want to check the glue joints for looseness. Often you will hear a click or rustling sound when the notes are played, a classic indication of a loose glue joint or part.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Click after hammer hits the string (Loose butt check)

Have you ever played a key and heard a clicking sound almost immediately after you hear the piano start to sound?  This can be caused by one of a few things:

1. Loose flange screw
2. Loose hammer head
3. Loose hammer butt check dowel.

Something is loose and it needs to be corrected.

To check for loose hammer butt check dowels watch and follow the video.  From detection to repair.

Good luck and keep your butts clean