Old serial numbers & other markings

Old serial numbers & other markings

 This serial number on an old Jacob Bros. upright traces to 1907! Serial numbers are sometimes hard to find, but typically on American uprights and grands they can be found in a plate cutout like this, somewhere in the tuning pin area. Even more interesting here are the dates etched into the plate above the serial number. In days gone by technicians would often write or etch the date of each service call. Hopefully 1930 was not the last time this piano was tuned! ...
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Plastic parts – not as bad as you might think

Plastic parts – not as bad as you might think

If you tell people their piano has plastic parts, most don't think of that as a good thing. When plastics first became mainstream in manufacturing in the 20th century, they were used in all kinds of ways they should not have been and have a bad track record for durability. Early plastics became brittle very quickly and had poor shelf life. However, in recent years a number of piano manufacturers have developed advanced polymers that are used for specific action components and are actually more durable than wood. They are also far less susceptible to seasonal temperature and humidity swings, helping the piano's regulation remain stable longer. This picture is of a "plastic" repetition jack in a Yamaha upright that's just a couple years old. For decades this part would have been made out of wood. It is a quality part though and no cause for concern! You'll notice other parts are still made of wood and metal; it all depends on...
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Stencil pianos – what are you actually getting?

Stencil pianos – what are you actually getting?

This is a great example of what is known as a "stencil" piano. The name "Brahms" appears on the front of the piano, but in fact the plate (visible in the background) is stamped with Winter & Company, the actual manufacturer of the piano. I couldn't find any background information on this particular customer's piano, but it was very common in the mid-1900's for piano stores, dealers, and others to have a run of pianos manufactured by an established company with the dealer's name stamped on the front. Winter & Co. was one of the larger piano manufacturers in the 1940's, when this piano was built, and had arrangements like this with dozens of companies over the years. If you own a piano with a name on the front that is unfamiliar and hard to find any information on, one possible explanation is that it's a stencil. They are not necessarily inferior pianos; it just depends, of course, on the company that...
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Rust comparison – a dead giveaway in pianos

Rust comparison – a dead giveaway in pianos

Compare the tuning pins in these two pianos. They are around the same age and both are school pianos. I advised the music teacher that the one on top was very concerning because of the amount of corrosion. Rust on strings and tuning pins is always a red flag! Having another piano around of similar age and design helped demonstrate the problem in this case. Often piano owners don't notice rust or corrosion in their piano because it looks "normal" to them or they don't ever look inside their instrument. Sometimes you can learn a lot just by a quick look! ...
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Social Media Links

Social Media Links

Approximately twice a week, I post pictures of pianos I have worked on, usually focusing on a specific aspect of piano care, maintenance, or repair. Sometimes they're educational, sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're scary, and sometimes just plain interesting. If you're a pianist or a piano owner, follow South Jersey Piano Service on Instagram and Facebook! You'll learn more about these incredibly complex instruments, and you'll be better informed when you have your own piano serviced. And of course, if you live in South Jersey, you'll know who to call! www.instagram.com/sjpianoservice www.facebook.com/sjpianoservice ...
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Tuning pin problems – watch out for this!

Tuning pin problems – watch out for this!

Besides the rust, there is another problem with this picture. The wire coiled around each tuning pin is flush against the plate. This happens after several decades of tuning and settling, and is largely unavoidable. Once the coil is touching the plate, tightening the tuning pins is difficult and the piano's tuning stability can suffer. Eventually the tuning pins have to be replaced with a slightly larger size, at which point it usually is most sensible to simply re-string the entire instrument because of the labor involved. Fortunately, this piano was about to get re-strung anyway! ...
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Steinway M Grand Piano

Steinway M Grand Piano

1969 Steinway & Sons model M (5'7") Henry Steinway, a German immigrant, founded the Steinway company in 1853. It quickly became one of the leading piano manufacturers, and for the past century Steinway pianos have been the instrument of choice for a majority of performing artists. All Steinway instruments are still manufactured by hand in one of two factories: New York City (supplying North and South America) and Hamburg, Germany (supplying the rest of the world). ...
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Improper Repairs – you get what you pay for!

Improper Repairs – you get what you pay for!

This is what happens when bass strings are replaced improperly! The copper winding around each bass string must terminate at an exact point relative to the length of the string and the geometry of the piano. Notice the copper winding in this picture that extends too far, continuing on past the bearing pin, which separates the winding and makes the string nearly untunable. The separated winding also deadens the tone significantly. Since all pianos are slightly different in measurements, copper-wound bass strings typically have to be custom ordered. This is slightly more time-consuming and costs a few dollars more, but as you can see, it is the only option if you want the job done right. ...
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