Top: before and after hammer reshaping. This can’t make the hammers new again, but can restore some of the tone, even out the sound, and improve sustain. In this case, it was a helpful measure on an old piano where replacing hammers wasn’t currently in the budget. In a perfect world, this should be done every few years on all hammers, especially on high quality or heavily used instruments. Bottom: new hammers on a 100-year-old upright. This is the ideal solution for this age instrument, where the original hammers really have nothing left to give. Many people do not realize that hammer quality and maintenance are some of the biggest factors in the tone quality of a piano! They are worth everything you put into them.
Many people are not aware that there are actually major differences between “spinet” pianos and other upright pianos. Spinets are the shortest of upright pianos (generally less than 40″ tall), and the small size has other compromises built in, but by far the most significant is what’s known as the drop action. In all other upright pianos, the back end of the key pushes upward against the action mechanism, propelling the hammer toward the strings. In a spinet, as you can see in this picture, the back ends of the keys are actually attached to lifter rods, which drop down below the keybed, connect to the elbow and a special lever which transfers the movement to the action and the hammer. A drop action is a somewhat more complicated and less efficient way of transferring energy from the key to the hammer, but at one time was considered a worthwhile… Read More
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!