Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Andrea, Can You Tell Us What Happens To Pianos As They Age?

Andrea's Piano Strings

What can happen to pianos
after time?

you're asking the right question
as I am a piano
that is 142 years old!

Many, many things can happen,
even to the finest pianos,
when they age.

As pianos are made of wood,
things can happen.
Some pianos can suffer many dents,dings and scratches
over the years.
Some pianos may need refinishing.
Pianos, such as myself,
can have many ornate moldings.
With time,
some of the moldings may have gotten chipped or damaged.
Some of the moldings
may even be missing.

I have a round stain.
At some point in time
one of my previous pianist owners
kept a house plant on me.
The plant got overwatered,
so did I.

Elderly pianos may have missing hammers or felts.
I have both of these problems.

Older pianos
may also have ivories
that have yellowed.
Sometimes the ivory
is chipped or cracked.
Some of my ivory is missing.
And some of my ivory
has actually fallen inside.

it's only older pianos
that actually have ivory keys.
Ivory hasn't been used on a piano keyboard
since 1972,
due to ivory laws.
Since 1972 pianos have plastic keys.

I, however,
have my original ivory keyboard.

And now,
let's talk about strings.
Most modern day pianos
have 88 keys,
though some square grand pianos before me
had 61 keys.
Eighty-eight keys is pretty standard now.
And each key has 3 strings.
The average life for strings and mechanisms
is about 50 years.
Sometimes a string will break
or there are other problems,
but for the most part
we can expect strings to last 50 years.

I have my original strings.
Though out of tune,
I am playable.
My pianist owner
doesn't want to have me tuned
for fear that the excess tension
will cause the strings to break.

my strings have lasted
almost 3 times longer
that what is normal.
This, indeed,
is yet another testament
as to what a fine instrument
a Steinway piano really is.

my strings are old.
They need to be replaced,
as do my hammers, felts
and pin block.

I am a very special piano
with very special needs.
Please stop and take a few moments
to think of ways
you can help me
reach my goal
of a complete restoration.
In the weeks to come
I'll be offering several suggestions.
For now, though,
you have some idea
as to what can happen to pianos
as they age.

Historically yours,
The Piano.

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