McGuire Piano Blog

Repairing the bottom board of an upright piano

August 10th, 2019
The bottom board of the piano was completely split rendering pedals unusable:
This board split along a glue joint.  (the board was joined from three boards at the factory some hundred years ago)  The board probably would have survived, except:  sometime in its history, the muffler rail for the center pedal was removed.   The center pedal then would flop to the floor.   Some enterprising soul screwed the back of the pedal to the board.  Then a healthy force on the pedal caused the board to split.  Oops.
The board was re-glued  along the broken joint.  The glue joint was reinforced with biscuit joinery.   (Here’s an article on biscuit joinery: )
The board was sanded and sealed with shellac:
Pedals were polished, and trap work was refurbished and reinstalled:
To avoid the problem of the drooping middle pedal, I installed a spring so that it would operate (without breaking the board),  But the middle pedal is a do nothing pedal!
Note:  the screws in the two outside pedals hold them down to simplify the installation of the bottom board in the piano.   They will be removed after the board is installed.

Kawai Howard Piano For Sale

July 18th, 2019

Originally manufactured by Kawai, in Japan, in 1968. This was a decade before the wide acceptance and dominance of Kawai and Yamaha in the U.S. piano market. For this  model 550, Kawai licensed the Howard name for marketing through U.S. Baldwin dealers. It is vintage Kawai throughout.

Available in September 2019

Currently the piano is in the shop for renovation.  The piano is receiving these services and upgrades:

  • Full  restringing
    • Mapes “International Gold” piano wire
    • Mapes custom copper wound bass strings
    • New nickel plated tuning pins
  • New hammers
    • Premium Weickert Felt hammers from Ronsen Piano Hammers
  • New knuckles from Abel
  • Concert quality tuning and regulation
  • Case touch up and polishing

This piano will be ready for a new owner in September and will please discriminating, advanced pianists.   At 5′ 8″ in length, the piano is larger than Kawai’s current model  GL-30 (5′ 5″) and smaller than the GL-40 (5′ 11″) .   For those current models, pricing is in the range of $20,000 to $30,000.  We will be able to offer this reconditioned Kawai for just $8,000.    Once our work is complete, we invite you to compare it to new pianos in it’s class!

Kawai Howard Model 550 (1968) with new strings installed


Th Betting Studio Piano For Sale

May 18th, 2019


Th Betting Studio Piano

This studio piano will be available in June, 2019. It has recently arrived in the shop and prior to sale it will have a complete reconditioning:

  • Complete cleaning
  • Case polished
  • Hammers reshaped and voiced
  • Action regulated
  • Key bushings serviced
  • Tuned to concert pitch
  • Bench re-upholstered

This piano is a unique offering in our marketplace.   It will be a very satisfying, affordable instrument for discerning musicians and piano students.   This Betting piano was made in Poland in 1993. Tonally and in construction techniques it is distinctly a European piano.  It has a warm, pleasing voice.   The Th Betting company was established in Russia in 1887.   The company moved to Germany in 1921 and subsequently to Poland in 1935.

Purchase includes free in-home tuning. Free delivery is available in Davis and Weber Counties where the entrance to your home has no more than 4 steps.

Utah State sales tax is applicable to purchase.

Shown by appointment. Call or text 801-896-4123. Email

Price: $2,800


Hammond Glider TrimOSaw Model G40B

April 20th, 2019

As luck would have it, I’m now the proud owner of a Hammond Glider TrimOSaw.   These saws were manufactured from 1928 until the 1960s.   They were made for printshops, where they cut lead and wood type blocks for handset type.  The particulars of creating and setting type of the era elude me, but the accuracy and features of this saw do not!  It is amazing and will find many uses working with small parts.

The saw is a small sliding table saw, with precise calibration and 7″ carbide saw blade with a 0.010 inch kerf.   As a printer’s saw, the micrometer cutoff gauge is calibrated in picas and points.  A pica is approximately 1/6 of an inch and a point is 1/12 of a pica.   The  micrometer gauge has detents at each point and one-half of a point.   Doing the math, a half point is 1/6/12/2 = 0.007 inch.  Each click on the micrometer gauge knob advances the cutoff stop 0.007 inches.    Doing some research on print measurements, I found that pica widths were not completely standardized.  I found that the pica layout on this machine resulted in 6.03 picas per inch.  For the metrically inclined, on this machine a pica is 4.21 mm, and a half point is 0.176 mm.

Naturally after getting the saw up and running, I wanted to have a look at the accuracy it can achieve.  My test was to trim a block to a width of 4 inches.   6.03*4 = 24.12 or 24 picas and 1.44  points.  I set the guage to 24 picas and turned the dial another 1.5 points.   The result was fantastic: a block that measured 4.002 inches.  I don’t know if you can get excited about that, but I can.

Pianos have lots of small wooden parts, and this saw will be at home in the shop.   My recent post about trimming knuckles showed the process on the Delta Unisaw.   I had in mind to do it on this saw, but I didn’t quite have it up and running when it was time to trim the knuckles.

I bought the saw from a printshop in Ogden a few weeks ago.   My intuition and a few internet clues suggest that the saw was made in the 1950s.   I replaced the old three phase motor with a new 1 HP single phase motor.  I was able to acquire a new blade for the saw, made to Hammond specifications, by The Blade Manufacturing Company of Columbus Ohio.  Also included in the purchase but not pictured here is the very nice work hold-down clamp which is designed to hold very small pieces with clamping pressure very near to the blade.

Here’s the owner’s manual borrowed from Hammond Glider Saw User’s Manual.   I love the drawings, knowing that they were all done by hand.   Another lost art.




Knuckle trimming

April 15th, 2019

Knuckle trimming! I was pleased with the way this worked. I’m replacing knuckles in a 1918 Knabe. The shanks at the knuckle slot are 11.0 mm +/- 0.1 mm wide. The Abel knuckles are 11.7 mm +/- 0.1 mm wide. I made this sweet little jig to trim the knuckles to a width of 11.0 mm. (modern shanks e.g. Renner measure 11.7 mm in width)

11.7 mm knuckles on the left.  11.0 mm knuckles on the right.

The trimming jig.  The screw at the bottom of the bore allows for micro adjustment.


Ready for trimming

The jig set in the stopped miter gauge.

0.7 mm shorter.

The trimming operation.

 Context:   11 mm knuckle below.  11.7 mm Renner parts above.

A new grand piano lid

February 7th, 2019

I recently acquired (very inexpensively) a 6′ 4″ Knabe grand piano made in the 1950s.   The instrument is in  good rebuildable condition.  The case is in horrible condition, having lived in a school for many years.  I decided that to bring the piano back to its glory, that a major woodworking project was needed.   I will be re-veneering the entire case to give the piano a like new look.

The lid of the piano was a special concern, since the edge profile was severely damaged.   Ultimately, I decided that I would build a new lid for the piano.   The photo series below tells the story.

This project stretched my skills as it took me into new turf! The nature of the project was one of continual refinement to the materials. As such each step increased the risk cost value! So at each step, my stress increased as did the potential for ruin! Lots of time and dollars here.

Repair Skills Workshop

January 14th, 2019

I recently hosted a  repair skills workshop at my shop on January 12, 2019.  Twelve piano technicians, members of the Piano Technicians Guild, gathered here for coaching on the repair skills tested in the Registered Piano Technician exams.  Many of the participants worked for the entire day. There was lots of knowledge sharing all around.

House transformation

December 16th, 2018

This weekend our house is transforming into a recital hall!  We are pleased to be hosting a Christmas piano recital for Tiffany Bailey’s piano students tomorrow evening.    I always love hearing other talent perform on my piano, so this is going to be especially enjoyable.  The piano is a Steinway model A3 from 1922.  I recently installed new Ronsen Weikert felt hammers on the instrument.

To prepare,  Justin DeJong helped me move the normal furniture into the garage.  We glided the piano over from the northwest corner to the southwest corner where it could be seen from two wings of the new recital hall.  This “gliding” was accomplished with my shop-made three-wheeled piano transporter.

Stage right

Stage Left

Shop-made piano transporter


Terri McGuire has been adding her touches with Christmas decor. It’s good to have a master of event planning on the job!

The recital hall will look a bit different with 30 chairs and people!   More pictures to come of tomorrow’s event.

Steiff Rebuild – New sharps

September 4th, 2018

Quality is a collection of small details.  And for every piano, the first thing the pianist encounters is the keyboard.  For a high-end piano, the look and feel must be superb.  Inviting.

I enjoyed taking the time to ensure that the replacement sharps for this keyboard were second-to-none in fit and finish.

New sharps for piano keys

The new sharps are made of natural ebony and supplied by PianoTek Supply.   I was thrilled with the craftsmanship and uniformity of the product.   Fitting the the new sharps to the old key sticks proceeded as follows:

  • Remove old sharps with steam and leverage.
  • Scrape old keystick as needed  (the old hide glue joint made this effort minimal).
  • Glue new sharps, centered on old keystick.
  • Bolster old keysticks with veneer applied with hot hide glue to allow the nice uniform sharps to be the ruling dimension (the old keysticks are not of uniform dimension).
  • Sand veneer flush with the new keytop (this assures that pianist cannot ever feel a rough edge).
  • Dye keystick sides black.
  • Clean and polish new sharps (I used Howard’s Feed and Wax for a light wax finish)

The picture below shows bolstering the keysticks with veneer, prior to final sanding and finish.

Bolstering keysticks with veneer


Installed on keyframe:

piano keys sharps installed on keyframe