1916 Emerson Upright Rebuild

March 1, 2016

I recently had the pleasure of rebuilding an Emerson upright piano from 1916.  This particular piano had been in one family for the past 100 years.   As is often the case, a treasured family piano still looks wonderful, so my work on the case was simply to clean,  polish and replace some missing knobs.   The musical instrument, inside, however got a rather complete make-over!  With age it really wasn’t sounding good or playing well.

001 Arrival at shop 8-11-15
002 Arrival at shop 8-11-15

Below, I’m doing some preliminary work prior to restringing.  The top section of the treble bridge, had many cracks which were causing poor tonality (false beats) in the sixth and seventh octaves.   Here  I’m preparing a new bridge cap which will provide the proper foundation for a “like new” sound.   (Take me back to 1916)
032 Bridge cap notching

The following photo shows the new bridge cap installed. The piano is now ready for restringing.
034 New bridge cap installed and pinned

Here, the treble sections of the piano are being restrung:
035 Restringing Treble

And restringing is complete!
036 Restringing complete

This photo shows the installation of new key bushings. Well fitted, low friction bushings are important for a good touch response when playing.
037 Installilng new key bushings

039 Rebushed keyset installed

Here I’m reconditioning the hammer catchers with new buckskin. Well, actually though the original material was buckskin, the new material is ecsaine, which replicates the good points of buckskin, while eliminating its imperfections. Restoring this part enables the quick repetition of notes.
040 Installing new catcher leather (ecsaine)

New dampers have been installed in the piano.
042 New dampers installed in restrung piano

New Renner hammers are being prepared for custom boring.
045 Preparing new hammers for installation

Now when we open up the case of the 1916 Emerson, we see a new piano. How does it sound? Well the customer says it’s wonderful! And I believe it’s very close to what it was in 1916.
047 Completed hammer install