McGuire Piano Blog

Adam Schaaf Player Piano — Bottom Up

October 1st, 2017

An Adam Schaaf player piano recently arrived in my shop for a complete rebuild.   I’ll be doing the piano work, and the player work will go to a player expert.   I’m pleased that my client has recognized the need for good piano work to precede good player work.   With good piano work, the player mechanism can perform at its best.

Work began with restoration of the keyframe, bottom board, and pedal trap work.



Adam Schaaf player piano keyframe before restoration

Keyframe before restoration

Adam Schaaf upright player piano keyframe after restoration

Keyframe after restoration


Bottom Board and Pedal Trapwork

Adam Schaaf upright player piano: bottom board and trapwork before restoration

Bottom board and trapwork before restoration

Adam Schaaf upright player piano: bottom board and trapwork after restoration

Bottom board and pedal trapwork after restoration

Drill Press Chip Ejection

September 1st, 2017

When boring piano hammers, keeping chips away from the jig surface is a constant need.  I was tired of clearing the debris with a hand-held air nozzle.   $36 in parts from Amazon helped me to create a nice solution.   The heart of the solution is a 12V DC solenoid that is controlled by a magnetic switch.   The magnetic switch closes when the drill press quill descends.    Like a lot of shop improvements, I didn’t get payback in the first use, but the drilling process is much more efficient when using this new fixture.

Here’s the parts list:

Old technology meets new: Installing pedals on an upright piano

August 13th, 2017

While installing pedals on a 90 year old upright piano, I had the opportunity to upgrade materials, and have a little fun at the lathe. The old pivot system employed a hardwood dowel bushing in a cast iron bracket. The system was likely a good one for the first 30 years, but with wear, it became floppy and noisy, and broken. I chose to fabricate new bushings to be used in the old brackets using UHMW (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene) rod. UHMW is ideal for this application, since it is self-lubricating. For someone who doesn’t do a lot of lathe work, it presented a bit of a creative challenge, and I’m pleased with the result. I’m sure it will be serviceable for many years, and earns a lifetime guarantee.

Trimming Damper Heads

July 23rd, 2017

I wanted to trim 4 mm from Tokiwa damper heads for better geometry in a 1927 Leonard upright. Here’s the jig I built to get the job done.

Stieff Rebuild — June 2017

July 3rd, 2017

The soundboard was tapered (diaphramized in Steinway terminology).   First contour lines were routed into the board, and then the board was sanded to the contour lines on the stroke sander.


Profile of countour lines tapers the board from 0.26″ to 0.33″

The video shows use of the stroke sander to achieve the taper by sanding to the contour lines.

Ribs were shaped to a radius of 60 feet, then glued to the soundboard using cauls and compressed air clamping pressure.    The photo below shows the last rib in the cauls.  Typically I clamped 3 or 4 at a time.

After the ribs were glued, a radius was planed onto the ribs.   This is a craftsman touch.   Few will ever crawl under the piano to inspect this detail.

Steinway A-3

March 27th, 2017

The cobbler’s children go without shoes. But this piano technician is breaking out of that paradigm. New to my living room is a Steinway and Sons Model A-3 built in New York in 1922. After I completed three days of work on it, the piano is very pleasing to play. At some time, it will be completely rebuilt; but for now, it is a very nice “daily driver”, to borrow from classic car enthusiast lingo. That time will not come until the high-end restoration of the 6’3″ Charles Stieff (1911) is complete.


Stieff Rebuild – February 2017

February 28th, 2017

An update on the Rebuild of Stieff 28334 has been a long time in coming.   I’ve been disappointed with my inability to focus energy on the project!   But progress has been made.

Cauls for gluing ribs to soundboard.  Note the concave or convex shape for top and bottom cauls.  These are sixty foot radiuses.

Prior to working with the actual ($$) new sound board, a sound board mockup was prepared using inexpensive quarter-inch plywood.   This step was taken to work out the bugs in the system before working with the new spruce board.

For the mockup, I used some clear fir as ribs that was available at no cost.  The picture below shows a jig with a 60 foot radius for shaping the topside of the ribs.

Below, the mockup progressed with the ribs fitted to the frame.

The mockup continued by gluing “ribs” to “sound board”.  A few issues were noticed, and I was glad that I did this mockup, so I could proceed with confidence.  The cauls use mill hose pressurized at 30 psi.   I’m doing four at a time, and progressively moving cauls to a new position as glue dries.

Below is the completed “trial soundboard” which fit well when placed back in the frame.





Kawai Studio For Sale

February 11th, 2017

Wishing you could afford a new Kawai Studio Piano?

After complete reconditioning in my shop, this sweet Kawai studio plays like new. Smooth responsive touch. Lovely voicing. Full dynamic response. You can have it all — except for a new piano price and except for a perfect finish. This piano was manufactured in 1973, and the case shows wear, but we’ve touched it up and polished it so that it looks good. Not showroom good, but living room good.


Services performed:
– Re-shaped and voiced hammers to develop a lustrous tonal response
– Leveled keyboard
– Regulated the action, for full dynamic expression.
– Case repairs and touch up
– Cleaned and polished case
– Reconditioned pedals and trapwork
– Tuned to concert pitch

Come and play! A great buy for family with intermediate students! I like playing it!

The sale includes:
– Bench
– One free in-home tuning ($120 value)
– Free “normal delivery” (No difficult turns, 4 or fewer steps) in Davis or Weber Counties ($250 value)

Thanks for looking!


Vintage 1916 Chickering Baby Grand

February 11th, 2017


Vintage 1916 Chickering baby grand piano is a delight! I’ve recently done signifcant reconditioning work on this piano in my shop. Work has included:
– New keytops
– Reconditioned key frame
– Reconditioned top action
– New hammers
– Regulation
– Tuning
With this work complete, this 5’3″ baby grand plays expressively, with a premium touch.



Chickering Quarter Grand Keybed

October 16th, 2016

Work is now complete on the key set and key frame of the 1916 Chickering Quarter Grand. This work is foundational to a well performing piano action. It’s the “user interface”!