McGuire Piano Blog

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”!

Kawai Studio Piano – SOLD

August 9th, 2016

This Kawai studio piano was built in Japan in 1973. I recently completed reconditioning of this fine piano in my shop.

I have performed the following services on this piano:

Upon completion of reconditioning, I’ve played this piano for many hours, and I have found it to be a delight. The action is silky smooth, giving the pianist delicate control and full dynamic response.

This piano is an excellent purchase for  beginning and intermediate piano students.   Kawai produced this model with the school  market in mind.  You will find later editions of this model everywhere in universities, schools, and churches.  It’s simple lines make it a nice fit anywhere.
The sale includes:
– Bench.
– One free in-home tuning.
– Free “normal delivery” in Davis or Weber Counties. (No difficult turns, 4 or fewer steps to go up or down)
– One year warranty.

Price: $1,950.00

You’ll find new prices for a similar piano from Kawai today at about $6000.

2016-08-09 11.24.29

The Good Work

April 26th, 2016

I paused for a moment in my work this morning to realize that I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing.   Practicing the crafts of piano restoration fits me in such a fine way.   This morning I was doing key work on an 1880’s Knabe grand, and while I applied my skill to restoration, I could pause to admire the work of craftsmen from 130 years ago.

2016-04-26 11.10.31

James Michener is credited with the following:

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.

I’m grateful that I can often reside in that zone.

Grand Piano Regulation

April 23rd, 2016

This week I spent a day at a customer’s home in Ogden, regulating a Yamaha GH1 made in 1993. It was rewarding work for me, and drew immediate praise from the players in the home. The very talented 12 year old player smiled and said, “Oh! It’s so much easier to play now!” It’s a privilege to be able to do this work.

2016-04-20 11.20.12

You can learn more about grand piano regulation in this article.

Upright Hammer installation

April 19th, 2016


Here, I’ve attached an acrylic sheet  on the action frame to simulate the strike point of the old hammers.  Once marked, this will serve as a guide for the installation of new hammers.   The guide also allows for simple measurement of bore angles.


Original strike points marked

2016-04-22 17.33.14

Boring Hammers


Bored Hammers


Hammers installed

2016-04-27 09.47.36

Action installed at customer’s home

2016-04-27 10.04.27

1880s Conover

1916 Emerson Upright Rebuild

March 1st, 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