Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Secret Key

Had a call out to assess a 1981 Kimball last week. It belongs to a family who have lived in Kigali for around sixty years, and the son has recently returned from the UK and wants to take up playing. 

Marion went on Monday to perform an over-pull, as it's very out of tune. The piano was perhaps the easiest she's ever tuned. It seemed to want to find the right pitch.

It also has a very clever fallboard, which is the bit that closes over the keys. You could either rest it back without it leaning against the hammers, or you could slide the whole thing back to create a table to rest your tuning tools on.

Very nice design.

Unfortunately, it appeares that someone had tried to force the topboard off at some point, breaking the catch. It had then been nailed into place to prevent the topboard falling off. We removed the nails and Dés has taken it to the workshop to repair the catch.

Down below, we found somebody's writing, explaining that the light bulb is 25 watts. It's a funny piano, as it does feel a bit older than 38, and the writing looks like something you'd find in a Wild West saloon, but perhaps it's just well travelled.

The dampers are quite worn on this piano, causing it to sound as though it's on permanent sustain. We're going to look into ordeingr replacements and perhaps giving the hammers a buff. 

Along with tuning and dampers, the keys need a bit of attention. There were quite a few sticking, so when you pressed down, the hammer didn't come back, making it impossible to double-strike.

Marion started by checking the action, but that wasn't the problem as all the hammers fell back smoothly.

This meant that it was probably the keys themselves. So, Marion took up the keys to take a look, and found this...

What a lovely mystery. It seems unlikely it could have fallen in there, so perhaps it was deliberately placed. The key to a magic kingdom, perhaps?

The sticking keys have been eased with the help of Beeutiful Creations beeswax on the balance pins, and brushing the balance felt. Beeutiful Creations make the best honey in Rwanda at the moment, and their wax melts to the touch. Going to give the whole piano a rub-down with it.

For now, the owner is going to give it a play and check that the key fix worked, and identify any remaining sticking points. We'll return for a fine tune in a couple of weeks.

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