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#1176401 - 04/07/09 09:57 PM Bone key top replacements? your experience?
Bachsky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/03
Posts: 276
Loc: McFarland, WI 53558
I've comissioned the re-building of a 1904 Henry F. Miller concert grand. Originally the re-builder and I agreed on re-storing the original ivories - but now that isn't possible due to the thinness of the originals.

Bone (oxen femur) can be used instead of plastic or ivory. I am anxious to hear from others who have some experience with this material on their restored keyboard.

I understand the color is certainly off-white and that the bone requires a certain amount of upkeep. I do think they should look good on a vintage instrument. What is your experience with the touch?
_________________________
1904 Henry F. Miller Concert Grand * 2002 Estonia 190 Satin Bubinga * 2008 Schulze-Pohlman vertical 125 polished cherrywood peacock design * 2008 Schoenhut minature grand (49 keys) * 2008 Roland Digital Harpsichord, 2010 Roland FP-4 (88 key slab).

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#1177361 - 04/09/09 01:38 PM Re: Bone key top replacements? your experience? [Re: Bachsky]
Tom Tuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 246
Loc: Bainbridge, OH
I've not used bone myself, but the advise I was given was that it should come from the legs of steers weighing at least 1200 lbs.
Warther, in Dover OH used to be able to provide certified ivory.

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#1179275 - 04/12/09 09:59 PM Re: Bone key top replacements? your experience? [Re: Tom Tuner]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2538
Loc: Maine
I have no experience with bone, but I'd bet these folks can help ... [url= http://www.arnopianos.com/pascal.htm ] http://www.arnopianos.com/pascal.htm [/url]

(obviously still having trouble with the UBB code) mad
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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#1179284 - 04/12/09 10:21 PM Re: Bone key top replacements? your experience? [Re: David Jenson]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
WOW, and pricey too! I've never used anything like that either so, I can't help any...
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1179293 - 04/12/09 10:41 PM Re: Bone key top replacements? your experience? [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24144
Loc: Oakland
I notice they offer fronts. Ivory fronts were the least successful use of ivory on key tops. Manufacturers used celluloid fronts long before they stopped using ivory tops. I suppose that bone would be just as unsuitable for key fronts.

The big problem with material like this is that the rate of expansion and contraction is different than that of wood. This causes a big problem with key fronts, where there is a lot of movement in the wood, which causes the fronts to crack.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1179431 - 04/13/09 07:15 AM Re: Bone key top replacements? your experience? [Re: BDB]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2538
Loc: Maine
I'd suspect that unless a LOT of care is taken with these key coverings the bone would do what bone does naturally. It degrades in air and sunlight.

A good quality set of modern composite plastic coverings is probably a better way to go. And yea, at the price of those things, plastic looks mighty good!
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#1179545 - 04/13/09 12:10 PM Re: Bone key top replacements? your experience? [Re: David Jenson]
rysowers Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3015
Loc: Olympia, WA
The other thing to consider is that plastics vary a lot depending on the quality. I've gotten away from using the standard $15 a set molded keytops from Schaff. I had Yvonne Ashmore keyboard restorations do a set for me using her European keytops. They looked much better to me than the standard.

Pianotek also has some higher grade plastics that have a more authentic look - and their workmanship is really good. Worth the extra price but the turn around is 3 weeks or so.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1179563 - 04/13/09 12:37 PM Re: Bone key top replacements? your experience? [Re: rysowers]
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
Bone keytops are very popular for pipe organs and I play quite a few instruments with them.

The bone has to be carefully sealed or else it will tend to trap lots of dirt. The color tends to be off-white and some of the keytops have a 'freckled' look - I'd check with the owner (if it is not you) to see if that might be objectionable.

As far as the feel, I prefer bone to plastic. The only complaint is that sometimes the corners of the keytops are a bit sharp - I notice this most often when playing octaves. I sometimes bend my fingernail between the natural and sharp - chamfering the back edge (the one facing the sharps) would solve that problem.

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#1179933 - 04/14/09 12:24 AM Re: Bone key top replacements? your experience? [Re: whippen boy]
Bachsky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/03
Posts: 276
Loc: McFarland, WI 53558
Thanks to all who have shared your insights and suggestions.

I am the owner of the Henry F. Miller. I'm waiting now on a sample from Mike Morvan. Most of you may know of his work in this area but I'm including his website if any who isn't familiar with him would like to know more.

www.pianoandorgankeys.com
_________________________
1904 Henry F. Miller Concert Grand * 2002 Estonia 190 Satin Bubinga * 2008 Schulze-Pohlman vertical 125 polished cherrywood peacock design * 2008 Schoenhut minature grand (49 keys) * 2008 Roland Digital Harpsichord, 2010 Roland FP-4 (88 key slab).

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