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Topic Options
#2015774 - 01/16/13 08:40 PM Lacquer or polyester finish
ClassicU3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 27
Loc: Chester County, PA
I have a 1963 Yamaha U3 that's been fully restored. The finish is a very dark high-gloss polished mahogany. In fact, unless there is light shining directly on it, the piano looks black. In the light, you can make out the beautiful, rich dark brown mahogany wood grain. Is there a way that I can tell if the gloss finish that was used on the piano is polyester or lacquer? I'm trying to determine the best way to care for it.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
_________________________
H Weber
1963 Yamaha U3, Polished Mahogany (restored)

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#2015783 - 01/16/13 08:59 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
The best way would be to contact the restorer or refinisher.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2016000 - 01/17/13 08:54 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
Rich Galassini Offline
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Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 10328
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
I do not think a 1963 U3 would have been originally polyester. I also did not think they were making deep mahogany finishes then either, though.

Marty may have given the best advice. If you cannot ask the refinisher, any piano technician can tell the difference between poly. and lacquer in a moment.

Good luck,
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#2016096 - 01/17/13 12:08 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
ClassicU3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 27
Loc: Chester County, PA
Thanks for the advice. I don't know who the refinisher was in this case. I will be having a tech come out to go over the piano and tune it in the next few weeks. I'll ask him when he comes.

I'm also uncertain if a 1963 Yamaha would have a mahogany finish. I'm wondering if the restorer might have taken the piano down to bare wood and then finished it with a dark, but translucent finish that makes it look as it does. It's very dark, with the wood only visible if you shine light on the piano. My other thought was that maybe the original finish was just buffed out, and the buffing cut the original black lacquer down so thin that the wood grain is now visible through it.

The piano also has "YAMAHA" in gold lettering inset into the finish at the top right corner of the piano body. I'm wondering if this was an original feature in 1963 or if it's something the restorer took creative license with when refinishing the piano. I've never seen any other U3 with this feature, but I'm not sure how many early 60's U3 pianos are around. My other thought was that maybe it was a feature of pianos built for the Japanese market.


Edited by ClassicU3 (01/17/13 12:10 PM)
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H Weber
1963 Yamaha U3, Polished Mahogany (restored)

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#2016397 - 01/17/13 10:31 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
BoseEric Offline
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Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 733
Loc: Fairfield County, CT
take a small piece of fine grit sandpaper (600) and rub it in a small inconspicuous place. If it turns light grey, it's polyester.
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RPT. In the business: Feurich pianos, Neupert harpsichords, Hidrau benches, piano technician

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#2016542 - 01/18/13 06:34 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: BoseEric]
Rich Galassini Offline
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Registered: 05/28/01
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Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted By: BoseEric
take a small piece of fine grit sandpaper (600) and rub it in a small inconspicuous place. If it turns light grey, it's polyester.


That would work. smile
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#2016555 - 01/18/13 08:01 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
pianoloverus Online   content
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If the mahogany finish is so dark that it looks like black unless there is light shining directly on it, I think there is something wrong(or at least not ideal)about the finish.

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#2016577 - 01/18/13 08:40 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: pianoloverus]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If the mahogany finish is so dark that it looks like black unless there is light shining directly on it, I think there is something wrong(or at least not ideal)about the finish.

And how does this matter? The owner likes the finish and wants to learn the best way to care for it.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2016646 - 01/18/13 10:52 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
ClassicU3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 27
Loc: Chester County, PA
Thanks for the suggestions. I think at this point I can most assuredly say that it's not a polyester finish. I believe it is either lacquer over very, very dark wood or black lacquer that has been buffed thin as to be translucent, thereby allowing the wood beneath to show through.
_________________________
H Weber
1963 Yamaha U3, Polished Mahogany (restored)

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#2016649 - 01/18/13 11:01 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: pianoloverus]
ClassicU3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 27
Loc: Chester County, PA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If the mahogany finish is so dark that it looks like black unless there is light shining directly on it, I think there is something wrong(or at least not ideal)about the finish.


Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Is there something "wrong" with the finish? Maybe, but even if there is, it looks very, very cool and is a good part of the reason I bought this particular piano. It's unique, and quite interesting. The finish is very high-gloss and the color is quite beautiful, especially if caught in the right light. There are some minor places where I can see some buffing marks (mostly in corners and places that were probably hard to reach with the buffer), but overall it's very attractive looking.

Is it "wrong" or a "mistake"? Maybe, I don't know. It could be just a custom finish that the restorer applied, or maybe just the way the finish happened to turn out after refinishing/buffing. Is it "ideal"? Well, I guess that's in the eye of the beholder. To me it seemed ideal or I wouldn't have bought the piano! It has a definite "cool" factor to it and the wood beneath the finish is wonderfully grained/figured. To me, a custom 1963 piano has a certain appeal that makes me enjoy it that much more, especially one that's been restored to such good playing condition. Even the guys who delivered the piano to my home commented about how it was one of the cooler pianos they'd seen.

I'm going to post some pictures of it over the weekend. Then everyone can judge for themselves if there is something wrong with it, if it's just a cool finish, or if it's actually not that cool and I'm just crazy! grin


Edited by ClassicU3 (01/18/13 11:16 AM)
_________________________
H Weber
1963 Yamaha U3, Polished Mahogany (restored)

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#2016650 - 01/18/13 11:05 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
PianoWorksATL Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: ClassicU3
...or black lacquer that has been buffed thin as to be translucent, thereby allowing the wood beneath to show through.
This is my belief. Cory Piano products are always a safe bet as is a higher grade furniture polish like Guardsman. It helps lacquer but doesn't hurt poly anyway.

Most of the time, I suggest dry dusting with a soft cloth or one of the many modern "feather" dusters.
_________________________
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PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
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#2016658 - 01/18/13 11:21 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
Steve Cohen Online   content
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Registered: 05/26/01
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The most likely finish is polyurathane.
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#2016730 - 01/18/13 01:23 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: PianoWorksATL]
jawhitti Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 235
Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL
Most of the time, I suggest dry dusting with a soft cloth or one of the many modern "feather" dusters.


I have a "California Car Duster" available at any Walmart for twenty bucks. Hands down the best thing I've used to dust mine. It comes in a big and small size, with the big one being perfect for grands. For a U3 the large size might be a bit unwieldy and you might be better off with the smaller size, like the one pictured here:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Original-California-Car-Duster/14294929

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#2017096 - 01/19/13 06:29 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
Rich Galassini Offline
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Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 10328
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted By: ClassicU3
I'm going to post some pictures of it over the weekend. Then everyone can judge for themselves if there is something wrong with it, if it's just a cool finish, or if it's actually not that cool and I'm just crazy!


I would like to see it. It sounds interesting and different. Thank you
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#2017416 - 01/19/13 05:11 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
ClassicU3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 27
Loc: Chester County, PA
OK, I have some good light in the room today, so I took some pictures after the piano tuner left.

I think that Steve Cohen might be on to something with polyurethane as the finish. Looking at the piano today, I no longer think that its just heavily buffed black lacquer. The finish looks too uniform and nice to be a mistake, IMO. I think it's very likely a dark mahogany with several coats of clear or tinted polyurethane applied by the restoration company. I love it and it's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. I can't believe that I randomly found it with the first piano looked at a university charity piano sale.

Anyway, here it is.





















_________________________
H Weber
1963 Yamaha U3, Polished Mahogany (restored)

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#2017420 - 01/19/13 05:22 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
I think that finish is simply beautiful. In the very first photo, it did look like an ebony polish. Then with the close-ups, WOW!
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2017442 - 01/19/13 06:00 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 21705
Loc: New York City
I like the finish, although if I was looking for a mahogany finish I would choose a lighter one.

When I indicated earlier in the thread that a mahogany finish that looked like an ebony finish unless there was a lot of light on it might be "wrong"(perhaps too harsh a word, sorry), I based the statement on the idea that finishes are usually light enough to see the grain easily. I really can't decide whether your piano meets that criterion because it changes color like a salamander. It's certainly unusual in my experience to see a mahogany piano with such a dark finish, but if you like it then that's by far the most important criteria.

Is it possible that the piano was first finished in a lighter mahogany and then some additional finish coats on top of that were ebony?

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#2017444 - 01/19/13 06:04 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: jawhitti]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 21705
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: jawhitti
Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL
Most of the time, I suggest dry dusting with a soft cloth or one of the many modern "feather" dusters.


I have a "California Car Duster" available at any Walmart for twenty bucks. Hands down the best thing I've used to dust mine. It comes in a big and small size, with the big one being perfect for grands. For a U3 the large size might be a bit unwieldy and you might be better off with the smaller size, like the one pictured here:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Original-California-Car-Duster/14294929
My guess is that those dusters are fine for poly finished but because they contain wax should not be used on lacquer finishes.

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#2017480 - 01/19/13 07:08 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
ando Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 4841
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: ClassicU3


The piano also has "YAMAHA" in gold lettering inset into the finish at the top right corner of the piano body. I'm wondering if this was an original feature in 1963 or if it's something the restorer took creative license with when refinishing the piano. I've never seen any other U3 with this feature, but I'm not sure how many early 60's U3 pianos are around. My other thought was that maybe it was a feature of pianos built for the Japanese market.


Yes, the restorer has taken a bit of creative licence with those letters. Those are actually the original fallboard brass letters which have been relocated! Most of the 60's Yamahas had smaller squarer letters with wider spacing than the later Yamahas. Your restorer has put the modern (current) decal on the fallboard and relocated the solid brass inlaid letters to the upper panel. It's quite a job to do that well, so it speaks to the quality of your piano's restoration.

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#2017486 - 01/19/13 07:17 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
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Loc: Oakland
I doubt it was refinished. I think it is an original finish, polished up. Yamaha did put the name on the front board on some of their vertical pianos.
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Semipro Tech

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#2017536 - 01/19/13 09:26 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
ClassicU3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 27
Loc: Chester County, PA
@Minnesota Marty - Thanks so much for your comments! That's exactly what I thought when I first saw it on the sale floor. "WOW! That's exactly the kind of piano I'm looking for!"

@pianoloverus - Yes, colors and finishes are certainly a subjective matter. And you're right, the piano is a chameleon. In low light it looks black or very dark brown (no grain visible). If it weren't for the bench, which is ebony, you wouldn't notice that it's not black. But in more light, the grain comes through as seen in the photos and it takes on a whole different look. I don't think the piano has any ebony coats on it. A local piano store owner told me that mahogany can darken with age. I'm guessing that this just happened to be a dark piano and they then put a few coats of urethane over it and polished it. Unless I can find out who the restorer was, I guess I'll never know the truth on how it was finished.

@ando - my piano tech who came today to evaluate and tune the piano told me that he has seen other old Yamaha uprights with the "YAMAHA" name on the front board as mine has, so I think that is an original feature. Also, I'm not sure, but the fallboard logo on my piano appears that it might actually be inset brass letters as well, rather than a decal. I could be wrong, though.

@BDB - Could be, but it's in awfully good condition for being 50 years old, likely having had a life in Japan before being shipped to the US, and living another life here in the US until being restored in the last couple of years. Could an original finish such as this really last that long with no dings, dents, scratches, etc.? I guess it depends on where it lived its life all those years, but the finish really does look newer.
_________________________
H Weber
1963 Yamaha U3, Polished Mahogany (restored)

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#2017650 - 01/20/13 02:47 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
ando Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 4841
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: ClassicU3

@ando - my piano tech who came today to evaluate and tune the piano told me that he has seen other old Yamaha uprights with the "YAMAHA" name on the front board as mine has, so I think that is an original feature. Also, I'm not sure, but the fallboard logo on my piano appears that it might actually be inset brass letters as well, rather than a decal. I could be wrong, though.


The letters on your fallboard are definitely decal. When it's done well, it really does look like inset brass letters - they are thin leafs of brass anyway. They stick them on, then paint a clear coat over them. The narrower letters on yours are the modern type like they still use today. They are all decals. My 60's U3 has a modern decal on it, but they didn't want to go to the trouble of pulling the old inset brass letters out, so they painted black over them, then laid the modern decal over it. I can see faint outlines and a slight raise where the letters are. You don't notice it unless you look for it, but they are there. I don't know why they bothered really. I think a previous owner wanted it to look newer than it is.

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#2017713 - 01/20/13 08:24 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
Rich Galassini Offline
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Registered: 05/28/01
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Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
So ClassicU3,

Who did the work on this piano? The finish choice is not original, but I like the final product.

Did a piano technician do this finish or was it a finisher?

Just curious,
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#2017769 - 01/20/13 11:02 AM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: pianoloverus]
jshelton Online   content
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Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 101
Loc: Alsea Oregon, USA
[/quote]My guess is that those dusters are fine for poly finished but because they contain wax should not be used on lacquer finishes. [/quote]

I don't understand this statement. There's nothing wrong with putting wax on lacquer. It's a good way to protect the finish.
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Shelton-Farretta Guitars
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#2017906 - 01/20/13 03:39 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: Rich Galassini]
ClassicU3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 27
Loc: Chester County, PA
Originally Posted By: Rich Galassini
So ClassicU3,

Who did the work on this piano? The finish choice is not original, but I like the final product.

Did a piano technician do this finish or was it a finisher?

Just curious,


That's the $64,000 question, Rich, and I don't have the answer. All I was told was that it was a New York restoration company and that its an "A+" restoration. The latter is confirmed, as every wearable part has been replaced. It's essentially a new piano. I assume that the restorer did the finish, or subbed it out to a finisher.
_________________________
H Weber
1963 Yamaha U3, Polished Mahogany (restored)

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#2017927 - 01/20/13 04:16 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
EssBrace Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2820
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Look, clearly this colour debate is troubling you a wee bit. I've given it a lot of thought and I've kindly decided to take this ebony/mahogany/polyurethane/lacquered/polyestered mess off your hands, ok? When can you bring it round?
_________________________
Roland RD-1000 | Yamaha CP1 | Physis H1

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#2017930 - 01/20/13 04:21 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
This new finish might just become all the rage very soon!
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2578513 - 10/13/16 11:34 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: ClassicU3]
DanielShafner Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/30/12
Posts: 14
Loc: Southeastern CT
Originally Posted By ClassicU3
Is there a way that I can tell if the gloss finish that was used on the piano is polyester or lacquer? I'm trying to determine the best way to care for it.


The best way to tell is to scratch it or sand it someplace inconspicuous and smell the powder. Freshly sanded/abraded polyester will have a distinct smell of styrene. If it smells like styrene then it's polyester. Nothing is easier than that.

Polyester powders white when it's sanded but so does lacquer.


How to Care for Non-Polyester Surfaces
The best way to care for a non-polyester surface is to wipe it with a dampened cloth (not wet, not damp, not dry, but dampened). You can spritz water on the cloth using a plant mister (plant atomizer, spritzer bottle).

Flannel is a good cloth. These relatively new microfiber cloths are really nice. Terrycloth (beware of the stitching and labels) works well. All cotton is all good. If you use t-shirt material, beware of the stitching and it ought to be 100% cotton.

Inspect the cloth first to make sure that there's no embedded grit or dust in it. Dust scratches, it can have an abrasive quality. For that matter, so can the cloth and that's why you want it dampened. The dampness acts as a lubricant.

Once or twice a year wipe down the piano with a furniture polish. Endust is ok. Weiman's seems to be less streaky. Guardsman is streaky but it's a pleasant polish to use. Wipe with the grain and follow up with a clean cloth to try to leave no residue. Don't use elbow grease, i.e., no downward pressure. Your job is to use the wiping cloth to pick up dust and to allow the polish to wipe away fingerprints and any grease, food, who knows what.

Don't use Liquid Gold. Don't use Lemon Oil. Your polish ought to be a foam white when sprayed out of the can. Clear polishes will leave you with an oily mess and they do little or nothing for fingerprints.

If you are going to use soapy water, Ivory bar soap is the only soap made that's pH neutral. All other soaps, all of them, are alkaline (the have pH's above 7).

To use furniture polish, spray the face of your wiping cloth. You can spray the piano, both methods work. Spraying the cloth is a tad easier.


How to Care for Polyester Finishes
If you are sure that the finish is polyester, I really like Brilliantize. I think you can get this stuff on amazon.com. A little goes a long way. Flannel works great...all the wiping cloth recommendations listed above apply here.

I also like Glass Plus and yes, I use Windex. Windex contains ammonia, and apparently (according to furniture manufacturers Glass Plus does not contian ammonia). Ammonia is an alkaline and it has strong potential to break down finishes, polyester being one of the most chemically resilient finishes used on pianos. I really like the aerosol Sprayaway Glass Cleaner, find it in auto-supply stores.

To use, spray the piano and wipe until your cleaning material evaporates.


Keyboard Keys
Wipe them down with a furniture polish and any tight-weave cotton cloth or the microfiber cloth. Why so? Fingers let off oil. That oil has an acidic pH. Over time your finger oils will soften the material that is your keys and you can get grime. Furniture polish will do a decent job cleaning your keys of your grimy prints. In that "slipperiness" is an issue, use the Weiman's furniture polish because it cleans off with the least amount of oily residue. Don't use Pledge on your keys because the silicone oils in Pledge are there because silicone oils are slippery. Eventually the oils evaporate, eventually. Pledge also has wax in it and the wax doesn't evaporate. So because of silicone oils and wax, don't use Pledge on your keys. It's the most "oliy" of all of the polishes.

Regarding silicone oils, for those of us who might polish a piano to a gloss, do not use 3M's Fill In Glaze. That polishing material contains silicone oils.

Silicone oils are not any single oil. They are a class of low-viscosity oils, hence my pluralizing them.


Edited by DanielShafner (10/13/16 11:40 PM)
_________________________
My connection to the piano industry is that I am a wood finisher and a touch up specialist.

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#2578519 - 10/13/16 11:58 PM Re: Lacquer or polyester finish [Re: PianoWorksATL]
DanielShafner Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/30/12
Posts: 14
Loc: Southeastern CT
Quote:
This is my belief. Cory Piano products are always a safe bet as is a higher grade furniture polish like Guardsman. It helps lacquer but doesn't hurt poly anyway.


I have to disagree. Lacquer and polyester are plastics. Many things can hurt and can harm these plastics, once cured, but there's nothing that can "help" them. There is no film-forming finish that is "fed". The idea of "feeding a finish" is a romanticized fiction --a myth-- created by the furniture polish industry.

Polishes do three things:

1. They generally smell good, they are fragranced, usually.

2. They lubricate your wiping cloth so that as your cloth is picking up the dust it's not also scratching the piano.

3. To one extent or another the polish will leave behind a gleam.

That's what polishes really do. What they are advertised to do, well, the romanticized myths sound nice but they are 100% hype, inventions of Madison Avenue and not the laboratories of Grand Rapids, MI.


Edited by DanielShafner (10/13/16 11:59 PM)
_________________________
My connection to the piano industry is that I am a wood finisher and a touch up specialist.

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