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#2171409 - 10/24/13 05:37 PM How do you gut an upright?
WSPiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 3
I have a photographer friend who purchased an old upright Kimball with plans to gut it and use as a prop for her business. Can you give us any advice, please? My friend is also curious as to about how much the upright might weigh afterwards.

Thank you!

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#2171434 - 10/24/13 06:23 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2381
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
The easy parts are pulling the action and the keys out, unless the keys need to stay in for looks.

To reduce weight, you want to remove the cast-iron plate, and that takes some doing.

First, the tension needs to be taken off all of the strings; they should be quite loose before you proceed, as a matter of fact. You need a tuning lever to do this; a cheapie will do.

Then, cut all of the strings, preferably as close to the tuning pins as you can. Pull all of the cut strings out, then remove the coils from the tuning pins.

Next, you probably want to remove all of the tuning pins prior to pulling the plate. The best way is to get a tuning pin socket that can be chucked into a drill motor and run them out that way; be prepared to see a little wood smoke in the process.

To remove the plate, the easiest way would be by removing the key bed first; otherwise you have to lift it them move it laterally (very difficult) to clear the key bed. With the key bed removed and the piano on its back, you can use an engine hoist or a chain fall, with straps, to lift the plate out, once it's completely unbolted from the frame. You now have a huge piece of scrap iron, or artsy wall hanging for your music room...

Reinstall the key bed, slap the case pieces back on, and you now have a PSO piano prop.

If it's an old, full-size upright, the shell will weigh ~300 pounds, I'd guess.

At least, this is how I'd do it...
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2171456 - 10/24/13 07:25 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
How do you gut un upright?

Stick a knife in its belly.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
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#2171458 - 10/24/13 07:33 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: OperaTenor]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1309
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
The easy parts are pulling the action and the keys out, unless the keys need to stay in for looks.

First, the tension needs to be taken off all of the strings; they should be quite loose before you proceed, as a matter of fact. You need a tuning lever to do this; a cheapie will do.

Then, cut all of the strings, preferably as close to the tuning pins as you can. Pull all of the cut strings out, then remove the coils from the tuning pins.



Minor quibble. There is no reason to use the tuning pins to take off tension. Just snip the wires one at a time and the tension will come down automatically in increments of about 300 lbs per every 2 wires snipped. (In any case, you should wear gloves and eye protection.)

Get good wire cutters -- ideally with compound leverage. You can use any cutter for one string, but after 210 strings or so, you may be on your way to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Good luck and have fun!
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2171474 - 10/24/13 08:04 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7438
Loc: Rochester MN
Actually Jim, you end up with a true PSO. It probably started out as a POS.

wink
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2171479 - 10/24/13 08:12 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2101
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
How do you gut un upright?

Stick a knife in its belly.


That's the first thing that came to my mind. laugh
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#2171515 - 10/24/13 09:59 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: David Jenson]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1309
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: David Jenson
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
How do you gut un upright?

Stick a knife in its belly.


That's the first thing that came to my mind. laugh


Mine, too. What's that saying about great minds . . ..??
crazy
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2171518 - 10/24/13 10:08 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: kpembrook]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2381
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
The easy parts are pulling the action and the keys out, unless the keys need to stay in for looks.

First, the tension needs to be taken off all of the strings; they should be quite loose before you proceed, as a matter of fact. You need a tuning lever to do this; a cheapie will do.

Then, cut all of the strings, preferably as close to the tuning pins as you can. Pull all of the cut strings out, then remove the coils from the tuning pins.



Minor quibble. There is no reason to use the tuning pins to take off tension. Just snip the wires one at a time and the tension will come down automatically in increments of about 300 lbs per every 2 wires snipped. (In any case, you should wear gloves and eye protection.)

Get good wire cutters -- ideally with compound leverage. You can use any cutter for one string, but after 210 strings or so, you may be on your way to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Good luck and have fun!


The above references to hand and eye protection is why I take the tension off before snipping. I also think it's a safe idea for the novice piano dismantler ("Hey Keith, I followed your advice. While I was cutting, my kid walked in the garage, and a flying string took out her eye.").

Just sayin'...
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2171522 - 10/24/13 10:21 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21529
Loc: Oakland
I have not responded to this because the answer depends on the results that you want. But I have been wondering why someone would purchase a piano for this when there are so many available for free.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2171527 - 10/24/13 10:38 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7438
Loc: Rochester MN
Since it is being used for a theatrical prop, it probably was chosen for its casework. Price wasn't mentioned.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2171538 - 10/24/13 10:57 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: OperaTenor]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1309
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
The easy parts are pulling the action and the keys out, unless the keys need to stay in for looks.

First, the tension needs to be taken off all of the strings; they should be quite loose before you proceed, as a matter of fact. You need a tuning lever to do this; a cheapie will do.

Then, cut all of the strings, preferably as close to the tuning pins as you can. Pull all of the cut strings out, then remove the coils from the tuning pins.



Minor quibble. There is no reason to use the tuning pins to take off tension. Just snip the wires one at a time and the tension will come down automatically in increments of about 300 lbs per every 2 wires snipped. (In any case, you should wear gloves and eye protection.)

Get good wire cutters -- ideally with compound leverage. You can use any cutter for one string, but after 210 strings or so, you may be on your way to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Good luck and have fun!


The above references to hand and eye protection is why I take the tension off before snipping. I also think it's a safe idea for the novice piano dismantler ("Hey Keith, I followed your advice. While I was cutting, my kid walked in the garage, and a flying string took out her eye.").

Just sayin'...



A good perspective. I use a Schaff tool to shear the wire at the becket and it doesn't go anywhere because the coil around the pin is still intact. (Then I remove the pins from within the detached coils and lastly remove the wire.

Just throwing a blanket over the strings would also address the issue of flying wire. But, in any event, we don't wire through a kid's eyes.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#2171578 - 10/25/13 12:22 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
PhilipInChina Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/19/13
Posts: 865
Loc: China
When I was a boy there was a craze for piano smashing contests. A 2 or 3 person team with sledgehammers. Every piece had to fit through a hole 1' square. It was fun at village fetes etc. It also reduced the number of old upright wrecks about which must be a positive.
_________________________
Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"

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#2171612 - 10/25/13 02:05 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1728
Loc: Conway, AR USA
If worth keeping, I'll usually de-hook the bass first. If not, I'll toss 'em back.


Edited by bkw58 (10/25/13 02:05 AM)
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Piano Technicć Blog

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#2171693 - 10/25/13 07:48 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: kpembrook]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4940
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
How do you gut un upright?

Stick a knife in its belly.


Originally Posted By: David Jenson
That's the first thing that came to my mind. laugh


Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Mine, too. What's that saying about great minds . . ..??
crazy


And where are these fine folks from? Places known for their hunting: British Columbia, Maine, Michigan and Pennsylvania, too, when you include me. laugh
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#2171698 - 10/25/13 08:04 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: OperaTenor]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7554
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
The easy parts are pulling the action and the keys out, unless the keys need to stay in for looks.

To reduce weight, you want to remove the cast-iron plate, and that takes some doing.

First, the tension needs to be taken off all of the strings; they should be quite loose before you proceed, as a matter of fact. You need a tuning lever to do this; a cheapie will do.

Then, cut all of the strings, preferably as close to the tuning pins as you can. Pull all of the cut strings out, then remove the coils from the tuning pins.

Next, you probably want to remove all of the tuning pins prior to pulling the plate. The best way is to get a tuning pin socket that can be chucked into a drill motor and run them out that way; be prepared to see a little wood smoke in the process.

To remove the plate, the easiest way would be by removing the key bed first; otherwise you have to lift it them move it laterally (very difficult) to clear the key bed. With the key bed removed and the piano on its back, you can use an engine hoist or a chain fall, with straps, to lift the plate out, once it's completely unbolted from the frame. You now have a huge piece of scrap iron, or artsy wall hanging for your music room...

Reinstall the key bed, slap the case pieces back on, and you now have a PSO piano prop.

If it's an old, full-size upright, the shell will weigh ~300 pounds, I'd guess.

At least, this is how I'd do it...



No problem to cut the strings with a disk, but that does not help much more tha dismounting them traditionally.

The fastest way is to use a becket breaker (tap on the coil with a heavy hammer)

Wear gloves and facial mask, and earplugs if you cut the strings.

I cannot see how bass strings can be kept (unless specific common model of old piano)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2171721 - 10/25/13 09:28 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7438
Loc: Rochester MN
One of the most important procedures has been neglected. After the piano is gutted, the chain hoist is very helpful to hang the piano from its pedals and attached to a tall tree, to let all of the tone drain out.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2171724 - 10/25/13 09:39 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4940
Loc: Bradford County, PA
And let's not forget to remove the damp chaser so it does not taint the soundboard! (Experienced hunters will know what I am really refering to.)
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#2171725 - 10/25/13 09:41 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7554
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
One of the most important procedures has been neglected. After the piano is gutted, the chain hoist is very helpful to hang the piano from its pedals and attached to a tall tree, to let all of the tone drain out.


It also make some kind of advertising to other pianos so they avoid getting out of order and old that way.
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2171727 - 10/25/13 09:47 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7438
Loc: Rochester MN
The joys of piano camp!
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2171741 - 10/25/13 10:10 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4940
Loc: Bradford County, PA
"It's the second octave of Piano Camp and all the tuners are here..."
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#2171743 - 10/25/13 10:17 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
WSPiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/24/13
Posts: 3
If we want to keep the keys, do we still pull the action?

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#2171771 - 10/25/13 10:59 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7438
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi WS,

If I understand your use, it is as a prop to be used for photography or theatrical performance. Is that correct? If so, weight reduction is important.

The entire action is rather heavy. Just cut out everything other than the 'visual' keyboard. Get rid of all the other stuff. All of the keys, the keyboard, can simply be glued into place to create a convincing "look."
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2171774 - 10/25/13 11:06 AM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7554
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
The joys of piano camp!


Oh a little discipline cannot be that bad, if only there where not all those non governmental organisation's, we really could do miracles.


Edited by Olek (10/25/13 11:07 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2171799 - 10/25/13 12:08 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: Olek]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4940
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: Olek
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
The joys of piano camp!


Oh a little discipline cannot be that bad, if only there where not all those non governmental organisation's, we really could do miracles.


Not that sort of camp: We are talking about Deer/Piano Camp:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb9yhhflmvY

What do expect this time of year and a Topic with a title like this one?
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#2171846 - 10/25/13 01:39 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2381
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: WSPiano
If we want to keep the keys, do we still pull the action?


Yes.

The keys will drop in front with the weight of the action off of them. There are a couple of ways to address this. If you don't care if the keys move, you can nail or glue them down at the back. If you want them to move, as if someone could mime playing, and you don't mind going to a little effort, you could tack/staple rubber bands on the back of the keys and attach the other end to the key bed. That way, the spring tension of the rubber band would hold the keys up in front, but they could still be depressed as if playing.

As Marty said, since this is a prop, weight reduction is extremely important.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2171946 - 10/25/13 05:04 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: WSPiano]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7438
Loc: Rochester MN
Jim, I'm almost afraid to ask, but, er, ah, should the rubber bands be tuned, and in what temperament?

crazy

Actually - That's a very clever idea!
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2171968 - 10/25/13 05:32 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: UnrightTooner]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7554
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Originally Posted By: Olek
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
The joys of piano camp!


Oh a little discipline cannot be that bad, if only there where not all those non governmental organisation's, we really could do miracles.


Not that sort of camp: We are talking about Deer/Piano Camp:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb9yhhflmvY

What do expect this time of year and a Topic with a title like this one?


No surprise you have to buy deer grease from Pianotek then
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


Top
#2172086 - 10/25/13 10:31 PM Re: How do you gut an upright? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2381
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Jim, I'm almost afraid to ask, but, er, ah, should the rubber bands be tuned, and in what temperament?

crazy

Actually - That's a very clever idea!


EBVT III, of course...
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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