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#634523 - 08/12/07 02:05 AM Soundboard bleaching
woodfab Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 388
Loc: Stoneham, MA
OK I've scraped, sanded, and refinished a couple of 80 year old sound-boards with fair results.
I have here an 80 year old Kimball still has good crown and no cracks on the bridges.
I would like to get it to looks it's best and was thinking of trying some type of bleaching.
Any input would be appreciated.
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#634524 - 08/12/07 02:46 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
BDB Online   content
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Loc: Oakland
Replacing the decal will help a lot. An amber-tinted finish will also help even things out. The way to see how the wood will look finished is to dampen it. Water will raise the grain; gentle sanding across it will remove the raised fibers. That is a good process to go through before finishing in any case.
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#634525 - 08/13/07 08:34 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
pianobroker Offline
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Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Your board doesn't look bad at all. As BDB was saying, once you replace the decal over the former imprint it will look fine (Decals Unlimited's decal should be pretty close as for size) Wood is suppose to look natural. I would avoid using AB bleach unless absolutely necessary on very discolored boards. It damages the wood pores/fibers. We've been down this road 250+ times
That board is fine. Amber tint will definitely cover some areas but it will darken the board to much. A clear coat whether lacquer,urethane or even polyester will darken it naturally.
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#634526 - 08/14/07 09:14 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
woodfab Offline
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Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 388
Loc: Stoneham, MA
I was thinking of skipping the $135 decal.
I guess if the decal will increase the piano's value by making the soundboard look better I should put it on.
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#634527 - 08/15/07 03:53 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
pianobroker Offline
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Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
That decal can make or break a sale sometimes. That decal is beautiful (5 colors) reason for the extra cost. I thought it was only $95 though it probably went up. I always put the decal on Steinways even though Steinway stopped on new ones in the thirties.
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#634528 - 08/15/07 04:41 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3389
Loc: Madison, WI USA
While I am long out of the rebuilding end of the business, I too went through all of this. I don't recommend bleaching the wood for the reasons another has stated. Any stain on the wood will just make it darker. I can see how you would like to brighten up and even out the color of the wood, however and the money for the decal would be money well spent, I agree.

I can tell you what I saw another rebuilder do whose rebuilding work was terrible but the effect he created with the soundboard was quite remarkable. Apparently, he used a bright, lemon yellow tint in the soundboard lacquer. The tint was opaque but inasmuch as it was such a thin coat, the darker parts of the wood underneath would still show through slightly and give the impression of a "clear" finish with grain of the wood showing. Upon first glance, the soundboard appeared to be "new", having that very light color that brand new material has.

As I said, I never tried it myself, so I can't say how much tint to use, etc. I would suggest an experiment, however on a plywood panel to see just how much tint you might use to create the effect. If you consider that in combination with the decal and that the soundboard is largely obscured by the plate and strings, it might very well create the effect you desire. The bridge root would also have this "new" wood appearance. I can see no adverse effects it would cause.
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#634529 - 08/16/07 01:41 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Randy Karasik, Colorado, USA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/07/05
Posts: 65
Loc: Colorado
The color of the wood in your picture is fine. I would go with a new decal and a clear finish. It will look great.
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#634530 - 08/17/07 06:09 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3661
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
The board will look fine. No need for bleach. If I may ask, why are you not notching and repining the bridges? Cracks are only one of the problems. Replacing the decal will look way better and hide the fact the board is lighter where it was.

Why does spruce get darker where not protected from light/UV?
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#634531 - 08/17/07 05:13 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Gene Nelson Online   content
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Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1570
Loc: Old Hangtown California
The best bleached soundboard that I have ever seen was on a 1918 SSM that had been restored in Poland.
The finish was high gloss polyester with beautiful matching veneers on the rim, fallboard and music desk to add to the sparkle.
The problem that I had was that the piano store -not local or in Poland - had retailed it to my customer who believed it to be a complete restoration.
Granted, the board looked new to the inexperienced eye but the board was dead flat and dead and in need of replacement, not new as the customer believed.
This was the sparkly type of thing that trout like people go for.
No insinuations here, just my experience for what it is worth.
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#634532 - 08/17/07 10:49 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3661
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
I have seen the same from Poland. The boards look good but no crown. Go figure, all that work for looks.
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#634533 - 08/18/07 12:35 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
woodfab Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 388
Loc: Stoneham, MA
Thanks for all your replies.

The piano sounded pretty good prior to taking it apart. It still appears to have good crown and there are no cracks on the bridges.
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#634534 - 08/18/07 01:42 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
 Quote:
Originally posted by woodfab:
Thanks for all your replies.

The piano sounded pretty good prior to taking it apart. It still appears to have good crown and there are no cracks on the bridges. [/b]
First ... I'm not a tech and don't claim to be...you state " it still appears to have good crown" ... has it been measured??
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#634535 - 08/18/07 09:14 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Gene Nelson
I think the two Polish co. that I am not going to mention by name do incredible polyester reveneer /hand inlay marketry etc. but their internal work is not their forte. In Poland and Germany,changing a board is not as acceptable as in the states. I've sent them 10-15 Steinway grands over the years to just address the case only and we do the remaining remanufacture in house (new soundboard,bridges,ribs,action stack, pinblock etc.) If you look at the underside of their soundboards, it's pretty scary looking. They don't believe in changing action parts either unless absolutely necessary. They would rather repin flanges,change knuckles,recover backchecks etc. in that labor is cheap evedentually.
I think their reconditioned boards sound strange in that they refinish them with a very thick coat of satin polyester after their bleach treatment.
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#634536 - 08/19/07 04:44 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Gene Nelson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1570
Loc: Old Hangtown California
Pianobroker,
That very nice poly finish that they put on the SSM was so thick that the lid would bind on the music rack when trying to close it and the fallboard had problems binding on case parts.
Some of the screws that they were forced to drill for hinges put small cracks in the new poly finish - they did not know how to drill into polyester.
The same reasoning about action parts went into this piano as you have mentioned. I had to replace the back action. It was interesting in that someone had gone to great length to regulate the dampers for even lift with the pedal and make it work ok. Looking at the tray it was badly warped due to the return spring being so far from the pittman - typical 90 year old SS. There were several lift lever flanges that had failed glue joints and were wandering from side to side. It played and damped ok but just ok enough to make the sale because it looked great from above.
They had installed a completely new action with frame and Kluge keys - looked beautiful but would not regulate and the touch weights were as much as 90 gms. On closer inspection there were no glides _not even holes for them - and they forgot about the monkey guide - the action frame did not go back far enough to mount one - had to build one on the keybed.
Some of the Polish rebuild reasoning and work I have no objection to at all. My problem was disclosure to the client. The rebuilder is on the other side of the planet and the people in-between them and the client were not communicating.
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#634537 - 08/19/07 03:47 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
woodfab Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 388
Loc: Stoneham, MA
"Hey" the question was about the pros and cons of bleaching the soundboard.
The next thing you know will be talking about the moon landing. Was it real or fake?
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#634538 - 08/19/07 05:25 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Sorry Woodfab but whats left to say about bleaching a board. One more offpoint post
Gene Nelson
The polish co.s mostly display and sell their pianos at the Namm show to the retail stores which the emphasis is on the case fabrication,reveneer,marketry etc. The furniture criteria is a priority over the sound or in this case (no sound). The retail stores that have their pianos rebuilt by ex. Sama are the same ones that buy these Polish restorations. That is the difference between high end restoration facilities(Pianocraft,Cunningham) that also sell retail (new)pianos. The standards of restoration are gonna be much higher. MOST retail stores that don't do restoration are not that picky or that knowledgeable as for restoration. If you don't do restoration or are not somewhat knowledgeable than what questions do you ask in your communication. I've never saw a dealer have a tech look at their restorations at the Namm show prior to purchasing. When I send them pianos(Polish co.s to reveneer,etc.) I would just send them the case and some case parts only (no plate,no action,no legs,no lyre,no music rack )You want to play a piano with a strange action geometry, play one of their former viennese action stacks converted to a modern action.
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#634539 - 08/19/07 06:49 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
woodfab Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 388
Loc: Stoneham, MA
It would seem to me that there would be a lot more to say about bleaching.
There are basically three types of chemicals most commonly used to bleach wood, Oxalic acid, Sodium hypochlorite and a two part A/B wood bleach.
I was hoping to get some replies for people who actually tried them regardless of the condition of the rest of the piano even if one of the casters are loose.
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#634540 - 08/19/07 06:49 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Gene Nelson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1570
Loc: Old Hangtown California
The knowledgable questions are: is it new, restored, refirbished or used. The answers to these questions are straight forward.
Larry Fine describes these very nicely.
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RPT
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#634541 - 08/20/07 03:34 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Gene Nelson
You know the terms in the restoration industry are totally ambiguous. They mean nothing if there is no trade standard in the industry. Restored,refurbished,reconditioned,remanufactured,renovated,rebuilt imply or mean nothing concrete. The only similarity as for their connotation is they all start with R. "What is the difference if one said they rebuilt, restored or refurbished the action" Did they change the damper action? or the backchecks? even wippens? let off buttons? Most restorations I see in the marketplace, the "back action" is original, patched up similar to your scenario. I don't think in the restoration industry that replacing the back action is a given as for most restoration co. rebuilding one's action assembly.
New parts means nothing either! It's what you do with the parts that matters. You as a tech knows that. Even if you know what to ask, there is still no gurantee as to what you get for your $ plus one has to pay FOB from these co. before they even ship to you. Theres no prior approval status unless you want to fly to Poland upon the pianos completion. If you don't ask for a quality standard you won't get it.
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#634542 - 08/20/07 03:46 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3389
Loc: Madison, WI USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobroker:
Gene Nelson
You know the terms in the restoration industry are totally ambiguous. They mean nothing if there is no trade standard in the industry. Restored,refurbished,reconditioned,remanufactured,renovated,rebuilt imply or mean nothing concrete. The only similarity as for their connotation is they all start with R. "What is the difference if one said they rebuilt, restored or refurbished the action" [/b]
This is where I have seen the catch all tern, "re-whatevered" apply quite nicely.
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Madison WI USA
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#634543 - 08/20/07 04:20 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Gene Nelson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1570
Loc: Old Hangtown California
I think that I will steer clear of these pianos and stick with the terminology that I am comfortable with.
My understanding of industry wide issues like these is obviously naive.
In either case disclosure is what really counts.
Client should know if the piano they are buying has had the board replaced or bleached.
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PTG Member

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#634544 - 08/20/07 04:51 AM Re: Soundboard bleaching
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Hey Gene, I forgot to mention in my last post, I am willing to bet that the problematic Steinway M you were assessing was a model XR player in which they cut the case down, replaced the action frame along with the stack. People send them XR and OR explayers. They do it very convincingly,cut the case down,reveneer the arms,change the legs,trapwork and action frame
I know these co.s quite well and believe me they would not have changed the keyset unless absolutely necessary and in this case long keys from a XR player don't cut it. Action frame problems? Funky trapwork? weird action geometry?
Steinways are inconsistent but...
I rest my case
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100+Steinway and M&H grands
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Preowned & Restored
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#634545 - 08/20/07 12:08 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
woodfab Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 388
Loc: Stoneham, MA
I agree .
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#634546 - 08/20/07 03:35 PM Re: Soundboard bleaching
Gene Nelson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1570
Loc: Old Hangtown California
Woodfab - sorry to drag this topic beyond board bleaching.
You may consider glass bead blasting as an alternative. I have done it on very old funky keys and other aged and dirty wood parts - made them almost look new.
I agree with the idea of not using bleaches especially hypo - because of the caustic nature of it. It would appear very difficult to completely remove once applied in addition to damaging the cell structure.

Pianaobroker - I think you may be correct about the explayer - had me totally fooled - will take a much closer look at my next visit. Thanks for your insights into this strange market.
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RPT
PTG Member

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