Posted by: Sam S
My 'New" 1927 Bechstein - 10/18/12 07:17 AM
It took me almost a year, but this is my rebuilt 1927 Bechstein Model 'L'.
It all started back in 1979, when for a couple of years I worked as a piano technician, trying to learn the craft, before I thought better of it, went back to school, and followed a totally different career path. A lot of pianos were saved by that decision! Fast forward 30+ years.
I am that guy in your neighborhood who builds a sailboat bigger than his house in his backyard. Or the guy building the hot rod in his garage who is up all night welding and banging away. Or the crazy guy building a replica of Devil's Tower out of mud in his living room. No, I'm not that guy, I hope!
So I bought an old piano from a local technician. It was unplayable, and had been stored for a few years awaiting restoration. A previous unknown technician had ruined it with a bad rebuild. The pinblock had failed. (The pinblock on the Bechstein is open face and mortised into the case - woodworking experience is a real plus). So I bought it without playing it or hearing it, although I did look at it...
Then I spent 10 months rebuilding it. I removed the old soundboard and sent it to Bolduc to be duplicated, and have new bridge caps made. I put in a new pinblock and restrung it. I did a bunch of action work, rebushing and adding new felt and new dampers. I put in new hammers and shanks with new knuckles and rebushed the keys. I didn't refinish it, but repaired some damage, cleaned it up and added a topcoat of black shellac. I managed to do it all without making too many mistakes.
So finally it is playable and I am having a great time with it. I enjoy playing it even more since I rebuilt it myself. There is still some voicing to be done, but I am fine-tuning things slowly. It really sounds good. A dark tone, with an edge to the treble. It's a nice size piano for the room, which is an ordinary living room.
If you are interested, here's an album of 164 photos from the rebuild job:
1927 Bechstein photos
And a few more finished photos - don't look too close, you'll see my mistakes!