Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory

Posted by: -Frycek

Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 06:49 PM

I recently bought a 1938 Kurtzmann grand. It has ivory keys which are not at all discolored and are still in pretty good shape. How does one clean ivory? What's the rule about keeping the fallboard open? I practice between 4-6 hours a day. Would that be enough light exposure to keep the keys from discoloring? I'd like to be able to close the fallboard as I have a very dust prone house.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 08:10 PM

Frycek
Generally to clean them properly, a technician should remove the keys and polish them with Tripoli on a high speed buff wheel. Tripoli is an old product….. dentist’s use a hygienically clean one for polishing your gold crowns if you happen to have them.
Yes, sunlight does strip color away from a lot of things, ivory is one of them, it would really depend on the amount of exposure, and the quality of direct sunlight on the keyboard. Most people of good sense do not have their instrument located in an area where the sunlight hits the keyboard, so the instrument only receives indirect sunlight……. there are lots of “whitening agents”, those strips that you put into your mouth are full of peroxide , which is an example.
Play the instrument and then close it up. Call a tech in your area and have them polished if you wish for a high gleam. Wipe them with a damp cloth yourself if you wish, a good habit to get into is to wash your hands before playing. This does two things. Cleans you digits and helps to warm up the muscles in your fingers for a better practice session. Oh and one more thing. Check your furnace filter…. This could be the dust culprit…….. good luck!
Posted by: Supply

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 08:11 PM

There is a good product for cleaning keys called Cory Key-Brite. Any good piano store should carry it.

I would be wary of long term possible discoloration if the fallboard is only open a few hours per day. But maybe it takes a few decades to have an effect? Does anyone know how quickly ivory can yellow?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 08:28 PM

“Does anyone know how quickly ivory can yellow?

No idea on that one Jürgen, I just know that it does…. Maybe a felt key cover for the dust there? Did a key polish for a cigarette smoker once… lots of windows and light flooding in… the keys were dark, almost orangey, and the smell……. Yikes…. I will try the key brite... haven't yet... thanks for the input....
Posted by: Innominato

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 08:39 PM

Frycek as we are on the issue: do you feel the difference in temperature? If yes, it is pleasant or unpleasant to you and which one would you prefer, plastic or ivory?
Posted by: Paul Kolodner

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 08:42 PM

I use Key-Brite on my ivory keys, and it works very well.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 09:09 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Innominato:
Frycek as we are on the issue: do you feel the difference in temperature? If yes, it is pleasant or unpleasant to you and which one would you prefer, plastic or ivory? [/b]
Thanks every one for your advice. I'm not interested in polishing the keys. They look quite nice now. This was a one owner piano and was obviously well cared for. I just want to know what's safe to ocassionally wipe them with. A barely moistened cloth? It sound like I should be leaving the fall board open as the keys will be receiving no direct sunlight at all. As for how long it takes ivory to yellow - I have a Chinese brush holder that's almost a persimmon orange. It's supposed to be about 200 years old.

As for how the keys feel. The ivory is noticeably cooler than the wood of the piano. The texture and feel is definitely different. It's pleasant or perhaps that's just nostalgia for me as my first music teacher taught me on a big old Victorian upright and I much preferred the feel of those keys (and the sound of that piano) to the Cable I had at home. (And she taught me always to wash my hands.)

Re house dust: old house, real plaster, plaster ceilings, no carpets, three cats and every kind of hardwood you can think of outside

One other question. This new piano has black keys with the black wearing a bit thin. What are they made from? Are they "enhanced" ebony or something else? My Mathushek (who lost her ivory long ago) as ebony sharps that are dense and hard and glossy. The ones on the Kurtzmann feel very hard and smooth but appear to be a dull brown where the black is wearing.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 09:56 PM

I was always told the reason they yellowed was due to a lack of cleaning. Finger dirt and other grime left on the keys didn't allow the air to get at the keys thus yellowing them. Never did find out if that one was true or not but it seems logical?

I was always leary of using a buffing wheel for the simple reason that it is to easy to over heat the keys and burn, melt or deform them a little bit. Been there done that when I first started out. But, it is a quick way of cleaning them.

I like the Cory products too. Otherwise, wring out a nice clean soft cloth. Don't leave it drippy and wipe them off changing places on the cloth often.

An occasional swipe over an ivory soap bar shouldn't hurt anything either. Then, rinse the soap off from the rag wringing it out good again and wipe off any excess soap and dry with another nice soft clean cloth.
Posted by: Ron Alexander

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 10:37 PM

I too have used the Cory products for polishing, but I agree a soft damp cloth is best for general cleaning. No dripping of water because that can damage ivories.

I've always heard sunlight yellows the keys, but lately I think it was discussed here in the forum, that sunlight will bleach the keys. So I did a simple google search, and find that yellowing is probably caused by the aging process of the ivory. It is best not to cover ivory keys, but leave them open to the light, especially sunlight.
Posted by: piano_deb

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/20/08 11:46 PM

From the PTG site:
 Quote:
Cleaning Your Keys

• Piano keys eventually become soiled with accumulated oil and dirt from fingers. To clean your white keys, use a soft cloth dampened with water and a small amount of mild soap. Avoid solvents. Make sure the cloth is thoroughly wrung out, and wipe the keys back-to-front rather than side-to-side, so excess moisture and dirt will not seep down the sides of the keys. Clean only a few keys at a time drying immediately with a clean cloth.

• Ivory keys are porous, and excessive moisture can penetrate and loosen their glue joints. Also, a dirty or brightly colored cleaning cloth can transfer stains into the ivory.

• Clean sharps in the same manner, but use a separate cloth for painted wooden sharps to avoid black stains on the white keys.
Hope this helps. \:\)
Posted by: Supply

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/21/08 12:43 AM

 Quote:
An occasional swipe over an ivory soap bar shouldn't hurt anything either. Then, rinse the soap off from the rag wringing it out good again and wipe off any excess soap and dry with another nice soft clean cloth.
Only use ivory soap on ivories. For the sharps, use ebony soap if at all possible


\:D
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Keeping Ivory Keys Ivory - 03/21/08 09:09 AM

Jurgen, lol