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#627243 - 05/29/07 03:17 PM How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Can anyone tell me how you can tell if a piano has real ivory keys.

A student of mine just inherited a grand piano and was told the keys were real ivory.

Also, can real ivory keys be replaced if need be?

Thanks in advance.

Diane
____________________________________

Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher
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Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#627244 - 05/29/07 04:28 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
John Delmore Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/05
Posts: 373
Loc: Shreveport, LA
Hmmm...how to tell, if you don't know how to tell...

First, is it "old"...like, pre-WWII?

Second, ivory is an organic material. It has a grain pattern that will run throughout the thickness. Look for chips, and check.

Third, ivory has a distinctive "silky" feel that synthetics just don't. Seems to stay "warmer" to the touch.

Real ivory IS available as replacement, but it ain't cheap...it MUST be scavenged from old pianos...no new ivory.
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#627245 - 05/29/07 05:06 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Mike Morvan has tons of great pictures on his excellent website:
http://www.pianoandorgankeys.com/services.htm

In addition to the grain, typically ivory keytops are in two rectangular pieces, rather than a single "L". Look for the seam between the broad "head" and the skinny "tail".

--Cy--
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#627246 - 05/29/07 07:38 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
tds Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/06
Posts: 446
Loc: Bastrop, Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Delmore:
Hmmm...how to tell, if you don't know how to tell...

Real ivory IS available as replacement, but it ain't cheap...it MUST be scavenged from old pianos...no new ivory. [/b]
Actually, new ivory is available from a few suppliers. It is ivory which has already been harvested and is therefore not subject to the ban currently in effect. When you have a keyboard covered in ivory, you get a certificate from the U.S. Government stating that the ivory you used is legal.

But you're absolutely right - it costs a fortune!
_________________________
Stay tuned.

Tom Seay, Recovering Piano Technician
Bastrop, Texas

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#627247 - 05/30/07 03:28 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
This grand piano came to Canada from Arizona, so am going over to play this thing and can't wait to see if it feels warm to the touch!

John Delmore - Will check out the keys for grain pattern and for "silky" feel and "warm" to the touch. That should be an experience.

Cy Shuster - Will be looking for the 2 rectangles and the seam. Thanks for the informative web site too!

tds - Will maybe get them to change all the keys to plastic to avoid future financial worries.

All comments much appreciated! I'll post to let you know for sure if they are real ivory as they claim to be.

Thanks again for all your responses!

To be continued, Diane
_____________________________________

Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher
_________________________
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Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#627248 - 05/30/07 03:33 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Atlasrising Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 49
Loc: Earth
there's a seam between the front and tail. notice the bone grainy texture.

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#627249 - 05/30/07 03:41 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Got ya! Will do. Maybe first I should go to the zoo and check out the elephant's tusks! I'll just practice on his tusk for a while just to get the feel of it!

(Just for benefit of some, I was just kidding about practicing on a live elephant's tusk! Gives new meaning to "real" ivory keys.)

Diane
__________________________________

Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#627250 - 05/30/07 04:18 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5573
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Just invite Tantor to check it out for you...

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#627251 - 05/30/07 11:25 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3191
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Thanks, Frank. That is REALLY funny! LOL
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Madison WI USA
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#627252 - 05/31/07 10:44 AM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Mr Frank B - Wow, I'd say you are like Celebrity status here! Bigger then an an Elephant I should say, right?! Thanks for dropping in!

Thanks also for the very funny joke! If I can get "Tantor" through the front door, he can check the keys!

Diane
____________________________________

Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#627253 - 05/31/07 11:26 AM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
 Quote:
Originally posted by Diane W:
Mr Frank B - ... Bigger then an an Elephant I should say, right?! ...
Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher [/b]
Have you too meet before??? lol


sorry Frank.
_________________________
Les Koltvedt
LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate

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#627254 - 05/31/07 11:45 AM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Okay, poor wording on my part! I've seen a picture of Mr. B, and he is definitely "not" big like that!

Hope I've rescued the situation!

Monster M&H - Be nice or I'll have Tantor sit on you.

Diane
___________________________________

Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#627255 - 05/31/07 05:01 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Jeff A. Smith, RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/03
Posts: 476
Loc: Angola, Indiana USA
It seems like I've read somewhere that ivory is supposed to be cool to the touch rather than warm. I can't find the reference off-hand. I see in Larry Fine's book the words "softer" and "warmer" are used in connection with ivory. Temperature's never mattered much to me though, for identification purposes, because natural ivory's grain patterns are such that I've yet to see a good imitation. As has also been said, one piece keytops usually aren't ivory, while two-piece keytops usually are.

Jeff
_________________________
Jeff A. Smith
Registered Piano Technician
Indiana, USA

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#627256 - 05/31/07 10:44 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Steven Bolstridge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/13/05
Posts: 197
Loc: Fitzgerald ,GA
Tantor has been around for a while. It has always amazed me how he held on to the the cocktail glass in the first place. I really think it was planned and that he knew the piano would be there. Everyone else looks kind or mellowed out, but not Tantor. I'm sure he couldn't ever play very well either.
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#627257 - 06/01/07 12:00 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
 Quote:
Originally posted by Diane W:
Okay, poor wording on my part! I've seen a picture of Mr. B, and he is definitely "not" big like that!

Hope I've rescued the situation!

Monster M&H - Be nice or I'll have Tantor sit on you.

Diane
___________________________________

Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher [/b]
You just might have done it...Franks' a nice guy... and I just noticed your a Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher...my kinda of ...teacher. \:D

btw...you had me when I saw the Mr.B ...he's a local talent here in the A2 town... Mr B\'s web site, not up to date tho we also have Bob Seeley as a local talent for BW Bob Seeley info

sorry for takin this OT
_________________________
Les Koltvedt
LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate

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#627258 - 06/02/07 12:47 PM Re: How to tell if a piano has "real" ivory keys
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Delmore:
Hmmm...how to tell, if you don't know how to tell...

First, is it "old"...like, pre-WWII?

Second, ivory is an organic material. It has a grain pattern that will run throughout the thickness. Look for chips, and check.

Third, ivory has a distinctive "silky" feel that synthetics just don't. Seems to stay "warmer" to the touch.

Real ivory IS available as replacement, but it ain't cheap...it MUST be scavenged from old pianos...no new ivory. [/b]
_________________________________________

Had a chance to go over and play this piano that they claim has "real ivory keys" and from all the information that was given, I say definitely, yes!!!

{Edited out unnecessary history information.}

It really is lovely to look at because even though the keys are old looking, it fits in beautifully with the glossy wood finish. The keys are in perfect condition. For it's age, I'd say this thing has great sound, and the keys really feel "silky" to the touch. The whole piano has never been refinished. Would have to say, the keys didn't really feel warm to the touch, but it was hard to get me away from playing and enjoying the "silky" feel of the keys. {The silky keys thing is definitely true!} Keys also had great action!

Thanks again for all of your posts letting me know what real ivory keys look and feel like. Everything everyone said was true. Thanks again!

Diane
____________________________________

Blues/Jazz/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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