Rebuilding a 1920 Knabe grand 5’6″

The Knabe company was one of America’s finest builders in the early decades of the twentieth century. After its founding in Baltimore and a number of complicated business maneuvers, the company ended up in Rochester, New York from the 1930’s until the early 1980’s. The current Knabe piano, made in Asia by Samick Musical Instruments, bears almost no resemblance to the old glory days of the company. This model was used by a piano teacher and its cabinet had been refinished, but the strings and pin block were original and were in desperate need of refurbishing. It now sits in what seems to be a happy home, where it is making beautiful music again. 

The strings are off, and now, screws and bolts must be removed for plate removal.

Iron plate has been removed, exposing the old pin block (left), which will be replaced; and the full soundboard, which will be refinished.

Plate set up on sawhorses for cleaning and repainting. The area of the tuning pin holes (bottom of photo) is called the “web.”

Underside view of the plate (the part most people never see). The new pin block must be made to fit the web area perfectly.

The original Knabe soundboard decal, which comes off with the old finish when the soundboard is refinished.

The new Knabe soundboard decal, still in the box – exciting!

New decal applied to the newly refinished soundboard.

OK, can’t resist – another view of the decal and soundboard.

Soundboard showing the tops of the bridges scraped and ready for new finish. The new pin block is in the foreground.

Full-length view of the new pin block in the piano.

The plate is now installed – ready for stringing.

Stringing has begun.

New strings, treble sections.

New strings, bass section.

A look inside the newly strung piano.

Very pretty piano.

Another view of the new strings in the piano.

Front view showing the newly restored keys.

Historic Knabe advertisement from the 1800’s/.

One of Knabe’s endorsements during their golden era.