Rebuilding a 1926 Steinert grand

The Steinert company began as a dealer in music instruments, and eventually one the earliest retailers of Steinway pianos. In the early 1900s, the company began to make pianos of its own, and through its association with Steinway, the Steinert grands were of exceptional quality. This one was acquired from a church in Lowell, Massachusetts after sitting for many years untunable and unplayable. During the rebuilding process documented below, I recognized the quality of this instrument and recommended to my daughter Kara that she latch onto it. It now sits in her studio ( and is being used for practice and to make some wonderful piano recordings (see resources page).

One of the first things in piano rebuilding is “tear-down,” which includes, as has been done here, removing the old strings and tuning pins.

Stapping in place for hoisting the 300-pound (or so) plate out of the piano.

Plate removed and on saw horses for cleaning and repainting (which in piano work is often called “rebronzing.”)

A little close-up of the Steinert name and insignia.

The repainted plate.

Closer view of the newly restored plate.

The old pin block (left) before removal and duplication, and the soundboard before repairs and refinishing.

Soundboard stripped of its old finish. Most piano makers used shellac on their soundboards, believing it was best for sound production.

Soundboard refinished.!

Refinished soundboard, rear view.

Refinished board showing close up of the bridges – also cleaned and refinished.

The new pin block installed in the piano. The block must be duplicated according the exact contours of the old one – a slow and tedious process.

Getting ready to hoist the plate back into the piano.

Plate back in.

Another view.

Gluing the front edge of the new pin block to the “stretcher,” the piece of wood above the piano’s nameboard that connects the two ends of the rim.

Treble strings all on, and starting on the bass strings.

Side view showing a close-up of the “agraffes” in a grand piano which the strings pass through before connecting to the tuning pins.

Strings all on!

New keycaps are slightly larger than the surface of the key. After gluing, they must be shaped with a file by hand to be flush with the sides of the key.

Placing the restored keys back into the key frame.

Keys on, waiting for the action (hammers, whippets, etc. – the mechanical stuff) to be placed on top.

Dampers laid out on the workbench, waiting to have heads & wires cleaned, and have their felts replaced.

All the piano’s pedals and hardware, awaiting a decision on whether to have them replated (I decided against it) or clean and polish them myself.