Piano Keys Repair and Restoration

 
  • Piano key is sticky or stuck in place?

  • Piano keytops or ivories may be missing, broken, chipped or damaged?

  • Maybe the keys are uneven and not leveled?

  • Perhaps they wiggle from side-to-side?

  • Or they rock back and forth? Maybe some keys press down more or less that others do?

 
 

Restoring the keyboard on a vintage piano can involve a couple different approaches or a combination of two or more of the following:

 

5. Key Bushings (front and center)

The holes where the front and balance rail pins enter the key levers is bushed with special piano felt. Over time, this felt can wear and compress, resulting in wobbling or rocking keys.

6. Capstans

Capstans are screw-like in that they are screwed into the key lever somewhere in its back half (see photo below). The capstan is the actual connection between the key lever and the rest of the piano action. These can also become oxidized beyond repair, and require replacement for smooth action of the piano.

7. Key buttons

These are pieces of wood glued to the tops of each key lever that help balance it on the balance rail pin. These can easily become cracked and damaged over time due to their relatively thin nature compared to the key lever itself. This issue can also be the cause of rocking keys on your piano, Replacement is recommended when this becomes the case.

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1. Key Top Replacement

Key top replacement always adds new life to an older piano–or on any piano that has worn or broken keytops. This is fairly straightforward as long as everything else in the key bed system is in working order.

2. The Key Bed

The key bed includes multiple components that can be addressed during restoration: the key buttons, the key bushings, balance pins, the front rail pins, capstans, and two sets of felt punchings. The key levers themselves could also become a restoration target if they are badly damaged/warped.

3. Balance Rail Pins

As the name implies, the balance rail pins are what each key lever “balance” on when pressed to activate a hammer. Typically the issue with these is that they become corroded and rusted beyond repair. When this occurs, replacement pins are necessary. (see photo at below right, which also shows one of the two sets of felt punchings).

4. Front Rail Pins

Similar to balance rail pins, but these are located towards the front of the key in the key bed, and hold the key in position at the front. Same issues can occur with front rail pins.