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Piano Maintenance– About hammers: all or partial replacement? (Video)

When my Baldwin Hamilton 1929 grand underwent exploratory surgery in the capable hands of Mark Schecter, RPT, I had some pointed questions.

Given that the piano had a glassy-sounding upper treble due to worn down hammers, would installing a partial set of new ones be a reasonable route to take?

Mark didn’t think so, and explained.

My guess was that the weight of the hammers could be a variable, making one part of the piano feel qualitatively different than another.

More about hammers on video:

And a valuable Piano World Forum post from Keith Aikens, RPT conformed with Mark’s opinion:

“It is important to realize that there isn’t any “partial set of hammers” readily available on the market. Here’s why:

“Hammers are made as one long piece of felt pressed around one long moulding. Then the completed pressing is cut into individual hammer heads. (We just call them hammers).

“The costs to make a partial set will be close to the costs to make a full set of hammers. So there is no economic incentive to a hammer maker to make a partial set — even if there were a sufficient demand. And, if a full set is broken up and sold, who will buy the remainder? The costs are still the same = 1 full set.

“That’s the story from the hammer maker’s side. From the side of the piano/pianist/technician, it’s really quite simple. The piano as an instrument is an organic whole and when parts are worn, it’s best to replace them in sets, rather than trying to set a standard of “how worn is still acceptable” and then measuring them to determine pass/fail according to whatever (necessarily arbitrary) criteria are established.

“So, even though the treble hammers may be worn down to the wood and the bass ones aren’t, the bass are still worn and merit replacement. But, beyond that, the new hammers simply won’t match the old ones. It’s like having heavy, lugged snow/mud tires on one side of your car and racing tires on the other side. It won’t be a pleasant driving experience.”


The Back Story:

cleaning ivory keys, gray spots on ivory keys, ivory piano keys, Mark Schecter Registered Piano Technician, piano, piano maintenance, piano technician's guild, piano tuner, playing piano, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Uncategorized, word press, you tube

Windex on ivory keys: Did it remove the gray spots?

There was definitely an improvement after Mark scrubbed the whites and even the black key OFFENDERS with Windex. I don’t believe, however, that the gray will ever be totally removed because it had become ingrained into the keys by its introduction through supposedly “shoe-dyed” ebonies. (See

Here are photos that I took 24-hours post Windex:

Mark in Action:

Schecter talks about the Piano Technician’s Guild:


The Back Story:

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: I meet my Blind Date Grand Piano in El Cerrito! (6 part video) and Coda

Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Mark Schecter Registered Piano Technician, piano, piano maintenance, piano maintenance and repair, Piano Street, piano technician, piano technician's guild, Piano World, piano world-wide, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Uncategorized, word press, you tube

Piano Maintenance Teaser: Graying ivories and a squeaky note

This is a video preview of what will follow later today when several uploads related to my Baldwin piano’s weekend “regulation” are lined up on You Tube.

As a start, one of the problems plaguing my recently acquired Hamilton grand 1929, a.k.a “blind date piano,” was a grayish discoloration on every ivory key.

In my ignorance, I conjectured that such an irregularity was indicative of older pianos. Yellowed keys were more familiar than speckled grays.

That’s about when piano detective, Mark Schecter, RPT, (Registered Piano Technician) came on the scene to make a diagnosis and possible repair. His larger mission, however, was to “regulate” the piano as best he could once his assessment of the action including hammers, bushings, etc. was completed. (many video segments)

But first, his “surface” exploration of the keyboard is worth viewing plus a squeaky note diagnostic and potential repair.

Hopefully, this opening footage will ignite interest in the whole video series which constitutes a primer of piano maintenance. It fleshes out the need to have well-trained, qualified technicians service pianos to their optimum performance level.

Graying Ivories saga:

Squeaky B annoyance!


Continue Part One and Two:

The Back Story:

6- part video, I meet my Blind Date Piano for Valentine’s Day!