What Is Involved in Restoring an Antique Cable-Nelson Upright Piano?


Quick Answer

Restoring an antique Cable-Nelson upright piano involves disassembly, cataloguing, soundboard restoration, block restoration and restoring the action. Anything organic in the piano, such as felt and leather, needs to be replaced after about 50 years. Everything else is suitable for restoration. Cable-Nelson pianos were manufactured from 1903 until the 1980s and are generally considered by restoration professionals to be of good quality, and therefore worth restoring.

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Full Answer

After disassembling the piano, take pictures of all the pieces, and catalog them for easier reassembly. Disassembly involves removing everything, including the harp and the strings. Once everything is removed, place the piano in a special drying room to reduce the moisture content. This prevents shrinking and warping during the restoration process.

Once dry, restore the soundboard, block and cabinet using traditional woodworking techniques. Replace the harp and strings after finishing the woodwork. While the wood is drying, replace the hammers, keys and the rest of the mechanical apparatus. After reassembling the piano, tweak and tune the mechanics to achieve the best sound. For best results, restore everything that is possible to restore, including the hinges, pedals and keys. Replace organic elements, such as rubber and string, after 40 to 50 years.

For best results, play or tune your restored piano frequently to keep the parts from stiffening. Ignoring an antique piano could result in expensive professional tuning to make the piano playable again.

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