Allegro Pages

Rebuilding a 1924 Steinway Model "L"

Keith T. Comparetto,
Piano Tuner-Technician



Before teardown

Steinway Model "L" grand, upon delivery to rebilding shop.

Aliquot plates
One of two photos taken after string removal and before plate removal, showing the exact location of the aliquot plates (right half of the photo, just to the right of the bridge), for proper re-location later.
Removing pins
Removing tuning pins with a power driver after strings have been removed.
Removing lags
Removing plate lag screws with a socket wrench.
Pinblock plate screws
Removing the large slotted plate screws that hold the plate to the pinblock (front end of the plate)
Plate screw pattern
Plate screws in a cardboard template so they will later return to their original location when the plate is re-installed.
Plate lift 2
Beginning to hoist plate from piano.
Plate lift 5
Plate removal.
Hoisted plate 1
Plate removed from piano.
Hoisted plate 2
Plate removed, with fuller view of piano beneath.
Plate removed front
Piano, front view, with plate removed.
Plate removed back
Piano with plate removed, back view.
Plate horizontal
Plate after removal, just before removing hoist and straps.
Plate vertical
Removed plate, proudly standing for a portrait, prior to cleaning and preparation for rebronzing.
Old pinblock, full
View of old pinblock (previously hidden by the plate) needing to be removed and duplicated.
Old block, bass
One of many photos of the pinblock. Photos like this, along with multiple measurements, help in making sure the new pinblock is installed exactly in the place of the old one.
Old block, treble
pinblock view, treble end.
Old block measurements
Making a plexiglass template from the old pinblock to use in fitting the new block into the piano.
Block removal 1
Removing the old pinblock with a reciprocating saw. The block is glued and doweled into the piano on three sides, with the fourth side - the long edge closest to the camera - perfectly fitted to the plate flange on the underside of the plate.
Block removal 2 Removing of pinblock, continued: This is a long, slow cut, through a 1-1/2-inch-thick block of laminated maple.
Block removed full
Front end of piano (side view) with the pinblock removed, leaving only thin strips which can then be pried off.
Block removed treble
Part of the area where the pinblock has just been removed, showing some of the old dowel holes.
Soundboard repair 1
Beginning the job of soundboard repair with a soundboard tool.
Soundboard repair 2
Soundboard repair, continued. Cracks in the board must be cut into a V-shaped groove to receive sounboard shims (long strips of wedge-shaped spruce) which fill the cracks.
Soundboard repair 3
Soundboard repair, continued. After the shims are glued into the cracks, they will be planed and sanded down to the level of the board, after which the board can be refinished.
Chalked plate
Showing the underside of the plate with the "web" (the area where the tuning pins pass through) and flange (the vertical "wall" that holds the pinblock in place under the tension of the strings) chalked up for fitting of the new block.
Block fitting

Placing the rough-cut block into the chalked area of the plate. Block is tapped in and then removed, leaving chalk only on the "high spots."

Pinblock shaping 3
Pinblock shaping by sanding down the chalked "high spots." This is repeated until a perfect fit is achieved. It is a long process that takes at least one full day.
Decal 1


The Steinway royal decal shows various royal families that have endorsed the Steinway piano.

Decal 2
The newly-applied authentic Steinway soundboard decal.
Bridge scraping
Scraping the old finish off the carved areas of the top of the bridge.
Gluing the new block into the rim and "stringer" (the cross-piece between the two ends of the rim) with the plate in place. After the glue dries, the plate will be removed one final time so the pinblock can be reinforced in the piano with additional screws and dowels. Then the plate is reinstalled permanently.
Another view.
Lags replaced
Reinstalling the lag-bolts to anchor the plate into the piano.
The stringing process, installing the final plain-wire strings. Then the bass strings will be installed, crossing over the treble strings (Called the "overstrung scale," this design was an innovation of the Steinway company in the 1850's.)
Key work 1
The job of re-covering the white keys with new plastic keytop material.
Key work 2
Keys with new keytops clamped on while the glue dries.
Key work 3
Key covering in progress, front view.
With the piano's action (the moving parts of the piano) on the workbench, removing old hammers prior to new hammer installation. Installing the new hammers is called "hammer hanging."
New hammers ready for hanging.


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