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Keys, Hammers, & Pipes

Bringing an organized piano back to life

December 10, 2014

The Wind-Chest Before Treatment

By John Watson

The wind-chest sits on top of the chassis just behind the upright grand piano. The organ’s pipes and outer casework are removed.

We’re back after some re-organization of the blog.

The series of posts by guest writer Jenna Simpson have been moved to the “History” page at the link above. Jenna details the …

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August 7, 2014

Pipes are Straightened

Reshaping

By John Watson

Before treatment, the pipes were bent, torn, and twisted.

The badly twisted, torn and mangled pipes are among the more daunting problems to be solved in the treatment of the “Tucker” organized upright grand piano. A conventional approach to restoration would probably involve replacing them with new ones. Some restorers have even melted …

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July 15, 2014

The Pipe Treatment Begins

Lou Dolive inventories the pipes

By John Watson

Lou Dolive inventories the pipes

The first step: Inventory the pipes and determine what is missing. For this, we turned to veteran organ-pipe maker Louis Dolive.

Lou unfolded the pipes enough to line them up and take stock. Sixty-five metal pipes were missing entirely. At first, it appeared touch-and-go whether we would be …

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June 22, 2014

A Conservation Pipeline

Mangled pipes before conservation

By John Watson

Restorative conservation of the Tucker instrument will begin with one of our more daunting challenges: to straighten the severely damaged metal pipes. While the wood pipes survived in relatively good condition, the metal ones were hardly recognizable as organ pipes. All were crushed and folded so even the longest pipe could fit in a …

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June 2, 2014

Another Organized Piano?

By John Watson

The Rolfe-Sellers organized square piano. The organ occupies the space below the piano and is surrounded by panels of cloth and gilded pipes.

Our good friend and colleague in South Carolina, Tom Strange, recently sent an email with a startling offer.

An organized square piano had turned up in an …

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May 6, 2014

Staring down a paradox

By John Watson

In the first installment of this blog, I claimed that restoration is a paradox. A paradox is a contradiction, both sides of which are true.

If we value an object because it is historic, but then replace parts, refinish surfaces and make other radical changes in the name of restoration, is it still the …

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