Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Piano Family (IW#'s 66-70)

The third piano came into my life this summer.  The first two ended up like this and this. It is a lot of fun to play around with old pianos, they are marvelous machines for making music, every bit as complicated and exactingly made as an mp3 player.  The piano I got this summer had a cracked sound board.  This is pretty much a death knell for a piano, it requires a LOT of work to replace the sound board in a piano.  Much more, in this case, than the piano was worth.

So the family who owned it asked me to make it into instruments for them.  I am going to do a separate post about each instrument, but I wanted to start by writing about them as a group.  Building five instruments together at one time was complex.  I know that production builders do this on a regular basis, but for a small shop like mine, it took a lot of marking and making sure that the back for each one actually ended up on the right body.

The piano had a stamp that identified it as having been built in 1951, which makes it the most modern piano I have so far dismantled, and there were marked differences:  The body was made of poplar instead of chestnut, for one thing, so the projects were full of the delight that I always get when I cut into poplar, which oxidises to a brown.  But freshly cut it can be (and in this case it was) a bright green.  The veneer on the outside was mahagony, so there was a nice contrast of green and deep red which I find very pleasing.  Seasonally appropriate as well.

In the end, I made an octave mandolin, a 3 string slide with a tenor scale, a baritone ukulele, a soprano ukulele, and maybe the hardest thing I have ever made:  a walking-stick dulcimer.  More on that in a later post.

Still left is the harp, which is still strung.  I am looking forward to hanging that in the yard this summer and playing it with a couple of hammers.  Should be a real hoot.

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