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Most piano repairs should only be tackled by an expert but here are a few tips for things you can handle yourself:-
Firstly, to get into the "bowels" of a piano, open up the top and undo the end fastenings, pull the upper panel forward at the top and lift it out. Grasp the hinged lid over the keys in the middle at the front and rear and lift it straight up. If there is a rail on top of the keys undo the screws to free it.
If an ivory key covering comes off, depress the keys on each side and lift up the key until you can slide a piece of hardboard under it, to rest across the adjacent black keys. Carefully scrape off the old glue from the key and ivory cover with a sharp blade. Stick the ivory back in place using PVC-E Glue, pressing the ivory towards the joint with your thumb. Clean off any excess glue and replace the key.
One cause of keys sticking is damp and swollen bushings. These are small, cloth lined holes that receive the balance and guide pins. Lift the sticking key up to clear the balance pin and forward to clear the action lever. The guide pin hole is under the front of the key, the balance pin hole halfway along on the top. Compress a swollen bushing gently with a warm screwdriver. To refit the key, lift the lever, fit the key under and on its balance pin and push down.
To clean piano keys, lift up five or six white keys at a time and hold them with the fingers of one hand while using the other to wipe them with a damp cloth. You can use a little mild soap if necessary but NEVER detergent or methylated spirits. Dry and polish with a soft, clean cloth.
If you ever need to buy a piano and live near New York City I have been advised by a visitor to the site that "Piano, Piano" have the most incredible buys on all kinds of pianos from uprights to baby grands by all manufacturers. Apparently they run fabulous sales and are situated 56th Street off Seventh.
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