Getting stuff out of vertical pianos.

Over the years piano cabinet makers have shown remarkable inqenuity in obfuscation when it comes to letting you see inside their pianos.

Vertical Cabinets

Cabinet Parts

Opening the top lid allows you to see the top of the action - hammers, dampers, tuning pins, etc. But if you need to remove dropped toys, pencils, paper clips and such from the tops of the keys, you'll need to remove some cabinet parts.

Below are three illustrations of some common cabinet styles (to read about getting inside the bottom of vertical pianos, go to the link on fixing piano pedals to learn how to remove the "kickboard").

some piano case styles

Figure (A) shows a typical console or spinet in which the music rack and cabinet front slide forward on a rail and groove. To remove it, open the top, release any latches that secure it to the body, and slide it forward on the rails.

Sometimes this piece is also connected to the " fallboard" (the piece that covers the keyboard) and both slide off as a unit. A variation of this style has the front piece attached to the piano sides with wood screws instead of the rail, or perhaps setting on pins similar to figure (C). In these cases the piece should lift up and out once the screws are removed and/or the latches released.

Figure (B) shows some spinets on which the whole top lifts up and cannot be removed without removing the hinges (the Baldwin Acrosonic and its clones used this style). These lids are heavy and usually have a prop to hold them up. Don't let them fall on your fingers as it will definitely slow down your ability to play trills. If no prop is provided, move the piano out from the wall enough to let the lid lean back securely.

With the lid up and the fallboard over the keyboard, you'll be able to see the ends of the keys and the action to retrieve stuff that has fallen in. The fallboard on these pianos is a separate piece secured to the case by all sorts of ingenious mechanisms, but unless you intend to remove keys, it doesn't need to be removed.

The piano in figure (C) is typical of full uprights in which the entire cabinet front, to which the music desk is attached, rests on pins set into the interior sides of the case. It may just lift off the pins and out (if attached as shown in the inset). Lift the top lid and look at the top and bottom corners of the front to see how it is secured. There may be some sort of wooden or metal latchs that need to be released to free the pins. Or, the front may beattached to the sides of the case by blocks of wood with screws.

Be careful when the piano is equipped with a lever that causes the music rack to move forward when the fallboard is raised. Make certain the fallboard is down OVER the keys before you attempt to remove or replace the front. These fronts can be heavy, so be prepared. With the front piece off you'll be able to see the action, but not necessarily the keys. They may be hidden under the fallboard and top shelf, both of which are attached with wood screws.

Removing the fallboard is rarely necessary, but you may need to remove the top shelf to be able to reach objects dropped onto the ends of the keys. Usually this just involves taking out a few screws, or maybe combining a toad's tongue with bat hair in an iron cauldron.

Look around a bit and you'll see how to remove cabinet parts to fish out items dropped onto the backs of the keys (though not necessarily conveniently, and probably not without a flashlight and a couple of screwdrivers).

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