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DESCRIPTION: A Steinway grand piano in semi-gloss walnut finish, Model M, serial #241849, 1926.
PREVIOUS CONDITION: Restored by the owner.
COMMENT: We examined the piano without taking it apart. Our preliminary examination shows that the pinblock is set too high and that the plate bolts are not set properly. The height of the plate is set by the manufacturer and it is of critical importance that when the plate is removed from the piano for any repair whatsoever that it is returned to the original setting. The pinblock was raised by building it up with veneer underneath it while it appears that it was already too high.
The soundboard was previously restored. In order to achieve a proper deflection angle on the bridges called the downbearing, a restorer lowers the pinblock by about 1/16th of an inch. If this is not enough of a correction, an experienced bellyman lowers the plate bolts for the proper measurement between the plate and the top of the bridge. In this case, the pinblock was raised, the opposite of what should have happened. The plate bolts were raised as well, causing the plate to be set too high. This caused too much downbearing on the bridges. This extra pressure could have resulted in the plate cracking where it did. We also found that the pinblock was not properly glued to the stretcher and looking from the top view one can see the keybed through the gap between the stretcher and the flange of the plate.
All of this points to the fact that a poor restoration could have resulted in too much pressure on the plate. However, without taking the piano apart, we cannot state with absolute certainty that these factors caused the cracking of the plate. It would need to be disassembled to determine signs of undue stress on the plate hardware, the thickness of the pinblock, and other factors that cannot be seen at this time.