• 1.  Fwd: A case study on piano keys

    Posted 05-04-2022 14:55

    Investigation on the deterioration of lead artifacts. A case study on piano keys and their degradation products

    Journal of Physics: Conference Series
    ; Bristol Tomo 2204, N.º 1,  (Apr 2022): 012026.


    Libre de virus.

  • 2.  RE: Fwd: A case study on piano keys

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-04-2022 17:54
    Very interesting article, even though I didn't understand most of it because of all the chemical terms used. The conclusion of the article verifies what I found when I moved to Hawaii. 

    "So a key factor in the identification of the proper conservation strategy is the control of relative humidity". In 25 years living in the Midwest, I had one set of keys where the leads had expanded, and that piano lived for a long time next to a creek. As soon as I moved to Hawaii, I encountered corroded leads on a very regular, twice a month, basis. The main difference between the Midwest and Hawaii is not only the constant humidity, but also the constant trade winds that blew salt air across the islands 24/7. 

    However, the other part of the conclusion said, "In addition, ion chromatography measurements on water extracts revealed that VOCs (in particular acetic acid) emitted from piano wood played also an important role in the degradation phenomena occurred on piano leads weights."  Even though I'm sure the scientist's conclusion is valid, my question is, why aren't more leads in the Midwest corroded? 


  • 3.  RE: Fwd: A case study on piano keys

    Posted 05-04-2022 21:40
    I have only seen one case of severe key lead corrosion and that was on a grand piano trade that had tuning pins with wedges in the bottom and no wooden pin block. I believe it was a Wurlitzer but never got to study it  . The relative humidity on the South Carolina coast is quite high many months of the year and people moving here do not get the connection beween temperature, relative humidity and dew point. Many will kill the ac open doors and windows to air out the house or get an ocean breeze. They can not understand why their piano has a hard time staying in  tune, why the action is sluggish, why keys stick and why strings rust. I service many Steinway & Sons grand pianos, many grands over 100 years old, Chickerings, Mason & Hamlins, Knabes , Yamahas that are decades old yet not seen many with crusted key leads. I wonder if the leads in the study where defective to begin with or if they reacted to a cleaner/sealer/glue  of some type. I would have to do more research on wood chemistry but it seems the wood in keysticks is strong basswood, white pine etc Humidity and salt air could cause havoc for sure but so could flood waters, roof leaks .  VOCs are volatile organic compounds things like solvents, paint thinners, spray paints , lacquers which require ventilation, respirators, special storage and handling.
    I recall some type of study that was done on model ships that lead pieces in them like anchors, railings, cannons. These models where in glass display cases and where the lead was crumbling It may have been the paints sealers lacquers attacking the leads in an enclosed display case

    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC