old piano - taking out insides??

gma_jJuly 25, 2005

I have an old upright piano that I would like to make or have made into a desk. Could anyone tell me how to go about taking all the insides out? Thank you, Jeanie

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I really don't know the answer to that, but my brother and I are fixing to tackle one that my Dad acquired a few years before he died. It has a beautifully carved front, and I've tried to talk my Mom into using the wood for a cabinet or something, so that's what we're going to do. I do know that the top front and the bottom front (under the keyboard) does come out, but you'd probably have to take the back apart to get the soundboard out. We're going to call our local salvage yard to come and haul off the iron, (unless it's brass, and then we'll definatly call someone else).

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 7:32PM
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Never saw one made into a desk...but I have seen the insides taken out and used for wall or garden art...so you may not want to trash it. sound like a good idea. June

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 9:16PM
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We had an old upright piano that the previous owners left in the house we bought.We found out later why they left it.It weighed about a ton!LOL I had the bright idea of taking the insides out,after having it apraised and finding out it was worth very little,and making it into a curio cabinet.We were also moving into a new double wide mobile home and it was way too heavy.I didn't want to take the chance of ruining my floors. Well,we ended up throwing it out into the yard and letting the kids beat it up with a sledge hammer!There was no way to get the insides out and the soundboard wasn't coming out either and I wasn't about to try to move that monster! I did save the front "door" that opened to display the soundboard.I know this sounds horrible that we destroyed this perfectly nice piano,but this was before I knew anything about this board or "trash to treasure",so forgive me!LOL If I had known then what I know now I would have tried a little harder to salvage it.I have thought of so many things since that I could have used it for.Actually it worked pretty well for what I used it for originally.I had my collection of old oil lamps on the top and family pictures and such on the closed keyboard cover.Only problem it was just too darn heavy!..........Lillie

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 12:16AM
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We have had the piano for about 30 years. I got it from an aunt so it is very old. I checked also Lillie and there is no value in old pianos. It has been in the same place in our basement for those 30 years and each of my daughters took piano lessons, but none of them kept up playing. It would probably just stay where it's at forever, but we have put our house up for sale and plan to build a new home when it sells and I don't want to have to move it. In doing some research, I found a site that turns the old pianos into computer desks, etc. and they are beautiful. I'll find it and post it here. I'd like to try doing it myself and have it in our new home, but at a loss where to start. Frances, I think if I can't find someone who really knows, I'll take the back off as the first step. Lillie, lol, if I hadn't seen the desks, I probably would have let the grandkids do the same thing. I think my husband actually would refuse to move it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 10:37AM
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For anyone interested, www.pianodesk.com

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 10:47AM
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gma_j-that was an interesting site.The piano I had was a lot like the white one there.I would have loved to have had it made into a desk but would never have been able to afford to have it done and that would have been the only way it would have gotten done.LOL We tried to sell it,no luck,even tried to give it away just for someone to haul it off,no luck.The soundboard was cracked so it could never be tuned.The only regrets I have with letting the kids tear it up was not saving the keys and the strings and hammers and maybe some of the wood,(like the legs).I have seen some neat stuff made out of all that.Oh well, live and learn!LOL Good luck with yours.Unlike mine I know yours probably has a lot of sentimental value......Lillie

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 4:24PM
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Hi Lillie, now I am curious what you have seen done with the keys, strings, hammers, etc. I probably would have just tossed them. Mine does have a lot of sentimental value as I remember my aunt playing it when I was a small child. All her family is very musical, but sadly mine is not....LOL. Glad you enjoyed the site, Jeanie

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 11:48AM
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You could put an ad in the paper to sell the ivories...People who have old ones are always looking for real ivory keys.

Don't throw them out...I'm sure someone wants them...

If not in the paper...sell them on ebay


    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 10:32AM
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I did this! I didn't think anyone else out there was mad enough.
I converted a big, bulky square grande with magnificent rolled legs into an office desk but it was a LOT of work.
Getting the guts out of the piano was much more involved than I could ever imagine. The piano was built in 1885 and everything was unbelievably secure. The piano wires were secured to an iron base that weighed a ton. The iron frame was screwed into a heavy wooden platform inside the piano that was literally glued to the piano frame. Nothing short of a sledgehammer and crowbar would seperate the platform from the frame. Lastly, I created a warm faux paint finish that resembled "antiquing". The desk turned out beautiful and people always ask me where I got it. I have also drawn the ire of music lovers who cannot believe I defaced this giant piano and I feel a little guilty about it, now. My desk is beautiful but I think I would opt for giving the piano to someone who could appreciate it as it was intended, if I had it to do over.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 9:53PM
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mycompost - please don't feel guilty! Actually, most pianists will acknowledge that square grands are pretty much worthless - they are so old that most of them are beyond repair, and even the ones that still work don't have a very good sound or action. They were actually designed more for their shape and furniture value, with less emphasis placed on the musical capability. And today, any value they have is as decorative furniture (most have beautiful cabinets), not as a musical instrument.

I belong to an online forum for piano fanatics and when people post looking for the value of their old pianos (square grand or old upright) they are almost always told that they're not worth the gas it would cost you to haul it away. Old regular-style grands are sometimes worth restoring, but it is not worth the investment (often in the tens of thousands of dollars!) to restore an old upright or square grand. The forum has a nickname for all these worthless old pianos - "landfill piano". So you actually did a good thing by keeping your piano out of the landfill! I would love to see a picture if you have one.

Oh, and if anyone is really interested, there are a few books (The Piano Book by Larry Fine comes to mind) that show an overview of all the parts in the piano and how they work together. Piano Repair and Rebuilding by Arthur Reblitz is a little more technical, but may have more detail about how to get the parts out.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 8:02AM
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Hey, all you people turing pianos into desks!!
is there anyone out there thats doing a Mathushek sq. grand? if there is i need parts will pay $'s.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 5:08PM
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Makes me smile to read about the adventures of taking a piano apart. My DH makes wooden bowls on his wood lathe and is always looking for unusual wood. You can see where this is going can't you? Long story but the piano was free and I couldn't resist. We did it but what a job. Tore it completely apart and found not one good piece of wood for what he wanted. ended up with pounds and pounds of screws. It was a player piano and the player works were amazing. Lots of veneer and mostly scrap wood inside. He is very strong, I could have never made much progress on my own. I did think when we reached the point when the keyboard was off that it wold make a great desk. Big! I still look at craigslist and see some beautiful solid wood pianos cheap or free but.....he is not interested. I wonder how you tell if the keys are ivory? I saved them or should a say I hid them. The black keys are wood, very dense and heavy maybe ironwood. It was fun tho, learned more about pianos then we needed.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 10:34PM
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Interestingly enough, I also have an old upright that we have been unable to get rid of. The decision was made and we are currently working on dismantling it. In the piano that I am working on, it is primarily screwed or bolted together. There are some parts of the main body of the piano that are glued. I admit that I haven't figured out how to get that apart yet, bit I suspect if a person was careful with a block and a hammer you could get the pieces apart. The hardest part is going to be dealing with the "plate" That's the large metal piece in the back of the piano. I don't know about others, but the plate in mine is gold painted cast iron. We have plans to take the wood from the piano case and make a full sized bed, baby changing table, and maybe a book shelf.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:56AM
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