Reshaping the hammers of my Beale piano

I started to learn piano when I was six, and we lived in London. When I was seven we moved, and the lessons stopped. There was a gap until we settled in Hampshire. The third piece of big furniture my mother bought, after beds and a dining set, was a second-hand upright piano for me. I was eleven, and took up lessons again.

Since that time I have lived all over the world, and owned digital pianos. But in my mind, that acoustic piano my late mum bought for me has always been synonymous with home, and with her love for me.

When Mike and I moved to the Scenic Rim, I felt it was time to look for an old upright piano. I wrote about the search for my Beale, and Gerard the piano tuner.

Recently Gerard came back to shape the hammers of the old gal. I was very excited! I couldn’t be home when he came, but luckily his daughter Layla was with him and took some pictures. Thank you Layla!

Gerard uses a sanding tool to reshape the piano hammers. Photo courtesy of Layla Wilkinson.

Gerard removed the panel holding the hammers and took it outside to the back of his ute. He used a sanding tool to clean the hammers, and smooth away the grooves where the hammers have struck the piano strings for almost seventy years.

old piano hammers with grooves and one in the middle which has been sanded and smoothed
The middle hammer has been reshaped. Photo courtesy of Layla Wilkinson.

Gerard said he follows the original shape of the hammer, to bring it back to a nice, oval shape. He said there are several methods of reshaping. He used the ‘shoeshine method’, which is similar to the old-fashioned way of shining a pair of shoes.

I’m happy my Beale is getting some TLC. Her notes aren’t like the flawless digital sounds of my Roland. But not everything in life is about perfection. This piano was made in 1951. On the outside she’s taken a few knocks, but inside she has the Beale metal frame and pins. She’s made well.

I play her and think, I am home.

Gerard Wilkinson works throughout Queensland. His Facebook page is The Piano Man.

Related: Gerard Tunes The Resort Piano.

2 thoughts on “Reshaping the hammers of my Beale piano

  1. A very interesting read! We have a Beale as well that Gerard tunes for us. Thank you for sharing!

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