Spinet pianos were built between about 1930 (The beginning of the Great Depression) and the 1970s. They typically measure only about 36″ in height and were built with less expensive materials such as plastic, Formica and fiber board so that piano players during the post-Depression era could still enjoy music while remaining on a budget.
Below I’ll give you a pictorial journey of the replacement of what are called “elbows”, which, having been made with an early form a plastic, over time begin to disintegrate, crack and fall apart, rendering the keys un-playable. In most cases the entire set of elbows should be replaced, as was the case on this Mehlin & Sons spinet.
It is a multi-step process involving over 800 individual adjustments, so it takes a little bit of time, but is an otherwise essential process if all the keys are desired to play (I hate not being able to play middle C when I need it 🙂
First, the elbows on the left (originals) are currently in tact. One or two at a time have been breaking, and instead of replacing them as they break, we are replacing the entire set. The ones on the right I have already snipped on purpose in order to remove them and make room for the new ones:
As you can see all the action is below the back of the keys as opposed to a traditional console, studio or upright:
This is the action outside of the piano so that I can more easily remove all of the original plastic elbows:
This is a picture of the new poly carbonate elbows installed onto the stickers:
Picture of the spinet piano without the action in it:
And finally this gives you an idea of the new elbows installed into the piano:
Before the process is through, individual adjustments (regulation) must be done to each key to ensure that it plays properly, or in other words has the right “touch”. All in all this process can take up to 5 hours. Is it worth it? In some cases it is, and in other cases it may not be. Make sure and consult with a qualified field technician to decide if this process is worth performing on your piano.