This post was originally published on 9/21/2015.
Do your piano keys look like the ones in the photos above? Hopefully not. If you are not happy with how your piano keys look, there is a solution. The old keytops can be removed and replaced with new, durable keytops that are sure to improve the appearance of your piano.
The images in this article are from an old spinet with plastic keytops that had cracked and broken and were stained. It is also very common to replace old warped, discolored, or missing ivory keytops with a new set of plastic. I would not normally recommend replacing keytops on an old spinet as the monetary value of the piano does not usually justify the expense of the replacement. However, there are circumstances, such as this one, where the piano has sentimental value and it also perfectly matches the decor of the home that it is in.
When old keytops are replaced, the wood stick to which they are adhered must be milled down to accommodate the new keytops which are thicker than the old ones.
After milling, the new keytops are adhered to the stick, then the edges must be filed flush with the stick so there is no overhang. It is at this point that the piano technician may also clean the sides of the key a bit so they look a better with the new keytops. Then the keys are buffed and ready to reinstall in the piano.
As you can see from the photographs, the difference is substantial and greatly restores the appearance of the piano. This particular client did not wish to have the keys leveled and spaced, but it is recommended that both of those items be performed after replacing the keytops for the best result. If you live in Boise, Idaho and have a piano with a rough looking set of keytops that you would like to replace, you may contact me here.