Category: keyboard glockenspiel

Keyboard Glockenspiel/Celesta (Job No: 1182)


Yet another keyboard glockenspiel (or Celeste) for repair.  This is the fourth instrument I have worked on in the last couple of years, and again is totally different from the last.  I would call this a keyboard glock, but the owner was advised it is a table top Celeste/Celesta; there are no resonators, and the hammers are wooden as opposed to felt, but I haven’t seen a Mustel table top celesta or even an original sales leaflet.  In any case its splitting hairs.


The case is falling apart (as usual), and there is a missing note.  Half the notes don’t play, and it feels dreadful.

You can see from the picture above that the hammers are all over the place, which is why it doesn’t play.  They should look like below.  I found the missing hammer head in the bottom of the case.


Below the hammers is the mechanism.



And finally the keys.


These sit on a peg board the two rows visible above are the fulcrum points.


The pins at the front hold the keys in place. The felts at the front stop the keys from clunking on the board when pressed, but also determine the down position of the key, which is part of the set up. The felt at the back does the same job for when the note is released. The fulcrum points can be shimmed to increase the primary key action, but it also has other effects.


Anyway, I repaired the outside case with every sash cramp I could find. People love their gadgets like strap clamps, but I prefer to clamp specific points identified during the dry fit process, consequently I need loads of clamps.


The original base was too badly damaged to repair so a new board was fitted.

First everything is given a good clean, then work can begin…

All the felt throughout the instrument was moth eaten, so they were all replaced including the hammer mechanisms. These also needed some springs replacing, and some repairs.

And the hammers repaired.

A similar situation with these stoppers and rotten felt, but they also don’t adjust. They should screw down the threaded pins, but most are glued on. I had to change the pins, and re-thread the wooden barrels to enable them to be adjustable.

Now the rebuilding can begin. The first problem encountered is that the keys don’t sit nicely.

There are no adjustments for this on this instrument, which I had to rectify. However the lowest three keys are twisted. To repair this I built a steam chamber that I assembled around the key, and steam bent the note back to where it needed to be.

With the new adjusters at the rear of the keys, the height of the action can be calibrated across the instrument.


Then the mechanisms can be installed and calibrated, followed by the hammers.
Which then also need to be calibrated.

Then I tested the instrument with the notes on, and made a few tweaks away from the standardised set up, to achieve a better strike and sound on a note by note basis.

Finally the whole thing gets put into its refurbished box, and its ready for delivery.

Boosey Piano Glock (Job No: 1061)

This is the third and final keyboard Glock I have in for repair, and is the newest. The mechanism inside is the same as the last one (1008) with one modification. The case also has a couple of minor changes, but the had stopped doing the sign writing.


In the picture above you can see a horizontal wooden bar, this is one of the case modifications. The key I am pressing has lifted the hammer and the felted bar it rests on can be seen. This stops the spring bouncing and therefore work hardening. I have however had to remove the thud it makes as it lands.

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The above photos show the strip down stages prior to cleaning. Below are all the bits.


After cleaning the case, an interesting feature was revealed:


Therefore the other two were made earlier, the earliest being Victorian!
Alongside the mammoth and mundane task of cleaning, I undertake the repairs:


Whilst they were glueing, I started the reassembly, cutting lots and lots of felt washers:


After cleaning and polishing the keys look great, the far keys have just been rudimentarily cleaned.


With all the keys cleaned and repaired, the keyboard bed re-felted and fitted firmly, the mechanisms can be cleaned and fitted ready for setting up.

Boosey Piano Glock (Job No: 1008)

Keyboard Glock number two, a more modern instrument than the first instrument (981) with better mechanism and better construction, even including sign writing on the inside of the keyboard lid. I get the feeling that this instrument was made at the height of Boosey success.

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First of all, everything needed a very thorough clean. Some minor repairs to the keys were needed, and the case which is dovetailed needed to be separated, cleaned and glued. The lids also needed repairing having split down the length.
The mechanism needed new felts as the old ones were moth eaten, and de-burring (even 100 years ago no one seems to bother removing swarf!). This removal of burr (tiny bits of metal, on the edge of holes or saw cuts) means that the mechanism now slides freely. Attention to detail is high quality, but actually its the little things that make for a nice playing instrument.
So the designer has come up with a better mechanism. The key is now just a lever, the only striking that occurs is between the hammer and the note. The hammer is mounted on thin brass sheet which provides the spring to enable the hammer to rebound off the notes. Double hits are prevented by adjusting the bend in the brass spring.
The whole hammer mechanism is reversed to play the front row of notes, but everything else remains constant. The momentum of the hammer can be adjusted at the end of the brass spring by altering the height of the fulcrum. Where the spring rests on the key it is screwed through a slot, this is where the burr was which created drag.
Finally notice how the fulcrum of the key is further back because less movement is needed at the inside end of the key. This increases mechanical advantage which equates to musicians as “feel”

Boosey Piano Glock (Job No: 981)


Keyboard glock to be refurbished.

Like most things, it needed a thorough clean, including the ivory keys. These were cleaned wish full fat milk and toothpaste. Only partially successful, but they probably haven’t been cleaned for a few decades.
20130426-030438-PM.jpg Then I started repairing the key guides and hammers.
20130426-030733-PM.jpgThe case also needed extensive repairs.
This is the oldest of the three keyboard Glocks. Obviously the ivory keys are replaced by plastic on the later versions, but also the mechanism is simpler on this. The keys have shaped hammers at the end which flick a hinged plate attached to the note frame, this plate has the striking hammer, which falls away from the note under gravity. Simple and not very effective; it’s a bit noisy as the key hammer comes into contact and flicks the playing hammer, which in turn falls back onto the key hammer.
A further problem are the differing length of keys. The compound effect of different lever lengths, lever weights and fulcrum points is a lack of consistency across the keyboard.
All this doesn’t alter the fact that it was a beautiful instrument with lovely old steel round top bars.