1870 Knabe Square Grand Piano


An amateur attempt at restoration many years ago left this piano looking faded, dull and lifeless. The wrong parts and materials were used in the previous restoration, leaving the piano virtually unusable.


A professional, historically accurate restoration makes the piano look and play like it did when it was new. The Brazilian rosewood really shines again! A historically accurate piano stool was also finished to match.


Scroll down to see the piano restoration process!

ABOUT THIS PIANO:  This beautiful Knabe square grand piano was built in Baltimore in 1870, a time when more square grand pianos were being built in America than both upright and grand pianos combined!  This piano is made of Brazilian Rosewood, now an endangered species, and is of the Empire Revival Victorian style.  It is fascinating to think that with the endangered rosewood and the endangered ivory keys, this piano could not be built today!
It is important to understand that the interior mechanisms of square pianos are very different from baby grand and upright pianos.  Parts are not readily available for them through common piano supply companies, and many less experienced piano tuners may discourage their restoration and preservation.  Here at The Antique Piano Shop, we are set up to manufacture all of the obscure parts for square grand pianos  on a case-by-case basis, giving us the ability to do a complete and historically correct restoration on square pianos like this one.
The owner of this piano had it "refurbished" many years ago, but a poor-quality attempt at restoration actually did more harm than good.  The piano was poorly refinished which left the cabinet faded, dull and lifeless.  Because these action parts are not available for square grand pianos, piano technicians have historically tried to modify conventional grand and upright parts to make them work in square grand pianos - with little success.

We were able to "undo" the previous restoration and restore the piano to perfection with historical accuracy!  The owner opted to have the Pianomation player system installed in this piano so that it can play by itself in addition to being played manually by hand!  Over 10,000 songs are available!

Square grand pianos like this one have a softer, more "harp-like" sound quality than modern pianos.  It is fascinating to consider that when this instrument was built, there was no artificially amplified sound and the hustle and bustle of the industrial revolution was just beginning.  The sound of nature or perhaps the a steam locomotive would have been the loudest noise one would have ever heard.  Because their ears were accustom to the solace of very little noise, our ancestors considered the soft, "harp-like" sound quality of the square piano to be very desirable.

Scroll down to see the piano restoration process!

Piano Restoration Process:

Assessment & Disassembly

The piano is carefully disassembled and every individual piece is carefully recorded and labeled.  All hardware and screws are removed, and the action and keyboard are removed and disassembled.  The original "WM. KNABE & COMPANY GOLD MEDAL PIANO" decal with serial number is carefully measured and copied so an exact duplication can be put back on the piano during the restoration process.

Piano Restoration Process:

Cabinet Repair & Refinishing

The old faded finish is carefully removed and the bare wood is repaired, re-glued and carefully sanded.  Broken and missing pieces of the cabinet are repaired and replaced.  Multiple coats of stain, sealer and lacquer are applied to the case, each coat painstakingly sanded smooth for lusture and clarity.

Piano Restoration Process:

Soundboard Repair & Re-Stringing

The old brittle strings are removed from the piano and each individual string is measured for diameter and size.  Decades of dirt and debris are caked on the soundboard and bridges.  The harp is removed from the piano and is carefully cleaned and clear-coated (this customer opted to have the original art work on the harp saved and cleaned rather than repainted).  The old-growth wood soundboard is is restored, and the bridges are re-capped for optimum sound quality.  The harp is reinstalled in the piano, and new strings are carefully installed.  Note the new "WM. KNABE & COMPANY GOLD MEDAL PIANO" decal has been reapplied with historical accuracy.

Piano Restoration Process:

Action & Keyboard Restoration

The original ivory and ebony keys are very restorable and turn out very nice.  Chips in the ivory are filled, then the ivory is treated with peroxide and UV light then polished.  The mechanical action of the piano is moth eaten and dry-rotted which will present a challenge to restore.  Because the parts for this instrument are obscure and not readily available, we specialize in making all of our parts "in house" on a case-by-case basis.  Our amazing action team was able to duplicate every last part of this square grand piano action both by hand and with the help of CNC machines.



It's hard to believe that this is the same piano that first came into our shop!  Now, after professional restoration, the piano plays, looks and sounds like it did when it was built in 1870.   This piano was equipped with the Pianomation player system which allows it to play by itself in addition to being played manually by hand; however, the player system is completely hidden from view!


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    Friendsville, TN 37737

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