restoring a concert zither

Is your zither in need of repair? Do you have questions on how to best maintain your zither, or have advice? Post your questions and advice here.

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Phill05
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:10 pm

restoring a concert zither

Post by Phill05 » Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:09 pm

Hello,
This is my first post and my first musical restoration, the project is a Joh Hornsteiner zither it looks in good condition no cracks anywhere it needs a good clean and repolish, and all the strings needed replaceing and a full set has been obtained from Bill Kolb.

Taking off the old strings and pegs I soon found a few holes have a strip of veneer inset, first question is repairing the holes, is it wise to glue in a peg of wood and redrill out to correct size or to put new veneers back in.

Second question is do you need to feed the wood with an oil or keep it dry as is with a lacquer and polish finish.

Once we have it restored then for the fun part my wife and I intend to learn how to play it.

Phill

DanSymonds
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:19 pm

Re: restoring a concert zither

Post by DanSymonds » Thu Oct 22, 2015 10:27 am

Hi Phill, Welcome!
Your question seems to be veneer in the peg holes. It is very common with old zithers for the wood to shrink around the peg hole and not to hold the string tension well. There are a variety of ways to address this, from a simple shim insert of paper or wood shaving to gluing inserts and then reboring. I think it depends on how loose the peg is. My own preference is to use aliphatic (titebond) glue and hardwood shaving, and then rebore. But the the bore is tricky: you need to have a drill sized a few microns less than the zither peg (best to have a micrometer), ream slowly keeping the angle of allignment. Probably best to try to simply shim it and keep the glue process in reserve if need be.
As far as the finish goes, you could try to clean it with a TINY amount of auto polish (I like Meguirs). If badly "washboarded" I usually level it with 600 paper and apply french polish (thin layer of shellac and oil) but this is a skill that needs to be learned.
Good luck!
Dan

kenbloom
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:50 am

Re: restoring a concert zither

Post by kenbloom » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:06 am

I would agree with the previous post. I use Meguir's #7 for a polish. You can get it at any auto parts store. When I have a peg hole that isn't holding I just insert a small piece of maple veneer and put the peg back in. Once I have the peg well started, I can cut off the excess sticking out of the hole. The veneer compresses to hold the peg well. I have had this repair last for years. All of this is very straightforward. Good luck with the "new" instrument.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.org

Phill05
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:10 pm

Re: restoring a concert zither

Post by Phill05 » Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:27 pm

Thanks guy's
You advise is most welcome, looks like I have 7 holes that need a veneer insert nothing to bad, my concern is I am going to have to take a finish off the top under the strings it looks like some time it has had a coat of laquer and it has plenty of bits in it, I did not see it at first under all the dust but when trying to clean it is rough, but no cracks or washboard effect.

Phill

kenbloom
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:50 am

Re: restoring a concert zither

Post by kenbloom » Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:54 am

Before you remove the finish, try going over the top with 0000 steel wool and then Meguir's Mirror Glaze #7 and see if that doesn't solve your problems first. Refinishing veneered surfaces can be tricky and it's very easy to go through the veneer or have some of it come up. It was most likely put down originally with hide glue. Be very careful of introducing moisture to the surface. Water can soak through and loosen the glue bond.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.org

Rudy Mueller
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: restoring a concert zither

Post by Rudy Mueller » Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:10 am

As mentioned before, one or two of the hair-like shavings from a high speed router or "biscuit-cutter" also work well to tighten up loose pegs. Your local cabinet maker can probably gladly supply you with a life-time supply.

The auto supply store is a good suggestion; our local NAPA has polishing material up to 3000 grit, usually employed to re-finish headlight lenses.

Rudi Mueller

Phill05
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:10 pm

Re: restoring a concert zither

Post by Phill05 » Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:34 am

Thank you,

Over here in the UK we have "scotchbrite pads" they are less aggressive to give a finer finish I was thinking of getting some to try, or even hand scrape over if they did not work well.

I have a full set of strings from Dr Zither I must say a very good service from Bill 4 days from placing the order to being delivered to me.


Phill

DanSymonds
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:19 pm

Re: restoring a concert zither

Post by DanSymonds » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:17 am

Ken and Rudy are spot on. Be very careful about sanding the top. I would use no more than 600 grit wet or dry with a bit of mineral spirits, unless you plan to refinish the top. I don't have experience with Scotchbrite but I would recommend using whatever very gently at first. Very easy to overdo. Don't try to scrape it; almost impossible to do a final finish with scraping. If it needs scraping to level, it needs to be refinished. The primary rule in restoration is to do as little as possible; "first do no harm" as doctors say.
If you have a simple small plane you can make all the shavings you need from a birch dowel or piece of maple. Shavings work fine for loose pegs.
Good luck.
Dan

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