Plastic Key Bushings
(Following on from previous post) In the sixties and seventies we the British piano industry fought on the beaches against the rising tide of apathy towards our pianos. Those boffins who had so recently saved the day with their brainchild, the plastic flange, shut themselves away again to work on their new innovative masterpiece – the plastic key-bushing! (Seen here in the picture as green ovals on the backs of the keys). Green ones replaced the traditional high quality, finely woven woollen cloth that lined the holes on top of the keys. Similarly yellow ones replaced the cloth in the slots under the fronts of the keys.
There was no rush by the competition to copy this idea; and probably just as well… It didn’t take long before keys started knocking, rattling and wobbling and could you adjust them? No. Could you replace them with the old-fashioned cloth bushings? Well no; the slots in the keys were too wide. Do they still make them? No.
The good news is that in the 1980s the British piano industry pulled its socks up and actually began making decent pianos again with wooden parts and real cloth bushings. Unfortunately it didn’t halt their demise.
I must stress that only a few makers used these plastic key-bushings usually in their smaller upright pianos, far fewer than the number who employed the plastic flange. Nevertheless there are plenty of examples around.