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Graham WalkerThis is the website of Graham Walker, Dorset, UK who has had an interest in the early piano for over 30 years. He has undertaken the restoration of instruments for private collection and has also carried out research on early pianos and their makers over this period. This has been done alongside a career in management consultancy and performance management. Early retirement in 2007 enabled him to become more involved and he commissioned a cloth manufacturer to produce an authentic keyboard cloth. This cloth is the nearest match to an early 19th century piano cloth that can be made within modern manufacturing processes. It was initially produced for his requirements but it soon came in demand by others.  Further types of cloth have been replicated by request from makers and restorers.  These cloths can be purchased from the online shop on this website.  He has also undertaken some research into the leather used in early English pianos and is currently working in liaison with the Institute of Creative Leather Technology, Northampton University, UK with the objective of determining specifications. He is involved in supporting interest in the early piano and is passionate about ensuring that our heritage of early pianos collections in the UK can be maintained for the future.

About our early keyboard cloths

Our Early Keyboard Cloths are now recognised as the most appropriate replacement in period keyboard instruments not only for early pianos but for many other instruments such as harpsichords, spinets, clavichords and fortepianos. They are used by makers, restorers, and museum curators in the UK, and many other countries. They are available in larger quantities for professional use or for single instruments. All cloths have 100% wool composition.

They are manufactured as near as possible to neutral acidity that may be a requirement where instruments are held by museums.  The 2.5mm Early Keyboard Cloth has an acidity level of 6.2pH. (measured by the manufacturer and based on a sample) Other cloths have been manufactured to achieve a typical acidity level of be between 5.0pH and 6.0pH (neutral acidity is 7.0pH)

As may be expected, the qualities and thicknesses of cloth originally used in early pianos and other period keyboard instruments varied and therefore a range of cloths have been replicated to meet most requirements.  If you are unsure about which cloths to use, please email using the Contact for advice.

Early Keyboard Cloth

The Early Keyboard Cloth is available in 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 2.5mm thickness and is a close match in weight, composition and colour to the original cloth found in early English square and grand pianos.  Having three thicknesses gives the flexibility to build a thickness as required.  It can be used for the back-touch, balance rail, front rail, hammer rail and elsewhere in piano actions.

Early Keyboard Cloths
Early Keyboard Cloth

The first image opposite shows the three thicknesses of cloth. The second image shows the appearance of the 1.5mm cloth with an early 19th century original cloth. The general guidance for using these cloths is:

The 1.1mm cloth is the best option for late 18th century English square pianos, particularly those with single actions. It can also be used on the balance rail of many early 19th century pianos in place of the 1.5mm thickness where a slightly thinner cloth may be found. It can also be used in conjunction with the 1.5mm or 2.5mm cloth.

Early Keyboard Action Cloth

The 1.5mm cloth is the standard cloth for early 19th century English grand and square pianos used for the back-touch, balance rail, front rail, hammer rail and elsewhere within the action.

Early Keyboard Action Cloth

The 2.5mm cloth is used by harpsichord makers or may be used for later pianos. It uses a courser wool yarn than the 1.0mm and 1.5mm cloths.

The Early Keyboard Cloth in use.  An action frame from an early English square and grand piano showing the use of the cloth

Part of the keyframe from a 1777 Ganer square piano
1812 Broadwood grand

Damper Cloth

Damper cloth is available in natural (off-white) and cochineal red.  The cochineal cloth is usually used as a decorative cloth with the natural cloth.   The natural damper cloth is available in 0.7mm and a 1.0mm thickness.  The 0.7mm damper cloth is a new addition to the product range (January 2021) and is nearer to the original damper cloth often used in English square pianos up to c1815.   The 1.0mm can be used for all instruments  as required including English grand pianos.  The standard damper cochineal red cloth is 1.0mm thick and there is a more felted and slightly thicker cloth available for later pianos. The cochineal damper cloth is also sold as a listing cloth to damp the non-speaking lengths of the strings. These cloths are woven with a fine wool yarn and have a high thread count making is easy to cut into the small pieces required.

Damper cloth cochineal

The standard damper cloth in cochineal red 1.0mm thick

2 Damper Cloth natural

Damper cloth natural (off-white) 0.7mm and 1.0mm thick

Square piano damper with new cloth

Damper cloth in use on a square piano “dolly” damper

Damper cloth cochineal

Damper cloth in cochineal red that is slightly more felted and just over 1.0mm thick

Hitch-pin worsted cloth (Broadwood type)

The cochineal hitch-pin bearing cloth has a worsted weave similar to the original cloth found in early 19th century Broadwood square pianos.  The cochineal colour is a typical shade.

Worsted Hitchpin Cloth

These cloths are sold in roll width by the metre or in a quantity sufficient for a single instrument.  Single instrument sets of cloths are also available for early 19th century pianos giving a discount on the price of individual cloths.  More information and prices are given in the SHOP.

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