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#101629 - 07/18/06 10:18 AM Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
tonedeaf Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/18/06
Posts: 4
Loc: PA
New to pianos.

Any information would be appreciated. I got a free (freecycle.org) piano, in “fine” shape by the ‘bluebook’ guide. It is a Lester Betsy Ross Spinet. By browsing the forums it doesn’t seem to be a popular model. (but the bluebook seems to rate it well quality wise) But space wise and cost wise it will do. My wife used to play and would like our children to play (at least offer it to them).

Looks sorta like this except that the front legs are round with grooves (running up and down) and it does not have a “key lid”, it doesn’t look like it ever had one.
http://www.antiqnet.com/search/images.jsp?id=774671&dealerSite=N

It does have holes in it which I think that music holder thing goes (like in this picture)
http://www.craftsmenpiano.com/Piano%20Pages/lesterspinet.htm

It is 56 inches wide, 25 inches deep and 37 inches high

Serial number is 2281(or4)65 so if I figured it out right it was made in 1952, correct?

On each side of the case it has these numbers 85948 and down further 329, (under the lid on the top of the sides) what do they mean?

There is a damp chaser (which I am leary to plug in until it is serviced, if I plug it in at all)

And it has I believe plastic elbows (actions?), yellowish (a few are broken) and it looks like two were replaced by a clear plastic piece. Which seems to be a knock on the Lester.

The tuner/repair guy said to let it ‘settle’ in the house for a few weeks before he comes out to fix the keys and tune it.

What ever info you all can provide would be great (epsecially those other numbers), value I am guessing is rather low, but I didn’t get it to sell/invest.

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#101630 - 07/18/06 12:24 PM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
First, welcome to the forum!

And now the sad news, I'm afraid. It's now 50+ years old, and was an entry-level piano when it was new. At the minimum, all of the elbows need to be replaced with the modern, clear plastic; this was the era when plastic didn't have longevity (as it does now). Get an honest evaluation from your technician, and determine whether it's worth investing further in it.

Generally speaking, without having seen this particular piano, an instrument of this quality and in this condition can be a serious obstacle to any student, especially a beginner. Learning to play involves learning fine motor coordination. It's likely that the pressure required to move each key down varies greatly across the keyboard. This is like walking down steps where each step is a different height. If the piano teacher would have difficulty playing the instrument, doubly so for a beginner.

This is a situation where renting a new piano, or even a digital keyboard, would give your children a better chance to learn. Imagine having a 50-year-old car and trying to learn to drive!

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#101631 - 07/18/06 04:04 PM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9395
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Although Lester made some darn nice grands pre WWII, I agree with Cy's post about this Lester completely.

Sorry for the bad news, tonedeaf.

By the way, there is no such thing as being tonedeaf. Anyone can learn[/b] to match pitch.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#101632 - 07/19/06 07:49 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
tonedeaf Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/18/06
Posts: 4
Loc: PA
How hard is it to DIY the actions to new plastic? I am guessing they can't be too expensive. I am mechanically inclined.

Like I said the piano was free, if it only takes alittle work to make it servicable I am for it. Plus it was not fun moving it from the house I got it into mine.

I am not even sure my kids will play it they are currently only 1 and 3, we just got it to see if we could peek some interest.

Again I have never played a piano so I am not quite sure about what Cy was saying about it being difficult to play, I have always had the motto, "it is a poor carpenter that blames his tools". Not that I don't appreciate the input, I just don't understand it. Woudln't someone who could play well on this piano "light it up" on a better one?

Rich, what would a "good" beginner upright/spinet cost?

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#101633 - 07/19/06 08:41 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
Graybeard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 219
Loc: Greenville, SC
Find Schaff piano & order a set of replacement elbows (plastic) with the "slot". I'm not at the store or I'd give you the phone and part numbers. Its an easy fix. Just break the damaged elbows. That's easy since they're so brittle anyway. This leaves the pin in place. Simply screw the new elbow on the metal rod & snap it in place. You can adjust the mechanism with the nut at the top of the rod. Screw it down until the hammer begins to lift, but not quite. This gets rid of lost motion. You don't want the hammer sitting on the rail if you're depressing the key. I believe the whoe set is under $10 & its fun to do if you like this kind of stuff. Good luck & welcome, Graybeard.
_________________________
Clint Tucker, Piano Retailer For Almost Thirty Years(OMG). Yamaha and Pramberger

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#101634 - 07/19/06 09:57 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
If you were learning to type, would it help or hinder you if the "e", "c", and "i" keys stuck sometimes, or you had to push them sideways to make them go down? Would learning on that keyboard make you better at a good keyboard?

Sure, you don't blame the tools, but that's for an experienced carpenter. We've all had cars with quirks, for example: pushing a certain way to get it into reverse; a tendency to pull left when braking; play in the steering wheel; stalling when turning left at an intersection if it's cold. As experienced drivers, we can deal with all this, but these problems just add to the hurdles a beginning driver faces.

But as you say, your kids are young; you've got a couple of years to work on it yet!

I just hate to see promising students frustrated by a poor instrument.

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#101635 - 07/19/06 10:17 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
byebye Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
If you can fix the elbows and it will hold tune, why not hang on to this piano?

I used to play a Betsy Ross for choir rehearsals. The choir now uses a digital. For some peculiar reason I find the bad spinet easier to play. I don't see that a beginning four or five year old will outrun the capabilities of this piano. As the children advance you'll buy something else and use the Betsy Ross as a second piano for duets and piano concertos.

Tuners told me that these pianos are full of false beats and are a bear to tune. It may be hard to find someone eager to work on it.

"...stalling when turning left at an intersection." Cy, did you have a four cylinder Chrysler product in your past? \:\(

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#101636 - 07/19/06 10:51 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Close; it was a Gremlin! :-(

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#101637 - 07/19/06 10:54 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
byebye Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
Oh, that's right, a purple Gremlin with hockey stick stripes. The Chrysler four cylinder stalled on right hand turns--considerably safer!!

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#101638 - 07/20/06 07:13 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9395
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
 Quote:
Rich, what would a "good" beginner upright/spinet cost?
We have reconditioned uprights starting a little over 1k. However, student programs allow them to get into your home for under $50.00 per month.

Good Luck,
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#101639 - 07/20/06 08:02 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
tonedeaf Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/18/06
Posts: 4
Loc: PA
Mark this is what I want correct....

http://www.vandaking.com/us-shop/index.html

Then #20 Upright piano repair

Elbows for drop action, that is what I want right? 90 to do the whole job.

It doesn’t appear they are model specific, but I will probably call to verify when I order.

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#101640 - 07/20/06 08:17 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
tonedeaf Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/18/06
Posts: 4
Loc: PA

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#101641 - 07/20/06 09:55 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
byebye Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
The only scary thing about those elbows is that they are "Made to last the lifetime of the instrument."

I was hoping for a longer life. ;\)

Good luck with the Betsy Ross.

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#101642 - 07/20/06 10:25 AM Re: Lester Betsy Ross Spinet
Graybeard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 219
Loc: Greenville, SC
tonedeaf, that's the right part, good luck.
_________________________
Clint Tucker, Piano Retailer For Almost Thirty Years(OMG). Yamaha and Pramberger

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