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#1273308 - 09/23/09 09:15 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: jpscoey]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2023
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Hi John,

In the first post of this thread, the album was linked (within the text). But in the meantime, I've changed the album from "authorisation-keyed" to "public", so that anyone can comment on the pictures, not only those with google or picasa accounts.

My apologies for not posting the public link in my post above - so, here it is:
Click here for the Seiler pictures.

[EDIT: hovering over a picture should display the caption, if all goes well.]
[EDIT 2: it seems that even in a public album, one has to sign in to leave a comment. Sorry about that - if you don't have a picasa account please comment in this thread.]

Kind regards across the Atlantic,
Mark
P.S.: thanks for the translation. Down-bearing makes perfect sense, once you know the term.


Edited by Mark R. (09/23/09 09:53 AM)
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1273662 - 09/23/09 06:16 PM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: Mark R.]
jpscoey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/09
Posts: 306
Loc: Manchester, England, UK.
'
Hi there Mark, thanks for posting that link.

I've now had chance to look at your photos, and I would have to say that,

unfortunately, I'm in agreement with most of the 'negative' comments previously mentioned.

Judging from the pictures, this piano reminds me of many that I've encountered over the years,

and, from exeperience, my opinion is that not only was it hugely overpriced, but, in reality,

is probably worth nothing at all.

It's in the sort of condition that you see people giving away to folks who can't afford to

fork out for a piano (hard-up community centres/church halls etc).


For starters, the action obviously wasn't even 'dusted-down', let alone regulated.

You can see this from the mis-alignment of the dampers/ uneven key 'levelling' etc etc.....

the list goes on.

The biggest problems are with the bridge and soundboard, though - and the pinblock could

also be a worry..... it's not easy to say for sure whether that's split/cracked, because

it has a (what looks like) walnut veneer covering the actual block.

With a change in temperature/humidity, these splits could literally 'go' at any given minute.

If (or, rather when) that happens, the piano will become an instant write-off.

I also hate to say it, but -for the purposes of the guarantee- you should probably not have

got involved with 'home repairs' - although I agree that ANYTHING you may have done to

the action will have had NO effect on the condition of the soundboard/bridge.


I really feel for you here, and wish you all the best of luck getting this sorted out.


Please keep us informed how you go on? - and leave the piano as it is for now!

Regards,

John.
.
_________________________
John Schofield. NTC Dip. , C.G.L.I.
Professional piano tuner/technician since 1982.
myspace

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#1277136 - 09/29/09 08:00 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: jpscoey]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2023
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Dear all,

To Randy, Jeff and RPD, I have some more feedback, as concerns working through/with "professionals" and choosing the right "professional" for an independent appraisal.

In search of an independent tech who could provide me with an assessment of the damage, I contacted a member of the South African Association of Professional Piano Tuners - I presume he is the chairman, as he was obviously strongly involved in the design and content of the Association's website. Let's call him Charles.

It was an "interesting" phone conversation, to say the least.

First off, when I told Charles my story, he started chiding (frankly: lecturing) me, as to why I should have worked through the Association. In his words, Association members automatically get the green light as trustworthy sellers and competent techs - and I suppose non-members get the red light? It took two or three attempts to explain to him that I actually hadn't bought from some backyard dealer or fly-by-nighter. When I gave some background and he finally inferred who I was talking about, only then did he back off, and said that the tech who sold me the piano does, in fact, have a good reputation and much experience. (Fancy that!) For reasons only known to himself, he declined to join the Association when he was offered membership. (Perhaps all is not rosy in the Association?)

Charles said that, given my tech's good reputation and experience, this instrument should never have been sold in this condition. He suspects that the tech, who is getting on in years, neglected to give it a proper inspection.

So far so good.

I then asked Charles for the names of one or two Association members who could appraise my piano. Lo and behold, the first name that he gave me, is a tuner who has himself worked on my piano previously (left his insignia on a key), and whom I have been warned against,
... by a well-known local accompanist,
... by my seller himself, and most recently,
... by a piano professor from the local university, who said that this tech is blind, which limits his ability to appraise and repair structural damage. (Notwithstanding his excellent tuning abilities.)

So, this serves to illustrate my predicament. All of these people are, to some extent, professionals, even the non-member tech who sold me the piano, is acknowledged within the Association as competent.

In summary:
1) First Charles lectures me for not working through the Association.
2) Only when Charles realises who the seller is, does he change his tune (excuse the pun).
3) Then, Charles recommends one of his colleagues, but I've already been warned by various people not to use this tech!

I wonder whether the Association, like Charles put it, is really there to protect the consumer?

To add to my confusion, Charles said that a sticky action (centre pins) is no big deal, they must just be lubricated. (While the Austrian tech says that this is nonsense, the only way to fix it properly is to clean/ream the bushes and re-pin.) When I asked him about oil going sticky in due course, he said that he uses silicone lubricant, which doesn't "draw dust".

The one says "do", the other says "don't", the one says "use this tech", the other says "don't"...

Can you start to understand my massive confusion and frustration?

Abovementioned piano professor has now kindly put me in touch with a Steinway tech who services the university's concert grands - based in Cape Town, but currently here in Pretoria. I'll try to arrange that he appraises my piano.

Regards (with a reeling head),
Mark
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1279254 - 10/02/09 10:37 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: Mark R.]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2023
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Dear all,

Said Steinway tech visited me today and had a look at the piano. By the way, he studied not only at Steinway Hamburg, but also in the states, and is a RPT.

I'll get a written report later, but in the meantime, his impressions were as follows:

1) The crack in the soundboard is obviously not good, but not really critical, as it ends before the first rib and that rib is still firmly glued to the board. If it starts to buzz, one could fill/stabilise it with epoxy.
2) The cracks in the bass bridge are bad. The sound is slowly starting to deteriorate because of them. The bridge should be re-capped.
3) The action is not regulated well, hammers are misaligned.
4) The hammers have been re-felted before. He recognises the workmanship of a certain tech (and also the machine with which it was done). In the process, the heads were not made long enough, so in order to keep the rise (is this the right expression?) correct, the cushion of the hammer rest was made thicker. This means that the fulcrum of the hammers is to far away from the strings. The shanks are angled to steeply - hence the fact that some hammers actually fall towards the strings when played softly.
5) The action is sticky and should receive new centre-pins.
6) Damping is "patchwork". Some have been renewed, most are stained, some bent. Some dampers hardly lift off the string.
7) Down-bearing is not such a critical problem according to him. More so if it becomes too large, because this could break the bass bridge or apron completely away from the soundboard. As long as the soundboard has settled into a stable form (which it has, according to him), and the sound is still good, especially at the breaks (which it is), then this is OK.
8 ) The bushings (correct word?) of the keys should be replaced.
9) The general sound is good and solid. He sees no problems here.
10) General impression: the outside has been nicely restored, the inside is (I quote) "shoddy workmanship from top to bottom".
11) He said that if I can reverse the deal, I should. If not, I should insist that the above items (especially bass bridge and action) are repaired to the satisfaction of an independent tech.

He took almost an hour's time to look at various items with me and answer my questions, also pertaining to the fact that practically all tuners in Pretoria are blind...

What a shame that he is based in Cape Town. But he is in Pretoria regularly to work on the university's concert grands.

Then came a slight sales pitch. He has an August Förster (about 50 years old) in his workshop, that he has restored. Well, perhaps I can have a look if I'm in Cape Town over Christmas...

So much for today - now I'll have to gather my wits about me and confront my seller.

Kind regards,
Mark
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1279271 - 10/02/09 10:56 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: Mark R.]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17778
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Good luck, Mark. What a horrible situation. I hope you are able to get your money back. Let us know how the conversation went.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1279291 - 10/02/09 11:29 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: Mark R.]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4204
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Hello Mark,

Just back in here, and have read through your recent postings. I can see that you have learned the wisdom of going out of your local area to gather opinions about this instrument; an instrument that was presented to you with the claim that it was in good condition, both inside and out.

Every tech that views the pictures, or inspects the instrument, will have slightly differing viewpoint on certain components of this instrument. What you need to do is sift through the information now and find the “common points” shared by more than one opinion you have received. When you have a variety of techs from different locations sharing a common view of certain repairs or deterioration, this will go a long way to bolster your claim.

As far as the sales pitch goes, I too would offer you an instrument in better condition. The motivation for this would be primarily to assist in correcting a bad situation, but secondly to make a sale too….;)

The fellow who offered you the Forster? Call him back and ask him what he would give you in trade for the one you have now. That will get you closer to the real value of what you have (the real value for your area is what I meant)

cheers,
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1279307 - 10/02/09 11:47 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2023
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Hi there,

Monica, thanks for the support.

Dan, for a starting point, the Steinway tech actually asked me what I paid for the Ed Seiler, and said that had the instrument been in an acceptable condition, this would be a fair price - actually quite a good one.

What you're suggesting is a roundabout way to find out the real value of my piano in its current (more or less desolate) condition?

Well, that should be easy enough - when he calls me to get my e-mail address for sending me the written report, I'll slip in the "trade-in value" question - let's see what he says!

Oh boy, I really need to sort this out, it's making me physically sick (my nerves always work on my guts - literally).

Anyway, time for the weekend (it's 17h45 here).

Cheers,
Mark
P.S.: Dan (and everyone): just like Kawais are often said to have quite a bright timbre, and Bösendorfer more softly-singing, are August Försters known for any specific tonal qualities?
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

Top
#1280979 - 10/05/09 04:58 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: Mark R.]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2023
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Dear all,

Just a matter of clarification:

If a bridge is re-capped, and the soundboard has settled over the years (but is essentially stable), is the new bridge (cap) made and adjusted in such a way that the down-bearing is corrected, without altering the soundboard? To what specification is the down-bearing then typically set? If I understood the tech (who inspected my piano) correctly, he would rout the old cap off, but leave the base and apron on the soundboard, then make a new cap that has a suitable profile to set the down-bearing to about 1-2 mm (about 1/16 inch).

I just want to clarify this point, in case the seller of my piano should insist on repairing it, rather than taking it back.

Regards,
Mark
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1281010 - 10/05/09 06:05 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: Mark R.]
jpscoey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/09
Posts: 306
Loc: Manchester, England, UK.
[quote=Mark R.]...the Steinway tech actually asked me what I paid for the Ed Seiler,

and said that had the instrument been in an acceptable condition,

this would be a fair price - actually quite a good one.[quote]


Mark, I suspect the reason he said this is because it would probably cost this or more

to carry out the neccessary work.

Did he say what he would charge you for this work? (if it were practical for him to do it).

If not, why not ask him?

Good luck.
.
_________________________
John Schofield. NTC Dip. , C.G.L.I.
Professional piano tuner/technician since 1982.
myspace

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#1283014 - 10/08/09 12:08 PM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: jpscoey]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4204
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


Hello Mark,

From what I have seen the instrument does not have the kind of value you paid for it. For $2500.00 you can do better……… Oh sure if all of the repairs noted were done that price would be a good deal as your Steinway tech mentioned. The trouble with that statement is this:

Setting aside the condition of the sounding board for a moment, to complete all of the work I have seen on those photos, the broken bass apron and bridge cap,( might as well put a new bass string set on, why keep the old ones) the complete regulation required and all of the center pins replaced in the hammer butt flange, the whippen flange, and perhaps some of the jack flanges too( you might as well do them all as the action is now apart) removing the hammer set and calculating the correct bore distance,( you might as well install a new set)….from my shop a conservative estimate would add another 4K to the instruments’ price.

Then STILL you are left with a deteriorating sounding board that is beginning to break behind the treble bridge end. So why spend 4K or more on an instrument that has a structure in this condition? This is parallel to having a sports car that blows considerable smoke when you start it up. Well you don’t rebuild the transmission in that one, nor do you paint the thing, because one day the motor will blow up and then you are left with a car that doesn’t run with a brand new tranny installed. What value would it be then?

Don’t get me wrong here, this instrument you have can still be played for a long time in this condition, but with a sound board like that you do not pour dollar after dollar into this project. Find another instrument that does not have a breaking sounding board and put monies into that one.

Because of the condition of the sounding board and bridge, this instrument has limited value……. you play this instrument “as it is”. There are LOTS of pianos around this area with bridges and sound boards in this condition. I tell people to play them like they are until the instrument is not functional any longer and then look for something else. I do let pianos like this go to certain people….single mom, single dad, no money, but with children who want to learn music…I let them go for a few hundred dollars……sometimes even nothing…………………just enough to cover the moving costs and a quick look to see that everything works…. BUT they are informed that these pianos are NOT GOOD INSTRUMENTS and this is written on the invoice if there happens to be one……. I just donated one to a church that needed one for the missionary work done there……..

Don’t know too much about the August Förster instruments, they were an 80’s and 90’s thing around here…Czech Republic, or Poland I believe, but not sure. I haven’t heard many complaints about them so that is a good thing I guess. Maybe someone else has another opinion or more complete info on that one.
cheers,
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1315794 - 12/01/09 11:14 AM Re: Your opinion, please! Have I bought junk? [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2023
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Hello,

After contacting the seller via e-mail late in October, and waiting a long time for a response, I finally called him about a week ago, asking for that warranty and the first tuning. He came today, and I started a conversation where I explained the things that I had come across, the independent assessments from the Steinway tech. and the various builders on the internet forums. At first, he was quite offish, but I always returned to one point: he had sold me the piano with the understanding that it was "essentially intact" and "good for many more years" - and the condition of the bass bridge is in blatant violation of such an understanding.

He has now agreed to collect the piano and do some repairs, free of charge. As both he and I will be travelling during December and January, this will only happen during February.

The repairs will consist of
1) Bass bridge: de-string, rout off old bridge cap, make and fit new bridge cap, re-string. He says the dead note is definitely a string, not the bridge. We'll see.
2) Action: replacing damaged dampers and springs, aligning hammers, fixing sticky centers (not re-centering, but presumably lubricating), regulating.
3) Possibly soundboard: rather than filling the crack with epoxy, as the Steinway-tech suggested, he would go the "traditional" route. Here I'm only familiar with the German term: "spanen", i.e. to widen the crack into a groove and glue a shim or wedge into the cut, then cut the glued piece off on a level with the surrounding soundboard. I'm not sure whether he'll actually do this - he seemed to think the crack is not critical.

He also said that I should visit his workshop, as he has recently got some instruments in, amongst others a Rönisch from the same time. If I like one of them, he'd be happy to take back the Seiler in exchange. If not, he'd do the repairs.

So I'll visit him on Saturday to look at those pianos.

Seeing that he offered to make good the defects, I felt that it's only reasonable to give him a chance to do so. Hence, I didn't insist on his reversing the sale.

I'm thinking, however, to make a list of the repairs that we discussed today, putting it on paper, and signing it off together with him, so that we have this as a recorded agreement. Also, I'm considering to have the repairs inspected by an independent tech. before I take the Seiler back. I would hope that this keeps his repair work on the straight and narrow.

So, that's the current state of affairs in a nutshell - feel free to comment or advise if you wish.

Regards,
Mark
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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