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#1769184 - 10/12/11 10:44 AM Advice With (Worn) Free Piano
TheHiggo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 6
Hey all, first post here wink

Just picked up a free piano for my birthday today; it's sitting in my room right now! A few issues, however.

Excuse me if I read the branding wrong, but I think it says

Ferdinand Schaaf
Frankfurt
Goldene Medaille


With what I believe to be an importer's marking; Elvy's Sydney.



I don't know how old she is, or how to describe the problems, but here goes:

- The sustain pedal barely moves any... (dampers, right?).
- Some notes sustain on their own (their dampers don't make sufficient contact).
- 2-3 hammers don't work.
- The damper pedal (Edit: 'Soft pedal'. Thanks, Colin) is completely non-functional.
- Notes in the upper-middle register have an odd twang here and there, like a fingernail on a vibrating guitar string.
- (And of course, it's out of tune here and there).

I know that there are quite a few issues, but considering it costed only $120 AUD to move it here (it was about 1km away down the street), is it worthwhile repairing? I can't really afford an actual piano, so it didn't seem like much of a problem. I just hope that the above are actually repairable.

Any info. you guys need about it, just ask smile

Regards,
- Brody.


Edited by TheHiggo (10/12/11 05:20 PM)

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#1769225 - 10/12/11 12:22 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
Colin Dunn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 478
Loc: Arvada, CO
This looks like an old piano. It has an 85-note compass instead of 88. Pianos with the 85-note range typically predate 1900. Most likely, this instrument dates back to the 1880s.

I'm not sure what you mean about the "damper" pedal not working; I thought the sustain and damper pedals were the same thing. The left pedal is most likely a soft pedal.

Often, the pedal issues are that a linkage inside the piano has gotten detached.

Dampers that don't make sufficient contact need to be adjusted or replaced. In an old piano, the white felt that dampens the strings may need to be replaced.

The twanging may be that strings need to be reseated against the bridges. Or it's vibrating against some metal surface and creating that sound.

A piano tuner should be able to tune the piano and make these minor repairs. However, you should expect to spend several hundred $$$ to fix everything. In particular, an old and neglected piano likely will need a pitch raise as well as tuning. You'll want repeat tunings at least four times the first year after the pitch raise. And then the pedal, hammer, and action adjustments/repairs to get everything functional.
_________________________
Colin Dunn

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#1769319 - 10/12/11 03:16 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1042
Loc: Reseda, California
The most important thing is to get pointed in the right direction from the beginning. Have a tuner/technician check it over and give you a list of the things it needs, and what they'd cost. You may consider getting the Reblitz book and doing some of the work yourself. If you want to go that route, look for a tech who's willing to consult and do the parts that are out of DIY range.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#1769326 - 10/12/11 03:38 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8068
Loc: Georgia, USA
Congratulations on your “new to you” piano!

I like the looks of your old "free" piano! laugh

I suppose I do have a weakness for old uprights... or grands.

It is inevitable that old pianos have wear and tear, if not from hours and hours of playing, from the ravages of time itself.

If you have any mechanical ability at all, you may be able to fix/adjust some of the issues yourself. If not, there may be a piano technician in your area who would look at it and offer a reasonable estimate to get it playable. If not, you still have a nice piece of furniture! smile

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1769394 - 10/12/11 05:49 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20749
Loc: Oakland
I doubt it will ever stay in tune, and trying to repair that could easily cost more than a new piano.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1769505 - 10/12/11 09:14 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
ChasT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 649
Loc: Georgia
Congrats on the new-to-you piano. And happy birthday.

Your piano is beautiful. I love the style and the wood. If you have the option, definitely call in a tech rather than a tuner. He/she'll be better able to tell you where you stand with the piano and needed repairs.

Wait a few weeks before having it tuned to give it a chance to settle into its new home. In the meantime, you might open up the front panels and see if you can figure out what's wrong with the pedal mechanism. The set screws may have slipped or something might be blocking the mechanism. Same thing with the bad keys. And the tech will probably be appreciative if you clean it out a bit. You never know what you'll find in old pianos.

BDB may seem a bit pessimistic, but let's face it; the piano is about a century old. It could be shot. Or not. You won't know until the tech checks it over. And even if it does have some problems, you may be able to keep it playable for some time. What little I found on the internet about Ferdinand Schaaf pianos indicated that they were quality instruments in their day.

If you post the serial number, someone here may be able to find the age for you.

Good luck with the piano and keep us posted.

Charles

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#1769546 - 10/12/11 10:39 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1179
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
It's always best to have a technician check a piano before you get it to your house...but it's a little late in your case. smile

Can you fold the lid back and remove the top front panel, then post a photo of what it looks like inside? You'll still need a technician to evaluate it, but I'm curious as to what's inside!
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#1769616 - 10/13/11 12:57 AM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
TheHiggo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 6
Thanks for the replies, guys!

@John and Rick: definitely getting a technician to have a look. (And Rick... it's even more lovely in person! What a great birthday surprise!).

@BDB: I totally understand - I'm prepared for that possibility, in which case I'll save up and buy a new one smile But you never know - she could hold a tune. To be honest, it's not -that- badly out of tune (mostly :P ), but it may never get to a 'right' degree of being on pitch, you're right.

@ChasT: Thank you! It's been a glorious day for me, and the piano is certainly the centre-piece, and it really fills up the room nicely. I do have a Yamaha CP33 to tide me over, but nothing beats an acoustic wink One day I'll have a grand... one day! I found it hard to locate info (especially with most of it being in German, despite sketchy translations). Is the serial number usually printed inside, and often 4 digits? I've got 2184 here. Who/how can I get the age checked?

@Eric: Yeah, I understand that, but it was a surprise gift, haha. I came home to find the house abandoned, with a few accidental clues, and I eventually found this big ol' thing in my room wink It was from a family friend who lives down the road, so no great costs re. moving it.

How exactly do I remove the front panel? There's a wooden block on each side (lengthways) on the inside, which swivel to allow the front panel to pivot down, but the bottom still seems anchored. Is it meant to be like a big hinge, or does one remove something at the bottom to take out the whole panel? Same story with the lower panel below the keys, to get to the pedals. How does one remove it?

I look forward to your wonderful replies smile

- Brody.

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#1769665 - 10/13/11 02:35 AM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
zhengxuejing Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 42
One can easily picture to one's self

Edited by moderator... pure spam.



Edited by Rickster (10/13/11 07:50 AM)

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#1769680 - 10/13/11 02:43 AM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1042
Loc: Reseda, California
The front part of the top looks like it's hinged, and should fold back. With that open, look inside, and the mounting of the big panel should be clear. Each maker did it their own way. Also, look at getting that lower panel out. Look under the keyboard at the top of the panel. There's usually some sort of latch, and the top of the panel swings out towards you, then lifts out. That'll get you a look at the pedal linkages, which may be quite easy to fix.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#1769712 - 10/13/11 03:24 AM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
TheHiggo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 6
There seems to be resistance in the top panel - it only hinges so far, and I can't see any mechanism holding it in place. I can lift it when it's hinged a bit out, but not sure if that'll rip out anything that is (possibly weakly) holding it in place. Any particular things I should look for?

Got the lower panel open though - the actual soft pedal itself isn't functioning (probably spring-related - it sits in the lowest position possible within its housing, therefore no room to push it down. The sustain pedal itself is fine, and the rods are all attached down south, so the problem must be either further up the linkage, or with the mechanism that moves the dampers directly. They do move, but only some, and not much.

Here's the lower end;



The whiter spots above appear to be mold (some parts look a bit like it due to the flash, but the mold should be pretty obvious).

Thanks so far!
- Brody.


Edited by TheHiggo (10/13/11 03:28 AM)

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#1769990 - 10/13/11 03:12 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1042
Loc: Reseda, California
Perhaps you could have a friend hold the top open as far as it goes while you take some detailed pictures.

The pedals appear to pull downward on threaded rods that in turn pull down on the long levers. Typically there'll be wing nuts on the threaded rods to adjust out the play in the linkage. That's the first thing to look for. The dampers may just need the nut adjusted.

The white stuff -- at least in this picture -- is rather strangely distributed for mold. There's some on the iron, some on the wood, some on the felt... There even seems to be some on the wound strings just in front of where it's on the sound board and the top of the bridge. To me, that looks like it's a powder of some kind that someone blew into the piano. Could it be an insecticide?
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#1769998 - 10/13/11 03:22 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8068
Loc: Georgia, USA
The worst problem I've found with older pianos is cracks in the bridges mostly, and some cracks in the sound board (aside from action issues). The cracks in the sound board is not good, but may not be a major problem, as long as it doesn't buzz.

The cracks and splits in the bridges is a mojor issue and can drastically affect tuning stability and tone quality. Of the four or so older uprights I've tinkered with, three of them had cracks in the bridges. It can be repaired, or the bridge cap replaced, but it is a lot of effort (and expense).

From what I can tell, you do have something to work with... enjoy!

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1770472 - 10/14/11 12:03 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Take a look at the lower picture again. That's an interesting design: there's a third "transition bridge" to the right of the bass bridge, with some really long trichords (plain wire, I assume).

The pedal rods connect to the action at the bass side. The soft pedal connects at the front of the action, the sustain at the rear.

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

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
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#1770476 - 10/14/11 12:17 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20749
Loc: Oakland
The white stuff could well be toxic. Either insecticide or lead oxide.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1770491 - 10/14/11 12:39 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1179
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Originally Posted By: TheHiggo

There seems to be resistance in the top panel - it only hinges so far, and I can't see any mechanism holding it in place. I can lift it when it's hinged a bit out, but not sure if that'll rip out anything that is (possibly weakly) holding it in place. Any particular things I should look for?



Most likely, the top panel does not have a hinge. It probably has some pegs on the bottom that fit into holes of the piece below it. If you are able to pull the top panel slightly toward you, grasp the top of the panel with both hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart, then pull the panel up, trying to lift the panel as evenly as possible from the left and right sides. It should remove kind of like the bottom panel did.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#1770514 - 10/14/11 01:06 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: Colin Dunn]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: Colin Dunn
This looks like an old piano. It has an 85-note compass instead of 88. Pianos with the 85-note range typically predate 1900. Most likely, this instrument dates back to the 1880s.
Not true with this type of piano. In Europe, 85 note pianos were common through the 20s.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1770517 - 10/14/11 01:08 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: BDB]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: BDB
The white stuff could well be toxic. Either insecticide or lead oxide.
More likely talcum powder. But stay on the safe side and don't ingest it smirk
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1770518 - 10/14/11 01:12 PM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20749
Loc: Oakland
I recently tuned an 85 note piano made in England in the 1970s. Nevertheless, that is an old piano.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1770906 - 10/15/11 04:34 AM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
TheHiggo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 6
In all seriousness, how does one check the identity of a random substance? No taste-test, please :P

@Eric: Still nothing - is it possible to break it by hinging it out too far before lifting? Don't wanna snap my baby smile

If we're in contention about the age, how would I check? I'm not sure if what I found is the serial number:



Here she is in a bit more glory (now with the advantage of sunlight):






(Need to fix that blemish there).

Here's a top-down look at the hammers and strings. You'll notice a damper missing on one, and a whole row of them missing up top. Apart from that, how's the condition look?







And last but not least, here's a video of me trying it out (sounds a bit honky-tonk :p ). Apologies for the large size:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=NSRO2V42

Anyway, thanks for your help so far smile
- Brody.

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#1770917 - 10/15/11 05:54 AM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
Rotom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 1670
Near the top range of the piano, the row of dampers missing is completely normal, as is the two dampers missing below the thing in the middle, if you get what I mean.

The strings seem quite rusted. That could mean possible humidity damage to some parts of the piano, but I'm being a pessimist in saying so. The dampers don't look too healthy, and the hammers don't look too bad, except for a powdery substance that seems to be covering them, but they look like they need to be straightened a bit.

The key tops look to be on quite good condition, none of them have fallen off, burnt, discoloured greatly, etc, and look healthily whitish enough. Except for the blemish on the outside, the case looks quite good.

Just my amateur's observations. Good luck with it, and do keep us posted!

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#1770945 - 10/15/11 09:07 AM Re: Advice With (Worn) Free Piano [Re: TheHiggo]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1179
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Originally Posted By: TheHiggo

@Eric: Still nothing - is it possible to break it by hinging it out too far before lifting? Don't wanna snap my baby smile

If we're in contention about the age, how would I check? I'm not sure if what I found is the serial number:


If that panel hasn't been off in a long time, it may just be a tight fit. Did you have to loosen two tabs (or something like that), one on the right, one on the left, to be able to move the top of the panel? Sometimes there are pins on the sides of the panel that slide into slots. They can be hard to see. If this is the case, you have to lift up and toward the piano slightly. Can you get a photo of the inside of the panel, on the top edge?

To me, the piano looks very old. That "2184" is the serial number. Pierce Piano Atlas doesn't have a listing for this brand.

It's always interesting to see the design of an "unknown" piano.


Edited by Eric Gloo (10/15/11 09:09 AM)
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Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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