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#1916046 - 06/20/12 02:57 AM BUSH AND LANE UPRIGHT.... HELP!!!
Matt.S. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/18/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Portland, Oregon
What to do? What to do?

Please read and reply with your advice. Thank you.

I just moved into a new place and in doing so inherited a 1922 Bush and Lane upright. Lucky me!

The insides are in surprisingly decent condition for a 90 year old upright. I cleaned, dusted, pulled the action, which is a Wessell, Nickel and Gross. Bush and Lane seems to have a good reputation. Correct?

I am learning to play and to be frank, I have no technical training. Regardless, I can see and hear things need to be done. My problem is I have no budget for this new venture. My plan is to learn and work on things myself. I did work in a piano shop for years and was around the restoration and saw things done.

Here are some of the issues: The felts have groves, the tone is uneven, the dampers don't cut off the note on the bottom end, the pedals are noisy and of course it's out of tune and pitch. I am sure there may be other issues I am not aware of.

Now to make you all cringe! Youtube: I watched some tuning videos, bought a tuning hammer and felts on eBay, and BAM, I attempted my first tuning! Crazy I know! The result…is piano that is in “better” tune with itself, but not in tune. The middle temperament is good, but the stretch tuning is a mystery. (Help!) The piano also needs a pitch raise. I was surprised the pegs on the old Bush and Lane responded as well as they did. Now a week later, it is settling and needs tuned again and more accurately.

Ok, enough background, here are my questions:

1. How should I attempt the pitch raise, or where can I go to find out how to do it?
2. How do you shape hammers without ruining them! And what about conditioning them?
3. What can I do about notes that are louder or softer than others?
4. What things give the greatest result in regulating and voicing? How do you do those things?
5. Am I a loose cannon who is going to ruin my piano and should I be stopped!??
6. Noise in the pedals. Thumps and creaks? Hmmm?
7. Dampers that don’t dampen in the bass? What can I do to solve this without buying new ones?
8. What would you do if you were me and wanting to learn and solve these issues? Suggestions please!

Facts: I do not have money to hire a professional. I am motivated to learn and willing to try things out on my “free” piano. I would greatly appreciate your advice on how to proceed on any or all of these issues. Thanks for reading and your time.


Edited by Matt.S. (06/20/12 03:39 AM)

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#1916055 - 06/20/12 03:44 AM Re: Question for piano tecs and piano restoration specialist: [Re: Matt.S.]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21303
Loc: Oakland
It takes people several years to learn to work on pianos, and for a lot of people, it takes that long to find out that they cannot do it. Teaching people to do this work costs time, both the time it takes to teach and the time that it took to learn the skills in the first place, which is money, and it is not worthwhile for a professional to instruct someone who is not willing to pay them.

Most people are better off working on a job that they know so that they can make enough money to hire someone, rather than wasting their time and effort learning something entirely new, particularly if they are not serious about making a living at the new job. What is more, there are a lot of jobs that are more secure, and pay a lot more than working on pianos.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1916080 - 06/20/12 05:49 AM Re: Question for piano tecs and piano restoration specialist: [Re: Matt.S.]
Mark R. Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1943
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Matt,

Welcome to the forum.

In answer to your last question: I'd advise that before you attempt to do much anything further, you buy a copy of "Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding: For the Professional, the Student, and the Hobbyist" by Arthur A. Reblitz. It's a good book to have if you're at all interested in the workings of pianos. Many (if not all) of the pictures in the second edition are, unfortunately, still the old black-and-white ones from the first edition, but it's a very informative book nonetheless.

Read it, and then you can still decide what to do. At least this way, you should be spared the worst pitfalls. (E.g. sinking a whole lot of time and effort (= money) into a piano that doesn't hold a tuning.)

Lastly, I would add that without proper tools and materials, you can't expect to do proper work. If you don't have a budget, which you say you don't, then you're going to run into problems anyway - be it with or without a technician.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

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

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#1916110 - 06/20/12 07:54 AM Re: Question for piano tecs and piano restoration specialist: [Re: Matt.S.]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8425
Loc: Georgia, USA
Welcome to the forum, Matt!

And, you are in for quite an adventure learning to work on your old Bush & Lane upright, which I’ve read from time to time that they are well built and good pianos.

BDB is right to an extent, it can and does take a long time to become highly skilled as a piano technician; but I’m afraid I disagree with his philosophy here, as much as I like and respect him. The only way in the world someone will ever learn to tune a piano is to start learning how… both by reading about it and then giving it a try. What is the worst that can happen? So, you screw something up and break a string or ruin a hammer… most all of the parts on a piano can be replaced, except maybe the harp and cabinet. If you screw it up bad enough, you can scrap it and get another old piano… the woods are full of old uprights from glory days of acoustic pianos.

You have come to the right place to learn… read as much as can; watch the piano tech videos on YT and apply as much logic and common sense to what you are doing as you can.

If it is any consolation to you, I’ve been where you are now… the learning curve is quite substantial and you never stop learning, unless you know it all already.

Good luck!

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

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#1916321 - 06/20/12 04:24 PM Re: Question for piano tecs and piano restoration specialist: [Re: Matt.S.]
Matt.S. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/18/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Thank you BDB, Mark and Rickster for your responses! I appreciate your thoughts and counsel. smile

This is my second day on this forum and I thank you for welcoming me and for your advice!

BDB, I appreciate your caution and I respect professionals in this field. I am not here to waist time or money.

Mark, I see that book, (which has the longest title ever!) is on Amazon for 20 bucks. That seems a smart place to start.

Rickster, I thank you for your positive attitude, for admitting you have been where I am and your advice to move forward if I really want to learn! That is exactly where I am at so thank you!

I think of this whole venture as a fun new hobby and a form of enriching my life and understanding. My 16 year old daughter and I are learning to play together and that is gold! Much more important than the instrument itself!

Both learning to play the piano and understanding the instrument and how it functions have been great new activity for me! As it is an old upright, and they are in numerous quantity as you say Mark, I am willing to roll up my sleeves, learn what I can, make mistakes and enjoy the journey of learning:)

4 questions:

Are there websites anyone would recommend for instructions on tuning, voicing or regulating?

What is it that makes a note sound louder than another note?

My piano is less than a half step flat of pitch. Should I attempt a pitch raise?

I need to buy a chromatic tuner. What would you recommend for a budget minded beginner? What qualities are important in a tuner? (Under 60 dollars, used is fine) My free app on my android is my current tuner so anything you recomend will be an upgrade!

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#1916325 - 06/20/12 04:33 PM Re: Question for piano tecs and piano restoration specialist: [Re: Matt.S.]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21303
Loc: Oakland
1. It takes more than a website.

2. Lots of things.

3. It takes a lot more information to know.

4. $60 is not likely to get you a tuner that will do you much good. You might as well start with a good tuning fork and learn how to tune by ear.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1916476 - 06/20/12 11:37 PM Re: Question for piano tecs and piano restoration specialist: [Re: Matt.S.]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
You can try the technician's forum next door for some free Internet advice. It's worth every penny!

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#1916667 - 06/21/12 10:59 AM Re: Question for piano tecs and piano restoration specialist: [Re: Matt.S.]
Pianolance Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1192
Loc: Nashville, TN
I for one applaud anyone with a can do attitude. We don't have enough of that in this country. Yes, you might waste some time and money on a project like this, but you will be guaranteed to learn something and how can that be a bad thing. One word of caution, in the technicians forum they don't like amatures and will be quick to flame you. Don't let them intimidate you. What they don't want to admit is that they were all know nothings at one time.
_________________________
Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.

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#1916678 - 06/21/12 11:33 AM Re: Question for piano tecs and piano restoration specialist: [Re: Matt.S.]
Mark R. Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1943
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Matt, if you can get a Reblitz copy for $20, go for it "yesterday", and start reading. It will provide at least indicative answers to most of your above questions, and it will also show you what other questions to ask. I agree with BDB, of course it takes more than a website and a chromatic tuner. But Reblitz is really one of the best starting points I can think of. I refer to my copy regularly.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

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

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#1916697 - 06/21/12 12:21 PM Re: BUSH AND LANE UPRIGHT.... HELP!!! [Re: Matt.S.]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8425
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Pianolance
I for one applaud anyone with a can do attitude. We don't have enough of that in this country. Yes, you might waste some time and money on a project like this, but you will be guaranteed to learn something and how can that be a bad thing. One word of caution, in the technicians forum they don't like amatures and will be quick to flame you. Don't let them intimidate you. What they don't want to admit is that they were all know nothings at one time.


Your comments are right on par, Lance. Believe me, I’ve gone through the hazing line over on the piano tech’s forum more than once. And, a few of them still like to pick at me for some reason. wink

However, once you get to know those guys and gals, they are a fantastic group. Collectively, they have a body of knowledge and experience in regards to piano technology that is unmatched anywhere else on the WWW. Just another reason why Piano World is the best piano forum in the world! thumb

Of course, you have to approach them with a lot of humility and respect. 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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