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#1938099 - 08/06/12 10:16 AM 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed)
henryroux123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 18
I want to buy a Baldwin Hamilton (1955) that looks really good. The ad reads, "This is a great instrument for home use. It is a Hamilton, made by Baldwin upright piano. One owner. Purchased in the mid 1950's. Wonderful condition but probably needs a tune. Kept in climate controled environment away from outside walls and heating vents. Bench included."

QUESTION: Would age be a negative factor on this piano? I am providing the craigslit link. Thanks!

http://chicago.craigslist.org/nch/msg/3129581233.html

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#1938104 - 08/06/12 10:30 AM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
if any older piano (console) would be good it would be a Hamilton. I used an old Hamilton for choir practice.. never had it tuned.. (didn't have a budget) and it was actually great.. stable.. the action was still fine. It might be difficult to sell because of it's age.. and they might take an offer. 58 years is pretty old for a piano. make sure all the dampers work, the pedals are in order and the hammers are not grooved. you don't want any extra sounds.

Sometimes a piano can get sooooooo out of tune tho also.. definitely make an offer. 600 seems pretty high and in our used market, 50 year old pianos usually sell for abou 200 to 300 if the sellers are luck on 50% off day. (estate sale market)
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1938147 - 08/06/12 12:09 PM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7287
Loc: Rochester MN
The Hamiltons are proven pianos. They are workhorses and hold up in the most difficult of situations. The fact that is a one owner, residential piano, and not from institutional use, is a big plus.

The usual recommendation from the members here at PW would be to have it fully inspected by a qualified piano technician. In the Chicago area, that would run $100 - $150 added to the cost of the piano. With the track record of the Hamilton, even at its age, it might not be cost effective to proceed that way.

Do you play? Do you have a friend who does? You can certainly do a visual inspection by yourself. Open the piano up. Look for any indications of mice or spider webs. Take a whiff. It should smell primarily of wood and not of any offensive odors. Play each and every note to detect if they are functioning correctly, with no sticking, and each speaks clearly. Check that the dampers are all working properly. If you are unfamiliar with any of these terms or "how do I do that?", I would certainly take a pianist friend with you.

Consider, in advance, the transport of the piano and the expense involved. Again, I'm going against the usual recommendation. That piano can easily be moved by four strong men. I would not worry at all about damage to the piano if basic care and logic is used. It becomes a "pizza and beer" move. Could be expensive if Gino's or Pizza Uno are the choice, however!

If the piano history is accurate, and it passes the basic tests, it is not a bad price at all. There is nothing wrong with a little bargaining, however. It is to be expected.

If you find my advice helpful, and you purchase the piano, please send a big gooey slice of Gino's! grin

Good luck in your piano quest and keep us posted.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#1938180 - 08/06/12 01:25 PM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
Pianolance Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1192
Loc: Nashville, TN
I agree with Minn Mart, but if you want to have real peace of mind, just hire a professional to check out your piano. You can go to www.ptg.org and find a registered piano technician in your area, or you can ask for referrals from a piano teacher or professional pianist to find a good piano tuner in your area. Also, concerning the move, I am all about do it yourself, but please make sure to move it safe. There was a thread on here not too long ago about professional movers allowing a brand new Kawai K8 to tip over during delivery, and these were professionals. If it was anything other than a straight out straight in move, or in other words steps, slopes, hills, tight corners, etc, you would have far greater peace of mind to hire professionals.

Concerning the Hamilton, they were excellent pianos, and if yours is in good condition it would be a very enjoyable instrument to own, however, it is 50 years old and will definitely have some signs of aging. Whether this greatly affects the piano or just slightly affects the piano will make a big difference.

Best of luck in your piano search.
_________________________
Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.

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#1939048 - 08/07/12 10:49 PM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
henryroux123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 18
Thanks for all your advice. That was very helpful. I saw the piano today, and it is in very shape. The inside does "smell wood" (Marty's advice), the keys work well, and it is very clean. The negative side: the key tops are turning yellow. I will have a registered piano tech inspect it on Friday. If he give his thumb up, I will buy it, and replace the key tops. I will give you posted after the technician will have given his opinion. Thanks so much for your advice!
Henry

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#1939125 - 08/08/12 12:58 AM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8488
Loc: Georgia, USA
If you do buy it and have the key-tops replaced, make sure you get someone who is experienced at it and knows what they are doing. One thing that turns me off is to see a new set of pretty, white plastic key-tops on a piano with the ebony sharps too shallow on the keyboard. When you change the hight of the white keys with new key-tops, the ebony keys need to be releveled as well.

Also, a sloppy new key-top job can look worse than the yellowing older keys.

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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#1939295 - 08/08/12 11:28 AM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
henryroux123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 18
Rick,
Thanks for this advice regarding the key-tops replacement. I will have the ebony keys replaced too. I will keep you posted.
Thanks,
Henry

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#1940272 - 08/10/12 11:08 AM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
henryroux123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 18
The technician has looked at the piano, and sent me the following information:
INSPECTION
Baldwin Hamilton 188805
case: Mahogany with matching bench
pinblock: firm in good condition
.soundboard and ribs: slight crack on treble side
keys: plastIc, yellowed
action: compact style actIon, has excessive frictIon
hammers - deeply grooved, heavily used,
strings: original, complete, slight oxidation on bass strings
sound: good sustain, weaker treble
tunIng stability last tuning, pitch 1.8 percent above at A4,
record 2002
pedals: damper is lifting late and somewhat uneven,
bass damper pedal: working fine
soft pedal: working wIth delay

I'm going to talk with the technician and have her general advice on this piano. I do not know anything about pianos. Does this piano look good or should I keep looking?
Thanks,
Henry

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#1940283 - 08/10/12 11:31 AM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8488
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Henry,

I’ll admit that $750 ain’t a lot for a real, acoustic piano, but that technician evaluation is not a stellar evaluation in my view. It would at least prompt price negotiations…

If you can wait a little longer, and increase your budget a little, I think you can do better… I know you’ve invested in the tech evaluation, which is a good thing, considering the new information you have about the piano. Chances are, it’s been played a lot in its life…

Well, that’s my .02, and it is worth about what it costs. smile

Good luck and keep us informed.

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

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#1940285 - 08/10/12 11:32 AM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21433
Loc: Oakland
Hamiltons do not have compact actions.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1940295 - 08/10/12 11:44 AM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
henryroux123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 18
I think I'll pass on this one. I almost bought it without inspection. I'm glad I listened to the advice (from this forum) to have it inspected by a general.
Thank you all for your priceless advice. I'll come back here when I see another piano.
Henry

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#1940297 - 08/10/12 11:49 AM Re: 1955 Baldwin Hamilton (advice needed) [Re: henryroux123]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7287
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Henry,

There is nothing on the list which is unusual or catastrophic. The solid pin block is a very good sign. Most likely, the other stuff is more some good maintenance rather than to put it into the "forget it" category. The advice from the Tech would be the best, she has now had hands on experience, and she can give you an estimate for the work which should be done right away, or could be deferred.

Keep us posted.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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