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#1958291 - 09/13/12 01:05 PM Piano Prospect
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
While I had pretty much backed off of my recent search for a small grand that might need some minor repairs in order to save a buck, the lines I cast around yielded a possible opportunity that I thought I would toss out here for opinions and comments:

1917 Story & Clark small (baby) grand. Case needs exterior refinishing, as finish is "alligatored" due to age. Pinblock and soundboard are in very good condition. I had a piano tech look it over, and they say it could use a set of treble hammers at minimum, and probably a complete set of hammers would be best. Otherwise it is in very good condition for its age.

I have some vintage stereo gear that is no longer appropriate for my home since I moved into a much smaller home. It has minimal value for me, for reasons I won't go into here.

Long story short, the owner would consider swapping me the piano for the stereo gear.

The case finishing work I can handle without issue, should I decide to undertake it. While I have read what is necessary to replace hammers, and would expect the expense of parts alone to be around $500 for a good quality set and required tools, I have some real concerns about the skill level required to do such a job and the potential for bodging it up. I do have very high level woodworking and mechanical skills, so I strongly believe it is well within my abilities. My concern is more a matter of doing it, then having to have a tech come in after me to get the action regulated without having to spend a small fortune doing so. I would expect to replace things like felts and the like while I was doing the hammers as well - sort of a "If you're there, you might as well do it" thing.

Ultimately, what sort of value would a piano of this age and vintage warrant, and even with the sweat equity I put into it, would it be worth it?

I am not doing this as a long term investment or to recover my costs - I am doing it to acquire a good quality piano that will last me a long time.

Thanks in advance for your comments and opinions.

Dan

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#1958323 - 09/13/12 01:59 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: MacDan]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8585
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Dan,

I'd suggest looking for something newer...

If you really want a challenge or something to tinker with, I wouldn't pay more than 3 to 5 hundred dollars for such a piano (if you think your stereo equipment is worth that).

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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#1958338 - 09/13/12 02:19 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: Rickster]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
Thanks, Rick.

I need to quiz my tech about it in more detail, as I'm not sure why he suggested hammer replacement unless the felt was really grooved or worn down to unacceptable levels.

I will see him on Saturday and find out lot more as far as details are concerned.

The equipment came to me though a number of venues, many of which involved some sort of barter arrangement, so I have maybe $200 of my own money in the equipment. Resale of vintage stereo gear is spotty at best in today's market unless you have something really desirable, which I don't. The likelyhood of me putting it on Craigslist and getting much of anything out of it is minimal at best.

I think my biggest concern is not value, but would a piano of this brand and vintage be worth the time and effort to get it going, or am I better off just holding off and buying something newer at a later date when I'm ready? Or, to maybe better phrase it, is a 1917 Story and Clark a quality piano (considering that it is almost 100 years old with the issues that come with a piano of that age and vintage?)

Thanks,

Dan

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#1958355 - 09/13/12 02:34 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: MacDan]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8585
Loc: Georgia, USA
Have you played the piano? What do you think about it?

Being somewhat of an adventurer and tinkerer myself, I'd trade with him and start tinkering. What have you got to lose? If the action plays well and it will hold a tuning, you got a musical instrument.

From what I’ve read, most of the American made pianos from the early 1900’s were decent, though some were better than others.

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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#1958366 - 09/13/12 02:50 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: Rickster]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
I probably won't see it until next week. I'll see the tech that surveyed it on Saturday, and I know him and trust his judgement, so I'll put a lot of weight on that as I consider things.

I guess one of my concerns if it needs hammers is that it would need not just the hammers but the shanks and flanges as well. Then we're talking about a pretty significant expense, as well as messing with the action, which is something that I feel would require a serious time/$$ investment to make whole. I don't want to bother with investing $1000-$2000 into an old piano that is of marginal value to begin with...

Again, it comes back to "what kind of a quality instrument is a Story & Clark?"

Dan

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#1958498 - 09/13/12 06:40 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: MacDan]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
They are not high on the "worth it to rebuild" list. There are always exceptions made for individual reasons, such as a "family heirloom," but S&C is not a name of distinction.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#1958525 - 09/13/12 07:57 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: Minnesota Marty]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
Now *that's* the sort of information I'm looking for!

Thanks, Marty!

Dan

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#1958545 - 09/13/12 09:03 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: MacDan]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
I'm pulling the plug on this, going shopping for a nice digital keyboard to start with, and saving my money so that as I become proficient I can buy something nice that doesn't require any work or repair..... common sense prevails!

Since I have no fireplace, I've no need for firewood!

Thanks to all,

Dan

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#1958546 - 09/13/12 09:06 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: MacDan]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
The idea of replacing a partial set of hammers on a 100 year old piano is completely misguided. That is what was done in the 60s and 70s perhaps. I am not so sure of trusting the judgement of some one who would recommend and actually do that kind of "rebuilding" nowadays.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1958569 - 09/13/12 10:07 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: MacDan]
las Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/21/12
Posts: 1
Originally Posted By: MacDan
I'm pulling the plug on this, going shopping for a nice digital keyboard to start with, and saving my money so that as I become proficient I can buy something nice that doesn't require any work or repair..... common sense prevails!

Hi Dan,
I've been lurking here for awhile and following your stories. I really think you have made the right decision. I had to pass on a 1940's baby grand which I thought would be perfect for me. I had never considered a baby grand until I saw this one. It looked charmingly beat up to me, but best of all, it felt and sounded just like Grandpa's old upright. I was so excited - my budget is practically non-existent and I had been wanting to get back into piano after not playing for many years. Then I discovered PW and realized that sounding like Grandpa's piano was maybe not such a good thing, and started reading/learning about how pianos can wear out.

So I am going to let common sense prevail, too, and get one of the cheaper digitals recommended here and start playing. I live in an apartment and it makes sense. Even so, I can hardly wait until I can get a nice acoustic (and I still continue to check craigslist daily). :-)

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#1958589 - 09/13/12 10:42 PM Re: Piano Prospect [Re: las]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
If it's any consolation I do the same - I check Craigslist several times a day. It never ceases to amaze me what interesting pianos come up, like the Steinway model "A" for $11,000 just today.

I did have one more in the wings that I have no expectation of hearing from - a local church in a somewhat economically depressed area had a Zimmermann (East German pre-unification) that had been pretty beat and needed a bunch of key tops (something I could definitely do!) A local piano tech I know and trust had been asked to come and give an estimate of repairs and a general survey told me about it. He said it was just as one would expect - an instrument similar to lower end Chinese imports, but that is was definitely solid and in good shape functionally. He told the owners he had a buyer for $300. They were going to think about it.

I'm not expecting a response, but....

Dan

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