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#2038590 - 02/24/13 05:40 PM What brands to consider to Restore?
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
Hello everyone, I'm new here so forgive me asking something that's most likely been addressed before but I am considering purchasing a Grand Piano with the intentions of doing a complete restoration.
Before I say to much more I'll point out that I am NOT a piano tech or re-builder nor do I have any knowledge in such a thing so Before I get hammered with 10,000 replies on how I cannot do this on my own I'll point out ahead of time that I do realize that at some point I'll be needing some expert help.

First of all a question I posed to a local dealer and tech wasn't very helpful in which brands to stick clear of but rather mentioned the brands I should consider such as Steinway, Mason & Hamlin & Baldwin 1 of which is going to be completely out of my price range. I'd like to know your thoughts on brands and which ones to steer clear of when considering a re-build for purposes of parts availability and overall cost.

A few of the brands I have been looking at and considering are Chickering, Sohmer, Ivers & Pond, Story & Clark and a few others.

For those of you who's wondering holy crap why is this idiot even considering rebuilding a piano with no experiance what so ever you would be much further ahead to just purchase one already finished or buy a new one my answer to that is because I want to have a part in the re-building and or re-furbishing of the Grand Piano that will someday sith in my home. Anyone can purchase a piano but not everyone gets to say I had a part in the build.

Thanks
Bob

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#2038596 - 02/24/13 05:45 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10338
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
A bad idea on so many levels. It's like watching a car driving the wrong way up a one-way street.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2038605 - 02/24/13 06:00 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6044
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Bob - Welcome to Piano World!

Yep, 10,000 posts will be coming your way. It's time to duck.

Rather than thinking about the best "core" piano to start with, it might be a good idea to do some self teaching on a freebie little POS grand and destroy learn on a sacrificial instrument. That way, you won't feel bad when you screw up, and you will!

Have you amassed the reference books you will need? Important! There is a thread going on in the Tuner/Tech Forum which deals with the issue.

Good luck 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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#2038608 - 02/24/13 06:07 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: Steve Cohen]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
A bad idea on so many levels. It's like watching a car driving the wrong way up a one-way street.


And yet not a single level was mentioned!

Steinway's biggest competitor is a used or refurbished Steinway...you sound like a New Steinway Dealer afraid of a little competition. smile

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#2038611 - 02/24/13 06:13 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
Hello Marty and thanks for the reply even though it sounds a little negative. I'm wondering if people are actually reading the entire post before replying? I am a furniture builder, a home builder and furniture re-finsiher by trade, in my post I not one time mentioned I was actually doing the mechanics of the piano but rather asked which brands would you consider for rebuilding?

Thanks
Bob

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#2038626 - 02/24/13 06:32 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6044
Loc: Rochester MN
Bob,

I didn't mean it to sound negative, sorry. Your post seemed to indicate that you would be in on the process and we tend to think of mechanical rebuilding when these sorts of questions come up.

You have listed the primary choices for American Pianos. The Baldwins need to be built in the USA to be considered. Other considerations from pre-WWII would be Chickering & Knabe.

Are you considering European and Asian instruments also?

If you will be starting with a "core" piano, basically unplayable, your initial output for a top instrument will be ~$5-7K. That will buy you a "worth rebuilding" core.

You might do some searching for previous threads on the rebuilding process. The search feature is in the upper left corner of any forum page.

Good Luck and feel free to ask questions.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2038636 - 02/24/13 06:52 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Rich Galassini Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8974
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted By: bob1957
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
A bad idea on so many levels. It's like watching a car driving the wrong way up a one-way street.


And yet not a single level was mentioned!

Steinway's biggest competitor is a used or refurbished Steinway...you sound like a New Steinway Dealer afraid of a little competition. smile


Actually Bob, there are many tasks involved in rebuilding a piano to a fine performance level. Much of this work depends more upon the skill and knowledge of the rebuilder than exactly what material is used or making sure pre-packaged parts are properly aligned.

I have seen piano technicians with years of experience in tuning and repair try their hand at their first rebuild and have a result that is just not satisfying.

Also, tasks that take an experienced technician 2 weeks to perform will take you waaayy longer to do (if you care at all about the final quality) - and you will likely have to redo several of them.

My first advice would be to tour a high quality rebuilding firm and ask questions. Perhaps you could "help" in some of the work, like refinishing, stripping the cabinet, removing the plate, etc. and more or less watch some of the more critical parts of the work performed.

As a home builder you may subcontract certain tasks to experts because of your concern for quality in the final product. In this sense, piano rebuilding is the same.

I hope that helps,
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Get Cunningham Piano Email Updates

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#2038639 - 02/24/13 06:58 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Rich Galassini Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8974
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Bob,

One other thought. If you are considering doing restoration work to a piano, why not spend some time reading, exploring, and attending PTG meetings to find out what makes a good design and what differences there are between even the better designs?

This way you can choose an instrument not on a relative quality opinion, but based on what you feel most comfortable with mechanically and may be most satisfied with when the work is done?

I wish you luck with your endeavor and, if you are on the East Coast, please feel free to visit Cunningham Piano Company. We have a crew of specialists. They will answer your questions (while they work) and you will walk away with a greater understanding of the process.

Cheers,
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Get Cunningham Piano Email Updates

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#2038681 - 02/24/13 08:36 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10338
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: bob1957
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
A bad idea on so many levels. It's like watching a car driving the wrong way up a one-way street.


And yet not a single level was mentioned!

Steinway's biggest competitor is a used or refurbished Steinway...you sound like a New Steinway Dealer afraid of a little competition. smile


You are mistaken, but i was unclear.

I have no problem with rebuilt pianos. I have 4 rebuilt Steinways and a Mason & Hamlin on my salesfloor.

It is the DIY aspected that is scary. Rebuilding a piano (and I've supervised many), is a task that requires years of experience. You have no such experienece. Perhaps you could consider doing the refinishing, as you have experience there. But most experienced piano technicians don't have the training to rebuild.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2038714 - 02/24/13 10:28 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Bob,

I didn't mean it to sound negative, sorry. Your post seemed to indicate that you would be in on the process and we tend to think of mechanical rebuilding when these sorts of questions come up.

You have listed the primary choices for American Pianos. The Baldwins need to be built in the USA to be considered. Other considerations from pre-WWII would be Chickering & Knabe.

Are you considering European and Asian instruments also?

If you will be starting with a "core" piano, basically unplayable, your initial output for a top instrument will be ~$5-7K. That will buy you a "worth rebuilding" core.

You might do some searching for previous threads on the rebuilding process. The search feature is in the upper left corner of any forum page.

Good Luck and feel free to ask questions.


Ok let me rephrase what my intentions are in rebuilding a grand piano, what I intend and expect to be my part of the rebuild will consist of dismantling the instrument with guidance from either here and\or a local re-builder\tech. refinishing the cabinet, the harp, re-attaching gluing new ivories "Yes I've done that before"
I understand your concern but I am limiting my involvement to specific areas that I feel comfortable with performing. I will add though that I've already completly restored a 116 yr old chase upright with no help from anyone except for tuning the tech that came to tune the instrument asked who restored it for me my answer was me. The instrument not only looked good but played and sounded beautiful from the techs own mouth. Now i'm not tooting my own horn here perhaps I was just lucky or maybe I was very careful in dismantling and re-assembly or maybe it's just not as tough as people make it out to be but either way I know my limitations.

When it comes to bringing a Grand back to life I do plan on having a professional piano builder perform the mechanical portions of the build but when it comes to the cabinet that is my baby.

Knabe was one of the other brands I was considering as well just couldn't remember the name while I was typing. and to answer the question of European instruments yes I'd consider a Bosendorfer smile but I seriously doubt I'd find one at a bargin price to restore! tell you what, find me a Bosendorfer victorian heavily carved from the late 1800's or eairly 1900's (Yes I am only looking for an art case piano)for your $5000 core price and perhaps we can do business smile
Thanks
Bob

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#2038724 - 02/24/13 10:45 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: Rich Galassini]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: Rich Galassini
Bob,

One other thought. If you are considering doing restoration work to a piano, why not spend some time reading, exploring, and attending PTG meetings to find out what makes a good design and what differences there are between even the better designs?

This way you can choose an instrument not on a relative quality opinion, but based on what you feel most comfortable with mechanically and may be most satisfied with when the work is done?

I wish you luck with your endeavor and, if you are on the East Coast, please feel free to visit Cunningham Piano Company. We have a crew of specialists. They will answer your questions (while they work) and you will walk away with a greater understanding of the process.

Cheers,


Thanks for your reply, as stated in another post I am limiting my involvement to the cabinet at this time. If I ever decide to get into the piano restoration business I can see where knowing a great deal more about them would be helpful however at this time this will be a one time thing for me unless someone pushes me in another direction while I do think it would be fun to get into a different line of work one such as re-building pianos from home I think for the moment I'll keep my day job smile and by the way I'm still waiting on hearing the BRANDS to stay AWAY from :)I'm beginning to think this is sort of like the movie actors guild here unless you belong you wont get a job or in this case a straight answer to a question lol.

Regards
Bob

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#2038736 - 02/24/13 11:21 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Pianolance Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1178
Loc: Nashville, TN
The brands to stay away from are the run of the mill American piano makers such as Kimball, Wurlitzer, any run of the mill Aeoleans, any Asian pianos with the possible exception of Yamaha and Kawai, but if you are considering only an art case piano, those probably won't enter into the picture. Other European brands besides Bosendorfer would also be top notch candidates for a rebuild such as Feurich, older Hoffman, Broadwood, Pleyel, Erard, etc. I would stay away from any piano that had less than 88 keys, any piano that has non-traditional keys such as waterfall keys, pianos with unusual actions that are not modern in design, etc. Larry Fine has a list of well made and well regarded pianos from the 1910's through the 1940's. Most any other brand that is not on that list, unless there is something really special about it, would probably not be worth rebuilding. If you want something really kitchy rebuild a Rippen Alugrand.


Edited by Pianolance (02/26/13 02:51 PM)
_________________________
Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.

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#2038746 - 02/24/13 11:44 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: Pianolance]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: Pianolance
The brands to stay away from are the run of the mill American piano makers such as Kimball, Wurlitzer, any run of the mill Aoleans, any Asian pianos with the possible exception of Yamaha and Kawai, but if you are considering only an art case piano, those probably won't enter into the picture. Other European brands besides Bosendorfer would also be top notch candidates for a rebuild such as Feurich, older Hoffman, Broadwood, Pleyel, Erard, etc. I would stay away from any piano that had less than 88 keys, any piano that has non-traditional keys such as waterfall keys, pianos with unusual actions that are not modern in design, etc. Larry Fine has a list of well made and well regarded pianos from the 1910's through the 1940's. Most any other brand that is not on that list, unless there is something really special about it, would probably not be worth rebuilding. If you want something really kitchy rebuild a Rippen Alugrand.


Thank you so much for a straight answer to a simple question, this has been the single most helpful answer that anyone has posted!

why everyone has to go off on a rant about something off topic is beyond me so I thank You so much for your time in helping me. Yes it's true I don't know jack about the process of the mechanics and for those who thought it helpful to remind me of what I already know or in this case don't know please take a lesson from Pianolance in how to properly respond to a question.

Thanks again!!!!

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#2038749 - 02/24/13 11:50 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
When looking at buying an older piano I found this list very helpful in narrowing the field. Granted there is a lot more to buying a rebuild core than just picking a "good" brand, but given the hundreds (thousands?) of piano makers back in this period it made sense to me to both weed out the known lesser quality brands, and find out about some of the lesser known quality brands that might just be a great sleeper rebuild on a more modest budget. Also noted that this is one persons opinion and far from all inclusive, but for the most part it seems to align with most of the comments I'd read elsewhere.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ite_id/1#import

Sorry for the length of the following list, but I found it also useful as a reference to re-order this info by rating rather than just alphabetically. Hope its useful to someone else too smile

Along with the ones you've mentioned I've also read several folks who had very good results with restorations on AB Chase in particular, and then maybe Conover and Vose.

Rob

KNABE, * * * * * Baltimore, the third of the big three (Steinway, Chickering and Knabe) and the only make the Steinway family feared, founded a generation before Steinway by pioneer piano maker William Knabe and Henry Gaehle, Knabe had a couple sons who kept it going. There's a story in Dolge's book about how Knabe risked his company on a promotional tour during the Civil War that paid off. Excellent grands and big uprights.

MASON & HAMLIN, * * * * * Haverhill, MA, began as a reed organ maker late in the 19th century, then made pianos without pinblocks (screw-stringers). They tried many innovations. Everyone knows them now as the great sleeper of them all, perhaps the best piano scales ever designed. All are worth restoring and rebuilding except the screw stringers which many tuners can't seem to tune.

STEINWAY & SONS, * * * * * New York, of course, but don't bother with the long keyed former player pianos unless you intend on restoring the player mechanisms too.

CHICKERING, * * * * Boston, The oldest American piano make, named for Jonas Chickering, one of the pioneer names in American piano building, this firm was at the top of its game when Steinway started in 1853, that same year the first big Chickering factory in Boston burned down and was replaced by the building out of which has been carved a few nice condominiums. Chickering stuck to straight stringing their grands well into the 1870's. The ones to look for are the overstrung kind. Made pianos in Boston into the 1920's (best by some opinions), others made in Rochester, NY. are just as good in my opinion. For a time they also toyed with metal action parts which never worked well. If you run into one of these figure on replacing the action or most of it, which in most instances is a good idea as newer actions have more adjustment advances.

IVERS & POND, * * * * Boston, similar to Hallet & Davis, best between about 1890 and 1925, the usual suspects. Feature a heavy overbuilt style shared with many other good Boston makes. Also made Poole. I find this somewhat humorous and some have suggested that these pianos have some association with water. Another piano make not associated with I & P was Waters, no kidding.

BALDWIN, * * * Cincinnati, the only major name not associated with a piano designer, still among the top tier, artist grands only, models are numerous, some discontinued, more often found models include the D, F, L and R.

CHASE, A. B. * * * Ohio, another sleeper, excellent parlor grands.

CONOVER, * * * Oregon, IL, the only real standouts here are the grands made between 1890 and 1929 after the designs of Frank Conover and Hobart Cable. The big grands can be turned into fairly interesting pianos.
CUNNINGHAM, * * * Philadelphia, yep, the same outfit Rich Gallisini works for, made their own pianos until 1981! The ones that are candidates for rebuilding are their large old uprights and parlor grands.

DECKER BROS., * * * started in New York, moved to Chicago, great pianos before 1915, especially their grands.

FISCHER, J & C, * * * New York and Buffalo, Charles Fischer was the designer, excellent grands and large uprights between 1890 and as late as 1932, made a lot of pianos so there should be plenty still out there.

HALLET & DAVIS, * * * Boston, another very old name, best pianos between 1885 and 1930 but choose carefully, best are large uprights and parlor grands.

KRAKAUER BROS., * * * New York, This was a maker who stayed in business by concentrating on a producing a smaller quantity of well made pianos. Their parlor grands are quite good.

LYON & HEALY, * * * Chicago, more of a retailer than a maker but their reputation for what they chose to put their name on still stands in good stead by many. Their output was sporadic, grands made during the 1920's were by Schulz (Chicago area) and good solid Packard (Indiana) made their uprights. They are still in business but confine themselves exclusively to the making and distribution of harps.

MEHLIN, * * * New York, Paul Mehlin was of the generation of old Englehardt Steinway and did as well quality wise without Steinway's ambition, excellent grand pianos from 1900-1925 or so, some prior to this have gaudy art cases.

MILLER, HENRY F., * * * Boston, named for the founder, a great pioneer piano maker who influenced both Mason & Hamlin and Ivers & Pond, and no doubt influenced their quality caliber and standing as musical instruments. Excellent results with grands going back as far as 1875 but not later than about 1925. Some have gaudy art cases.

SCHOMACKER, * * * Philadelphia, another sleeper, made some excellent parlor grands, they limped along through the Depression until 1941 before going under but their best products were probably made between 1900 and 1929. The only maker I know of that featured gold plated strings!

SOHMER, * * * New York, just down the street from Steinway and there were a lot of cross influences, founded by pioneer maker Hugo Sohmer, many art cases made too, lower production, emphasized quality.

STIEFF, CHAS. M., * * * Baltimore, the other Knabe, and quite old too, went under the year I was born (1951), fairly good pianos from 1890 on, stick to grands only for best results.

WEBER & CO., * * * New York, founded by Albert Weber, whose grands rival the best of their period going back into the 1870's but no later than 1932. Albert Weber was a very talented and ambitious man who pitted his skills against Steinway and lost, virtually working himself to an early death. He left a wonderful legacy as some of his great grand pianos are still out there waiting to live and play again.

BENT, GEO. P., * * Chicago & Louisville, an important piano designer, some of his best work bears his name, most have the name CROWN. Avoid anything but parlor grands (usual size for these is 5'5" to 5'7") and nothing made after 1928.
CROWN, see BENT.

BLASIUS & SONS, * * Philadelphia, better reputation than Behning or Bjur, more standard action geometries, nice parlor grands and huge uprights are best candidates.

BOARDMAN & GRAY, * * Albany, NY, the standouts here are the huge uprights made around the turn of the last century (1890-1910).

BRIGGS, CHARLES C., * * Boston, an important piano designer, only parlor grands bearing his full name.

DAVIS, GEO. H., * * Boston, one of the principals of Hallet & Davis and a pioneer piano designer. A few grands bear his name, most are pre-1900.

DOLL, JACOB & SON., * * New York, another important designer, made grands in the 1920's that are acceptable for rebuilding.

ESTEY, * * New York, prime years are between about 1890 and 1925 with many nice parlor grands made.

HARDMAN, * * New York, another pioneer maker was Hugh Hardman, some are under Hardman & Peck, best are the usual suspects; big uprights and grands, some tell me that their products between about 1901 and the outbreak of WWI (1914) are better than the rest.

HAZELTON BROS., * * New York, an artisan family with high standards, their best products are uprights and parlor grands, after about 1890 but before 1920. Some of the gaudiest art cases were made by these folks.

JEWETT, * * Boston, in its various incarnations, based on the pioneer piano makers Wade Jewett and George Allen, the one's to look for are after about 1895, a Steinert by any other name, see STEINERT

KURTZMANN, * * Buffalo, NY, 1900-1925 is the best period.

BRAMBACH, * New York, a Kohler & Campbell precursor, mostly grands. Those that are too small or with odd action geometries must be excluded.

SCHULZ, OTTO, * * Chicago, made organs as well as pianos but was known for good workmanship, made grands for Lyon & Healy.

STECK, GEO. & CO., * * New York, founded by George Steck, best era is 1900-1929.

STEINERT, * * Boston, but started in Athens, Georgia! was sort of to Boston what Lyon & Healy was to Chicago, Onofrio to Denver or Sherman Clay to the West Coast (Cunningham in Philadelphia made their own); each had pianos made for them and put their name on them. But Steinerts, particularly their parlor grands from just after the end of World War I until Steinway made them stop making them, are sort of special, when and if you can find them.

VOSE & SONS, * * Boston, founded by James W. Vose. One finds some very striking modernistic cabinetry on some of these pianos, prefiguring Danish modern. They can be made into much more than they were when new if you choose the right one, grands only, as early as 1890 but no later than about 1925.

CABLE, HOBART M., * Indiana, only a few sturdy grands from the late 20's qualify.

CHRISTMAN, * New York, some people out there like these, nice parlor grands and larger are occasionally found.

LESTER, * Philadelphia, a vary large company that made a wide variety of pianos of various quality, made a few military pianos for service in the Far East, I've heard of parlor grands made during the 1920's producing surprising results.

McPHAIL, * Boston, another Kohler & Campbell precursor, good huge uprights.

BEHNING, New York, a Kohler & Campbell precursor, mostly big uprights but a few parlor grands may be out there, forget about their baby grands.

BJUR BROS., New York, aother Kohler & Campbell precursor, same cautions as for Behning.

EVERETT, Boston, not by any means all are worthwhile, some rebuilders have rebuilt small grands (not babies) to display their craft rather than how good the original piano was and only those made between 1900 and 1925 should be considered.

HADDORFF, Rockford, IL, made a lot of pianos under a score of stencil names, choose carefully, before about 1925, what I like about them is they were controlled during their formative period by a quality maker.

JANSSEN, Elkhart, IN, included for educational purposes only, the precursor to the present Charles R. Walter, but not with as good a reputation (though I still haven't seen or played any Walters), there is sort of a well constructed but limited musical capability with these. They tend to hold up pretty well, which probably accounts for their longevity as a company, but I wouldn't consider them as real good rebuild candidates. I've never run into a Janssen grand, don't think they ever made any.

KOHLER & CAMPBELL, New York and North Carolina, one of the first piano conglomerates (1896), choose VERY carefully.

MATHUSHEK, New Haven, CT, founded by a pioneer maker Frederick Mathushek. A true innovator in the manufacturing of pianos, some like the big uprights and the few grands that exist are often uncommon designs.

PACKARD, Indiana, made good solid strong uprights, best years 1900-1925.

SCHAAF, ADAM, Chicago, some think these are good.






Edited by miscrms (02/24/13 11:52 PM)
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2038851 - 02/25/13 06:04 AM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
hootowl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/13
Posts: 20
Loc: Garnet Valley, PA
We purchased our new Kawai last Friday from Warner Piano in NJ. They are left over from the former Lester piano co. When Lester closed it's doors, these former employees opened up.


Edited by hootowl (02/25/13 06:06 AM)
_________________________
Kawai RX-2 BLAK Millenium III Ninja

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#2038857 - 02/25/13 06:15 AM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1795
Loc: Suffolk, England
Bob, you might do well to find a vertical or grand "project piano" in reasonable condition first to learn the ropes and give yourself time to look for a high quality grand to restore.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2038889 - 02/25/13 07:45 AM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: miscrms]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
This is an incredibly useful list of piano makers! I thank you for taking the time to put this together.

One of the brands mentioned in there was AB Chase I'm curious is Chase and AB Chase one and the same or are they two different manufacturers? I currently own a Chase upright grand that I previously restored and was wondering if the two are made by the same company.

Thanks again for the very interesting and useful list of piano makers.

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#2038898 - 02/25/13 08:02 AM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: Steve Cohen]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Originally Posted By: bob1957
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
A bad idea on so many levels. It's like watching a car driving the wrong way up a one-way street.


And yet not a single level was mentioned!

Steinway's biggest competitor is a used or refurbished Steinway...you sound like a New Steinway Dealer afraid of a little competition. smile


You are mistaken, but i was unclear.

I have no problem with rebuilt pianos. I have 4 rebuilt Steinways and a Mason & Hamlin on my salesfloor.

It is the DIY aspected that is scary. Rebuilding a piano (and I've supervised many), is a task that requires years of experience. You have no such experienece. Perhaps you could consider doing the refinishing, as you have experience there. But most experienced piano technicians don't have the training to rebuild.


I prefer to say I once thought I was wrong but I was Mistaken smile and yes you were unclear grin I simply wanted to know from a professionals standpoint who has had experiance in rebuilding pianos what brands they would consider as a good candidate in my original post I never said I would be performing any of the work on the mechanics of the piano but perhaps I'm partly to blame for not pointing this out first.

Either way I do value your input and thank you for your time in responding sorry if I sounded a little short with you after your first reply but I figured a short reply with no useful information deserved a short reply back laugh

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#2038972 - 02/25/13 11:44 AM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20744
Loc: Oakland
There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different brands out there. Some of them made better pianos at some times and worse pianos at others. A shopping list is impractical. I suggest that you do some reading and some examining of pianos so you can decide for yourself.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2038987 - 02/25/13 12:09 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: miscrms]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Originally Posted By: miscrms
When looking at buying an older piano I found this list very helpful in narrowing the field. Granted there is a lot more to buying a rebuild core than just picking a "good" brand, but given the hundreds (thousands?) of piano makers back in this period it made sense to me to both weed out the known lesser quality brands, and find out about some of the lesser known quality brands that might just be a great sleeper rebuild on a more modest budget. Also noted that this is one persons opinion and far from all inclusive, but for the most part it seems to align with most of the comments I'd read elsewhere.

** long list o' pianos **



Good advice. One point that you should gather from the descriptions of each brand is that most brands had good times and bad, so the quality depends on the year and piano model. So, it is really difficult to tell from brand alone. You need to be able to recognize the physical and aural features of a high-quality piano, regardless of the brand. You also need to be able to evaluate condition and look for big warning signs (mouse/termite/moth infestation, pinblock damage, cracked plate, etc.) Some brands like Steinway carry "brand cachet" and bring higher selling prices because of the name alone, but a famous name won't make a low-quality or badly worn piano worth restoring.

For example, consider three Weber pianos. One is an 1875 large grand, made during Albert Weber's lifetime. The next is a 1935 grand of the same size, made during the depression while the Weber brand was owned by Aeolian. Finally, a brand new Weber AW208, a 6'10" grand made by the Korean company Young Chang, which is owned by Samsung.

These three pianos, in equivalent condition and roughly the same size, are completely different instruments. The 1875 is built during the height of Albert Weber's success and is likely an ornate, beautiful one-of-a-kind piano that cost as much as a large house at the time. The 1935 is a slim-and-trim, inexpensively manufactured depression-era Aeolian product. The new AW208 is a modern Young Chang design that shares very little with the others, and costs about $40,000 new.

Another thing to beware of are "forgeries" - e.g. "Stienway" pianos sold to people who thought they were buying a "Steinway", or even ones that spelled "Steinway" correctly but were not true Steinways.

There is a good list of books on piano restoration in the discussion here: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...tml#Post2037079

I would also add, for piano purchasing and evaluation tips, The Piano Book, much of which is available on their website: http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall12/

For an interesting history of different brands, check out Palmieri's The Piano: An Encyclopedia. A few excerpts are available on Google Books, so you can read some history of a few of the brands and see how common it was for brands to go through major ownership changes and quality changes over time: http://books.google.com/books?id=wJikoOk...p;q&f=false


Edited by fishbulb (02/25/13 12:10 PM)

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#2038998 - 02/25/13 12:35 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: BDB]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: BDB
There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different brands out there. Some of them made better pianos at some times and worse pianos at others. A shopping list is impractical. I suggest that you do some reading and some examining of pianos so you can decide for yourself.


I understand completely that not even 2 pianos from the same manufacturer are identical nor would each one be a good candidate to rebuild because of condition issues, in short I was more after a shopping list of pianos to help me narrow my search down since there are so many different brands out there many of which I have never heard of. By getting some sort of input from someone else with "Experiance" in rebuilding as I'm sure in their trade they know what works better and what may not and what brands have a higher or lesser quality.

My thought was that since there seems to be a general concensus that all Steinways would make an excellent candidate to re-build provided it hasnt been droped from a 5 story building that maybe it's possible to narrow down my search to a brand in which I won't have to take out a mortgage on. Just as with most products there are pro's and con's for each and every brand.

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#2039000 - 02/25/13 12:42 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
ClsscLib Online   content

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1588
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: bob1957
Originally Posted By: Pianolance
The brands to stay away from are the run of the mill American piano makers such as Kimball, Wurlitzer, any run of the mill Aoleans, any Asian pianos with the possible exception of Yamaha and Kawai, but if you are considering only an art case piano, those probably won't enter into the picture. Other European brands besides Bosendorfer would also be top notch candidates for a rebuild such as Feurich, older Hoffman, Broadwood, Pleyel, Erard, etc. I would stay away from any piano that had less than 88 keys, any piano that has non-traditional keys such as waterfall keys, pianos with unusual actions that are not modern in design, etc. Larry Fine has a list of well made and well regarded pianos from the 1910's through the 1940's. Most any other brand that is not on that list, unless there is something really special about it, would probably not be worth rebuilding. If you want something really kitchy rebuild a Rippen Alugrand.


Thank you so much for a straight answer to a simple question, this has been the single most helpful answer that anyone has posted!

why everyone has to go off on a rant about something off topic is beyond me so I thank You so much for your time in helping me. Yes it's true I don't know jack about the process of the mechanics and for those who thought it helpful to remind me of what I already know or in this case don't know please take a lesson from Pianolance in how to properly respond to a question.

Thanks again!!!!


In the musical, "The Wiz," there's a song called "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News." It's a great song but a bad life motto.

Steve and Rich are two of the wisest, most respected, and most helpful people posting at this site. They're trying to help you, though obviously they're not telling you what you want to hear.

Good luck on your project.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2039004 - 02/25/13 12:52 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20744
Loc: Oakland
If you want someone with experience, you should be willing to pay for their opinion.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2039005 - 02/25/13 12:52 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: fishbulb]
bob1957 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/13
Posts: 16
I couldn't agree more with you that in many cases there were good and bad times for companies. This is one of the major reasons I am looking for something pre 1930 back in a time where a person put his family name on a product and the end result mattered quality was always first before their bottom line.

It's sad that today so many companies mass produce their products just to meet the needs of their shareholders or investors, product quality suffers and so does the once great name behind the product.

Thanks for the links and sharing
Bob

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#2039008 - 02/25/13 12:53 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: BDB]
ClsscLib Online   content

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1588
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: BDB
If you want someone with experience, you should be willing to pay for their opinion.


People always get their money's worth.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2039010 - 02/25/13 12:57 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
mahermusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 330
Loc: U.S.A.
Originally Posted By: bob1957


as stated in another post I am limiting my involvement to the cabinet at this time.


The confusion here is that, in your FIRST post, you stated the phrase "complete restoration", and you are now stating that that is not the case.

Most likely the reasoning for the "flavor" of the posts you're receiving...
_________________________
Charles R. Walter 1520 QA Mahogany #531739 w/ High Polish, Renner and Quiet Pedal

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#2039018 - 02/25/13 01:17 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6044
Loc: Rochester MN
We are not mind readers.

You are caustic to replies which attempt to provide you with information pertinent to what you asked, not what you have imagined you asked.

Now, suddenly pre-1930 has come into play. Previously, an art case made an appearance. Figure out what you need to ask and post a clear and cogent request for information.

Those of us who have taken the time to answer your questions are put off by your attitude toward our replies. We should not have to play a twenty questions game to help you out and answer with an attempt to be helpful.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2039023 - 02/25/13 01:33 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Originally Posted By: bob1957
This is an incredibly useful list of piano makers! I thank you for taking the time to put this together.

One of the brands mentioned in there was AB Chase I'm curious is Chase and AB Chase one and the same or are they two different manufacturers? I currently own a Chase upright grand that I previously restored and was wondering if the two are made by the same company.

Thanks again for the very interesting and useful list of piano makers.


As far as I can tell probably not. From the list of manufacturers below, there were several Chase's out there.

http://www.antiquepianoshop.com/online-museum/

If it just says Chase it seems likely to have been manufactured by one of Milo Chase's companies, Chase Piano (became Starr), Chase Brothers, or Chase-Hackney. A.B. Chase was started by Allen B. Chase and eventually sold to Aeolian.

This site claims 1922 as either when they sold, or at least when quality started to decline.

http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/kron3.htm

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2039030 - 02/25/13 01:48 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: bob1957]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Yeah that's another thing to look out for - there are lots of brands with the same, or very similar names.

Forgot this one - good reading on the fate of a lot of famous brands when they were combined/acquired in the first half of the 20th century:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/908653

(scroll down to 5th post)



Edited by fishbulb (02/25/13 01:49 PM)

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#2039178 - 02/25/13 05:17 PM Re: What brands to consider to Restore? [Re: fishbulb]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
That's a great writeup fish, thanks for digging it out! Interesting that he says AB Chase went to American rather than Aeolian. And just to confuse further, this site says it went to United Piano in 1922, the Lester in 1931, then finally Aeolian. At least the 1922 date seems consistent wink

http://www.concertpitchpiano.com/AB-Chase-Piano-Prices.html

Rob


Edited by miscrms (02/25/13 05:23 PM)
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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