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#2042836 - 03/04/13 12:53 PM Re: Worth restoring? 120-year-old 'free' Weber - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Piano delivered! It's in a really nice spot in the living room, near the center of the house, about as far away as possible from windows, heater vents, the bathroom, the kitchen and the fireplace. Hard to dodge all those trouble zones, but my house floor plan allows it. Nearest possible trouble maker is the fireplace, about 8-10ft away on the other side of the room.





I love the tone, despite it being about a 1/4 to a 1/2 tone low and out of tune. The keybed definitely needs some work (center position keys have some side-to-side wobble, key height is a little uneven).

Thoughts on tuning? The piano was restrung about 40-50 years ago. In about a month, after it acclimates, should I just "tune it to itself" (say a 1/4 tone low across the board) until I can get a proper restringing done?

If I try to do a pitch raise to A=440 it seems like there will be a pretty high likelihood of breaking the old strings. The strings aren't rusty that I can SEE but obviously there could be rust in places that I can't see.

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#2042842 - 03/04/13 01:03 PM Re: Worth restoring? 120-year-old 'free' Weber - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Congratulations on your 'new' piano! It is a very handsome beast.

As far as tuning goes, it depends on whether the piano will be used to accompany fixed pitch instruments. If not, then the pitch does not need to be at A-440. That would give you the flexibility to gently do a pitch raise across a number of tunings with less chance of strings breaking.

Enjoy!
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2042918 - 03/04/13 03:32 PM Re: Worth restoring? 120-year-old 'free' Weber - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Very nice smile

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2044224 - 03/06/13 11:06 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Got to cleaning up the tops of the keys yesterday. Used a very, very, very well wrung-out damp rag to wipe up the dust and stains (seems like spray-on furniture polish residue).



The keys were already stamped from the factory, but they were difficult to read. I scrubbed them out with a dry toothbrush to remove the dust, and then carefully penciled in the numbers in the original stamps using a 0.5mm mechanical pencil.



There is a signature on key #88, looks like "A. Bornely" or "A. Barnely". "Barnely" and "Bornely" seem like fairly common last names in New England. "Abornely" and "Abarnely" don't get many results on google, but I suppose that could be it too.



Next step is to finish building my custom action rig. I wanted something more solid than the aluminum clamps that Schaff and NewOctave make. Once I get the rig done, I'll be able to take the action out and clean up that dusty old keybed.

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#2044256 - 03/06/13 11:48 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12150
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Something to think about with regards to tuning it. Back then (120 years ago) they didn't tune necessarily to A=440. In fact, it was more likely closer to the 1/4 lower you're talking about. Of course, it varied quite a bit, so much so that Verdi stated all of his operas should be done to the tuning of A=432 (about 1/4 step lower than 440). So, I wouldn't necessarily try to bring it up to 440, as it probably never was intended to be there. Unless you have perfect pitch and this bothers you, you will find that the tone is much warmer at 432.

Beautiful instrument! Best of luck with the continued restoration work!
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2044260 - 03/06/13 11:54 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
RealPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2353
Loc: NYC
Congratulations on your piano. Quite a handsome old beast it is! I have a soft spot for Webers, having used one of their old grands for many years...till the point it needed rebuilding and I passed it off to another PW member who intends to work on it. It was quite a good piano, though it was from the Aeolian era.
_________________________
Joe

www.josephkubera.com

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#2052438 - 03/22/13 12:31 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Time for an update.

Well I received most of the tools and felts I have ordered. I will post more pictures as I get to using them.

I am still working on my custom action rack, but it's almost done. I just need to make one more trip to the hardware store I think. Since Reblitz's method of regulating an upright involves removing the action several times, I want to make sure I have a solid, safe place to put it while it's out.

Here is my tuning setup:



That's Tunelab (demo version) on the laptop, and the cheap-and-popular CAD U37 USB Condenser Microphone for tuning and recording. USB mics are very easy to work with compared to having to deal with a mic pre-amp and so forth.

I have found that I get very long, sustained note recognition with TuneLab if I have the mic placed directly in front of the action instead of on top. This requires removing the front panel and fallboard, but it's worth it.

The piano is about 80-85 cents flat of an A-440 tuning (almost a half-step/semitone), so I am actually tuning DOWN slightly to 100 cents flat (a complete half step/semitone low) to safely improve my tuning lever control skills before I start the pitch raise. Not only will I be minimizing the risk of string breakage as a beginner tuner, but also I will be breaking loose any rust spots where the strings are rusted to any bars or pins (if there are any rust spots; the strings are pretty clean).

So far the tuning pins are holding fine, despite the low tuning. Interestingly, they are #1 size, so I'm glad I bought the extra tips for the tuning lever. The #2 tip fits, but is loose even when pushed all the way down to touch the wire coils. The #1 tip fits snugly with about an 1/8" to 1/4" of space between the end of the tip and the wire coil.

Once the piano is fully tuned down to 100 cents flat (of an A-440 tuning), then I'm going to go back over it and raise it up to 50 cents flat, and then go for the final raise to A-440. And then go over it one more time, since it will probably need some fine tuning after getting to A-440. Tedious, but slow an steady wins the race, and lowers the risk of broken strings.

I should be able to get some more work done this weekend if I can get the action rack finished. Then I can take out the keys and clean up that filthy keybed.

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#2052498 - 03/22/13 02:02 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Also, I got some more books, to start working on my piano PLAYING skills:



* The Beatles piano songbook (easy piano/beginner)
* Radiohead piano songbook (beginner/intermediate)
* Neil Young piano songbook (easy piano/beginner)

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#2052503 - 03/22/13 02:12 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Mark VC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/12
Posts: 110
On the songbooks: I have a pile like this too. Then I discovered MusicNotes, and PianoStreet. They're legal download sites for sheet music and they have tons 'o' stuff, including what you show in the photograph. Just sayin', it's available - the books may work best for you.

I like downloads because I can keep all the stuff on my iPad and just have THAT on the piano stand - actually easier to turn 'pages' too, you just swipe with your finger rather than have the mini-wrestling match while you're trying to play something, and of course the iPad never tries to fold itself closed. ;-) Either way, enjoy!

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#2052513 - 03/22/13 02:24 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Interesting sites to know about, thanks! I don't have a tablet computer / ipad though, or a printer. So, that would have to be taken into account in the cost for me I guess. I will keep it in mind if I get a tablet someday though.

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#2052584 - 03/22/13 04:17 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Fish, I like your approach to this, and i think you got yourself a fine piano.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2052593 - 03/22/13 04:32 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Its funny, we seem to be on parallel journeys here smile Ours also needed a #1 tip and is 80c flat. Hopefully work will let up soon and I can get back to work on ours.

I have the same reaction to your pic that I often have at home, it looks so funny to see these old pianos plugged in to a laptop as if they have an OBDII port for diagnostics smile

Keep up the good work!

Rob


Edited by miscrms (03/22/13 04:35 PM)
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2052603 - 03/22/13 04:42 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Fishbulb - be careful of that Rob guy. He doesn't peddle smoke, but he has a mirror business!



(Click on his link)
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2052604 - 03/22/13 04:44 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
BTW how do you like the CAD U37? Was debating between that and shelling out for a dual usb pre amp and a couple of MXL 990s. It seems silly to spend that much on recording gear now (although I could use them for other things too) but I was wondering how well the all in one solution like this really works.

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2052605 - 03/22/13 04:45 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 258
I really like the way the music desk folds out of the top board, sorta like an old player piano, instead of flipping up like most modern pianos.

I had the opportunity to buy an old Seiler art-case upright a few months ago when I was looking. I passed it up because I didn't want an old upright at the time. It still played, with an absolutely gorgeous mellow European tone (although slightly tubby), but if I were to spruce it up like you did with your Weber, it would've been a gorgeous instrument.
_________________________
2012 Kawai K3

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#2052614 - 03/22/13 05:02 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1554
Is black its original color? I haven't seen many ornate black uprights of that period..
usually stained brown..

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#2052670 - 03/22/13 06:42 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: Bob Newbie]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
Fish, I like your approach to this, and i think you got yourself a fine piano.


Thanks!

Originally Posted By: miscrms
I have the same reaction to your pic that I often have at home, it looks so funny to see these old pianos plugged in to a laptop as if they have an OBDII port for diagnostics smile


Heh I know the feeling; although, I have never owned a car new enough to have an OBDII port ;-)

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Fishbulb - be careful of that Rob guy. He doesn't peddle smoke, but he has a mirror business!


Rob's piano is a very interesting one; even though it was hacked up for the mirror retrofit, it looks like they did a very good job of it - and it's still a Steinway!

Originally Posted By: miscrms
BTW how do you like the CAD U37?


Well, I haven't recorded with it yet, so I'm not really the best one to ask I think. It's great for tuning though. One of my friends who's more into gear than I recommended it as a good budget mic. My only caveat with it would be that I doubt it could withstand a lot of banging around since the case and stand are plastic. If you treat it nice though (or wrap the case in 50 layers of duct tape) it should be fine.

Originally Posted By: SBP
I really like the way the music desk folds out of the top board, sorta like an old player piano, instead of flipping up like most modern pianos.


Thanks! I like it too. That was supposedly a very common feature of late Victorian uprights.

Originally Posted By: Bob Newbie
Is black its original color? I haven't seen many ornate black uprights of that period..
usually stained brown..


Yep, it's definitely original unless they redid the entire cabinet inside and out, up and down. I've seen no evidence of any refinishing so far. This piano was dated to 1894 according to some notes I have from my parents' tuner, and the serial number info I have supports that. This is about when ebonized (black) finishes were introduced, because they were cheaper to apply than wood finishes. Overall, this was probably a mid-level piano (for Weber anyway, which was a high-end company). It was probably made after the panic of 1893, since it has the less-expensive black ebonized finish and the simplified carvings instead of the full cut-out carvings.

There is a great amount of detail about this in Martha Taylor's article on upright cabinet styles.

I have also been writing an article for Wikipedia on the Weber piano company (none had existed yet). Weber really has an interesting story, complete with illegitimate children, pistol-brandishing playboys, suicides, legal battles, and declaring oneself insane to avoid creditors.

The working draft is located here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_...8piano_maker%29

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#2052802 - 03/23/13 04:29 AM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: Minnesota Marty]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Fishbulb - be careful of that Rob guy. He doesn't peddle smoke, but he has a mirror business!



(Click on his link)



Hey now! Just because my plan for world domination begins with convincing everyone to buy old uprights and trying to... Oh wait. That's supposed to be a secret. Never mind!

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2052838 - 03/23/13 07:53 AM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1554
I like them! especially the fancy ornate ones from the 1880s period .... smile

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#2052842 - 03/23/13 08:29 AM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
heathermphotog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Georgia
I love this. Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing your pictures and journey - it's inspiring! One day when I have the time and money to invest I'd love to have a beautiful old piano such as yours. Enjoy!!
_________________________
~ Heather smile

Knabe WMV247
“When you play, never mind who listens to you.” ― Robert Schumann
“The piano ain't got no wrong notes.” ― Thelonious Monk

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#2053052 - 03/23/13 05:24 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Minor update...

Pictures of the action rack I've been building, as promised.

First, I cut some mortises by hand with my chisels. Wish I had a router and a drill press, or even better-quality chisels, but my workshop space is pretty limited.



Completed four mortises:



Cut the other pieces of wood, sanded rough spots, glued everything, and let each side of the rack dry overnight. Elmers Wood Glue, nothing fancy. All of the wood pieces are 24 inches long, and the spacer blocks are 3.5 inches square. This took two nights, since I only have enough clamps to hold one side of the rack at a time.



Drilling some counter sinks for the 4-inch lag bolts with a forstner bit:



Lag bolts installed:



Then there was the hardware. This took me several attempts to get right. First, the bolts were to short. Then the washers were too big. Then the new washers were too small. Luckily I have a good hardware store close by. This is the bottom attachment:



This is the top attachment. On all four attachments, there are nylon spacers around the threads of the bolts, so the action frame doesn't touch anything but rubber and nylon.



And this is the complete rack. There are cork pads glued underneath of each side piece to protect the dining room table (or whatever surface the rack rests upon.)



The good things about this rack: extremely stable, provides plenty of room to work below the stickers, and inexpensive to construct (especially if you already have some leftover 2"x4"s lying around.) The only major downside with this rack is that due to the weight it is difficult to move with the action attached by yourself - you definitely need two people to move the action around.


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#2053312 - 03/24/13 07:43 AM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Very Nice!! Conveniently one of my next projects. Thanks for figuring it out wink

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2053425 - 03/24/13 11:36 AM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Nice rack, fish!

Wait, that didn't come out quite right...

laugh
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2053496 - 03/24/13 01:46 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Thanks guys. Made a lot of progress yesterday.

Found a couple more signatures, on key #1.

Looks like Sprigoode???


And on the bottom of the key, Deitz:


I also got started on the buffing project. Hard work, but it pays off. Left side is unpolished, right side has been buffed with Cory Coconut Wood Cleaner.


Now that I've got the action rack done, I had plenty of room to easily remove all of the keys. As I suspected, it's disgusting under there.




The balance rail and front rail punchings are pretty disintegrated.


The old punchings were handily removed using the punching lifter tool I got from VandaKing.com for $6.59. The tool is definitely worth it (it saves a ton of time both removing old punchings and sliding down the new ones) but it needed some modification. As shown in the pictures, I sharpened the two lower "teeth" so that the tool could actually slide under the paper punchings at the bottom of the stack. The tool is made of some tough steel. To sharpen the teeth, I actually had to clamp a metal file in a vice and then push the punching lifter tool back and forth against the file. Hard work, but the tool is actually effective. Without that modification, it's basically useless.




The pins are a bit worn (this is in the center of the keybed), but not at all rusty and still very smooth. Looks like I'll be able to get a lot more use out of them.




This is after a lot of vacuuming and detailing with Cory Harmony Detailing Oil. From what I can tell, someone spilled red wine in the piano at some point, I think on both sides of the keybed. When I polished this area, the rag came off purple like a wine stain, and not black like the finish. Hmm...


Now is a good time to talk about glue. Having used hot hide glue in the past, frankly, I think it smells like the devil's personal outhouse. Therfore, fish glue! Usable at room temperature, similar properties to hide glue (it can be 'reversed'), and it doesn't smell. Unless you live in a jungle, where fish glue probably wouldn't work quite as well due to its lower resistance to humidity, it is a much better choice for most woodworking applications where hide glue would have been used. Plus, unlike hide glue, fish glue is very unlikely to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy prions in it. ;-) I got both bottles from Lee Valley Tools.


Finally, here is the keybed with fresh felts and paper punchings, ready to go!


Currently, I'm working on replacing some of the smaller felt pieces that are part of the trapwork, and cleaning and polishing up everything, before I put the keys and action back in.

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#2053538 - 03/24/13 03:21 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Fish, I wouldn't use any kind of oil inside the case. Others' opinions might differ, but I would be concerned about it migrating to someplace I didn't intend for it to go that might irreparably damage the piano.

As for glue, as long as it's wood glue, go for it.

Looking great so far.
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2053589 - 03/24/13 05:04 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1253
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
I'm confused (which is nothing new). Did you already install new paper punchings, without the keys installed?
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2053624 - 03/24/13 06:25 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Yep, there are paper punchings under everything. To start out I just measured the old punching stacks with a digital caliper, and then selected a new punching thickness that a made a new stack that was about the same size. So everything is the same from key to key right now.

Key dip came out pretty good, but key height is a little uneven. So, the balance rail punchings will need to be adjusted after I break them in by playing.

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#2053629 - 03/24/13 06:33 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Fishbulb - This is a very interesting thread. I am enjoying it and learning a lot. Your photos are great! I do hope you plan to keep them comming.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2053644 - 03/24/13 07:03 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14211
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Congratulations to such an interesting undertaking!

In spite of all the nay-sayers, such project has obviously its onw rewards.

Enjoy the process!

Norbert smile
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#2053651 - 03/24/13 07:13 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
LarryShone Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 861
Loc: Darlington, UK
I just found this thread, absolutely fabulous!
_________________________
If the piano is the King of instruments then I am its loyal servant.

Yamaha PSR225-I NEED A PIANO wink

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