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#2069902 - 04/24/13 10:58 AM 1907 Steinway pinblock
bachfiend Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/16/13
Posts: 4
I am considering purchasing a 1907 Steinway Model A that was rebuilt seven years ago. The pinblock was not replaced. Instead, larger pins were put in (size 2 to size 4). Is this a less than optimum solution for rebuilding? I was told once that the presence of an original pinblock in a piano of this age is a red flag.

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#2069912 - 04/24/13 11:10 AM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: bachfiend]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21392
Loc: Oakland
The pinblock has one purpose, to hold the pins and keep them from slipping. There are many pianos that age with pin blocks that still serve well. If this is one of them, it would not deter me from buying the piano.

Some tuners do not like tuning pins which are larger. That is a problem with the tuner, not the piano, though.

If you really want a piano with everything new in it, you should buy a new piano.
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#2069915 - 04/24/13 11:15 AM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: bachfiend]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 384
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
Well size (4) is the largest you can get so if there are any loose ones you run out of options. I am not quite sure why and I see this A LOT, whoever owns the pianos they will get them re-strung, plate re-guilded, soundboards shimmed etc and while the plate is out of the piano... they still skip doing the pinblock, it really isn't THAT expensive to just have it done while it's apart.

Last year I had six pianos come in that had what I call 98% restorations but no pinblock replacement. As my Grandfather used to say... It's that other 2 % you have to watch out for. The clients just assumed that the brand new strings could be taken off and re-used after the new block was installed.

I'd get a Steinway expert to check it out and hopefully it is priced accordingly. Just my three cents.
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#2069922 - 04/24/13 11:27 AM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: bachfiend]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21392
Loc: Oakland
I am pretty sure you can still get 6/0 or even 7/0 tuning pins.
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#2069930 - 04/24/13 11:39 AM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: bachfiend]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 212
Loc: Georgia, USA
As part of your consideration, why not do this:

Find out who rebuilt it and exactly what was done and/or have a good technician go through the piano to see what all was rebuilt/replaced. The list can vary a great deal. The pin block issue is just a BDB said.

You may find all new whippens, for example, or find that the whippens have new springs and new cushion felt instead, or find the original whippens, but new hammers, hammer shanks and flanges.

If a customer says, "Let's cut back to this budget," most shops will oblige, and the way to do it is for the rebuilder to make logical choices within the financial restrains. I can easily imagine such decisions being made by the owner in this scenario. Owner: "No, I will probably keep the piano only a few more years, so let's...."

If you become fully informed, all is well. You then simply decide to buy or not to buy this one.
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Established 1977
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#2069945 - 04/24/13 12:01 PM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: bachfiend]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
FWIW, I know pretty much all the rebuilders in the Chicago area, through participation in the guild, and none of them ever EVER retain a 100 year old pin block... That's just an unforgivable oversight. Period.
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#2069977 - 04/24/13 01:21 PM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: beethoven986]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
FWIW, I know pretty much all the rebuilders in the Chicago area, through participation in the guild, and none of them ever EVER retain a 100 year old pin block... That's just an unforgivable oversight. Period.


In my practice, the default policy is to replace the pinblock -- and not with just an pinblock, either. HOWEVER . . .

I have recently done one Steinway where budget was a concern. I determined that the pinblock was likely to perform well for many more years. Also I am currently working on a Baldwin with similar restraints. The pinblock has not been treated and is not a "3-ply" block (those are really 1 ply with face veneers). The customer understands that the only "for sure" guarantee is a new block and is choosing to proceed without. So, a pinblock may be retained, but my approach to the block is "guilty until proven innocent".

When I do repin, I use the double diameter Klinke pins (threads oversized and available up to 4-1/2) with 2/0 head. Yes, a good tuner can handle the larger pin which increases the "gear ratio" of tuning, but for a nice job, the double diameter pins do make a difference -- particularly in the high treble.

I once did a 7/0 repinning - at the insistence of the owners, who were engineers and of course knew better than I. I didn't like tuning it.
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#2069981 - 04/24/13 01:24 PM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: RestorerPhil]
in2tune Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/12
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: RestorerPhil
As part of your consideration, why not do this:

Find out who rebuilt it and exactly what was done and/or have a good technician go through the piano to see what all was rebuilt/replaced. The list can vary a great deal. The pin block issue is just a BDB said.

You may find all new whippens, for example, or find that the whippens have new springs and new cushion felt instead, or find the original whippens, but new hammers, hammer shanks and flanges.

If a customer says, "Let's cut back to this budget," most shops will oblige, and the way to do it is for the rebuilder to make logical choices within the financial restrains. I can easily imagine such decisions being made by the owner in this scenario. Owner: "No, I will probably keep the piano only a few more years, so let's...."

If you become fully informed, all is well. You then simply decide to buy or not to buy this one.

Hello Bachfiend (typo in name ?),

I agree with Phil; it is important to find out as much as you can on the restoration that was done, AND have it checked by a knowledgeable technician !

Recently I was involved (as a consultant) with similar vintage Steinway piano's (but different models); the 1903 really needed a pinblock replacement as it had become 'un-tunable' in some areas (the bass section mostly going first). It was sent to Steinway, NY to do the restoration, and included a soundboard replacement. The result so far seems promising. The 1905 had already been restored by a local shop 7 years ago, but with results that generated mixed feelings amongst both techs and pianists mostly in regards to sound, so it was sent to NY as well (same owner) for a complete overhaul. I was not convinced that the pinblock had been replaced first time around, but did find pins awfully tight (usually the result of re-pinning with oversize pins). Results are not known yet (no report seen yet). Take-away: the pinblock can be the issue, just one of the issues, or not an issue at all !

Overall, my biggest concern (as a pianist, but also as an advisor to a pianist) for a piano that brand and vintage would be foremost the sound(board) (1) and then the action (touch) (2); that's a personal thing to a big extent for pianists, and it depends on what you're looking for. I've heard and seen pianists react completely different to these vintage piano's. Pinblock replacement seems like common sense, but it really doesn't affect the above qualities. That's where a technician comes in, to determine how the block is after 7 years.

If the block had a developing problem with loose pins before the restoration, and they used oversize pins as a solution, then it most likely aggrevates the problem over the years. Whether 7 years is enough to tell, I can't say. I must add, as a tuner, that oversize pins, resulting in very tight pins are a pain, and make it so much harder to fine-tune. Typically Steinways are very good in that respect (firm but sensitive, with rapport and 'listen well'), and it could be a sign of restoration level / attention that that quality simply is not there any more !

Apologize for the long story, but in summary, I would say, if the tech that checks the piano finds the tuning pins/block in good condition, it wouldn't hold me back from buying!

Hope this helps !

In2tune

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#2069989 - 04/24/13 02:01 PM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: in2tune]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Originally Posted By: in2tune

Hello Bachfiend (typo in name ?),



Fiend
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2070374 - 04/25/13 01:02 AM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: bachfiend]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1957
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
If you like the sound and feel of this piano why not have it tuned by a tuner you trust and they can tell you how the pins feel. Then the price should reflect the lower future use of the present belly structure compared to a complete rebuild.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2070442 - 04/25/13 05:21 AM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: bachfiend]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7414
Loc: France
I agree oversized pins can be used only up to some size.
Then the tuning is less precise.

Also the holes in the plate have to be enlarged, even when mounting 1-2 sizes more. (if the pins are touching the plate, you cannot set them correctly)

An old block like that can hold under the hands of a good tuner, but can be in bad condition as well or ask for changing in 10 years.



Edited by Olek (04/25/13 05:22 AM)
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#2070544 - 04/25/13 10:23 AM Re: 1907 Steinway pinblock [Re: bachfiend]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 212
Loc: Georgia, USA
One issue that causes considerably varying performance and longevity in both sound boards and pin planks/blocks is climate. It is the depth and duration of extreme humidity differentails which primarily kills both.

In a piano used in a geographical area or in a particular setting which has controlled humidity or has limited humidity swings, the life of these components is greatly extended. This applies to many other parts of the piano, perhaps to a lesser extent, depending upon the part one might choose to discuss.

In turn, the future control of humidity swings on an old pin block can enhance its current performance, as well as lengthen its functional life.

My state of Georgia has extended dampness, but only moderate drying from the heating systems in winter. Even so, tuning stability can be drastically affected - that instability being just a symptom of the real issue, being the changes in the sound board and pin block. More northern states create much more drastic cycles. In those locations, and further north, I can't imagine having a stable piano without an all-weather type humidity system in it.
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Lavender Piano Services
Established 1977
Tuning, Concert Maintenance,
Rebuilding & Restoration

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