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#2111716 - 07/02/13 04:48 PM Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions
wilf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 53
Loc: Alberta Canada
Yesterday I looked at a 5' Baldwin ser #B1 315009. Says "made in USA" on the soundboard. I figured it out to be about 20 years old. Reasonable condition. Sounds a bit tinny like a honky tonk sound. Suite is a penthouse with glass, marble, laminate tile etc. Room echos when you talk. Hammers look okay but it appears the middle octaves aren't striking the strings evenly. I've read comments on the forum about regulation and voicing. Does this piano need that from what I am describing and if so, what are typical costs. Owner is moving and has dropped the price from $5,500.00 to $3,990.00 for quick sale. Is it a deal worth pursuing? Not much selection in this part of the country.

Feedback would be appreciated
Thanks
Wilf

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#2111718 - 07/02/13 04:52 PM Re: Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions [Re: wilf]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10483
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Yes it sounds like it need a regulation, tuning and voicing.

Cost...a guess... $500 - $1500.
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Jasons Music
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Since 1937.

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

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#2111925 - 07/03/13 01:12 AM Re: Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions [Re: wilf]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
Wilf, this piano is a piece of shiite...Don't walk...Run!!!
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#2112325 - 07/03/13 05:22 PM Re: Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions [Re: wilf]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Sorry didn't see the new thread. Here's what I posted in the other:

I think you are on the right track ditching the Wurlitzer and looking at Baldwin, but the B1 might not be the deal you think it is. My recollection from threads past is that while Del (who seems to have enormous respect in this community) did the original design, after he left Baldwin the company cut a lot of corners trying to make it cheap with an eye towards competing with the low end Korean pianos entering the market at that time. There seem to be some opinions that in order to do so they pretty much ruined it, and it may not even be as good as the Korean pianos of the time.

Hopefully Del will get a chance to speak for himself, but here are his words from a thread on the B1 in 2004:
Quote:

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I did the original design for this piano. This was my last project for the company -- Baldwin and I were coming to a parting of the ways just as I was finishing up the original prototype. Although I also designed the overall manufacturing process for the piano I was no longer with the company as the concept was implemented and production actually got underway. Unfortunately, any resemblance between the initial prototype and the production instrument was difficult to find.

Obviously I am biased, but to me this is a classic example of a fundamentally good design ruined by being cheaped to death. Just as the prototype was being finished up Baldwin management was deciding it was going to be price competitive with the Korean manufacturers even though they were unwilling to invest in any kind of automation. It had gotten to the point that nothing mattered but manufacturing costs � how could the cost of materials and time be cut. It was an effort doomed to failure before it ever started.

This piano was supposed to be the first of two or three pianos developed along the same basic design format. Originally they were supposed to be good, low-cost pianos of reasonable performance, though not necessarily the cheapest thing on the block. Had the original concept been carried through to completion this line could have become a formidable line of decent, relatively high performance pianos with very competitive prices. But they would have been somewhat more expensive than the cheapest of the imports at the time. They also would have performed somewhat better. As it turned out so much was left out of them and they were built so poorly some of them could barely hold themselves together.

Still, if you find a good one that actually got built correctly and has been reasonably maintained it should be a good piano for its size and for the money.

Del


Here's the link to the thread, if you search Del Baldwin B or Del Baldwin B1 you should find more discussions.
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ite_id/1#import

Best wishes,
Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2112449 - 07/03/13 09:27 PM Re: Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions [Re: miscrms]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: miscrms
Sorry didn't see the new thread. Here's what I posted in the other:

I think you are on the right track ditching the Wurlitzer and looking at Baldwin, but the B1 might not be the deal you think it is. My recollection from threads past is that while Del (who seems to have enormous respect in this community) did the original design, after he left Baldwin the company cut a lot of corners trying to make it cheap with an eye towards competing with the low end Korean pianos entering the market at that time. There seem to be some opinions that in order to do so they pretty much ruined it, and it may not even be as good as the Korean pianos of the time.

Hopefully Del will get a chance to speak for himself, but here are his words from a thread on the B1 in 2004:
Quote:

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I did the original design for this piano. This was my last project for the company -- Baldwin and I were coming to a parting of the ways just as I was finishing up the original prototype. Although I also designed the overall manufacturing process for the piano I was no longer with the company as the concept was implemented and production actually got underway. Unfortunately, any resemblance between the initial prototype and the production instrument was difficult to find.

Obviously I am biased, but to me this is a classic example of a fundamentally good design ruined by being cheaped to death. Just as the prototype was being finished up Baldwin management was deciding it was going to be price competitive with the Korean manufacturers even though they were unwilling to invest in any kind of automation. It had gotten to the point that nothing mattered but manufacturing costs and how could the cost of materials and time be cut. It was an effort doomed to failure before it ever started.

This piano was supposed to be the first of two or three pianos developed along the same basic design format. Originally they were supposed to be good, low-cost pianos of reasonable performance, though not necessarily the cheapest thing on the block. Had the original concept been carried through to completion this line could have become a formidable line of decent, relatively high performance pianos with very competitive prices. But they would have been somewhat more expensive than the cheapest of the imports at the time. They also would have performed somewhat better. As it turned out so much was left out of them and they were built so poorly some of them could barely hold themselves together.

Still, if you find a good one that actually got built correctly and has been reasonably maintained it should be a good piano for its size and for the money.


I don't have much to add except that, after getting off to a very bad start with this piano, the company did improve their build quality some over the years. The worst examples I've seen came from the early- to mid-1990s. Somewhere along the line somebody figured out that cheaping the thing to death wasn't the best way to go and they did get some better.

Well, maybe something...one of the fundamental problems with this piano was really with the philosophy of manufacturing that pervaded the company during the years that I was there. Baldwin grand pianos (in particular) were “hand-built” in the sense that most wood parts were cut to very loose tolerances—usually a little oversize—and then trimmed to fit by assembly workers. The excuse was that wood, being wood, couldn't be cut to precise size and tolerance since it changed so much with fluctuations in moisture content. This is, of course, to some extent true but there are ways to design around the problem and I had done so with this piano.

Company management never could wrap their heads around the reality that you couldn't build a low-cost piano unless the parts coming to the assembly workers were precisely sized and shaped to specification. In other words, to build inexpensive pianos of good quality fundamental quality control has to be much better than it is for “hand-built” pianos. Indeed, it has to be near perfect! Only when every one of the various parts arrives at the assembly point properly machined within specified tolerances will the final product go together quickly and properly and within budget. Everything has to fit the first time.

Instead what seems to have happened was that they continued making parts in the same relatively slipshod way they made them for the standard grand piano line but, to keep the costs down, they simply eliminated the hand-fitting process. The result was a chaotic mess of quality problems that were virtually impossible to straighten out after the fact.

I don't know whether, over time, they got better at producing precise, made-to-spec parts or whether they re-introduced a certain amount of hand-fitting but later instruments were built some better.

In the case of the piano in question, it's a later model. It might be a great little piano; who knows? It would be worth while having a competent technician check it out. When these little things worked well they were one of the nicest-performing small grands around. And I do mean “small” grands. They were not just short but they were relatively narrow. I spent enough time on the shape of the thing so that it appears aesthetically balanced. I don't remember now just how wide it is—somewhere around 136 to 137 cm (53.5” to 54”) comes to mind—but it is considerably narrower than its competition. As well, the rim was not very tall; something less than 250 mm (≈ 10”) if memory serves. To my eye, at least, the pianos looked “right” for its length. Most short grands look fat and stubby to me and I don't like them.

The action and pedal problems should be easy to fix. Others have given rough estimates of the costs involved and they are probably about right; it's hard to pin that down without examining the piano. It doesn't sound like the particular piano in question has been played much so the hammers are probably not worn all that much. I have no idea what kind of hammers the piano has on it. Originally it was supposed to have something like the hammers made for the Hamilton studio (obviously with appropriate moldings) to keep their weight down. I expect over time they probably got heavier as did the hammers for most short pianos of the time. Everyone was seeking power, power and more power and everyone knows the road to more power is paved with heavier and harder hammers. Of course, the road to more musical pianos—especially short pianos—is paved with lighter, more resilient hammers. But who listens to designers?

Whatever is found to be on the piano now, some attention to voicing and regulating when the piano is installed in a more reasonable musical space will undoubtedly improve things. Even with their assembly flaws, for their size they are still among the nicest little pianos out there. In my not unbiased opinion.

ddf


Edited by Del (07/03/13 10:27 PM)
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
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(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#2112458 - 07/03/13 09:51 PM Re: Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions [Re: wilf]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3869
One of the common issues on these is one key lifting two dampers at once.
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www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2112463 - 07/03/13 10:08 PM Re: Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions [Re: Bob]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Bob
One of the common issues on these is one key lifting two dampers at once.

Doesn't surprise me. Still, relocating a damper tray isn't all that difficult.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#2112488 - 07/03/13 11:09 PM Re: Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions [Re: wilf]
wilf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 53
Loc: Alberta Canada
Hi Del,

Thank you for all your insight and feedback. The thing that confuses me is that the piano just kind of sounds tinny. Would that possibly be an indication of what you said about the heavy hard hammers? Or is it possibly as a result of the hammers not striking the strings equally. The middle ones appeared to be off centered with the strings. By comparison, when I played a 25 year old DH Baldwin of similar size it had a fuller sound, but I was advised by the forum not to buy a DH, so I was quite interested in this "real" one. If I pursue it further, I will pay my piano tech to go with me.

Thanks,

Wilf

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#2112498 - 07/03/13 11:29 PM Re: Baldwin 5' regulation and voicing questions [Re: wilf]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5306
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: wilf
... The thing that confuses me is that the piano just kind of sounds tinny. Would that possibly be an indication of what you said about the heavy hard hammers? Or is it possibly as a result of the hammers not striking the strings equally. The middle ones appeared to be off centered with the strings. By comparison, when I played a 25 year old DH Baldwin of similar size it had a fuller sound, but I was advised by the forum not to buy a DH, so I was quite interested in this "real" one. If I pursue it further, I will pay my piano tech to go with me.

I'm not surprised it sounds tinny!

You said it was tuned six months ago, I'm assuming the current owner doesn't play so it probably hadn't been tuned for years prior to that. Pianos purchased for "show" usually aren't. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a substantial pitch raise involved and I'd expect it to be slipping. It will be dropping back down and the unisons will be pretty wild. It's also quite possible that the tuning six months back wasn't all that great. After all, the tuner couldn't be bothered to set the pedal rods in place. Unless something down there is really screwed up this should have been a simple task taking a couple of minutes. It's the kind of thing a whole lot of professional tuners would have done without being asked and without charging extra for doing. In any case, it probably needs tuning again.

It is also quite likely that the hammers haven't been voiced since the piano was new. And I doubt the action has been regulated either.

And, finally, there is that rock-hard, echo-prone room. How could the poor thing sound anything other than tinny?

It's possible, of course, that there are more serious problems with the hammers. But any two of the above would make any piano sound tinny. With all three strikes against it the poor thing doesn't stand a chance of sounding its best. Another good tuning (after it's moved), some judicious hammer work and a good regulation will work wonders to tone things down.

It's also possible that there is something more seriously wrong with the pedal but I doubt it. In any case it is something your tuner/technician can easily determine.

Of course, if it's going to require a whole lot of work to put it into reasonable playing condition you may want to negotiate a bit more with the pricing.

ddf


Edited by Del (07/04/13 02:53 AM)
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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