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#2165158 - 10/12/13 05:20 AM School upright that needs a check up.
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Hello, I'm an adult student and I take my classes on a Kawai Upright. Don´t know which model, but I think it´s (was) a good one.It was donated to the school a few years ago, but I also dón´t know in which condition.
The thing is that I have many problems switching from my DP to the accoustic, and my guess is that a good part of it is due to the poor condition of the upright. The school is more focused on the band instruments and seems even the piano teachers don't hear how bad the piano sounds.
Symptoms:
-Sticky Keys, mostly the most played ones (central octaves).
-Almost impossible to play pp. and chord repetitions.
-Thundering bass.
-Twangy sound all across the board.
-Noisy pedals.
-Awful sound, overall. At least, it was recently tuned smile

My guess:

-It needs some action fixing (junctions?) and a voicing.
-The practice room is perhaps too small (around 2 x 4 mtrs)
-There are some metal closets by the wall in front of the piano, and walls are nude everwhere else. No carpet.

So, I'm trying to convince the school (a popular one, so not very rich) to improve that environment, and to service the piano.
I know that a good technician could fix it, but, would it be very expensive?
Are there some kind of "service contracts" between schools and techs, by means of which pianos are serviced more frequently and cheaply?

Thanks in advance for any help.
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2165318 - 10/12/13 03:16 PM Re: School upright that needs a check up. [Re: mabraman]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: mabraman
....I know that a good technician could fix it, but, would it be very expensive?
Are there some kind of "service contracts" between schools and techs, by means of which pianos are serviced more frequently and cheaply?
Pianos need regular tuning and service.
These are questions that your local technician needs to discuss with the school, after having looked at the piano.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2165333 - 10/12/13 03:49 PM Re: School upright that needs a check up. [Re: mabraman]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21526
Loc: Oakland
Often it is difficult to find the person who is responsible for paying for piano maintenance. You may sometimes expedite the process by offering to be that person. Or you could get others who are using it to donate to the cause.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2165349 - 10/12/13 04:52 PM Re: School upright that needs a check up. [Re: mabraman]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Thanks for your replay.
I've been reading some blogs about this matter today, and it seems that pianos used for teaching need, ideally, four or more services per year, due to the heavy playing they suffer.
This is why I was thinking of a maintenance plan who made servicing more affordable to the school.
Pitty to play a full upright in that condition. And very frustrating to take lessons and not being able to show your real progress 'cause you are distracted by how the mechanism works or the strings howl.
Now I understand those who prefer a good DP over a not so good acoustic.

With regards to paying the maintenance, I'd already taken it in consideration, but I thought that my good hundred bucks (€) per month (10% of my incomes)should be enough to include it. This school works as a non profit association in which students (or families)are also members who pay monthly fee. I know that the benefits of piano lessons are very tight for the school (1 € per lesson, perhaps)so I'm afraid that proper servicing should increase the price we pay.
Well, I'll fight for it in the next assembly.
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2165355 - 10/12/13 05:04 PM Re: School upright that needs a check up. [Re: mabraman]
Jon Page Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/09
Posts: 274
Loc: Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
All too often some schools are nothing more than an income generation facility for the administration. Teachers do not see the pay they deserve and the admin is probably driving new cars with have a sweet salary and benefit package. So the attitude to maintenance is only fix what is broken and not elevate or maintain performance levels.
_________________________
Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com

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#2165366 - 10/12/13 05:45 PM Re: School upright that needs a check up. [Re: mabraman]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Not the case. Admins here are retired volunteers and sponsorships (I mean non paid trustees).
I'm gonna contact with some technicians to see if I can get a good planned servicing deal.
It should be cheaper (or equal) to keep the action fine each two months than fixing several keys once a year, shouldn't it?
Regular tuning is about 100€ here, but what is the average price for maintening actions (joints, needle...)?
Anybody servicing schools around here?
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2165543 - 10/13/13 06:06 AM Re: School upright that needs a check up. [Re: mabraman]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7540
Loc: France
Hello, it is very difficult to say something about the cost and the time necessary to make that piano play and be easy to keep well functional.

But first I would choose another tuner, as a tuner is not suppose to left a piano in a so bad condition as you expressed.

Basic piano maintenance work is just boring and repetitive, but it have to be done. Hopefully a well done job is easy to keep in shape later, unfortunately very little techs have that kind of feeling that leave the piano in that good durable condition.

One need to have music school experience, as pianos that suffered from no maintenance cannot be put in perfect condition.

Some operations are more important than other just for the long term stability of regulation.

Without "repairs" as (putting new cloth in the mortises, changing the centers of the hammers)a complete regulation is supposed to take 4 hours, but this does not happen on school pianos.

This is perfect when not having to shave the hammers to lube parts, to clean tons of dust. I would count between 1 day and 2 days 1/2 with possibly the action taken to the shop.

Of course maintenance operations are limited during tuning , but I consider a piano is not in "tuneable condition" if under a certain level of functionning.

Just tightening the screws ( 160> 250) allows to tune better, eventually.

4 tunings are not necessary, unless the piano plays 8 hours a day (bad condition pianos will be out of tune sooner) . In fact in schools it is difficult to know beforehand, but some stability can be obtained after enough tunings and particularely on a piano that have 20-25 years with a good tuner and a few tunings not too spaced, you can have a piano playeable very well with 2 tuning/year.

Back to my rant, the tuner may be decided it was not worth trying to speak with someone about what the piano need, so he is not really serious.

I would better find an experienced and more expensive tuner, and have it work on the piano, even if a good tuner tune it less often the result will have no comparison with the fast tuning done by the one that accumulate daily tuning and checks without real interest for the condition (there are many)

On a beaten bad condition piano , a full day's work could provide a base for a better lasting instrument.

More probably a little more than one day if there are defects as notes not repeating, that signs poor action condition.

Before asking any tech , check seriously where and how did he learn the trade. Anyone can pretend to be piano technician, only the ones having spend some years working for piano dealers have some experience. schools, and diplomas can also provide some guarantee, but you also can ask Kawai,Yamaha or Steinway, explaining the situation, who knows if you cannot find a tech that is implicated in the musical life of his community ?.

Recommendations from the brand are valuable generally, they know who work seriously and who is an ex DIY or musician that learned most in Reblitz book.

The large dealer will not send his most experienced tech for you but there may be some independent that is reputable.

The efficient techs are in very high demand, school piano should be a specialization, may be the university tech is good ?

A budget covering 1 to 2.5 days of work....

Best of luck
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2165547 - 10/13/13 06:42 AM Re: School upright that needs a check up. [Re: mabraman]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Thank you very much for your answer and detailled explanations, Isaac!
I´ve already asked two different stores for a budget on yearly maintenance.
One of them is the reference store here in my town, whose techs were taught in Germany, according to their adds.Well, their e-mail adress no longer works, which explains why Spain is in such a crisis smile
The other one is from a village in my province. They offer 2 tunings and cleaning/testing/regulation just for 185 €/year. It's too cheap to be true and good at the same time, but who knows...
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2165560 - 10/13/13 08:07 AM Re: School upright that needs a check up. [Re: mabraman]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7540
Loc: France
Hello , I would say that it is not really possible to make a real budget proposal without having put the piano in shape.

Then any piano is easily made "playeable", and that does not mean it will be pleasing, nor the result of the operation will last very long. acoustical pianos are very tolerant to wear, and the pianist tend to lower their expectancy first before deciding that definitively something is wrong.

185 Euros for 2 visits/year is just OK, but do not expect too much here indeed.

It does not mean the piano will not be in need of "repairs" the terms have to be clearly defined there.

A tuner can tune and make what can be considered usual maintenance by spending 1.25 hours every 6 months on a piano, but to make a more evolved work, that will protect more durably the piano he will need a little more time. (lets say he works on a piano in good condition from the start).

I would add 1 hour at last each year, for a piano not abused, just played 5-6 hours a day by students, that do not add so much wear usually.

As I understand it an interesting tech would explain that an initial work is necessary so the piano can be covered by maintenance later.

Maintenance in itself can be some moderate work; dusting, tightening the screw, evening the play that installs between keys and action, a fast hammer shaping , ironing and a little needling. the regulation in itself seem to settle and ask only moderate corrections, but that happens when the parts are not worn too much.

pianos originally in bad condition may give a few surprises here and here. It would be better if the technician is not that far.
On a vertical, large wear of the hammers induce wear on the hammer centers, and fatigue for the treble strings.
The cloth on the damper blades can also be indented and at some point it make the touch extremly heavy, with next step notes staying as stuck (the spoon catch in the cloth)

All thos points have to be examined , and corrective actions planned. SOme can be done later, but it is always better to know beforehand.

This is mostly because any piano , even in poor condition , can be made "playeable" (meaning "all note speaks"). That can be frustrating then, to have spend money on some work, for a low musical level.

I have seen that on numerous occasions, and some time the customer have paid a large amount for a "complete overhaul" that in the end did not gave the pleasing result expected, or that did not stay in shape enoug. Pianos are then send to the secondaryhouse, or sold on craiglists.

For all those pianos, an intelligent and not excessive maintenance would have avoided that situation, as basically maintenance allow the wear of the parts to be slow and moderate. Pianos can stay well playable for decades that way, without real repairs needed.

A simple vacuuming of the keys mortise clean the abrasive dust and certainly put back the need for rebushing. (as lubing where there is friction)

All the best




Edited by Olek (10/13/13 08:08 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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