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#2172942 - 10/27/13 09:08 PM ground up restoring more vintage uprights ?
Klavimaniac Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 7
Loc: NY, Manhattan
I recently noticed that original uprights are offered on Craigslist for very little cash then for free and finally I suspect they are discarded (current examples listed below). I am aware that transport and ground up renovation (involving recrowning or replacing the soundboard, a new pinblock etc.)is usually necessary and can be as expensive as restoring a grand piano (~10-20K). At the same time I wonder if I am the only one, who feels that an important part of our American history is thrown on the trash and that at least some of these instruments- if properly restored- can sound better than anything new? So I am thinking about at least two ways to approach this:
One recognizes the fact that restoration of these instruments is apparently too expensive for the market. This has to do mostly with the amount of labor, scarcity of tools, know-how and cumbersome techniques that seem necessary. So as a scientist I would think that novel more practical, precise and efficient methods should be developed to restore old soundboards, pinblocks etc. This could perhaps best be accomplished by bringing together restoration experts and people from related but fundamental fields such as physics, chemistry and engineering including students. Funding for such a project could be provided by a range of foundations supporting American heritage, music or the preservation of instruments to name just a few. Another way to improve the situation is simply by making the general musical public aware of the fact that these instruments are not just old, quaint and sometimes pretty furniture but that they are really better instruments. One little snag is the inherent inferiority of the upright action compared with the grand action. (Perhaps use of the Fandrich action could alleviate this problem even though that would compromise some of the historical value (a discussion perhaps for another time). I am confident that precise, well-done documentation of the methods used (including perhaps newly developed ones) would be helpful in explaining and educating the buyer. An additional possibility is to stage competitions for the best upright also inviting and challenging manufacturers of new instruments. (The pianos to be judged would have to be behind a thin screen to exclude visual bias). All this could go a long way towards convincing potential buyers to pay more for such an instrument and reverse the current negative trend in the market. Finally one should also somehow try to include the Asian market since it is the only growth market.
Any suggestions as to who would be interested and qualified in a project like this?

On a smaller scale I am interested in sampling opinions as to what the best sounding uprights models worthy of restoration are? Bigger is better but beyond that what for example are the best sounding old Steinway models you have heard? Also in your opinion who are major experts in restoring these and who has the facilities and tools?

A bit about myself: My sound ideal is the warm full-bodied, colorful singing piano voice- the opposite of new pianos in general. I own a Steinway L and an 1888 Steinway C fully restored. It took four specialists and two years to get the C on a high level (Don Gibbs for the belly, Dennis Chupps for the exterior, Russell Gordon and David Stanwood for the action (including Touch Weight Balancing and SALA) and lastly Arlan Harris for voicing. I also adore the old Pleyel sound (e.g. the one that belonged to Chopin). My family has passionate pianists with my younger son attending the Special Music School and my older son attending Juilliard pre-college. We enjoy organizing (house) concerts with professional and amateur musicians and the musical offerings of Manhattan.


~1890 F(?) Rosewood
http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/msg/4128573125.html

~1900 I black some restoration
http://charleston.craigslist.org/msg/4112621225.html

1898 model (?) black too expensive but rare
http://baltimore.craigslist.org/msg/4142505885.html

1905 G Mahagony(?) -perfect ivories
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/msg/4142092508.html

1924 K52 Mahagony -perfect ivories
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/msg/4142044003.html

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#2172962 - 10/27/13 09:44 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
David Jenson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 1947
Loc: Maine
"One little snag is ..."

Piano technicians, for the most part, are independent business owners. 'Work with other people? Are you kidding? We can't even agree on what temperament is best, or whether tuners should use electronic tuning aids. grin
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#2172969 - 10/27/13 09:52 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 551
Loc: London, England
I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the WNG composite upright action. If it's easily installed on older action brackets, then I think it will greatly broaden the field of upright restoration.
_________________________
Phil Dickson
The Cycling Piano Tuner

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#2173029 - 10/28/13 03:52 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 773
Loc: UK
What's with all the Steinways?

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#2173131 - 10/28/13 10:47 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1299
Loc: Conway, AR USA
It's a bold idea. I see lots of dollars signs. A major challenge to say the least, but long term benefits for the industry could be huge. With vintage uprights it is best to focus on the better brands, such as Steinway. One large obstacle is the high cost of upright rebuild/refinish which is very much out of proportion to typical upright/grand retail pricing differentials.
_________________________
Bob W.
Piano technician, retired
Conway, AR

Piano Technicę Blog

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#2173134 - 10/28/13 10:50 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: David Jenson]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1463
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
There is very little disagreement about how to temper a piano. The advocates for alternate tempering are a very vocal minority. Thats all I am going to say about this.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2173180 - 10/28/13 12:37 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Phil D]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3296
Originally Posted By: Phil D
I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the WNG composite upright action. If it's easily installed on older action brackets, then I think it will greatly broaden the field of upright restoration.


I'm guessing that they'll have an option similar to the grand top action, where you send in a scale stick and some other stuff, and they send you a pre-assembled upright action. Just my guess, though.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2173196 - 10/28/13 01:11 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: beethoven986]
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 551
Loc: London, England
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Phil D
I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the WNG composite upright action. If it's easily installed on older action brackets, then I think it will greatly broaden the field of upright restoration.


I'm guessing that they'll have an option similar to the grand top action, where you send in a scale stick and some other stuff, and they send you a pre-assembled upright action. Just my guess, though.


I hope so. I've emailed them about it but got no response.
_________________________
Phil Dickson
The Cycling Piano Tuner

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#2173386 - 10/28/13 07:35 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3636
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
I emailed Nina at WNG a few weeks ago. She promptly responded saying upright action parts are coming.
As of now you can get complete Steinway upright actions for Model K, 1098, and compressed.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook


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#2173444 - 10/28/13 10:03 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2328
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
We see a lot of old uprights here in Canada around my parts. Canada had a huge piano industry after the turn of the last century. Most of those early factories had 1st generation German, English, French immigrants who brought a wealth of knowledge in the trade with them. Unfortunately, time takes its tole on these older huge uprights and as mentioned by others here, they simply need too much work and they don't bring value to re-coup that if sold later on.

Every now and then I run into 1 which seems to have been well cared for over the years and is in almost unbeleivably good condition for its age. These have often had the strings done once or at least new bass strings put on them. They were likely not played much either since the hammers are not as worn as they usually are. Action parts are still solid and just some dust and dirt seem to indicate their true age. The scaling on many of these instruments are incredibly good and they will tune very pure with low iH.

Some of these make good candidates for some minor refurbishment especially if the cabinetry is ornate and in good condition (eye candy). They still are at the borderline for value and its difficult to make any decent money getting involved with them. Older Heintzmann, M&R, Nordheimer, Berlin co. are names that come to mind from our neck of the woods.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#2173668 - 10/29/13 10:48 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Gerry Johnston Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 77
Loc: Haverhill, MA
There are certainly a lot of piano technicians who would be happy to restore old uprights. Bottom line problem is that there is no market for them. When I got into the piano business 35+ years ago it was not uncommon for a reconditioned (not rebuilt) old upright to sell for close to $1,000. A rebuilt/refinished upright might have sold for a few thousand dollars back then. That market just doesn't exist today, at least not in significant numbers. Keyboards and inexpensive Asian pianos have virtually killed the market for old uprights.
As to the idea of "recruiting engineers to find more efficient and cost effective ways to restore uprights" - forget it! The engineers who understand best how to build pianos have helped to move production to China. At this point in history the only way to significantly reduce cost of building (or rebuilding) a piano is to reduce labor costs. Even if you could restore an old upright for a few thousand dollars you would find very few people willing to have such a piano in the living room. Not my opinion - just a recognition of market reality.
_________________________
Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com

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#2173675 - 10/29/13 11:05 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Gerry Johnston]
David Jenson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 1947
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Gerry Johnston
There are certainly a lot of piano technicians who would be happy to restore old uprights. Bottom line problem is that there is no market for them. When I got into the piano business 35+ years ago it was not uncommon for a reconditioned (not rebuilt) old upright to sell for close to $1,000. A rebuilt/refinished upright might have sold for a few thousand dollars back then. That market just doesn't exist today, at least not in significant numbers. Keyboards and inexpensive Asian pianos have virtually killed the market for old uprights.
As to the idea of "recruiting engineers to find more efficient and cost effective ways to restore uprights" - forget it! The engineers who understand best how to build pianos have helped to move production to China. At this point in history the only way to significantly reduce cost of building (or rebuilding) a piano is to reduce labor costs. Even if you could restore an old upright for a few thousand dollars you would find very few people willing to have such a piano in the living room. Not my opinion - just a recognition of market reality.


Exactly! I just didn't want be the one to say all that.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#2173725 - 10/29/13 12:50 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Gerry Johnston]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 615
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA

Quote:
"A rebuilt/refinished upright might have sold for a few thousand dollars back then. That market just doesn't exist today, at least not in significant numbers." - Gerry Johnston


Hi Gerry - I've sensed the last couple years that more people are willing to invest refurbishing in vintage uprights. For the last 3 summers I've had 2 or 3 uprights to recondition for prices in the 7 - 10k range. Not enough numbers to keep me busy full time by any means, but a nice addition to my tuning / repair business. Hopefully, others are seeing that trend as well. Chuck Behm
_________________________
Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke

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#2173878 - 10/29/13 05:22 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Olek Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 6347
Loc: France
It happens very rarely that a 1930 or so good vertical (German brands generally )did not play much, and that is interesting.

There are people that are sensitive to the quality of tone of those old pianos.

It happens that the plain strings can be kept (rarely)

I have a 130 Gorss & Kallman, 1930 a small piano builder that made first class work.
The action had not a part twisted, . I had that piano for free and I can repair it (cracks, unfortunately.

He sounded as a Boesndorfer vertical. Impressive.

I have see a Bechstein from 1920 in " as new" (very little exageration ! and that was an experience to play it.

A friend specialized in "collecting" pianos from the 3 best brands primarly from 1915 +- to 1980.

He organize a sort of festival where the same model from differnt eras is played .

Professional pianists ar eeventually interested in having those sort of pianos... (as a second piano, generally , or a third ..)
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

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#2173888 - 10/29/13 05:34 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Chuck Behm]
Gerry Johnston Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 77
Loc: Haverhill, MA
Originally Posted By: Chuck Behm

Quote:
"A rebuilt/refinished upright might have sold for a few thousand dollars back then. That market just doesn't exist today, at least not in significant numbers." - Gerry Johnston


Hi Gerry - I've sensed the last couple years that more people are willing to invest refurbishing in vintage uprights. For the last 3 summers I've had 2 or 3 uprights to recondition for prices in the 7 - 10k range. Not enough numbers to keep me busy full time by any means, but a nice addition to my tuning / repair business. Hopefully, others are seeing that trend as well. Chuck Behm

Hi Chuck -
Yes, I've recently seen an increase in requests for upright reconditioning - nothing like your 7-10k projects, more like 1-2k, and never involving refinishing, restringing,etc. But, my sense is that it has more to do with the economy rather than a desire to "preserve a piece of history". Here in the Boston area there are more uprights per square mile than just about anyplace else. While there may be some shops doing more complete restoration on these pianos, I don't think it is enough to represent any sort of trend.
_________________________
Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com

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#2173898 - 10/29/13 05:45 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Olek Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 6347
Loc: France
The problem is to have a scale that allows the use of modern wire, as the original ones may have been softer (and often are a different quality than the modern ones).

Now we have replacement wire in case of low tensions scales but the candidates that have a good musical potentiality are rare.

The customers too , here it was more in the trend to buy a Pleyel or an Erard from the 1920-30 era minimum, some 30 years ago. WHat happen is that too many pianos have been badly repared, with inadapted wire or action "refurbished" (the furbish is a small animal that locates in terriers) .

customers where enthusiastic but today they are cautious (with some reasons)

There have also an era of the infamous English piano, second (?) hand birdcages, ore low quality verticals coming from schools of England. (some seem to come directly from the bottom of the channel)

That created the richness of some crooks and killed the second hand market, quality wise.

Today many jobs are subcontracted, as soon as the case need to be done, the pianos go to Poland (the same happens to England) . The delivery truck is there every week or so...

Many guys that knew how to French polish or make rebuilds have retired.
Some remain, but not many. (and rarely I see new bridge caps, for instance)
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

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#2173920 - 10/29/13 06:19 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Gerry Johnston]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 615
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA

Gerry - Obviously, the number of decent pianos available for restoration will vary from place to place. Cities where manufacturers were located are bound to have more pianos than rural areas such as where I live.

Most (but not all) of the restorations we do are family instruments. The typical job involves refinishing (always), new pins and strings (usually), hammers, dampers, keytops (quite often) or ivory restoration (when practical).

This summer was pretty typical. We started with a Schiller upright, a Tryber and Sweetland upright, a Washburn upright plus a Chickering spinet and a Chickering grand. All are done and delivered except for the grand, and as soon as I finish the action work that will be out the door as well.

What I like about doing this work (above and beyond the revenue it brings in) is the satisfaction of doing something which people really appreciate. Here's an email I got just this morning from the lady who had the Chickering spinet done:

Chuck - Thanks again for everything. My parents, uncle, and siblings are all thrilled with how the piano came out. My mom is coming for a visit in a few weeks and she is specifically coming to my house to admire your work. So thank you so much for giving us back the family heirloom the way my grandmother always wanted it. It really means the world to us to have this piece restored and looking how she had kept it for most of her life. It is the only item that she really had with her throughout her entire life and something that meant so much to her. For my mom and myself it is like having her with us again (at least in part). So I really can't thank you enough for all of your hard work and dedication to make the piano shine again.

This is a big reason the shop work is so important to me. I know I could boost my earnings if I focused strictly on tuning, but when I get done after a day's work in the shop, and can stand back and take in what's been accomplished, the amount of money which I'm passing by doesn't seem to matter much.

Here's the pianos we've done this summer. The first one, a Schiller upright, was finished in the spring:

[img:center]http://[/img]

Next up was a Washburn upright, another family instrument:

[img:center]http://[/img]

Followed by the Tryber and Sweetland upright:

[img:center]http://[/img]

Then the Chickering spinet:

[img:center]http://[/img]

And finally, the Chickering grand, shown without the action (which is in pieces on several benches):

[img:center]http://[/img]

With all the restoration work done and out of the way for the summer, I'll focus on smaller jobs - keytop replacement, action restoration, etc., until next summer's lineup is delivered to the shop.

Anyway, back to the point - I think the jobs are out there, if you're on the lookout for the right piano and right customer. Not everyone enjoys this type of work, but for those of us who do, it's quite rewarding. Chuck
_________________________
Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke

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#2173959 - 10/29/13 07:34 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Chuck Behm]
Gerry Johnston Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/13
Posts: 77
Loc: Haverhill, MA
Chuck -
I have no philosophical problem with the idea of restoring old uprights. But, you stated yourself that it is not as lucrative as some other aspects of piano work. Your enjoyment in doing this work is commendable.
The number of uprights available here in the Boston area is, no doubt, a major factor in the market for restoration. If someone wanted, I would guess it possible to easily acquire dozens of uprights within a couple of weeks. The fact that so many are available for "free" certainly feeds the perception that these pianos are not worth the cost of repair. The average customer asks "Why spend $5,000 on this one when I can get one for free on Craigs List"? Obviously, much has to do with educating the consumer about what is and is not possible, what is the potential of a given piano.
Personally, I got out of the rebuilding business in the early 1990's. At the time, Samick and Young Chang were making heavy inroads in the American market - and, at the same time, creating downward pressure on the price one could charge for rebuilding. The decision to close the shop and focus on tuning and smaller repair jobs was based solely on economics. My income rose immediately and dramatically.
Again, I am glad you enjoy this work and have found a way to accommodate it into your schedule. Nonetheless, given the current piano market and economic realities, I don't think anyone will be making the restoration of uprights the foundation of a piano service business.
_________________________
Gerry Johnston, Registered Piano Technician
Haverhill, MA
(978) 372-2250
www.gjpianotuner.com

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#2173967 - 10/29/13 07:47 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Gerry Johnston]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 615
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA
Quote:
"Nonetheless, given the current piano market and economic realities, I don't think anyone will be making the restoration of uprights the foundation of a piano service business." - Gerry Johnston


I quite agree, Gerry. I couldn't make a living wage just based on the restoration work we do. It makes a nice sideline, so to speak, but my bread and butter income has always been tuning and repair.

It can, however, serve quite well as a retirement business, when one tires of being on the road. Especially if one has gotten to a point financially where the checks can come in more sporadically.

My dad tuned until he was 88 years old - always wishing he had a shop but never building one. I hope that if I'm around that long (I'm knocking on wood as I type) I can coast in a bit earlier into "retiring" to the shop. If only my shop were located next to a lake full of walleyes, I'd have it made! Chuck
_________________________
Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke

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#2174078 - 10/29/13 11:47 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1299
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Sentimental value placed on grandma's old Fairish Middling & Sons should not be underestimated. Against tech's advice we've seen folks sink a fortune into one of these old upright rebuilds full well knowing that increased value (if any) will be nowhere near commensurate with the dollars invested. Someone is going to get this business. It may as well be a good rebuilder.


Edited by bkw58 (10/29/13 11:48 PM)
_________________________
Bob W.
Piano technician, retired
Conway, AR

Piano Technicę Blog

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#2174081 - 10/29/13 11:56 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3636
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
I'm busy but we definitely rebuild more grands than uprights. We right now have 5 uprights on to go and 12 grands.
These are custom jobs not for resale.
Very rewarding work but not for those that want 40 hour week schedules.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook


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#2175090 - 10/31/13 11:36 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Klavimaniac Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 7
Loc: NY, Manhattan
Thanks for all the thoughtful replies and nice pics! A few technical things are not completely clear to me yet. For example, can only some of the old uprights be restored with new action parts Japanese or Steinway? Bill Shull in a personal email to me suggested the taller models (I guess 56" like model I and H?) are different. I suspect reconditioning the old parts could be a pain in the neck and is more conservation work for a museum?

Rod Verhnjak wrote: "I emailed Nina at WNG a few weeks ago. She promptly responded saying upright action parts are coming."
I emailed her a year ago and she had the same answer...I had a friend, who used a WNG carbon action in her 1926 S&S model O grand. I tried it recently and while it is responsive it really takes time getting used to the direct uncushioned, hard touch of this action. If the upright action is similar I think some adjustments for the right feel would be in necessary (perhaps different felts?).

David Jenson wrote:"Even if you could restore an old upright for a few thousand dollars you would find very few people willing to have such a piano in the living room."
Well, why so? If the old restored instrument sounds better and is prettier (not always but many are). Direct comparison should be convincing with sensitive customers.

Olek wrote: "The problem is to have a scale that allows the use of modern wire, as the original ones may have been softer (and often are a different quality than the modern ones).
Now we have replacement wire in case of low tensions scales but the candidates that have a good musical potentiality are rare."
To which models/years/brands does this apply? (sounds like an important detail to get the original sound right)

The route problem is of course the shrinking music education and training on instruments. (East Asia is the big exception with 50 million (little) pianists). Therefore many pianos here are simply status symbols or nostalgic furniture for certain people. How they sound is less irrelevant. That's why most restorers spend more effort on refinishing the case than sound. However the soulful individual voice of well-restored instruments (with a pianist sensitive to the individual voice of such instruments) can be a rare kind of magic.

I still think that side by side comparison with new production instruments should help to convince customers with ears that it's worth spending money on internal restoration of old instruments. I also assume that restorers have all their little secrets (of real or imagined quality) how to restore a piano. So to increase the quality, efficiency and bang for the buck restoration competitions with awards for the best rebuild and sharing of the methods should help to establish "best practice", maybe even go some way towards best quality for the money spent. I believe some of the PTG activities go in that direction but participation of more outsiders could raise awareness and attract customers.

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#2175740 - 11/02/13 01:39 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 372
I think the early 1900s Steinway K uprights are perhaps the best sounding upright paino of all time. But it's a pain in the ass, working on the action due to their tying the dampers into the hammer flange assembly. But even then, a Steinway upright is KING of uprights. Mason and Hamlin and Knabe are close seconds
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#2175744 - 11/02/13 01:47 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 372
Unless it is a Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, or Knabe, I wouldn't waste time trying to make money on the venture(buying and flipping)
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#2175765 - 11/02/13 04:19 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Klavimaniac Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 7
Loc: NY, Manhattan
Does anyone know what model Steinway this is and if the action can be fixed/replaced?

http://bgky.craigslist.org/msg/4079673011.html

It's kind of an interesting monstrosity but perhaps it's great sounding if renovated properly

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#2175810 - 11/02/13 08:49 AM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
David Jenson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 1947
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Klavimaniac
Does anyone know what model Steinway this is and if the action can be fixed/replaced?

http://bgky.craigslist.org/msg/4079673011.html

It's kind of an interesting monstrosity but perhaps it's great sounding if renovated properly


It looks like a "K" to me. Apparently WNG Is in the process of engineering a replacement action for these pianos, but I'd wager the cost will be substantial. If you try repairing the action with wooden parts, be prepared for a difficult job. The double flanges are a pain.

Some of these pianos sound great, some are average sounding no matter what you do to them.
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#2176638 - 11/03/13 08:19 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 380
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
Another option can be picking up the old uprights then stripping the cabinet away from the frame, eliminating the problem child mechanicals instantly, cutting/dropping the keybed about 4.5 inches and converting to digital. Doing that you can still utilize the factory fallboard, give people a good looking yet light weight but very attractive alternative to a keyboard on an X stand.
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#2177160 - 11/04/13 09:07 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Nash. Piano Rescue]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 615
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA
Quote:
"Another option can be picking up the old uprights then stripping the cabinet away from the frame, eliminating the problem child mechanicals instantly, cutting/dropping the keybed about 4.5 inches and converting to digital. Doing that you can still utilize the factory fallboard, give people a good looking yet light weight but very attractive alternative to a keyboard on an X stand." - Nash Piano Rescue


I'm sorry, but you would have to tie me down to a set of railroad tracks before I would be willing to do this. To me this is reminiscent of the 1950's movement to take a beautiful upright, hack off half of the top and install a mirror to give the illusion of owning a shorter piano. Maybe there's money in this type of work, but I wouldn't touch such a job. Chuck
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#2177193 - 11/04/13 09:45 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: Klavimaniac]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20749
Loc: Oakland
I do not think that fitting a digital piano to an old vertical piano case would be easier than just fixing the piano. If a piano has a decent soundboard and bridge, with no problems with the pin block, I can restring it in situ, take the action to the shop and rebuild it with new hammers, felts and springs, and have it done within a month or so. To fit a digital action in a piano would require me to bring the entire piano in, remove the action, most of the keybed, strings, and frame and dispose of them, and then I could start fitting the digital in it. That is, if I could find a digital that might be adapted to fit. I could not offer a guarantee that the digital would work properly afterwards, and the modification would undoubtedly void any warranty on it.

I found one company that has done it on a Google search. I would think if it were that easy, there would be a lot more.
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#2177224 - 11/04/13 10:22 PM Re: ground up restoring more vintage uprights ? [Re: BDB]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 615
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA
I've been out in the shop working and thinking about this, and it's more than whether or not it would be easy to do. On a decent vintage piano, I just wouldn't feel right gutting it to put a digital contraption in. Okay, if the piano was junk to begin with, and were now destined for a trip to the landfill anyway, then strip it out and make a liquor cabinet, bookshelf, writing desk or whatever out of it. But for a good quality instrument, no way I would want to do it.

There's a movie I saw that I've forgotten the title to. Anyway, this guy hand built a boat - a beautiful, sleek wooden racing boat - and some city slicker hears about it and offers to buy it. The boat builder is ready to close the deal, and the city guy says that he's going to saw it down the middle to hang it on his living room wall - kills the deal right then and there. The boat was built to be put in the water, not on a wall, and the paycheck isn't worth it to the boat builder.

I don't know. Maybe I'd fold if the price tag were high enough. I'd like to think I would hang tough, however, and stick to my principles. For me, preserving vintage instruments that would otherwise be destroyed is the one thing I know how to do that in anyway makes the world a better place. I'd hate to sell out on that ideal to make a quick buck. Chuck
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