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#2214706 - 01/14/14 04:51 PM Can an old action be regulated?
Sammae Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 47
Loc: Ottawa, ON
Hello,

A few weeks ago I acquired a 1902 Gerhard Heinztman piano. Some restoration work had been done to it: the cabinet was refinished, new keys, and the hammers and dampers replaced. A few broken strings had been fixed, but the rest play beautifully. I had the technician who took care of it for about 6 years at the previous owners' house take a look at it for me and tell me what needed to be done work-wise. He said aside from tuning and some regulation work on the action, it was in great shape. After playing it for a few weeks, that was my impression as well!

I had it tuned last week by the only tuner in our county. Not much choice around here, and figured I'd try the local guy before opting to pay for the city tuner my friend recommended.

He tuned it up well, but seemed very hesitant about the ability to regulate the piano. He pointed out that the action was old (I know), and that some of the mechanisms had been replaced for some notes (also had noticed that). He said the few notes that are double-striking could not be fixed and was not quite able to get one of the D-flat keys to play the way I wanted it to (I don't know how to describe it - it was like I was playing it with the soft pedal depressed). All in all, he told me nothing could be done with it except replacing the action. That's not what I expected to hear! I don't expect it to play like new. I'm aware it is an old piano. However I was under the impression that something like double-striking notes was fixable - obviously at a cost.

He didn't leave me with a great impression (he left a tool inside the action that was clanking around as I played, and did something to make the sostenuto pedal stop working, along with lecturing me about how classical piano lessons ruin people because I have never learnt to play be ear) so I was looking to run it by some of you to see if this is worth having another tech come in from the city to look at it.

I didn't have much money to spend on a piano, and spent under budget on this beautiful piano with a big sound instead of some newer console that would never sound the way I liked, with the intention of fixing it up to play decently.

Some opinions would be great. Let me know if pictures would help!

Thanks,

Sam
_________________________
Re-learning (polishing):
Chopin - Prelude in D-flat major Op. 28 No 15

Working on:
Chopin - Waltz in C-sharp minor Op. 64 No. 2
Deubussy - Suite bergamasque - Clair de lune

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#2214711 - 01/14/14 05:04 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Sammae]
Johnkie Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/11
Posts: 708
Loc: England
Very often it is old pianos where the most improvements to regulation can be made. Maybe this tuner isn't interested in the finer points of regulation ... there are many tuners that don't want to touch regulation issues, preferring only to tune.

It saddens me to say that I often come across pianos that have been fiddled with by people that don't know what they are doing, or simply prefer to adjust completely the wrong thing to what is really needed.

I would say that your piano could be improved considerably .... by the knowledgeable technician .... you just need to find the right one.
_________________________
Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 49 years in the United Kingdom
and Member of the Pianoforte Tuners' Association (London)
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com

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#2214715 - 01/14/14 05:08 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Sammae]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada


If you would like to email me directly off my web site email icon, I can put you in touch with the CAPT President. He will know of other technicians in the Ottawa area. Actually I believe he lives in that area too.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2214716 - 01/14/14 05:08 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Johnkie]
David Boyce Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 274
Loc: Scotland
Quote:
Very often it is old pianos where the most improvements to regulation can be made. Maybe this tuner isn't interested in the finer points of regulation ... there are many tuners that don't want to touch regulation issues, preferring only to tune.

It saddens me to say that I often come across pianos that have been fiddled with by people that don't know what they are doing, or simply prefer to adjust completely the wrong thing to what is really needed.

I would say that your piano could be improved considerably .... by the knowledgeable technician .... you just need to find the right one.

Totally agree.


Edited by David Boyce (01/14/14 05:10 PM)

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#2214719 - 01/14/14 05:11 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Sammae]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Wow. Perhaps you should invest the money and bring in someone who really understands pianos. The current fellow sounds like he
a) does not know what he is talking about and
b) could not fix fix it anyhow.

You can't simply "change actions" on a piano - that would cost thousands.

However, I am a bit surprised that first you say that it "plays beautifully", but then needed action work and regulation, after which there are still problems with the playability.

Double striking and unresponsive hammers are not difficult to fix, but one needs to know how. From what you write, I am not convinced the pianos old, regular technician is up to the task, either. But then you should maybe have a chat with him and give him another chance.

If that does not resolve the issues, there are other real piano technicians in the Ottawa area. You can contact me privately if you need a referral.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2214723 - 01/14/14 05:19 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Sammae]
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1191
Loc: Québec, Canada
I'm east of Ottawa near Rockland. Send me a pm if you like. No need te replace an action for sure!!!! Maybe a few parts. But Gerhard Heinztmans were built like tanks so I would not worry.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca

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#2214730 - 01/14/14 05:30 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Sammae]
Tunewerk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/11
Posts: 405
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: Sammae
He said the few notes that are double-striking could not be fixed and was not quite able to get one of the D-flat keys to play the way I wanted it to (I don't know how to describe it - it was like I was playing it with the soft pedal depressed). All in all, he told me nothing could be done with it except replacing the action. That's not what I expected to hear! I don't expect it to play like new. I'm aware it is an old piano. However I was under the impression that something like double-striking notes was fixable - obviously at a cost.


All of this is fixable, yes! It doesn't take more than a few minutes to solve double striking in most cases. The D-flat is probably a voicing issue, or strike distance/key depth issue. This may take 30 minutes.

A full regulation to bring back a great touch (if the parts are still in decent shape to allow precise enough adjustment) can be done as well.

Good luck.
_________________________
www.tunewerk.com

Unity of tone through applied research.

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#2214744 - 01/14/14 05:55 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: accordeur]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Originally Posted By: accordeur
I'm east of Ottawa near Rockland. Send me a pm if you like. No need te replace an action for sure!!!! Maybe a few parts. But Gerhard Heinztmans were built like tanks so I would not worry.


Yes Jean can assist you; I was not aware you were in the valley there Jean. Probably the GH with the pulsating bridge.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2214748 - 01/14/14 06:00 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Sammae]
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1191
Loc: Québec, Canada
Yes I was born and raised in Ottawa. Now I am about 30kms away. I've seen plenty of Gerhard Heinztmans after 28 years in the business.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca

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#2214774 - 01/14/14 07:17 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Sammae]
Sammae Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 47
Loc: Ottawa, ON
Thanks everyone for the great replies! I appreciate all the positive feedback. I'm very relieved to hear that these issues can be fixed.

Jean, I'll be sending you a message.

To clarify, "plays beautifully" referred to the characteristics that I was looking for in a piano that are not easily improved - the touch aside from a few keys is great. For the price I paid, it will be a great piano for me once these small issues are cleared up. When I was younger, I played on a 30 year old Willis console that was a pain to manipulate once I got more advanced. Therefore I think it takes less to impress me! Haha.
_________________________
Re-learning (polishing):
Chopin - Prelude in D-flat major Op. 28 No 15

Working on:
Chopin - Waltz in C-sharp minor Op. 64 No. 2
Deubussy - Suite bergamasque - Clair de lune

Top
#2214889 - 01/14/14 10:36 PM Re: Can an old action be regulated? [Re: Sammae]
Blues beater Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/13
Posts: 133
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
What he said: "It can't be done."

What he meant: "Either I don't know how to do it, or I don't want to do it, or most likely both."

What do I know? I am only a DIYer. The pros on this board can't know for sure what repairs and adjustments will actually prove to be called for without having seen the piano, but "can't be done without a whole new action" certainly calls for a visit from a different tech.

Don in Austin
_________________________
Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, and unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate

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