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#606278 - 07/21/03 07:40 PM decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1907
Loc: El Cajon, CA
Hi. I currently have a 1913 56" Ricca & Son upright that I got for free from some friends who were going to take it to the dump. When I got it, it was 1/2 step flat, and the action was fairly bad, but complete. I raised the pitch and tuned it, and did some minor action regulating to "get it to play". More recently, I have restrung the entire piano, using larger tuning pins in the original pinblock. In the process of restringing, I repaired (epoxy) some cracks in the bass bridge. The soundboard seems to be fairly good, with still 1/8" to 1/4" or so of crown. I have also done some action regulating, but almost all the action parts are still original (except for new bridle straps, and a few other things I replaced cause the originals broke). All the hammers are original.

the pic was taken before I restrung the piano or did much of anything else to it
btw... I should mention, in case you think I'm working on a piece of junk, that this is a learning experience for me, as it's my first piano project. I just recently finished the Randy Potter course, btw. (well, a few months ago now)

What I would like to know is, should I spend some $ on new hammers, whippens, butts, etc, so I can gain some valuable experience with rebuilding an action? Or, should I try to spend $250 to $500 on a larger, better upright?
If I got another upright (I don't have room for a grand (and no, I'm not talking about those pieces of junk made by Marantz ;\) ), so it has to be an upright), I would want a different stringing scale than my current piano has. I have heard some techs say that to some extent it doesn't matter much, but my personal preference dictates plain wire trichords down to A#2, and preferably not a hockeystick bridge. I'd also prefer a piano at least 58" to 60" tall, and a fairly wide one, to allow for somewhat longer strings, and a larger soundboard. (for example, having cheek blocks that are several keys wide) I don't really care what kind of case it has, but I would like it to be in halfway decent condition, i.e. finish not stripped, veneer not damaged extensively (somewhat worn is ok though). I'd be nice if I could find something like http://pianoplayer.hey.nu/pianopics/DCP_0304-Matushek.jpg but that's not a requirement.

So... should I get another piano, or spend some money on parts and get some experience on my current piano?

Here are some samples of what my piano sounds like now.
Now, here's a couple examples of a tone I would like:
midrange tone, moderate volume playing
bass (note that first section is several notes resampled (ignore the other note at the beginning of the note) from one C1 (higher note is originally E5), second part gives you an idea of sustain I would like to have. last part is midrange bass
very loud playing. I especially like the abunance of a very rich spectrum of high harmonics on forceful playing.

And finally, an overall idea of a tone I would like, linked from the Klavins piano website:
Klavins upright

Basically, if I get hammers, I'm looking for medium to somewhat hard ones. From what I've read on the subject, it seems that Ari Isaacs are the way to go, cause of adaptability, durability, not needing to be voiced, but what are your opinions?
_________________________
Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.

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#606279 - 07/21/03 09:01 PM Re: decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21658
Loc: Oakland
What do you want to get out of this? Do you just want a piano, or do you want to learn to do this sort of work? If you want your dream piano, if it is not this particular piano, do you want to do the work on it yourself?

You say you've restrung this piano. Did you do the job as well as you could, or did you hurry through it just to get it done? How well do you think it came out?

After doing so much work, what reason is there to leave the job unfinished? How are you going to learn if you don't practice, and if you don't do your very best?

If you were paying someone to restore your piano, would you choose people who decide half-way through a job that it isn't coming out exactly the way they expected so they aren't going to finish the job work on your piano?

I ask these questions, because I think you are looking at this in the wrong way. The goal is to make each piano play and sound as good as it possibly can. You should be directing all of your efforts towards gaining experience to do that. You need to spend as much time, effort, and even money as it takes. It is the fastest, easiest, and cheapest to do it now, so that you won't have wasted what you have put in so far.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#606280 - 07/21/03 11:05 PM Re: decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1907
Loc: El Cajon, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
What do you want to get out of this? Do you just want a piano, or do you want to learn to do this sort of work? If you want your dream piano, if it is not this particular piano, do you want to do the work on it yourself?

You say you've restrung this piano. Did you do the job as well as you could, or did you hurry through it just to get it done? How well do you think it came out?

After doing so much work, what reason is there to leave the job unfinished? How are you going to learn if you don't practice, and if you don't do your very best?

If you were paying someone to restore your piano, would you choose people who decide half-way through a job that it isn't coming out exactly the way they expected so they aren't going to finish the job work on your piano?

I ask these questions, because I think you are looking at this in the wrong way. The goal is to make each piano play and sound as good as it possibly can. You should be directing all of your efforts towards gaining experience to do that. You need to spend as much time, effort, and even money as it takes. It is the fastest, easiest, and cheapest to do it now, so that you won't have wasted what you have put in so far. [/b]
It'd be nice to have a decent piano, but more than that I want to gain some experience. In the process I want to use good quality parts, and do a good job with the project. I did fairly well on restringing, but I still have some false beats in the upper treble section, and some slightly loose tuning pin coils here and there. Hopefully my next restringing job will be a little better.
_________________________
Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.

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#606281 - 07/22/03 08:34 PM Re: decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
88KeyPianoPlayer, sounds like you want both: a piano and experience.

The first piano, I ever "re-did" was an old Remington upright, while I was in tuning school. An absolute piece of junk. But new pins and strings and a lot of work on the action without new hammers)made it a passable piano. I spent more on parts than the piano was worth and practically gave it away to the family of a child taking piano lessons. Would I do it again? Probably, the experience was invaluable and from there I learned what not to bother with. I am not familiar with the brand name of yours. Perhaps others can advise you on the quality of pianos made by this company. But you have to start somewhere.

Regards,
Ron
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Ron Alexander
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#606282 - 07/23/03 12:58 AM Re: decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21658
Loc: Oakland
Go back and tighten the coils, as best you can. You need to learn to make the adjustments that make the difference between a good job and a half-way job. It gives you versatility to repair what others have done poorly. I have a slide-hammer coil tightener that works pretty well, once I ground down the sides so it fits between the pins, but you can use stringing hooks and string lifters. Having an extra arm or two would really help, but I haven't figured out how to grow one yet.

Sometimes false beats will go away with time, but you might want to review anything you might have done to cause them, such as twisting the wire. You could replace the strings again, if they are really bad. Do you know how to do that without removing the tuning pin? Just put the wire in place, make a coil on a spare tuning pin, pull the end out of the eye, and put it on the pin in the piano. The practice you got tightening coils will come in handy for this job.

I think 99% of the job is technique and wordsmanship, and 1% is materials. So you should take every opportunity that you have to improve your technique. I could be wrong about that percentage, though. I may have overstated the importance of the materials.
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Semipro Tech

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#606283 - 07/23/03 04:18 AM Re: decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1907
Loc: El Cajon, CA
about tightening the coils - part of the problem is that on some range of notes, the part that went through the hole was someone long, and bumped against the coil on the other side, preventing me from tightening those. Maybe I should try lifting the coil to allow me to "tighten" the coils?

also, this is my first piano to restring, so understandably the job wouldn't be quite as good as you would expect from the Fazioli factory. ;\)
_________________________
Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.

Top
#606284 - 07/27/03 02:51 PM Re: decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21658
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
about tightening the coils - part of the problem is that on some range of notes, the part that went through the hole was someone long, and bumped against the coil on the other side, preventing me from tightening those. Maybe I should try lifting the coil to allow me to "tighten" the coils?
By all means. It is a technique you should learn. It will also help you appreciate taht you should have been more careful putting the string in the eye in the first place.

 Quote:
also, this is my first piano to restring, so understandably the job wouldn't be quite as good as you would expect from the Fazioli factory.
Even the cheapest old pianos, made in the days before fancy machinery, had nice, neat coils. There is no reason to do a poor job on them.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#606285 - 07/27/03 03:40 PM Re: decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Yes tighten the coils. If the "becket" - the end part of the string that goes thru the 'birdseye" -
the tuning pin hole is too long, I would not try to fix that. You may end up with more problems than you now have. To tighten the coil. Make sure the string begins to wind behind the portion of the wire coming out thru the birdseye. The coil should be three tight windings of the string. You took the Potter course, so hopefully you have the tools. If you do not - get restringing tools, before you try to fix anything.

No one (at least in my experience) I have seen does a very pretty job on their first restringing.
Practice makes more perfect.

Ron
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#606286 - 07/28/03 02:56 PM Re: decisions, decisions... get another upright, or do action work on existing one?
Brian Lawson, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/04/01
Posts: 647
Loc: South Africa
Stephen, buy yourself a set of hammers, fit them and then report back.

Start here: brookslimited@aol.com
_________________________
Brian Lawson, RPT
Johannesburg
South Africa

http://www.lawsonic.co.za

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