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#616088 - 12/30/01 03:57 AM Del Fandrich Restorations
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
I just had an interesting telephone conversation with Del Fandrich (Darrell's brother). Del offered me a very distinct perspective than the 'stick ruthlessly to tradition' mindset of the other two guys I talked to about doing piano restorations--and more attractive pricing. Del maintains he can exceed the original performance characteristics of, for example, an old Steinway B or Mason & Hamlin BB.

I have played one of the pianos he designed, the Charles Walter 190. I was very impressed with that piano before I knew its designer, so now I'm inclined to listen a little more carefully. But I haven't played any of his Del's instruments. Has anybody?

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#616089 - 12/30/01 02:06 PM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
On a couple occasions I've played the specially designed upright he made. Though an upright, it has a grand style action. Rather interesting to say the least. This was years ago though and it never really generated much enthusiasm because the novelty of this isn't enough to attract buyers. They'll take a genuine grand anyday instead.

Mark Mandell www.pianosource.com

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#616090 - 12/30/01 11:03 PM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
I haven't seen Del's upright. He said the profit margins on the upright weren't high enough to make it viable so he discontinued it about four years ago. S'posed to be a good piano though.

These days he is doing grand restorations. It was Pique that turned me on to him, so I thought she (or somebody else for that matter) might have played some of his pianos.

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#616091 - 12/31/01 12:57 AM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
shantinik Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 4271
Loc: Olympia, WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by T2:
I haven't seen Del's upright. He said the profit margins on the upright weren't high enough to make it viable so he discontinued it about four years ago. S'posed to be a good piano though.

These days he is doing grand restorations. It was Pique that turned me on to him, so I thought she (or somebody else for that matter) might have played some of his pianos.[/b]


I think you folks have (at least at times) had Del and his brother Darryl mixed up. Fandrich and Sons (that's Darryl) produces scores of uprights using the Fandrich action. I visited him last month (and his wife and 6 dogs.) They are selling very well, and now you can find them inside Wm. Steinberg pianos as well. He also produces new grands based on an Ibach design, built in Asia, with German parts, and then reconfigured by him in Stanwood, Washington. He does a small number of rebuilds. Darryl was a Steinway tech for 28 years, I believe, including some time tuning for Horowitz.

Del lives in Hoquiam, and does rebuilding only. He may have been responsible for the original upright design that his brother now uses, but is not at all involved in that side of the business anymore. (I believe he was a designer at Baldwin for many years.) I saw him in my town (Olympia, WA) about two weeks ago -- he just rebuilt a 1904 George Steck that was played at a recital my daughter's teacher gave.

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#616092 - 12/31/01 02:54 AM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
 Quote:
Originally posted by shantinik:
I think you folks have (at least at times) had Del and his brother Darryl mixed up. [/b]


Um, sorry if I didn't make it clear who I was referring to. I was thinking of Del in this case. I guess he was head of R&D for Baldwin for about 15 years. I have resolved to go up and see him sometime.

But I also thought that some of the things that he does are quite untraditional, such as redesigning the soundboard, scale and hammers during a restoration. He says that, for example, hammers have been getting harder over the last 10 years, making piano sounds louder but not better and that he wants to do something different: to widen the expressive & dynamic range by making the piano play better at pianissimo.

I thought it was very intersting stuff. In any case, it is a very different perspective than what I hear from most piano manufacturers. As an example, "At Mason & Hamlin we are still using the same blueprints that we used 80 years ago to manufacture our pianos."

Anyway, the perspective of an engineer like Del who cares less about tradition than he does about increasing performance is definitely in the minority among people I've talked to.

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#616093 - 01/01/02 12:55 AM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
Chris W1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/26/01
Posts: 915
Loc: Boston
T2,

That has been my experience, too. I am sure there are some good Russian rebuilders out there and don't want to create a generalization, but after sampling the work of three and talking to another tech, I learned that they are actually schooled to conserve old pianos and not to do much wholesale replacement of parts. Its an approach far from what Del seems to be driving at. Sometimes it might work, but most times it doesn't, IMO.

Which hammers is Del using? There are few folks whose rebuild work I'd take sight unseen. Del's would be one of them. He's as progressive, if not more than David Stanwood, if you ask me. What has been authored by him in the old PTG journals is facinating.

Chris W
_________________________
Amateur At Large

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#616094 - 01/01/02 09:45 AM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
As a card-carrying "early adopter" (someone who gravitates toward new ideas and innovation), I'm intrigued by all this talk. During my recent piano search, I heard similar claims from Faust Harrison in NYC regarding how their rebuilt Steinways are superior to those being built today. Although this is highly subjective, I was more than a little disappointed upon visiting their showroom. I played multiple B's as well as a C. They wanted more than $65k for one of the B's!!! I played for around two hours and just couldn't figure out what the hype was about. I walked across the street to Beethoven Piano, played a new Grotrian and found it to be far superior that anything Faust Harrison had (with the possible exception of one of their M&H BB's). With all due respect to the rebuilders here, I can't imagine purchasing a rebuild unless it gave me superior quality at a seriously reduced price when compared to a new piano. Perhaps I just haven't played truly great rebuilds. Maybe so. I'll let the rebuilders on this board tell me that.
But just so I don't come off as completely anti-rebuild, consider this: Now that I have my piano, I can't imagine replacing it ever. I'd prefer rebuilding it at some point as opposed to replacing it. That's where I see the value.
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#616095 - 01/01/02 05:19 PM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Steve Y--

You're right, it is all based on hype, about this idea that because a piano has been rebuilt in a place with such an august reputation, that this means that you're gonna find something that surpasses anything else conceivable. So they thrive on that mentality and there are enough people on the East Coast who will buy into all that B.S.

There's no way that they could get away with this on the West Coast though there are enough people who still wind up buying from
the L.A. Steinway dealer, Fields, simply because the "idea" of having a new Steinway(or at least one being rebuilt by an "authorized" Steinway dealership)lends a certain prestige to the whole issue. And time and again I hear reports from people who've been to the store and lament how udesirable even some of the new ones sound.

Mark Mandell www.pianosource.com

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#616096 - 01/02/02 12:56 AM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
Chris W1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/26/01
Posts: 915
Loc: Boston
Steve and Rebldr,

Rebldr wrote:
"simply because the "idea" of having a new Steinway(or at least one being rebuilt by an "authorized" Steinway dealership)lends a certain prestige to the whole issue. "

Well, it does. Prestige might not be the word I'd always use for it, but when it comes to rebuilt S&S, the factory and Faust Harrison are certainly in the top percentile, which is more than can be said of most smaller shops. There are always exceptions. Most people who don't go around liked crazed shoppers \:D don't want to gamble. These two are way above average every time.

I wouldn't pay 65k for a rebuilt B, but I might consider giving S&S NYC 20-25k to *totally* do one over.

Chris W
_________________________
Amateur At Large

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#616097 - 01/02/02 09:26 AM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
I'm not anti-Steinway by any stretch of the imagination. I have a B in my living room. (I may even want to rebuild someday) But I think the Steinway "name" works both ways: For those who think they're overpriced/valued, it's the Steinway "hype". For those who have years of great experiences on their fine instruments, it's the Steinway "reputation". I actually think there's truth to both sides.

Being from So. California, I've been to Fields many times. Personally, I think the whole Steinway sales methodology has backfired for them (Steinway dealers - not just Fields). In my experience, one of the following is true:
1. The dealer is off-the-scale arrogant about Steinway being the ONLY truly great piano, yet his pianos are poorly prepped and leaves the customer thinking "what's all the fuss about?"
2. The pianos sound incredible, but again, the dealer is arrogant, and acts like he's doing you a favor by letting you touch his pianos.
See the theme here? I think this ends up shaping people's views of the pianos. As an example, look at all the Bosendorfer slamming that went on here after Aaron's posts were viewed as arrogant. Make sense?

I actually wasn't trying to change the subject here. Rather, I'm intrigued by some of the claims made by certain rebuilders as to what their work will yield. I'd like to think this is possible, but I've never seen/heard it in action.
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#616098 - 01/02/02 10:30 AM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
I actually wasn't trying to change the subject here. Rather, I'm intrigued by some of the claims made by certain rebuilders as to what their work will yield. I'd like to think this is possible, but I've never seen/heard it in action.[/b]


I agree as a general statement. However, the particular case that caused me to start this thread was a bit different. Del Fandrich does have a piano, a Steinway, ready to check out at his shop as well as a M&H BB under work, but I couldn't arrange my schedule to go up and see it.

Del took quite a bit of time to tell me about the philosophy by which he approaches re-building as well as the sound he's striving to achieve, and I found that very intersting. It sounds like it is a somewhat softer sound than what I may have heard. I approach it with an open mind, but I would NEVER consider buying any piano sight-unseen. I have been to too many Sherman clay stores for that.

Still there are a couple of intersting questions bouncing around in my head. One is the tradition vs. innovation approach. I'm intersted in that argument but at the end of the day wind up sounding like somebody from Missouri: show me the results and I'll judge for myself.

I'm not a tech. so please take my opinion with a grain of sale. But I do think that tradition is of little utility if, like the Steinway marketing pitch, you cling to it without understanding the specifics of what creates a quality sound/feel in an older instrument, whether that be its design, construction methodology or materials.

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#616099 - 01/02/02 01:24 PM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
Chris W1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/26/01
Posts: 915
Loc: Boston
T2,

One of the things Del does with his "killer B's", so I've read, is to change the angle at which the ribs cross the board. I imagine this means changing the orientation of the grain a little bit, as well, but don't quote me. The purpose was to increase sustain above A#5 (killer octave region/treble break). The B scale has been criticized up there. I don't know, but I'd be surprised if Del weren't employing scaling software, as well.

Chris W
(definitely not ruling out the long A's)
_________________________
Amateur At Large

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#616100 - 01/02/02 07:48 PM Re: Del Fandrich Restorations
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Chris--

What Del does to enhance the sustain in the Steinways(or whatever instruments he selects)could also be done through the installation of a Wapin system which I discovered last year when doing that with a piano we had in our shop. This may even be a less labor intensive process to achieve the same result.

You can read more about the procedure at www.wapin.com.

Mark Mandell www.pianosource.com

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