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#627779 - 07/25/07 09:54 PM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
Laura M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/25/07
Posts: 42
Loc: Santa Barbara
Hello all,

So happy to see I have new messages! I guess that could sound pathetic, but what the hey.

Thanks for your input Rickster and Ed. Nice to hear from 2 satisfied caretakers of older generation pianos. If I go the repair/restore route, I'll be conveying to my tech the concerns and suggestions posted here to help determine our priorities. I especially like the suggestion to check out previous S&S work done by a tech before contracting.

Have just purchased a used 'Fine' book and find it very helpful for learning basic piano anatomy. Now I'm eager to look at the bridges, soundboard (& crown) etc., but can't move the big lug so will wait on that.

Postponed \:\( piano expedition to L.A. (back problem) but am determined to go this coming weekend. Have a list going of several uprights I'd like to try before deciding re: V. Which reminds me: the M&H 50 owner also mentioned he had a "German" Lothar Schell upright. Searched PW and various other sites for info and saw a photo of a Schell piano interior showing "Germany" in prominent lettering. Designed by a German engineer - fine, and made in China - fine...but, I got turned off by the "marketing strategy".

If I elect to restore V, I know I will have more questions re: best action replacement parts, but won't waste anyone's time until I decide. Have already searched previous PW posts for this type of info. but haven't found anything specific to the old S&S uprights so...

Will keep you posted,
Laura

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#627780 - 09/09/07 07:59 AM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
Laura M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/25/07
Posts: 42
Loc: Santa Barbara
Here's my piano search summary, which I post with big hopes[/b] for feedback! As a reminder, I'm trying to decide whether to restore my Steinway 1929 V Upright. And oh no, another M&H related post \:D

- Visited 4 piano retail stores and 1 private seller
- Happy to say all salespeople informative & amiable
- Tried many used & new uprights. Also played a few grands & baby grands to inform my ear and fingers of how they generally differ from uprights. And of course for fun ;\)
- Uprights tried include many Yamahas (Series U, T & P), Young Changs, Pear Rivers, Kawais, Knabes 121 & 131, Schimmels C120 & 130, Petrof 131, a Weinbach & a Pleyel 131
- Most helpful thing discovered from trying so many pianos: I prefer the sound of overtones, particularly in the middle octave. While playing, I repeatedly felt like something was missing, or the sounds were too muted/dulled. Given such a wide selection, it seemed strange that there were so many pianos that I didn't really like and after awhile they all began to sound the same. The Knabes, Petrofs, Schimmels and a Yamaha U-7 were more pleasing to me, but none I wanted to commit to. For certain, action on all pianos tried were a huge improvement over my unregulated V.
- The piano I liked most was a 1982 Mason & Hamlin 50 (Aeolian). It's condition is very good and it appears unused. The action is light and very even, notes have long sustain, and the mid and upper octaves have that singing quality I like. Hammers are ungrooved. White keys are plastic and black keys are wood. The tension resonator across the crown has some blackened areas. The pedal action is easy. The case is satin walnut.
- My dilemma: The piano is from the era in which M&H/Aeolian was on it's way out. I've read Larry Fine and a gazillion posts here regarding the post 1950's/pre-1990's M&H's. Unfortunately, many of the posts beget more questions than answers. Yes - beware, but of what in particular?

- Sooooo, will a good tech be able to tell me if the materials and parts used to build this piano are of better or poorer quality? E.g. Is the stability of the pinblock/tuning pins discernable. It has "upright sticker action" and I'm clueless as what this means - do techs like/dislike working with this type of action? Is it more or less durable? Are there things a tech should particularly look out for during his/her assessment of a 1980's M&H? Is it important for me to be present during his evaluation?

- Lastly, does anyone have recommendations for a tech in the Anaheim, CA area?

- Public and private replys are eagerly awaited!

Thanks, Laura

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#627781 - 09/09/07 08:56 AM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Laura,
Chris Carranza tuner tech rebuilder formerly employed at Steinway Hall He lives in Garden Grove next to Anaheim 714-539-0552 He services my Steinway clients in Orange county.
_________________________
www.pastperfectpiano.com
Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo0zumHGgE

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#627782 - 09/09/07 07:59 PM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
Craigen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/05
Posts: 1815
Loc: West Coast
If this piano did not say Steinway & Sons on the front you probably would not have considered spending $1500 on a 78 yo old upright. If not S&S you would never consider spending several thousands restoring it.

Do you really like the tone and the touch you are hearing and feeling as it stands now? Before you jump into the money pit of restoration you must decide this.

Unlikely that the seller will allow a return for a full refund. Most sales are final in the piano world unless an exchange can be accomodated. You may be waisting your time considering other pianos until you resolve this witht the seller. You may find that your only option is to sell the Steinway your self then continue to shop.

Did I read that the piano had been restrung recently? Curious that when restrung they did not replace damper felts. This seems odd.

I believe I read the keys were recovered previously. Did they replace the key bushings at that time? If not another oddity.

Prices you have been quoted for the work you have listed seem way high to me.

Sustain problems could be from several areas already mentioned or a combination. The must be assesed before fixes are attempted.
1. Bearing issues
2. Bridge issues
3. Strike point issues
_________________________
Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.

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#627783 - 09/09/07 09:02 PM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21446
Loc: Oakland
The Mason & Hamlins of 1982 mostly suffered from cosmetic defects. The stickers are a bit more difficult to work on than the dowel stickers used in today's pianos, but I like them better. The one problem with them is that the sostenuto pedal rarely works properly, but most people never use them anyway. Get a tech to check it out. I would not turn it down if it checks out okay.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#627784 - 09/09/07 10:54 PM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
Laura M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/25/07
Posts: 42
Loc: Santa Barbara
BDB - Do you like the MH stickers because of the action they produce? Any idea of fair price for piano, as described?


Craigen - I do like the tone and touch (heavy) of the Steinway and believe I would have chosen it blindfolded. Will never know for sure though!

The private dealer I purchased from will refund the cost minus the delivery and perhaps some "rental" fees. He is apprised of the 2 techs' evaluations of the S&S and is willing to work with me.

Don't know when the restringing and key tops were done nor why damper felts, hammers, pins etc were not replaced. I agree this is an oddity re: priorities. Also, techs said the key replacement job was done well, but I don't know if bushings were replaced. Will be asking tech to return for evaluation of bearing, bridge and crown unless I decide to go for the M&H.


Pianobroker - Thanks for the reference! Also, being a dealer, can you offer fair price estimate?

Laura

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#627785 - 09/09/07 11:54 PM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21446
Loc: Oakland
I like the feel of the Mason & Hamlin sticker action. I think it would be a better piano for you than the Steinway, just because it is newer.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#627786 - 09/10/07 06:29 AM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Laura
Personally without even seeing it I would not advise putting a dime in this piano if you have the option of returning it back to the dealer. Your initial cost of $1500 though it seems nominal will put you so far upside down in this piano to do it right. Do it right or don't do it at all.
We've done a few full remanufactures of Steinway K52 uprights whereas they were either insurance claims or family heirloom /sentimental value. The cost was well over 10K with refinishing (conservative bid). You know that soundboard,bridges etc.are not in the best of shape from your description of the upper treble.
Cracks in the board? God forbid if you need to pull the plate to get to the soundboard. We've had to steam the veneer off to remove the keybed. If the pins are leaning in the bass section, forget it! You can't change the pinblock in an uprt. You have to reinforce the original and dowel every pin and redrill the pinblock. You may be lucky in using oversized pins. The tuners will hate you. We could do 2.5 Steinway grands in the same time allocation to fully restore an uprt.At the end of the day you are gonna have a refurbished Steinway uprt. that costs you the same pricepoint as buying a newer preowned one maybe 10 years new. I don't mean to discourage you but even if that piano was obtainable for free I'd probably pass on it in that,we would have to do it eventually. I've seen some garage operation Steinway Uprt. restorations: refinished,restrung,new parts,new dampers,6 opt pins,new plastic keytops, but no sound.
_________________________
www.pastperfectpiano.com
Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
Hailun dlr.818-255-3145
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z8RvhXGKzY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo0zumHGgE

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#627787 - 09/10/07 12:21 PM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
Randy Karasik, Colorado, USA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/07/05
Posts: 65
Loc: Colorado
The fast decay of tone may not be improved with rebuilding. You'll be taking a risk.

Take the U1 or the U3. They are superior instruments in every way ... great action, strong tone, fabulous sustain. They can be voiced to be as mellow as the Steinway.

If you want a better piano, consider the Petrof 52" or the similar sized Baldwin. The Petrof has the sweetest, cleanest sound of all 52 inchers, in my opinion. And the Baldwin has the best bass, most resonance and power, of any upright piano I've heard.

The Mason is probably an Aeolian, and not on par with the above examples.
_________________________
Play With Passion

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#627788 - 09/10/07 01:08 PM Re: To Repair or Not to Repair - 1929 Steinway Upright
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1137
Loc: Tennessee
Greetings,
I own several of these model pianos. they are great instruments, and worth restoring. One, a 1891, has new strings flanges and hammers. It is in a jazz club and the musicians love it. It has paid for itself,(in rent) several times over, and will conceivably out-live me.
Your action will need to be examined by someone familiar with verdigris. It is usually not completely repairable, but sometimes will respond to lubrication or shrink treatments. The springs on these pianos usually are still fine.
The lack of upper sustain is sometimes the result of bridge deterioration. Check the bridge pins for cracks between them. One of the major points to address is the pinblock. If it is not tunable, everything else changes inre investment potential.
If the sounding structure is solid, and the action can be repaired, this will be a great instrument. I also believe the new Steinway uprights are priced closer to $ 25,000, so that may change how you view the sense of spending money on repair.
One last thing; these pianos use double flanges, and a tech absolutely HAS to have brand-specific experience to do a credible job of action restoration. There are a lot of things that only Steinways need. You should never let someone work on this piano without seeing a previous Steinway action job that they have done!
Good luck,

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