100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts?

Posted by: Nikki832

100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/01/10 08:17 AM

Does anyone have any experience with antique Ronisch pianos? I have a chance to buy a 3 crown upright Ronisch, about 100 yrs old, apparently with not much wear. 134cm high. It has had some restorative work done - namely re-shaping of hammers. Hammers, felts and hammer pivot felts were apparently in good condition and didn't need changing.

I've been told these pianos were top quality in their hey day and equivalent to a Yamaha YUS/ YUX or Schimmel today. Also, that it would last another 20 years or so.

Any thoughts? Would it last 20 more years? Would the maintenance be more trouble/ expense than it's worth? Am I better off buying a new piano?
Posted by: joe80

Re: 100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/01/10 08:31 AM

I'm thinking that a 100 year old upright might not be a good purchase. Re-shaping the hammers isn't really reconditioning, but a routine part of maintenance.

In their day they may have been very high quality pianos, it may well look beautiful and in so many ways be a tempting purchase. I think that for musical results you might want to look for something newer.

Example - I looked at a 1926 model K Steinway that a shop had in, and next to it was a 1985 U3 Yamaha. The Steinway was a romantic ideal but in a play off, the Yamaha won hands down. Don't get me wrong, the Steinway had some nice tone left in it, but the reality was it was on its way out.
Posted by: john gill

Re: 100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/01/10 09:06 AM

hello Nikki

I used to own a 1924 Ronisch. It had been a player with a Hupfeld mech. I restrung it and did other work and it ended up with a marvellous sound.
I'm over here in Perth and do see a few Ronischs. The outstanding thing about Ronisch's older pianos is that their soundboards all seem to be in excellent condition which means that Ronisch made some of the very best s boards ever.
Do get a good tech to have a look at it for you and see what he thinks could be done.


There is one thing that puzzles me here in Australia, and that is that people nearly always refer to Ronischs as 3 crown or two crown. These were only "german crests" and do not mean anything that I am aware of. Except they still are found on some of todays German pianos.
As for the sound of a 1926 steinway being beaten by a yam, that'a as may be. A ronisch in good shape would wipe the floor with either of them.

So get good advice from a tech and you could end up with a piano that is "Bonzer!!!'"

Best of luck.

John Gill
Perth pianoman
Posted by: joe80

Re: 100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/01/10 09:50 AM

Well, I'd like to try one of these Ronisch pianos in that case. We don't seem to have many up here in Scotland, infact I've never seen any.

Some old pianos I guess can still hold their own against the new boys on the block, that's true.
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: 100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/01/10 04:04 PM

The best used piano money that you can spend is that spent for a prepurchase inspection by an experienced tech who has no affiliation with the seller. Action parts, bridges, strings, and hammers should all be focused on.

As joe posted, reshaping hammers is not really restoration.
Posted by: James Senior

Re: 100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/01/10 04:50 PM

I have a Roenisch grand, and have played several of the very tall uprights which were, as mentioned, used in upright players. Very high quality, beautiful sound. Get it checked out.
It's a bit sad, but from the frame and cheeks I can identify that in this unusual video, Emil Gilels is playing a Roenish:
You tube
Should clearly get out more!
Posted by: Nikki832

Re: 100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/03/10 01:49 AM

Thanks so much for all your comments! It is encouraging to hear such glowing reports of the Ronisch from John Gill and James Senior. I will be inspecting it this weekend. Another contender is a 1920 Feurich which is 125 cm tall and has had its hammers replaced. Both have been tuned to concert pitch.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: 100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/03/10 05:42 AM

What's the rule of thumb for replacing strings on a piano, every 20 or 30 years? I'm guessing the piano in question has the original strings .... ? or not?
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: 100yo 3 crown Ronisch - your thoughts? - 06/03/10 07:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikki832
Another contender is a 1920 Feurich which is 125 cm tall and has had its hammers replaced.


Although Feurich is another premium German manufacturer, please be aware that if it was necessary to replace hammers, then the rest of the action is quite possibly also heavily worn. Hammers don't wear in isolation.

I was caught out by a (re)builder who first sold me a structurally bad 1920s Seiler, and then exchanged it for a 1920s Zimmermann, praising the latter for its new hammers and keytops. Only later did I realise that the rest of the action is badly worn. (Backcheck felts, catcher buckskins, butt leathers, etc.)

I can only echo FVL's statement that one should take along an independent tech. If the seller is uncomfortable with this, or says (or implies) that you can trust him without an independent opinion because he himself is a tech, walk away.

That's my 2 Cents (more like 2500 Dollars learning curve, actually).