Upright grand fans out there?

Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Upright grand fans out there? - 01/24/10 09:23 PM

I know Yamaha U3s and Big kawais are nice, But who else here says you cant beat a good ol' cabinet grand?

I have always somewhat disliked upright pianos until I played my first Upright grand. I always thought uprights were kind of dull and lifeless compared to grands. But that soon changed when I played the Krakauer piano. I fell in love with it.

Something about them that I have not found in any other upright. Their fullness and big in your face sound.

Sure some dont look as nice as a new black glossy yamaha upright in the ol' steinway styled cabinet. But a lot of them, many many many hours of work went into their craftsmanship. Especially those made before 1910 or so. Just look at my Story and Clark for example!

I think Companies should bring back the big old uprights! Seems today only new pianos come in at the top 52" or less.
What happened to the grand 56"- 60" uprights? With the big columns, and fancy music racks. Exotic woods and beautiful varnish!

Is it me or did some sort of styling aspect on big uprights die in the 40s or so?

*** not saying anything is bad about the new uprights! With an even tone and usually excellent action!***

Give me an ol' nice/restored Steinway or Bluthner, and I couldnt be more happy!
Posted by: AJF

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/24/10 09:43 PM

I've recently played a Steingraeber 54" upright w magnetic repetition action and it is the best upright I've ever played-- not because of sheer volume but because of the quality of sound it produced and the action. I could easily settle for that piano if a grand wasn't an option. I do like the look of many of the old upright 'grands' but I've yet to have the pleasure of playing one without awful action. I too wonder why piano makers no longer make really tall uprights.
I don't know much about the mechanics of piano making but if a grand wasn't an option for a pianist (as is the case in many parts of Europe and Asia due to space considerations) wouldn't say a 60" or heck, a 65" upright be less of a compromise at least in terms of sound?
Posted by: apple*

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/24/10 11:07 PM

i miss my grand upright.. it was one fantastic (but elderly) piano. It had the most glorious bass and was incredibly powerful and resonant. I wish I had kept it as a second piano.

Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/24/10 11:43 PM

Originally Posted By: AJF
I do like the look of many of the old upright 'grands' but I've yet to have the pleasure of playing one without awful action.


That's a shame.

I too, love the old big uprights.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/25/10 12:56 PM

I am also a fan of tall, high quality uprights. When they are in good playing condition they can have tons of musicality. However, I want to point out the following:


First of all, let's all remember that the terms such as "Upright Grand", "Grand Piano in Vertical Form" etc. are misleading. This is pure marketing hype invented by the piano manufacturers and used shamelessly to promote their top of the line pianos. A piano cannot be a grand and an upright at the same time, just as it cannot be vertical and horizontal at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive.

Second: Do not be taken in only by the height of the case. There are many tall pianos which have 4 or 5 inches of wasted space at the top, above the speaking length of the longest strings. Effectively these are often 50" pianos.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/25/10 06:39 PM



This is my baby. His name is Admiral Halsey, he's 57" tall nearly 120 years old and when I play with the front top panel open I feel like I'm in one of those Memorex commercials from the 80's with the room getting blown away by the sound from the stereo. He's got some action issues but we're working them out. smile

Posted by: Del

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/25/10 08:51 PM

Originally Posted By: AJF
I've recently played a Steingraeber 54" upright w magnetic repetition action and it is the best upright I've ever played-- not because of sheer volume but because of the quality of sound it produced and the action. I could easily settle for that piano if a grand wasn't an option. I do like the look of many of the old upright 'grands' but I've yet to have the pleasure of playing one without awful action. I too wonder why piano makers no longer make really tall uprights.

Have you played a large old upright using a nicely rebuilt sticker-style action?

Large upright actions force the designer to make a choice between the sticker action and dowel-capstan action. Simple brass capstans are not long enough. Both styles have their advantages and disadvantages.

Dowel-capstan actions—they have a (usually) wood dowel attached to the key via a threaded wire—work well as long as the dowel and wire are not too long. They are common in pianos up to about 132 – 135 cm (52” – 53”). Beyond this they tend to get some wobbly and difficult to keep aligned properly. They are sensitive to loose key bushings (as the keys develop side play the capstans move around quite a lot). Their primary advantage is that they are cheap to make and easy to install.

The more complicated sticker action was commonly used on the largest American and European uprights. The sticker linkage is more difficult (and expensive) both to make and to install. They can also—depending on the length of the sticker—be some heavy. (This could be solved by using molded parts for the flanges and levers and carbon fiber tubing for the sticker itself but this would, of course, drive the cost up some.) On the other hand, they are easy to adjust—a normal key capstan is used—and their regulation is more stable. Despite the drawbacks I doubt a serious large upright—say upwards of 140 cm (55”)—could be built without using a sticker action.

Unfortunately, to my knowledge no one is building a modern sticker actions. And to do so would require considerable new tooling not just for the sticker mechanism itself but also for the new action brackets that would be required. A manufacturer would have to be seriously committed to the project to invest the money in a product that would probably not sell in large numbers.


Quote:
I don't know much about the mechanics of piano making but if a grand wasn't an option for a pianist (as is the case in many parts of Europe and Asia due to space considerations) wouldn't say a 60" or heck, a 65" upright be less of a compromise at least in terms of sound?

The maximum practical height for an upright pianos is limited by the placement of the action. Beyond some point—which would depend on the mass of the sticker mechanism—the reciprocating mass of the action becomes problematic. There are physical limits to what the human hand and wrist can do.

Other options, of course, exist. Back in the 1970s I modified a large old upright by removing the sticker action components and moving the keyset up by the equivalent distance. The work was for a bar. They wanted (needed) a vertical piano—a grand would not fit—but didn’t want a small piano. After the modification the pianist could sit on a small, raised stage with (usually) a bass and drums to back him/her up with the piano sitting on the floor. A pianist of average height could usually look out over the top of the piano and see the audience.

A similar idea has been taken to an illogical extreme by Klavins (http://www.klavins-pianos.com/). This, of course, dictates a custom, one-off construction. In more practical construction I doubt even a limited production instrument of more than about 148 to 152 cm (58” – 60”) could be built successfully. This would be a pretty tall piano and beyond some (as yet unknown) point folks are just going to find the size intimidating.

If anyone is interested, just let me know...building one-off verticals is some easier than building one-off grands.

ddf
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/25/10 09:05 PM

Thanks for the info Supply!

I kinda have to consider them vertical grands even though they are not really a grand. I consider it, putting MY story and clark in the picture because it has a total height of 57" therefor if put on the ground would be the equivalent of a 4'9 baby grand *excluding the keyboard and such. But seems to produce a tone of something much larger.

But thats just me!

Little Blue Engine- thats a beautiful Steinway! Seems to have a few issues with the top few notes though. wink
Posted by: SeilerFan

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/25/10 09:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T
I kinda have to consider them vertical grands even though they are not really a grand.


These pianos discussed here are not upright grands. However, there are real upright grands, mostly historic, I believe. In German they were called "Giraffenklavier," or giraffe piano. They look like a grands footprint flipped up vertically with an upright action. Maybe the experts on piano history might chime in here.

Posted by: Del

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/25/10 10:16 PM

Originally Posted By: SeilerFan
Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T
I kinda have to consider them vertical grands even though they are not really a grand.


These pianos discussed here are not upright grands. However, there are real upright grands, mostly historic, I believe. In German they were called "Giraffenklavier," or giraffe piano. They look like a grands footprint flipped up vertically with an upright action. Maybe the experts on piano history might chime in here.



They are called "giraffe pianos" in English as well. Interesting pianos. For a while the PTG museum had a relatively modern giraffe piano in its collection. The instrument had been built (if memory serves) in Kentucky during the early 20th century; around 1920 or so. It used a relatively conventional upright action turned around so it was essentially a back-striker.

By definition grands are pianos in which the strings and soundboards are aligned horizontally. Uprights, verticals, etc., are pianos in which the strings and soundboards are aligned vertically. The size of the instrument—whether we’re considering length or height—really has nothing to do with it.

We are each, of course, free to call them whatever we wish. Probably comes under the heading of “free speech.” But calling a donkey a rabbit doesn’t really magically transform a donkey into a rabbit.

ddf
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/25/10 11:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T


Little Blue Engine- thats a beautiful Steinway! Seems to have a few issues with the top few notes though. wink
Thank You!
It's actually a "Gildemeester & Kroeger" but Kroeger worked for Steinway & Sons in New York for some time before starting his own company so I imagine there may be some design similarities. I haven't had the chance to look inside a Steinway yet so I really don't know. What little information I've been able to find on the company suggests they made expensive pianos.

The butts and whippens at the treble end are out right now because I'm cleaning them and replacing the felt, buckskin, bridle straps, etc. I did a small portion just below what I have out now except for the springs. That and learning some basic regulation has made a world of difference in how it plays.
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: Upright grand fans out there? - 01/25/10 11:29 PM

Ah I see! It looks very much like the late 1800s steinways! Even the curving legs! Very steinwayish. I like it! Certainly a beautiful instrument!

I have always found that style of keydesk the best looking! I also like the old english pianos and stuff that had the music rack that hides inside the piano in the top, and you can fold it out.

Thanks for sharing!