What is the worst piano you've every played?

Posted by: aTallGuyNH

What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/06/13 11:23 PM


I'm guessing this will not take off and become a wildly popular thread on the order of AOTW, Rostoky's, and so on. However, I'm hoping it will be a fun counterpoint to all the "I happened to spot a Fazioli at the piano store the other day..." and "there's this great Bösendorfer at work that I play on my lunch hour..." stories that make me green with envy! sick

Please post if you have any war stories, or even better, video or audio evidence!!

Below isn't the worst one I've ever played, it just happens to be the only one for which I have video, because it's mine. Listen for my daughter's reaction in the middle:



I have access to two other truly hideous pianos, I might take videos of those too -- just for yucks. On mine, at least the keys are all intact and the action is OK. The keys are sticking much more lately vs. when this recording was made in mid-December, but it's fine in warmer weather for some reason.
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/06/13 11:27 PM

Very shimmery.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/06/13 11:27 PM

I couldn't listen long enough to get to your daughter's reaction.. haha did you ever get that piano tuned? Ever? laugh

The worst piano I ever played was a piano that had the chance to be a great one. The people who owned it did not take care of it. But the sound board was in tact, and the action was fine. It just needed a tuning, maybe some felt, and a few keys needed a new plate because they had chipped. Really, just some TLC. But because nobody cared for it, it was in such a state of disrepair as to be horrendous to attempt to play.
Posted by: albynism

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/06/13 11:46 PM

I happen to encounter A LOT of bad pianos. They are everywhere. At pubs, in hotels, even in piano shops in used section where the dealer can't be bothered prepping them to the minimum standard. One of the most memorable one during my grade 3 piano exam. I must be around 12 at the time and the examiner was a stern looking lady. I seated myself at this tall old upright, the keys are yellowed and the gaps between the keys are uneven and so huge I was scared my fingers are going to slip through the gap if I miss a key. Anyway she asked me to do some scales and the touch of the keys was uneven that it was so hard to control the evenness of each note. During pieces, I tried to do dynamics but the piano will only allow me to play forte or fortissimo. Nonetheless I got an A for that exam. laugh
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/06/13 11:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
I couldn't listen long enough to get to your daughter's reaction.. haha did you ever get that piano tuned? Ever? laugh

You can skip to 0:50 and listen through 1:05 to get her full reaction. It was hard to keep playing because I was cracking up.

Yes, it was tuned a couple days later. I wanted to record it at the very peak of its awfulness. Naturally, it fell out of tune very quickly given its neglect for that period of time. The frame wants to go back to where it was before. I'm guessing it will take at least a couple more tunings before it will stabilize.

Oh, you meant previous to that? No, not by us anyway. My wife bought it at our church's yard sale nearly 10 years ago. Who knows when it was tuned before then. She bought it because she thought it was a good deal (she was right IMHO, Vose & Sons in decent condition at $100) and that some day we might have a kid who wanted to play. She was right about that as well (it's an annoying habit of hers), but we didn't maintain it in the interim. It's a 1978, so I'm sure it was well cared for over many years until it fell into the hands of us derelicts about 25 years later.

Originally Posted By: Derulux
The worst piano I ever played was a piano that had the chance to be a great one. The people who owned it did not take care of it. But the sound board was in tact, and the action was fine. It just needed a tuning, maybe some felt, and a few keys needed a new plate because they had chipped. Really, just some TLC. But because nobody cared for it, it was in such a state of disrepair as to be horrendous to attempt to play.

Our family has an upright in a summer house that is in a similar state. It's a shame. It's on an island though, so it's extremely difficult to get it serviced. Just getting it tuned is in the $250 to $300 range. It's almost pointless to even do that though since the action is so atrocious and so many of the keys are missing their tops. I've been told it was once (50 years ago maybe) the finest piano on the island. I'd guess there are no more than 12-15 there to begin with, so it's not a tough field. Still, there was a steady stream of visitors who came to play and enjoy hearing it back then. That sort of neglect is sad.
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/06/13 11:54 PM

Originally Posted By: albynism
I happen to encounter A LOT of bad pianos.

I'm not sure I'd agree with "happen to". The reality is that most people/organizations just don't bother to maintain them at all.
Posted by: casinitaly

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 02:08 AM

I haven't actually played that many different pianos.
Mine, my teacher's, the one at the school, a few in piano shops....
However, in July 2010, the first summer after I started playing, we were travelling in France for a wedding and our 25th anniversary. We were staying at a B&B, and in the photos on the website I saw there was a piano! I was so excited.
When we got there I asked if I could play and they said the French equivalent of "Knock yourself out".... however....owwwie.... I don't think it had been tuned in 25 years. When I mentioned to the owner that it was out of tune, he was rather off-hand and uninterested. It was a pity because it was a really sweet upright, it even had candelabra on each side of the music rack.

ah well.
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 02:28 AM

wow, that broke my speakers!! ouchhhh
Posted by: Sam Rose

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 03:04 AM

Here's one for you aTallGuyNH:

Anyone wanna take a guess at what kind of piano this is and why it sounds so awful?

https://www.box.com/s/sogp8s33769v7380b1bn
Posted by: Derulux

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 03:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Sam Rose
Here's one for you aTallGuyNH:

Anyone wanna take a guess at what kind of piano this is and why it sounds so awful?

https://www.box.com/s/sogp8s33769v7380b1bn

It seriously sounds exactly like one of my ex-girlfriend's pianos. Eerily, the only piece I ever remember playing on it was Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu also. shocked

Having a heck of a time remembering what kind of piano it was. I can still picture everything about it, except, of course, the name.


Originally Posted By: aTallGuyNH
Our family has an upright in a summer house that is in a similar state. It's a shame. It's on an island though, so it's extremely difficult to get it serviced. Just getting it tuned is in the $250 to $300 range. It's almost pointless to even do that though since the action is so atrocious and so many of the keys are missing their tops. I've been told it was once (50 years ago maybe) the finest piano on the island. I'd guess there are no more than 12-15 there to begin with, so it's not a tough field. Still, there was a steady stream of visitors who came to play and enjoy hearing it back then. That sort of neglect is sad.

You just reminded me.. the first piano I played on was an old 19th century player piano with its guts ripped out. The thing must have weighed 500 pounds and was impossible to move. The only good thing about it was that the tuning pins held. Everything else was a disaster.

I still remember little 7 year old me putting masking tape on the keys with the notes labeled, so I could learn a piece by heart without lessons. (I had just started trumpet and learned to read treble clef, so I simply counted down from treble to bass.) The piece was Albert Ellmenreich's "The Spinning Song". smile
Posted by: Allard

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 03:25 AM

A year ago I stayed at a villa with a group of friends. There was an upright in the entry hall, right by the door, and another in the large living room. I thought both sounded terrible; I had only ever heard my own digital and the usual concert grands. Turns out, small upright piano's were supposed to sound that way. So ignorant! ha

Still, the one by the entrance had chipped keys, was horribly out of tune (did I mention it was right by the entrance?) and the pedal action was broken. At least the other one was in pretty good shape and one of my friends played beautifully on it.
Posted by: Sam S

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 05:47 AM

My sister-in-law's piano. It's the one she and her sisters took lessons on 50 years ago. The one that her widowed mother sacrificed to buy and pay for the lessons. My sister-in-law inherited it when her mother died and couldn't possible part with this family heirloom.

I don't think it's been tuned in 50 years. When I sat down to play, it felt like I was in an alternate reality. Some of the notes sounded like they had loose rubber bands for strings.

But what can you say at a time like that? I couldn't be honest about how it sounded. She wants to keep the piano to pass on to her grandkids.

Sam
Posted by: jdw

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 07:41 AM

It might be the one I grew up with. The poor thing was damaged by a leak in the ceiling--bass notes were mushy ever after. It had suffered a lot of other abuse too. This may be why I thought I couldn't play dynamics. It held a reasonable tune, though.
Posted by: casinitaly

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 07:56 AM

Originally Posted By: Sam S
My sister-in-law's piano. It's the one she and her sisters took lessons on 50 years ago. The one that her widowed mother sacrificed to buy and pay for the lessons. My sister-in-law inherited it when her mother died and couldn't possible part with this family heirloom.

I don't think it's been tuned in 50 years. When I sat down to play, it felt like I was in an alternate reality. Some of the notes sounded like they had loose rubber bands for strings.

But what can you say at a time like that? I couldn't be honest about how it sounded. She wants to keep the piano to pass on to her grandkids.

Sam

Maybe you should be honest - if she really wants to pass it along, she should start getting it put into shape... sounds like it will take a long time and a lot of work to bring it back to life.
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 08:28 AM

After two weeks on the John Muir Trail we pulled into Red's Meadow near Mammoth Lakes, Calif. We were really looking forward to a beer and hamburgers at the diner.

We walked in, and in a corner was an old upright. It had seen better days. The ivory keys were blackened and grimy, undoubtedly from that big fire 30 years ago. It was probably last tuned when it was delivered, possibly in the '30s judging from the sheet music on the desk.

Let's just say it was a little rough.
Posted by: Peyton

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 09:28 AM

The worst piano I ever played was in Portland Maine about 35 or so years ago. I had just begun art school and the school in those days was in a pretty run down section of town. That first month of school there was a girl I thought was cute and I was definitely interested in getting to know her better. At some point in passing I had mentioned I play piano. One day she came up to me and told me there was an old abandoned house near by that had a piano and would I like to sneak in and play it. So she and I and some other guy named Wayne from the school, headed over there. The door was pretty much off the building. Inside was just destruction, old moldy furniture, holes in the old wood floor. The roof had started leaking years earlier and water was dripping somewhere... It was dark but light poured through the cracked windows. There in the corner was an old upright. I pulled up what was left of a chair and sat down to play. I probably played some bluesy thing or another. It didn't matter because the piano was so beat, out of tune with countless keys sticking or missing nothing short of Cage's ten minutes of silence could have sounded good on it. But I tried.. I had a girl to impress. Then, while in the midst of a dramatic pause, I looked over... and she and Wayne were standing there in one of the beams of light kissing. Ah, a poignant little moment in life, now like an old faded daguerreotype, forever burned into my memory....
Posted by: Ragdoll

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 09:53 AM


Quote:
Below isn't the worst one I've ever played, it just happens to be the only one for which I have video, because it's mine.


Eeewwwww! eek

I guess one of the worst was at one of the local nursing homes. Several missing keytops, and badly out of tune, and a couple keys lower by 1/4" than others. I didn't even want to play then but teacher insisted that all of us play as we would no doubt encounter many pianos not to our liking. So I played At Last, Over the Rainbow and Heart and Soul :::full body shudder::: They seemed to enjoy it though and gave everyone a good round fof applause.
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 11:32 AM

I've encountered many horrific old pianos in my 70 years but the worst one I actually had to play for someone was at a church camp where the buildings never had any heat or air conditioning and the piano had never been tuned within anyone's memory.

Some notes literally actually went the wrong direction in a scale and you could barely tell what music I was trying to play. The unisons were were actually playing different notes.

And yet, there are people who will say that any acoustic piano is better that any digital. I think these people must live in a protected environment.
Posted by: malkin

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 11:45 AM

What if we asked the pianos: Who's the worst player that ever played you?
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 12:01 PM

Sorry, Peyton, but that was funny.
Posted by: Saranoya

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 01:31 PM

I know of, and have played, a fair number of terrible pianos. I think the one that takes the cake is at an apartment building owned by my grandparents, which is empty and therefore poorly heated most of the time. It hasn't been played, much less tuned, in at least ten years. As a result, it sounds predictably terrible. It also has a fair number of sticky keys.

The piano was bought for me by my other pair of grandparents when I was about six years old. I got some lessons from a nun with rheumatoid arthritis (read: terrible piano technique), and played my first tunes by ear on that piano (as I recall, the very first one was 'Te Deum'). It was probably the cheapest piano money could buy at the time, and it had had at least four previous owners. I imagine its former life was that of a honky-tonk in some smokey working class bar of the thirties.

I played on that thing for about six months before the nun with rheumatoid arthritis decided she couldn't teach anymore. Had another go at ten years old, with a teacher who didn't try very hard to challenge me, because my mother had written him a letter that said I was a child with 'limited potential'. Stopped again when she sent me to a boarding school for disabled kids a few months after that.

My final (and, probably, first 'serious') attempt at learning to play while still vaguely young enough to foster hopeless aspirations of becoming a famous pianist some day was at age fifteen. At that point, I decided that the old honky-tonk (even after a few tunings) just wouldn't do anymore. With my first summer job money, I bought a Roland digital which, in comparison to its predecessor, sounded heavenly to me. Sadly, I had to stop again at sixteen, due to several prolonged hospitalizations, and other drama in my life.

The honky-tonk was banished to the empty apartment building, where it still stands today. Its condition has only gotten worse. But it was and will always be my first piano. I have a soft spot for it somewhere in my heart.

Interestingly, I've been playing a piano of a make and model very similar to the honky-tonk's these past few days, as I went around Brussels looking for places to practice, now that I don't have a piano at home anymore. It is tuned and in reasonable condition, and doesn't sound half-bad to my ears.

With regards to the 'any acoustic sounds better than any digital' meme, though, I have to say this: I've been spoiled by my Roland RD-150, which is a 'mere' entry-level digital stage piano, but sounds way better than many other digitals I've played, and, as I discovered recently, has soured me on the sound of most acoustic uprights, even when brand-new and well-tuned. The RD-150 was sampled on a concert grand, and when I visited the piano store last week, I noticed that the jumble of sounds locked inside the cabinet of an upright just doesn't do it for me anymore.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 10:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Sam Rose
Here's one for you aTallGuyNH:

Anyone wanna take a guess at what kind of piano this is and why it sounds so awful?

https://www.box.com/s/sogp8s33769v7380b1bn


I'm guessing that..it is at least a hundred years old, over damped and not been tuned in ages. Poor thing might have been exposed to damp as well.

But oddly....I like it as I love this Chopin impromptu- for me it brings up images of the poor and suffering of the C 19th ( probably because the first time I heard it I was reading about Victorian slums/life in those hard times etc)and the piano almost sounds like a ghost from the past ( not in a bad way either).

But then...I am probably wrong as I have recollections of you posting a before tuning and after tuning of your piano a few months ago?

Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 10:15 PM

Worst pianos I've played? Seen a few poor old neglected pianos- the worst one was left in a garden ( having been "rescued" from the road) and had keys falling off, warped and cracked lid, sodden strings etc. The woman who found it thought it might be able to be repaired. laugh!!!
Posted by: Derulux

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/07/13 10:45 PM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
Worst pianos I've played? Seen a few poor old neglected pianos- the worst one was left in a garden ( having been "rescued" from the road) and had keys falling off, warped and cracked lid, sodden strings etc. The woman who found it thought it might be able to be repaired. laugh!!!

Sure, if you replace every single piece, every string, all the felt, the frame, the soundboard...
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 02:28 AM

My worst was at the church where they have the local elections. No-name spinet with the tops of many of the black keys broken off. I tried pressing the keys that usually result in something like Porter's "Night and Day", but that's not what came out, even from the ones that worked.
Posted by: Sam Rose

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 03:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

It seriously sounds exactly like one of my ex-girlfriend's pianos. Eerily, the only piece I ever remember playing on it was Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu also.

Having a heck of a time remembering what kind of piano it was. I can still picture everything about it, except, of course, the name.


Sorry I've reminded you of your ex frown
I think you'll be surprised at what it is...

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano


I'm guessing that..it is at least a hundred years old, over damped and not been tuned in ages. Poor thing might have been exposed to damp as well.

But oddly....I like it as I love this Chopin impromptu- for me it brings up images of the poor and suffering of the C 19th ( probably because the first time I heard it I was reading about Victorian slums/life in those hard times etc)and the piano almost sounds like a ghost from the past ( not in a bad way either).

But then...I am probably wrong as I have recollections of you posting a before tuning and after tuning of your piano a few months ago?



Ha! You remembered! I posted this here because it's amazing what neglect can make a piano sound like. This is a Yamaha C3 from the early 90s. I recorded this after I had it brought home a few months ago. The first owners had never tuned the thing, in almost 20 years of ownership. When I played it at their house, they were sitting around listening as if it sounded good! I was trying to ignore the sound and imagine what it would sound like when tuned and regulated. And oh BOY, is it lovely now laugh

Moral of the story: take care of your piano! A good piano that's neglected will sound awful, just like this one did.
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 04:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Sam Rose
This is a Yamaha C3 from the early 90s. I recorded this after I had it brought home a few months ago. The first owners had never tuned the thing, in almost 20 years of ownership. When I played it at their house, they were sitting around listening as if it sounded good! I was trying to ignore the sound and imagine what it would sound like when tuned and regulated. And oh BOY, is it lovely now laugh

Moral of the story: take care of your piano! A good piano that's neglected will sound awful, just like this one did.

Wow... I never would have guessed that this was such a young piano! Can we hear an "after" for comparison?
Posted by: peterws

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 04:36 AM

a ha I`ve played a few o` those in pubs wi the band; mic stuffed down the back . . .Actually that piano wouldn`t sound bad tuned up. And it`s a nice compact size; love the styling!

Worst in tune piano this side o` the pond was a Danneman . . my wife`s music teacher had one. I played it, and lied through me teeth to her face . . . it was dull and lifeless.
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 09:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Sorry, Peyton, but that was funny.

Definitely... a great story, and well delivered.
Posted by: contrapiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 11:59 AM

The worst "piano" I ever played was a very small electronic keyboard about 2 or 3 octaves long with smaller and closer than standard keys.

Other than that a broken sustain pedal is the most difficult thing for me to adjust to on bad pianos.
Posted by: Strings & Wood

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 06:48 PM

Great story, Peyton! Life can be a sharp poke in the eye. Perhaps, you should have hung in there a bit longer. Get rid of Wayne, find a decent piano, and I am sure things would have turned out better. But, then again maybe not. Who knows?

At least you have this great story.
Posted by: Arghhh

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 06:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
After two weeks on the John Muir Trail we pulled into Red's Meadow near Mammoth Lakes, Calif. We were really looking forward to a beer and hamburgers at the diner.

We walked in, and in a corner was an old upright. It had seen better days. The ivory keys were blackened and grimy, undoubtedly from that big fire 30 years ago. It was probably last tuned when it was delivered, possibly in the '30s judging from the sheet music on the desk.

Let's just say it was a little rough.



Hey! I heard that piano, but didn't play it as I was passing through Red's Meadow on my Pacific Crest Trail trek. I don't recall it sounding that bad, so it must get at least some attention.

There are a few pianos in the practice rooms at my university that are terrible. The worst have the lower few octaves that continue to sustain after playing the keys, and I'm sure all of them have spit on the keys from the other wind instrumentalists playing over them.


And, this is OT, but does anyone else think that acoustics sound weird after playing a lot on a digital? This Christmas break I played on my dad's digital piano for a couple weeks. And then the first 10 minutes or so that I resumed playing on an acoustic piano I thought there was a lot of extra resonance/noise coming from the piano. After those first few minutes I didn't notice it anymore and kind of thought my my brain started filtering out those extra sounds.
Posted by: Peyton

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/08/13 06:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Strings & Wood
Great story, Peyton! Life can be a sharp poke in the eye. Perhaps, you should have hung in there a bit longer. Get rid of Wayne, find a decent piano, and I am sure things would have turned out better. But, then again maybe not. Who knows?

At least you have this great story.


smile

I heard a quote once that I like. "God made man because he likes a good story." If that's true He sure gets his share....
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/09/13 05:01 AM

Well, I guess it depends how you look at it. If you have no piano to play, you have nothing. If the only piano you have to play has missing keys, out of tune, then you make due with what you have.
Posted by: AimeeO

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/09/13 01:44 PM

A certain establishment in downtown New Orleans had a smaller grand sitting outside in November-December a year back, and they had it painted with one of their logos. It sounded atrocious. I passed it every day on my way to and from work, and it made me so sad that they would be so mean to that poor piano.
They were also trying to promote an upscale event they were holding, and it gave me insight about that company's appearances and their actual reality grin
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 05:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
Worst pianos I've played? Seen a few poor old neglected pianos- the worst one was left in a garden ( having been "rescued" from the road) and had keys falling off, warped and cracked lid, sodden strings etc. The woman who found it thought it might be able to be repaired. laugh!!!

Sure, if you replace every single piece, every string, all the felt, the frame, the soundboard...


Indeed Derulux- she is an eccentric, bit spacey artist who likes to rescue old pianos in the hope they can just be "tuned" and work again. I took a piano tech to meet her- to give her the sad news- she in fact had 2 of them- at least one was in an old coach house and not in the garden! I think she knew the one in the garden had had it but the one in the garage she still had hopes for. We told her to use it as an art installation. It's sad when pianos come to the end of their lives.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 05:32 PM

Originally Posted By: AimeeO
A certain establishment in downtown New Orleans had a smaller grand sitting outside in November-December a year back, and they had it painted with one of their logos. It sounded atrocious. I passed it every day on my way to and from work, and it made me so sad that they would be so mean to that poor piano.
They were also trying to promote an upscale event they were holding, and it gave me insight about that company's appearances and their actual reality grin


Pianos should be cared for!
Posted by: ThePianistWay

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 05:37 PM

In my Winter Recital, I had to play in a electric piano whose support was not very good and the whole piano shook :S It was horrible and to make the things worse I was super nervous =/
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 05:39 PM

Quote:
Ha! You remembered! I posted this here because it's amazing what neglect can make a piano sound like. This is a Yamaha C3 from the early 90s. I recorded this after I had it brought home a few months ago. The first owners had never tuned the thing, in almost 20 years of ownership. When I played it at their house, they were sitting around listening as if it sounded good! I was trying to ignore the sound and imagine what it would sound like when tuned and regulated. And oh BOY, is it lovely now laugh

Moral of the story: take care of your piano! A good piano that's neglected will sound awful, just like this one did.


Yes I do- I remember you posted a link to playing your piano after tuning- cannot remember where the post is- can you point me to it?

Interesting how it sounded very old even though it isn't!

I'm glad it has a happy home with you!
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 05:43 PM

Originally Posted By: aTallGuyNH

I'm guessing this will not take off and become a wildly popular thread on the order of AOTW, Rostoky's, and so on. However, I'm hoping it will be a fun counterpoint to all the "I happened to spot a Fazioli at the piano store the other day..." and "there's this great Bösendorfer at work that I play on my lunch hour..." stories that make me green with envy! sick

Please post if you have any war stories, or even better, video or audio evidence!!

Below isn't the worst one I've ever played, it just happens to be the only one for which I have video, because it's mine. Listen for my daughter's reaction in the middle:



I have access to two other truly hideous pianos, I might take videos of those too -- just for yucks. On mine, at least the keys are all intact and the action is OK. The keys are sticking much more lately vs. when this recording was made in mid-December, but it's fine in warmer weather for some reason.


I hope piano keeps its tuning and settles in!
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 06:40 PM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
I hope piano keeps its tuning and settles in!

Thanks. So far it hasn't fared all that well since the initial tuning. There were a couple sour notes after just a couple weeks, which was disappointing. Definitely not the tuner's fault though. Now at 7 weeks post-tuning, it doesn't sound very good, but it is still an awful lot better than the video posted above.

I'm planning to have it tuned again May, hopefully timed nicely for ABFR #30, but we'll see.

It's one thing to tune it and have it sound good for a few days or a couple weeks. The real test will be to see how it does after its 3rd tuning. That's where I figure I'll have my answer re: if it's going to be serviceable over the long term or not.

If it sticks, I'll post an "after" video. I'm hoping Sam S will do that too. smile
Posted by: gooddog

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 07:17 PM

I'm going to relate a story that is not mine, but was told with great hilarity by my Russian piano teacher. He speaks with a thick, rumbling Russian accent and we had all had a few glasses of wine which added to the laughter. Many years ago, after he had earned a bachelor's degree from a Novosibirsk conservatory, the refined and educated Alexei was obligated to serve in the Soviet army. He was stationed at a bleak and cold place on the Chinese border. Conditions were harsh and he missed his music and his former life.

His superior officer, an unpleasant and cruel man who knew nothing about music, had purchased a used upright piano for his granddaughter. When he bought it, he was told it was an excellent instrument and he paid a high price for it. The officer heard that Alexei was a musician and called him into his office. He growled that the "new" piano was broken and implied that it was Alexei's fault. He then ordered Alexei to fix the piano immediately. Alexei was terrified because he had no idea how to fix a piano but he had to obey a direct order.

Upon opening the fallboard of the dilapidated upright, Alexei observed that most of the ivories were missing from the keys. "Uh, oh. Thees eees not loooking so good." When he sat down to play, there was no sound whatsoever. Perplexed, he opened the piano to discover this "excellent instrument" did not have single string. Horrified, he wondered how he was going to obey a direct order from his martinet-like officer. There was no way he could contradict the officer by stating the piano was a piece of junk. (By now, we were all laughing our heads off). Upon closer inspection, he found that the base of the piano was filled with what appeared to be a large rat's nest. He then discovered that the nest contained little hairless baby rats and the parents had eaten most of the piano felt.

I wish you could have been there when he related this story because it was hilarious and yes, he did fix the piano, went on to earn a masters degree in conducting and immigrated to the U.S.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 07:23 PM

Not a piano, but a little pedal organ. It was in the little unused Victorian chapel on the campus of Winthrop University. It was derelict, and I was lucky to even get a wheeze or two out of it but I did manage to pick out a tune or two. That was when I was a seventeen year old kid who'd try anything.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 07:42 PM

Originally Posted By: aTallGuyNH
Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
I hope piano keeps its tuning and settles in!

Thanks. So far it hasn't fared all that well since the initial tuning. There were a couple sour notes after just a couple weeks, which was disappointing. Definitely not the tuner's fault though. Now at 7 weeks post-tuning, it doesn't sound very good, but it is still an awful lot better than the video posted above.

I'm planning to have it tuned again May, hopefully timed nicely for ABFR #30, but we'll see.

It's one thing to tune it and have it sound good for a few days or a couple weeks. The real test will be to see how it does after its 3rd tuning. That's where I figure I'll have my answer re: if it's going to be serviceable over the long term or not.

If it sticks, I'll post an "after" video. I'm hoping Sam S will do that too. smile


I do hope it hangs in there aTallGuyNH! I think Sam did post an after somewhere a few months ago but where on the forum I cannot remember. Hope he jogs my memory!

Deb- Alexei sounds very skilled!!!
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 07:45 PM

Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Not a piano, but a little pedal organ. It was in the little unused Victorian chapel on the campus of Winthrop University. It was derelict, and I was lucky to even get a wheeze or two out of it but I did manage to pick out a tune or two. That was when I was a seventeen year old kid who'd try anything.


Aww I can just picture it going huff huff.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 07:52 PM

I just found it aTallGuy!

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1975399/Re:%20Help!%20I%27ve%20got%20piano%20acqui.html#Post1975399
Posted by: gooddog

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/10/13 09:35 PM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
Deb- Alexei sounds very skilled!!!
He was a marvelous teacher and I learned a tremendous amount from him. He was also a great story teller. I stopped taking lessons from him a few years ago and moved on to a teacher with higher level piano skills, but I will always remember Alexei with deep respect and affection. Sadly, he took my leaving him personally and cut off contact.
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/11/13 12:45 AM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
I just found it aTallGuy!

Wow! What a dramatic difference.
Posted by: Sam Rose

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/11/13 02:37 AM

I was hoping you guys wouldn't find it and I could post a better recording when I had the time. The playing in those recordings is awful. But you can still hear the dramatic difference the tuning made. It doesn't sound like the same instrument at all.
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/11/13 06:50 AM

Originally Posted By: Sam Rose
I was hoping you guys wouldn't find it and I could post a better recording when I had the time. The playing in those recordings is awful. But you can still hear the dramatic difference the tuning made. It doesn't sound like the same instrument at all.

I aspire to be as awful as you some day.... smile
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/11/13 07:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Sam Rose
I was hoping you guys wouldn't find it and I could post a better recording when I had the time. The playing in those recordings is awful. But you can still hear the dramatic difference the tuning made. It doesn't sound like the same instrument at all.


Sam- awful??? I wish I was that GOOD! I could not even play a bar of this music. And you had got to that stage in a year. In a year I am still plonking below grade 1 pieces. I don't think you realise how talented you are!
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/12/13 08:09 PM

Originally Posted By: aTallGuyNH
It's one thing to tune it and have it sound good for a few days or a couple weeks. The real test will be to see how it does after its 3rd tuning.


Ask your tuner if it would help to use ethyl cyanoacrylate on the pins, perhaps just the loose ones.
Posted by: Peyton

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/12/13 08:55 PM

Deborah, what a funny story. Sounds like he's lucky the officer didn't just have him lined up and shot.
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/12/13 11:41 PM

Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
Originally Posted By: aTallGuyNH
It's one thing to tune it and have it sound good for a few days or a couple weeks. The real test will be to see how it does after its 3rd tuning.


Ask your tuner if it would help to use ethyl cyanoacrylate on the pins, perhaps just the loose ones.

Glueing the pins?? I've never heard of this... it strikes me as an approach that would invariably present problems down the road, but what do I know.

Regardless, they are not loose, it's just the nature of the beast when it is as out of tune as you can hear in the video above. In order to tune it, an enormous amount of pressure must be applied to the frame of the piano (a ton was the estimate I was given), and it's going to be pulling back to where it was before. Even if you weld the pins in place, it's not going to keep the piano in tune.
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/13/13 03:05 AM

Originally Posted By: aTallGuyNH
[Ask your tuner if it would help to use ethyl cyanoacrylate on the pins, perhaps just the loose ones.

Glueing the pins?? I've never heard of this... [/quote]

Search for cyanoacrylate in the technicians forum. It's far better than previous pinblock chemical treatments. It gets years of extra life out of pianos that would otherwise be junked. There's a high probability that it would help those few strings that go south the fastest.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/13/13 08:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Peyton
Deborah, what a funny story. Sounds like he's lucky the officer didn't just have him lined up and shot.
laugh
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: What is the worst piano you've every played? - 02/18/13 03:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Arghhh

Hey! I heard that piano, but didn't play it as I was passing through Red's Meadow on my Pacific Crest Trail trek. I don't recall it sounding that bad, so it must get at least some attention.


Maybe there should be a pianos on the PCT thread.

We just did a four day hike to finish Section E. After we finished, we went into Tehachapi for lunch. We were hungry!
We stopped at the Tehachapi Museum which has a very good exhibit of Indian basketry for a small unfunded museum.

They also have a restored house with an old Ludwig upright. Surprisingly, the docent said, "Sure, it works. Sit down a play if you want."

It needed a tuning, but actually, it wasn't far off. It was at least close to being in tune to itself. The action was not bad, it had nice dynamics and the ivory keys were in pretty good shape.

It was not a bad piano at all.