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#27979 - 08/20/04 08:56 AM Evaluating rebuilt pianos and who did the work
monalisa Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 4
Loc: Medford, Oregon
I am new here--great forum--and have simple but naive questions: How does a non-piano expert go about evaluating rebuilt pianos and how does one figure out if the person who rebuilt did a good job and knows what he or she is doing?

Also, how does one find a third-party technician who is also good to hire to help evaluate when one is purchasing out of town and doesn't have contacts?

I have been studying THE PIANO BOOK, but still don't feel qualified to take apart a piano and look for myself.

Could a rebuilder/dealer feasibly stay in business for 2 generations without being any good?

Thanks for all of your help!
Lisa

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#27980 - 08/20/04 01:23 PM Re: Evaluating rebuilt pianos and who did the work
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
 Quote:
Could a rebuilder/dealer feasibly stay in business for 2 generations without being any good?
the short answer? ... yes

That is of course not to say that the rebuilder in question isn't good, but the sad fact is that many people are incapable of discerning good rebuilding work from bad, and many rebuilders do cheap work and stay in business for a long long time.

I don't know how a non-piano expert can tell this. This is one reason I feel that trusting the person you work with is so important. How can you learn about scale design, and soundboard construction? How can you in a few weeks learn what a good rebuild and what a bad rebuild look like? When an action has all of it's parts replaced, how can you the non-piano expert know whether they were replaced properly? The capstan screw line being off 1.5mm can drastically affect the performance of the action for the worse. But how would you ever know that? It has new parts, everything looks clean and properly alligned...
Same goes for finding a technician.
I would ask people who seem to have high standards in other areas of life. Find someone whose judgement you trust in other areas, and ask them who they recommend as a piano technician. This may be a teacher or a professor, but someone who is not just good, but strives to be the best.
Have that technician look at the rebuilds you're considering.
That's one way to do it.

But I still recommend finding someone you trust implicitly, and take their word for it.

Finally, let your ears and hands be the judge. Does the piano play like a truck? It shouldn't...
Does it sound unneven across all registers?
It shouldn't...
How does it perform? Does it feel consistent at different velocities from note to note?
It should....

Good luck! \:\)
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#27981 - 08/20/04 01:37 PM Re: Evaluating rebuilt pianos and who did the work
Rich Galassini Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 10175
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
KB,

Good post.

Lisa,

First of all, if you play well, let your fingers do the walking. Ask questions on what was done, how it was done, and why it was done. Play as many examples of the techs. work as possible. Then find a tech. that is unaffiliated and have him check out the piano.

If the piano passes your muster and an independent techs., you are most likely safe. Check into the warranty policy of the rebuilder and perhaps ask for other customers as references.

Good Luck in the search. Keep us posted,
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#27982 - 08/24/04 08:00 PM Re: Evaluating rebuilt pianos and who did the work
monalisa Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 4
Loc: Medford, Oregon
Thanks for your advice. I am hoping to find a good technician in hopes of doing independent evaluations of the pianos I like so far. I don't really know and trust (the way you describe implicit trust) anyone in the area I am trying to look in--it's several hours from my home town.

What about choosing a rebuilt over new? Is this a wise choice in a great brand piano, or is new piano always better for it's longevity etc.?

One dealer told me that he thought a concert pianist would typically choose new over rebuilt because of more liveliness (maybe not his exact word) or life of a new piano might still be more pronounced than in a rebuilt same-caliber brand choice. What do you think of this--truth or no?

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#27983 - 08/24/04 08:26 PM Re: Evaluating rebuilt pianos and who did the work
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1108
Loc: El Cajon, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by monalisa:
What about choosing a rebuilt over new? Is this a wise choice in a great brand piano, or is new piano always better for it's longevity etc.?

One dealer told me that he thought a concert pianist would typically choose new over rebuilt because of more liveliness (maybe not his exact word) or life of a new piano might still be more pronounced than in a rebuilt same-caliber brand choice. What do you think of this--truth or no? [/b]
A fine old piano may lose power in the treble and still sound great in the bass. The worst mistake you can make is to fall in love with the tone of part of the scale and buy the piano thinking that your new found piano expert can make the whole scale sound as good.

Only consider a rebuild if it sounds right and plays right over the entire scale. Anything that is fixable should have been fixed before you were allowed to play it.

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