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#625116 - 07/18/07 07:49 PM Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
ammonihah99 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 6
My wife and I recently inherited a very large and very old upright Geo P Bent Crown piano from one of her aunts. It's in very bad physical exterior condition, as you can see from the attached photos, but it doesn't play bad. Some of the hammers are missing and one or two keys have a twang, but other than that it sounds fine to me.

We didn't pay anything for it, but would like to keep it because it was a gift and my wife likes the shabby chic painted look. I abhor it and would love to finish it, but that's another topic.

So I would like to know a little bit more about this piano if possible. I found a website that said that based on the serial number (59584) it was made between 1910 and 1915. Is it a special piano? Is it rare or valuable?

I would also like to get a tech out and repair the hammers and was curious if you guys could help me out. This is my first piano, I can play a little, but I have no idea even what questions to ask. What kind of an estimate would I be looking at for a complete repair of the hammers and to tune it? I don't care about what it looks like right now I just want a nice sounding piano. Maybe later I would be interested in a full restoration.

Thanks for your help,

Ammon
Mesa, AZ

P.S. I am amazed at the ingenuity of the designers of this piano. I can nearly take the whole case apart! I love it!






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#625117 - 07/18/07 08:03 PM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21271
Loc: Oakland
I am afraid that it is neither rare nor valuable, except to you. You could buy a decent new upright for what it would cost to have even part of the restoration done on it.

I could not give an estimate on repairing the hammers. If the old hammer heads are still in the piano, then it would be less expensive than trying to match odd hammers to the piano. Similarly, one cannot tell how badly out of tune it is without listening to it.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#625118 - 07/18/07 08:30 PM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1464
Loc: Old Hangtown California
I have found that when I get calls to work on old uprights in similar condition that I can usually get a client to hire me for a full day.
The idea being to get it tuned and playing.
This would include leveling keys and going through the rough regulation steps and trying to address the critical repairs related to playing only.
First I advise them to let it go - which appears to be what has been done to this piano for many years.
One day of my labor costs more than the piano will ever be worth.
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

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#625119 - 07/18/07 11:06 PM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
Sam Casey Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1135
Loc: SW Missouri
I must disagree with my esteemed fellow techs. I have worked on and reconditioned many old Crown pianos. They were a very expensive piano when made, usually with fine veneer and a very big sound. The Crowns I have run into are usually above average in condition for their age. If the pins are fairly tight and bridges and board in reasonable shape the piano can sound astounding with some investment. Get more than one techs opinion and estimate.

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#625120 - 07/19/07 11:59 AM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
R Barber Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/05
Posts: 141
Loc: Morgan Hill, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by ammonihah99:
My wife and I recently inherited a very large and very old upright Geo P Bent Crown piano from one of her aunts. .......[/b]
If it has some serious sentimental value, you might want to keep it.

 Quote:
..... I don't care about what it looks like right now I just want a nice sounding piano. Maybe later I would be interested in a full restoration. [/b]
Ugly. If you just want a nice sounding piano, you might save a lot of money by going with a more modern instrument. However if you need to have this piano sounding and playing nice, and you think it will be restored in the future, consider doing it now instead of spending on the incidental repairs. I've read some good things on the pianotech mailing list about the Bent Crown, some rebuilders love the instrument.
post on pianotech regarding Geo Bent Crown
Your repair bill could be several hundred dollars, and your restoration bill would be in the several thousands.

 Quote:
......
P.S. I am amazed at the ingenuity of the designers of this piano. I can nearly take the whole case apart! I love it!
.....
[/b]
The important thing is that you love it, so it's going to be meaningful for you to either take care of it, or put it out of its misery!
_________________________
Richard Barber, piano technician
Santa Clara Valley, CA
tune@pianoregulation.com

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#625121 - 07/20/07 12:41 AM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
fourthgenerationpianorestoration Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 115
Loc: Brewster Cape Cod Mass
your piano was made in 1913,at 289 wabash ave in Chicago later crowns were made by winter on walnut st in new york.I find the case work interesting,the top of the front board has carvings that were done by hand of course and the rest of the case was probably mahogany.I have seen some of these pianos with rosewood when I restored them.You inherited the piano so it realy depends on your desire to restore it and keep it in the family so to speak.The tuning pins don't look like they have fallen much or it could have been restrung in the past.I note the nickel plated tuning pins.Most were blued back then if not all treated in some way.
The finish under that paint job will probably suprise you in a very good way!
are the ivories original? The action might cost about $900 that includes all new hammers and felts and back checks.
I restore these old piano's and find the value is in the antiquity not the present.In 1913 the piano was most likely sold for $500 to $600 new.A tuning back then cost two dollars.
Prices I charge for are as follows.
Refinishing $1500 to $1800 depending on desired finish.With available decals
Restringing $1500.. Action $800 to$900..
your around $3000 to $4000 if all are done.
Is it worth it .That needs to be answered by you and you alone because it is your money.Will the piano be of the same value as a new one ? Show me a new piano the same size and workmanship with real wood vaneer made of Brazilian rosewood or Hondorase Mahogany and then mabe,but then youl probably spend $20,000 + for that.
My advise is to enjoy it .fix it to a playable condition and enjoy what you have.
_________________________
Jeffrey T. Swensen
35 years doing restorations
Tuning,Moving,Actions,Refinishing,
Restringing, Estimates,Players
jeffreyswensen@comcast.net

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#625122 - 07/20/07 01:30 AM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21271
Loc: Oakland
Well, this particular piano is walnut, as you can see from the photo with the decal, and you can buy walnut pianos now, usually for just slightly more than black. $900 for an action is way less than you can expect to pay for a good job. Parts alone are close to that, without labor. I do not feel you can do a good job without replacing all the springs, including the hammer butt springs, and that is a lot of work.

I am not saying not to do it. But it is a big job, and it is difficult to find people who can do the job adequately. There are plenty of people who will do a so-so job, and there are a few who will leave the piano worse than it was when you got it. The economics are not there at all. You have to do it out of pure sentimental love for it, and not think that you are getting a bargain, or that it makes any economic sense at all, for that matter. You need to be able to take the risk. Deep pockets would help.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#625123 - 07/20/07 02:42 PM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
ammonihah99 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 6
Thank you so much for all of your responses. I really appreciate your expertise.

I only included a photo of the hammers on the right; there are two hammers right in the middle that matter more to me than the ones on the rght. I never get up that high on the right.

Would it be possible to just replace the hammers that are missing, as has been done before, as evidenced in the photos? $1000 would be too much to put into it right now, but if I could just replace the two hammers in the middle and get it tuned, I think I could be satisfied temporarily. What would be a typical estimate per hammer to be replaced? I am not looking for concert quality right now, I just want something functional to teach my kids.

Also how much does a typical tuning cost?

Thanks again,

Ammon
Mesa, AZ

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#625124 - 07/20/07 02:49 PM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
ammonihah99 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 6
Oh and I don't know if the keys are the original ivory, it looks like they were replaced at one time. I read that ivory has grain similar to wood, and these keys don't have any grain.

I'll post some more pics of the action and keys and whatnot, just for fun.

Thanks,

Ammon
Mesa, AZ

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#625125 - 07/20/07 03:47 PM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21271
Loc: Oakland
I have my big box o' hammers, and I suspect others do as well. If someone replaces them at $10-20 each when done with tuning, that could be a good price, but I am not familiar with the market in your area.

An experienced tech is more likely to have a variety of hammers than a newer one.

As you can see, this will very quickly get to the point where you could have bought a much newer (admittedly without the possibilities as a piece of furniture) piano for less than what you will put into this one. I regularly see decent consoles and even studios for under $1000, and occasionally under $500. Something like that would be better for the kids to learn on.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#625126 - 07/20/07 07:41 PM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
ammonihah99 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 6
After learning so much about pianos and more specifically antique pianos, I think I would prefer to go that route. However, it was a gift and my wife will likely never part with it, and it seems that having two pianos in a small home is a bit ridiculous, so I'll see what I can do with my limited resources.

One more question that might not necessarily apply to this forum: How can I tell how old the paint is, more specifically if it is lead-based paint? I have young children that tend to chew on bits of anything if laid about and this paint is chipping badly. Should that be a cause for concern?

Thanks again,

Ammon
Mesa, AZ

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#625127 - 07/20/07 07:49 PM Re: Geo P Bent Crown piano (photos)
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21271
Loc: Oakland
I think you can get lead tests from the hardware store. There is no way to tell otherwise. The piano was originally a walnut finish, as I said.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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