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#1996617 - 12/08/12 10:08 PM Newer vertical or old rebuilt "extra tall"
Mac H Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/02/12
Posts: 4
Hey All,

I have noticed that most high quality makes of vertical piano seem to top out at 52”, with some exceptions. Is this in fact the case? Why is this? I have always heard that bigger is better, but have technology or quality advances made it unnecessary to go taller than 52”?

I have a 58” “Crown” piano, from the George Bent Co. of Chicago, circa 1910, which sounds pretty good to my ear, with a very nice full bass, but it's showing it's age. Is there any special merit to reconditioning or rebuilding a “tall” piano such as this, that will allow me to get a sound as good or better than “good” modern pianos around 52”? Would a modern (used) 52” Sauter or Bechstein in good condition “always” give a better sound, or can a solid, tall vintage piano be “brought up” to a high standard, equal to pianos such as these?

I'd very much appreciate any experiences you've have rebuilding or working on rebuilt tall (58+) vintage pianos, and any information you might have about George Bent pianos.

Thanks!

Mac

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#1997012 - 12/09/12 05:05 PM Re: Newer vertical or old rebuilt "extra tall" [Re: Mac H]
Ed A. Hall Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 442
Originally Posted By: Mac H

Is there any special merit to reconditioning or rebuilding a “tall” piano such as this, that will allow me to get a sound as good or better than “good” modern pianos around 52”? Would a modern (used) 52” Sauter or Bechstein in good condition “always” give a better sound, or can a solid, tall vintage piano be “brought up” to a high standard, equal to pianos such as these?



Yes, a solid tall vintage piano can be brought up to a very high standard. However it'll take a lot more than reconditioning to get it there. Also, the ISSUE is that the cost to put this kind of work into it will exceed what you probably could ever resell the piano for. On the other hand, you would have a very nice piano that you could keep in the family for many more years.


Originally Posted By: Mac H

I have noticed that most high quality makes of vertical piano seem to top out at 52”, with some exceptions. Is this in fact the case? Why is this? I have always heard that bigger is better, but have technology or quality advances made it unnecessary to go taller than 52”?


Probably because big tall pianos fell out of favor. People were even cutting down their tall pianos and installing mirrors on them to make them look smaller.

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#1997146 - 12/09/12 11:06 PM Re: Newer vertical or old rebuilt "extra tall" [Re: Ed A. Hall]
Mac H Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/02/12
Posts: 4
Hi Ed,

Thanks for the info. So, the return on investment is not an issue, as we expect to keep the piano for a long time, if we can get it to a satisfactory level of sonic performance. Also, we are quite fond of it's "late Victorian" style, which I imagine is harder to find in modern german pianos.

When you say it will take more than reconditioning, what is generally needed for verticals of this vintage? I can imagine restringing the bass (there is about an octave of "tubby, muted" strings in the mid-base, not horrible, but noticable). Is there a standard list of things that are typically done on these? Which do you suppose would have the biggest payback in terms of improved sound?

Also, are there any substantial changes which might yield a "sonically unpleasant" result? I can imagine, as with a guitar, that changing the strings might make things overly bright, or some-such. I think of parallels with "remodeling" an old house, and ruining it architecturally. I just want to proceed cautiously, with as good an understanding as possible.

Thanks again. This is great site, and there seems to be a lot of knowledge on it!

Mac

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#1997153 - 12/09/12 11:33 PM Re: Newer vertical or old rebuilt "extra tall" [Re: Mac H]
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1187
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
It sort of depends on how many years you intend to use it. If you are looking for a piano to ding around on for another 10-15 years, you can look at it one way. If you want to pass it down two or three generations again, it will undoubtedly need much more, up to and including complete rebuilding/re-manufacturing.

We have a tall upright player piano in the shop leaving us this coming week to go back home. There was absolutely nothing it did NOT need including disassembling the back frame and re-gluing/reinforcing it, replacing the pinblock, installing a new soundboard, bridge reconstruction, action replacement, refinishing, etc.

Was it worth it? The customer thought so even though for the same money you could purchase a new S&S upright. It's now a fabulous piano but he will never get the money back out of it should he desire to sell it. He knew this upfront but went forward with the project. The nice cabinet and the fact that it was a player that he wants to keep and enjoy was more important in this case. A similar quality European piano, new, but with out the lovely case would probably run close to $30K.

The point is, a piano will die from old age at some point. You either bury it or start over and build a new piano in the old case.

As to the 58" dilemna, above 52" the action starts to require the use of stickers to bridge the gap between the capstans and the whippen cushion. For some reason this system went out of favor. Perhaps because of the depression when everyone was shrinking the size of their instruments. There is no good reason this system could not be used.
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#1997410 - 12/10/12 03:24 PM Re: Newer vertical or old rebuilt "extra tall" [Re: Dale Fox]
Olek Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 9230
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Dale Fox

As to the 58" dilemna, above 52" the action starts to require the use of stickers to bridge the gap between the capstans and the whippen cushion. For some reason this system went out of favor. Perhaps because of the depression when everyone was shrinking the size of their instruments. There is no good reason this system could not be used.


I have seen them replaced by long dowels, with a flat head screw in ahole on the key. (with a new action installed)
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Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!

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