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Restringing antique upright grand piano

Acme 20 Jan 02 - 11:59 AM
zac 20 Jan 02 - 01:04 PM
Sorcha 20 Jan 02 - 01:14 PM
zac 20 Jan 02 - 01:50 PM
Bobert 20 Jan 02 - 03:09 PM
Acme 20 Jan 02 - 04:05 PM
zac 20 Jan 02 - 05:59 PM
Acme 20 Jan 02 - 06:52 PM
JohnInKansas 20 Jan 02 - 07:06 PM
Acme 20 Jan 02 - 08:33 PM
Devilmaster 20 Jan 02 - 08:39 PM
Acme 20 Jan 02 - 09:01 PM
rangeroger 21 Jan 02 - 03:38 AM
Acme 21 Jan 02 - 12:58 PM
Bert 21 Jan 02 - 04:33 PM
Devilmaster 23 Jan 02 - 01:48 AM
Devilmaster 23 Jan 02 - 01:49 AM
Mark Cohen 23 Jan 02 - 02:33 AM
Mary in Kentucky 23 Jan 02 - 08:56 AM
Acme 23 Jan 02 - 02:39 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 23 Jan 02 - 07:44 PM
rangeroger 24 Jan 02 - 01:32 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 24 Jan 02 - 08:32 PM
Acme 24 Jan 02 - 10:19 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 29 Jan 02 - 11:07 PM
Acme 30 Jan 02 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Jan 02 - 02:38 PM
rangeroger 04 May 02 - 05:14 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 04 May 02 - 06:43 PM
Acme 06 May 02 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Billy 07 May 02 - 12:57 AM
GUEST,Billy 07 May 02 - 01:04 AM
Acme 07 May 02 - 11:09 AM
Acme 07 May 02 - 03:32 PM
pict 07 May 02 - 07:47 PM
Acme 08 May 02 - 11:42 AM
aussiebloke 09 May 02 - 12:44 PM
Acme 09 May 02 - 12:59 PM
pict 09 May 02 - 09:44 PM
GUEST 09 May 10 - 02:20 AM
Acme 09 May 10 - 01:45 PM
Stewart 09 May 10 - 03:16 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 May 10 - 03:25 PM
Acme 09 May 10 - 05:04 PM
Bert 09 May 10 - 05:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 May 10 - 06:32 PM
Acme 09 May 10 - 07:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 May 10 - 08:16 PM
Acme 09 May 10 - 09:51 PM
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Subject: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 11:59 AM

I did a search of the Mudcat site and found a very short thread with a brief discussion about the need to restring pianos.

I have an upright grand from my father's family. We're the original owners, and email contact with the company last year tells me that it dates from 1886. This heavily ornamented (thick rosewood veneer, lots of carvings) piano is a Weber, and I've visited a couple of web sites and found basic (not enough) information about restringing them. I want to do this job myself (yes, I know it is a heckuva lot of work!). The piano is very finely crafted and easily comes apart for access. Has any of you restrung a piano, and where did you get the strings and the tools? Did you replace the pins (they're so old in my piano that the tuner, years ago, had to find an antique tool to turn them)? I will probably contact local piano folks for these supplies, but I have always found that if I know the correct terms I get better answers, and actually understand them when I receive them!

These are probably the original strings, and when I had it tuned (over a dozen years ago) several broke from brittleness. And it was consequently tuned a whole note low to avoid breaking more. It sounds very dark, but is a lovely piano both for looks and tone. I'm not gonna go buy a $100,000 Steinway any time soon, but I will put a few bucks into doing this job right myself. (I hope that's not an oxymoronic idea, doing it myself AND doing it right!).

The piano hasn't been played for years, and right now it's blocked by other furniture. But I'll be moving it soon to a place where I'll have room to work on it. Piano is my instrument of choice, and I need to make it available to my kids for lessons. (Better late than never!).

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: zac
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 01:04 PM

Years ago, I worked for a vompany that re-furbished quality old pianos including re-stringing--- there are so many things that are necessary, so many tools you would need, it would be near impossible to walk you through the tps necessary to re-string the instrument yourself. To begin with, you would have to have a cradle to lie the piano on it's back --- there are issues withe the pinblocks in old piano's splitting, causing loose tuning pins-- If the piano is worth re-stringing ,replacing the pinblock should certainly be looked into. The wound strings themselves will have to be made individually for that particular instrument-- you'll have to mace a good pattern of each bass string, the total "speaking " length. That pattern is then sent to a competent piano supply house(I used to use Tuners Supply, Somerville Mass). If the piano needs re-stringing it probably has many problems within the "action" portion and the keybed. If the instrument has sentimental value to you, and you are headstrong in your desire to restring it,check with your state to see if they have a program for blind individuals that trains them in several vocations-- piano tuning used to be one of those vocations--and enlist an individual with elementray training in piano repair-- and maybe tackle the job under their guidance/partnership arangement. I don't want to discourage you, but it's a huge undertaking for someone who has no knowledge whatsoever---


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 01:14 PM

I don't know anything about re-stringing pianos, but I would be concerned about it being able to take the tension of new strings and concert pitch. I have this vision of an exploding piano.......not pretty at all.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: zac
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 01:50 PM

The new string after it't up to pitch, wouldn't put any more stress on the piano than the old string did-- aditionally, the piano has a cast iron "harp" whose purpose is to transfer the tension and would keep the piano from exploding---however, you brig up another point and would/should be a consideration in restoring an old piano-has the piano ever been mis-handled where that "harp" has been broken-- cast iron is brittle-- lots of people I delt with years ago assumed(in error) that the "harp" because it was brass colored, was brass--not so--also the "upright grand"-- that was an advertising ploy several piano manufacturing companies used to use ,to "sell" their product over competition--- there are upright pianos with longer string legenths than some small grands, and many of them when properly restored, sound better than some of those grands--


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Bobert
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 03:09 PM

I would agree with Zac when he made mention to the "action" portion of the keyboard which includes the costly part of replacing the felt portion of the hammers. A lot of older pianos are not worth rebuilding. I would recommend that you spend a little money having a rebuilder look at your piano to see if restringing is worth the effort. It beats spending the time and money on stringing only to find that the instrument has serious other issues. Best of luck with it.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 04:05 PM

Zac, Thanks for your insights! I know the felt on the hammers is old--and probably each one needs to be shaved or replaced. I put new harnesses on it years ago so they would retract after the key was struck. The action is good. This piano is something--the sounding board is birdseye maple. Lots of fancy embossing, and beautiful brass in there.

Interesting about the wrapping on the bass strings. And the pattern for each. This piano is worth some effort--it's not ready for the trebuchet yet!

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: zac
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 05:59 PM

I have never seen a piano with a birdseye maple sound board--- I would wager it's spruce-- solid spruce--- edge glued one board to another-- probably if it's pre-WW-II, it's adirondack -- just like the fine old Martins or other high quality american made fretted instruments of the era.The pinblock most likely is laminated maple-- and I guess the face veneer (the one you could see)could be birdseye-- the back posts and the soundboaed ribs could also be birdseye--I haven't seen it'but I doubt that a "visual" wood such as flamed or birdseye would be used in such a "utilitarian" part of the piano,when flat sawn,laminated( at90 degrees one to another) would be as strong if not stronger. There will either be an oval cutout in the cast iron plate complete with a stamped serial number or else the number will be stamped into the upper back portion of the thick wooden frame--on the back of the piano--I have a good friend that I gave all of my tools to back in 1980 or 81-- Tomorrow is a holiday, and he may be closed-- but if he's not, I'll call him-- among those tools there was also a very accurate seralized list of the majority of upright piano's made in the USA all the way back to the turn of the last century--- everybody wants to know when their piano was made-- Weber may be a "stencil" brand-- that is made by a company who placed whatever name you( as a dealer with a sustantial order) wanted -- the book I had was a 1964 version I obtained from an old blind piano technician that I had vrom about 69 till I got out of the business---if you will post the number the name, I will ask Charles to look the number up in that book if he still has it--I'd bet he does. Also concerning the felt--there is felt EVERYWHERE in a piano-- different thicknesses,there are small compression springs(that fatigue over the years-- look like a ball point pen spring) there are adjustments everywhere--- times 88---Piano's in fact are mechanical marvels--If your piano is worth repairing,it's worth doing right-- it won't be cheap though---


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 06:52 PM

I was able to get the precise year from the folks at a piano place affiliated with Weber, if it wasn't Weber itself. Been a while. It has the serial number embossed on the sounding board inside the front. Weber, 1886. The rosewood veneer on the exterior is 1/4 inch thick. It has ornate carvings, look like pecans or buckeye on the top around the edges and larger on the "knees" (the lower support part under the keys). My family bought this new locally--they were in Connecticut and the piano was made in New York. I put heavy-duty castors on it two years ago (a mover broke one off some years back, and I've had it propped on a 2x4 lumber scrap). The finish looks like black lacquer now, but the guy who put the castors on says that its because it's so old and the rosewood has darkened.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 07:06 PM

You may still be able to find Piano Servicing, Tuning & Rebuilding, by Arthur A. Reblitz, Vestal Press Ltd., ISBN 1-879511-03-7, at your local Barnes or Borders.

My copy is a second edition, that I got in 1996 ($29.95 US).

I consider it a part of my general instrument reference collection, as I'm not really into working on pianos; but it does show fairly detailed pictures on various mechanisms and other parts used in early and more modern pianos. It - or another similar reference - might be helpful, especially in identifying what needs to be done, and what parts to ask for when you get started.

A thread a few weeks ago resulted in my bookmarking Strings and Wire as a source for strings. There don't seem to be a lot of places where you can get piano strings, and these guys may not be the best; but at least it's someplace to start looking.

Sounds like an interesting project. Keep us up to date on how it goes(?).

John


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 08:33 PM

John,

Thanks for the book citation. As long as I don't kill myself with Sorcha's "exploding piano" scenario, I'll keep folks posted. (I'll try not to get too keyed up over that possibility. But I'll resist stringing you along by hammering away at any more puns). I'm not in the space yet where this instensive surgery will take place, that'll come in a month or so. Thanks for the link. Links I have saved are Piano Showcase and Pianophile.

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Devilmaster
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 08:39 PM

Maggie, please keep me in the loop, cause I own a New York Weber upright also, and have tinkered with the thought of having the piano restored.

Best of luck in your endeavor. Hoping it works out.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 09:01 PM

These Webers are the kinds of pianos that estate appraisers will tell you are instruments with no value (they're not "furniture," after all) but then want to spirit them away to their pal who restores pianos. That was almost what happened to this one. This one still has it's original music stand that is on two hinges and folds to the left or right before closing the lid. The case is in excellent condition, but age doesn't improve the workings. I know that my great aunt used to play this a great deal. The original ivories are all there, but are considerably worn. She must have been pretty good--because they're not just worn in the middle couple of octaves, the pattern of wear has only the top octive and bottom octive looking relatively unworn.

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: rangeroger
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 03:38 AM

I have a piano very similar to what you are talking about that was recently restored. I can't remember the make as it is at my parents in San Diego.

I was given it by a friend who owed me $200.I moved it around through several house planning to restore it myself.

When I moved to Idaho I really didn't feel lke moving the piano 1800 miles.My mother had been saying for years that it should be restored, so I laid it flat on ite back on a trailer and moved it to Mom's.

I had been told by the previous owner that the old alligator finish on it shouldn't be touchedbecause it would lower the value of the instrument.The refinsher my mom got took one look at it and said it definitely needed refinishing.Thick rosewood veneer The Ivory keys were irreplaceble but he had a solution.

It turned into a labor of love.Nine months,and $1800 later, it glows in the light and the sound is incredible.

Valued at $4700 10 years ago.

I will probably be driving to San Diego in the next month or two to pick it up and trailer it to North Idaho.Not flat on its back this time but in an enclosed trailer with tons of padding.

Time to learn to play the piano.

rr


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 12:58 PM

What a wonderful story! My brother did something similar with the piano that we grew up with, that my parents bought in the early 1960's. It was more of an art-deco style, as I recall, and he said that after restoration it just glows, and his daughter has learned to play on it. He has the income to have someone else do it. I work for the state. . . RR, how did you go about laying it flat? One of the remarks above says that is necessary (and certainly sounds prudent--gravity being a major factor when weaving all of those strings into place!)

This piano of mine came from my great aunt's house in Connecticut, and I've had it since the mid-1980's. I used to play it a lot, but with kids and work I haven't had time and it has shifted into an uncomfortable level of out-of-tuneness. And it's blocked by furniture in our tiny apartment, in my daughter's bedroom. She'll be glad to see it with a place of it's own soon. Nice large livingroom with cathedral ceiling for (hopefully) good acoustics. (And yes, I know, I should be playing for the kids. I do, on occasion, and I will a lot more once we move. There are times when I'm just dying to sit down to play, and have to wait until the feeling passes. Maybe I should take up the guitar since it's more portable?)

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Bert
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 04:33 PM

I think that the first thing that I would do would be to make friends with a local piano tuner. It's my experience that good craftsmen, like good musicians, are often willing to help beginners who are interested in their craft.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Devilmaster
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 01:48 AM

The best info I can get on mine, from its serial num 21801, and was built between 1880-1885. During that time Weber built around 16000 pianos.

Its unfortunate, but the remnants of the Weber company, which has gone under about 4 different parent companies, did not apparently have any old records and such, according to them.

I really would like to have mine restored. Perhaps when I have the money to do it right..... Bought the piano in the mid 80's from a family who just wanted to get rid of it. Bought it for $75 Canadian.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Devilmaster
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 01:49 AM

Oh and the website for Weber is Weber Pianos

Steve


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 02:33 AM

I bought an upright grand in Oregon in 1995 that supposedly had been made in England for a vaudeville house sometime around the turn of the (last) century. Can't remember the maker's name, of course. My ex and I wanted to buy a piano and found one in the want ads. What we found was a beautifully finished piece of furniture that sounded like a brick. But on the other side of the room was this other instrument which belonged to an 80-year-old former church organist. When he saw how much we appreciated it, he decided to sell it to us. It had an amazing sound, especially in the bass, which sounded like there were built-in subwoofers!

Unfortunately, several years in rainy Hilo did it in, even with dehumidifiers and all that. I had a couple of people who know pianos look at it and they said it would probably take about $5,000 to get it back into playing condition. I wound up selling it to the person who bought my house, for that reason and a couple of practical details: it couldn't be moved down the stairs of the house (we'd added railings since moving it in), and wouldn't fit in the elevator or up the stairs of my new apartment building. Also, being about 50 yards from the ocean would not make it a happy instrument. It sure was fun while we had it, though.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 08:56 AM

When I was a child my parents bought a grand piano (we called it a studio grand, larger than a baby, smaller than a concert grand) originally from Vienna (a lady that fled Czechoslovakia wanted to get rid of it). It was a beautiful piece of furniture, and the sound was decent, but it was difficult for me to play because the keys were just a little farther apart than standard. It was hard for me to play an octave.

One day when the piano tuner came, he sat in the floor laughing. It seems that the action was very convoluted; there were several mechanical redundancies in the hammers. The tuner had fun playing with it.

When I was older I got another piano which was easier for me to play. It was inbetween the spinnet and upright size.

We also had an old upright that had been in my mother's family and survived many moves. It now resides in my daughter's house and will be her problem to move from now on. The finish is mahogany, and my dad put high gloss marine varnish on it when we lived in Texas. Tuners always told me that it had a cracked sound board, so they would tune it a little flat.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 02:39 PM

Steve, I was able to get information about my Weber via email from someone last year. I'll see if I can find that address and will post it here. They looked it up in records they had (or perhaps the serial number is coded and the answer is as simple as a prefix or something).

Mark, you must have loved that piano, to have paid to ship it to Hawaii! Too bad it couldn't weather the transition.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 07:44 PM

Be patient and gentle.

I have an 1898 Cable/Nelson upright. It took MANY years to bring it up to full pitch. It was feared that too much tension, too soon, could break the iron frame/soundboard. The pulling forces are INCREDIBLE! Most of the strings are still original.

It is heavlily carved with demons and devils and scrolling leaves; and has been declared by every tuner (including the blind one) to be the most intricately carved one they have ever seen.

A piano is an engineering marvel with about 65 movable parts per note, an upright has about 45. The action is vital: the ease, trapwork, damper, release, level, and backchecks need correct adjustment, and then you move on to the tone regulating of the hammers through shaping and voicing. You will require a master technician to bring your instrument into correct balance.

It is only a rangerrover $4,700 instrument if it PLAYS like an instument. Otherwise, it is mearly a bar-top for beer mugs, or simply worthy of being a student's studio spinnet.

A fine playing piano is joy for life. Make the investment.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: rangeroger
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 01:32 AM

Greg, while I mentioned the finish,the piano did get a complete restoration.All the mechanicals of the keys, hammers, and pedals were redone.I don't know if all the strings were replaced or just the dead and broken ones. I do know that when I saw it for the first time in 5 years after the restoration it looked incredible and as I mentioned in my first post the sound was incredible.Everything worked smoothly and the tone and volume were beautiful.

It will never be a repository for beer mugs and it is far beyond a students spinnet. Though,hopefully, I will be the student learning on it.

rr


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 08:32 PM

Dear RangeRoger,

I am sorry for the misunderstanding. I was not maligning your, what is no doubt, noble piano.

The intent was: IF the instrument IS of fine craftsmanship; please leave the repairs to a professional. (It may even be cheaper since all strings probably do not need to be replaced.) If an amature proceeds with the restoration it will result in a mear hunk of furniture or something to be "played with." She will NOT end up with a treasure, such as yours, by fiddling with it herself.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 10:19 PM

Ah, but Gargoyle, you're not taking into account the passionate amateur. I've been tinkering with pianos all of my life. Just haven't done this big a job. And the recommendation to make friends with the piano tuner is an excellent one. The guy who put the castors on my piano is a good starting place--I am not sure the extent of the work he does on instruments. Just as in the house I'm buying I'm having a carpenter do some renovations for me, I'll save some money by doing the painting and tiling myself. Might work out the same kind of split with the piano. There may be aspects of the job that are labor intensive that I can do. I have used this piano as an elaborate prop for ceramic art (no beer mugs) long enough. Time to turn it back into an instrument. I'm sure all of the strings need replacing. We quit trying to tune it to the normal tone after four strings broke. They're all terribly old and brittle. If you visit one of those sites I put in links to, you'll find instructions for ordering the proper strings for the piano in question. It's all information at this point, to be gathered and pondered over.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 29 Jan 02 - 11:07 PM

Look "under the hood" before you go replacing the entire engine.

The strings that broke were in (no doubt) in your upper (tenor.soprano)register. It is amazing what WD40 and a scrong-pad will do on the bass strings. The cost for replacement is prohibitive!


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 30 Jan 02 - 10:37 AM

It looked, from one site, like they have a flat rate of $6.50 per string if you replace all of them. Upwards of $18 to $20 per string if ordering just a few. I just skimmed this discussion but didn't find the actual number--I read it just recently. The math is complex. With 88 keys on the outside, but often three, sometimes two, and only in the lowest registers one string per key, that's a lot of strings at $6.50 a pop.

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Jan 02 - 02:38 PM

If the piano is indeed lovely for looks and tone, then it would be very foolish to start tinkering with the inside. There is simply no way that an amateur, no matter how dedicated, can deal with the intricacy and delicacy of a fine old piano.

You should get in touch with a piano tuner, preferably a trained one, and get an estimate on restoration of the piano. You probably should get a device that controls the humidity in it, as well. The proper humidity will help a lot to preserve the piano and keep it in tune.

I have a piano from 1906 which has been professionally restored, and I love it. Even with professional work, it cost far less than the thousands of dollars which dealers are charging for fine pianos now.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: rangeroger
Date: 04 May 02 - 05:14 PM

My restored piano just arrived today from San Diego and is now ensconced in my living room.I've just increased th number of strings in my home by 256.Of course the wall the piano sits against is where I used to hang my guitars so it looks like I'm going to have to do a further restructure of my living room.

It is beautiful sounding instrument, though I will have a piano tuner in soon to adjust as necessary,and it looks good too.

Now for piano lessons.

rr


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 May 02 - 06:43 PM

I wonder what Stilly River Sage decided to do. We have an old upright grand in the basement. I know that a couple of tuning blocks are split, but know little more about its problems. There is at least one good piano rebuilder in town, and we have been promising ourselves that we will get it fixed "next year." Maybe this summer?


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 06 May 02 - 04:20 PM

Stilly River still hasn't beaten a path through the piled up boxes and furniture in that room to do anything--yet. My sweat equity in the house is to paint (finished most of that) and do the floor tiles myself. Slow, hard, messy work, and I have two rooms down so far. When I finish the cut tiles around the edge and the grout in the next day or two I can begin moving some furniture into my office (I still have to seal the floor in a week, so won't move so much furniture that I have trouble reaching all of the grout lines).

I've calculated that I'll save about $10,000 by doing the tile myself. It's expensive to have others come do it, and this is a big house. Perhaps some of that savings can be applied to the piano, once I reach it. It was still remarkably in tune when we moved it in mid-March.

I have to say that this house is going to be even better than we thought. It's a wonderful space, and the yard, neglected for years, is full of small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs, toads, and non-venomous snakes. I'm sure we'll find some of the other sort also, but my kids are learning about all of these things. A creek at the bottom of the yard is the property line. I'll be landscaping with native and adapted xeriscape plants (and have my eye out for the "early-bird specials" in the Saturday newspaper garden section!). I've remodeled, adding an office and a sunny workspace for all of our sewing and crafts. Perhaps when I get enough space clear of boxes of tile and bags of thinset and grout I'll have to meet a few of the local Mudcatters and have them test the acoutics of the space.

Spare time? What's that?

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: GUEST,Billy
Date: 07 May 02 - 12:57 AM

Rather than immediately trying to restring the entire instrument, try this. If it has an iron frame you may be in luck, if the frame is wooden, you may never be able to get it in tune without regluing the entire thing. The technique: one by one, detune each wound string until it is going "boing" (like in a cartoon) and you can physically pull the string about two inches (like pulling on a bow and arrow). Detuning allows the windings to compress and squeeze out all the garbage they have accumulated over the years. Now pull out the string as far as you can and let go like you are shooting an arrow. This will dislodge most of the crud that has built up over the years. Snap each string several times and the string should be quite clean of debris. Examine the string and brush off any crap that is still attached. Retune the string and move on to the next.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: GUEST,Billy
Date: 07 May 02 - 01:04 AM

I tried to post my favorite piano joke but it went awry. Here it is: Why are women like pianos? When they're not upright, they're grand!


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 07 May 02 - 11:09 AM

So how do you account for my upright grand? (And you're missing a lot if you haven't tried upright!)


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 07 May 02 - 03:32 PM

Interesting idea, by the way, about cleaning the strings, but for going to all of that work, wouldn't it be just as much time and energy expenditure to thread a new string in for each one loosened, and do that one at a time? Might save dismantling more of the piano to restring all at once. Is "detuning" something you've actually done yourself, or is this suggestion based on annecdotal information?

My piano has an iron framework inside, bolted onto a birdseye maple sounding board. Zac suggested this might be a veneer over spruce; I haven't opened it up to take a close enough look to confirm his guess. The rosewood finish is a very thick veneer, and is considerably darkened, so that it looks like ebony or black lacquer. Something more to consider cleaning at some point in the future.

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: pict
Date: 07 May 02 - 07:47 PM

I honestly think from the description you've given that it would be more expensive than it is worth to restore it to proper playing condition again even if the pinblock isn't shot which in a piano of that age is highly probable there are so many parts that inevitably will either have perished or be very close to it.Personally if I saw a piano with a veneered soundboard I wouldn't even consider it a solid spruce soundboard gives a far better tone than a laminated one and all quality pianos(Bösendorfer,Steinway,Bechstein etc) have solid spruce soundboards,some of these old uprights are beautiful pieces of furniture but that is really all they are good for.To purchase quality tonewoods for a piano is an expensive business,to have them assembled into a piano is very skilled work and to do it yourself is an awful lot to take on,even a full set of strings are extremely expensive my advice would be if you want a good playable instrument is buy the piano book by Larry Fine,try a lot of pianos,and then buy from a reputable dealer who will guide you to the best possible piano you can afford.I myself spent about two years researching pianos and two years searching before I finally bought my piano,in that period I tried several beautiful looking old instruments some of which had interesting tones but they just weren't worth the risk or expense of restoration when a plainer but better playing and sounding newer instrument could be had for the same money or less than rebuilding an old piano.Enjoy your old piano for it's aesthetic value but if you want a good playing instrument buy a new or newer piano from a reputable,knowledgeable,established,dealer.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 08 May 02 - 11:42 AM

Sounds like you're much more of a purist than I am regarding instruments. A year ago or more I read a New Yorker article about Erica someone-or-other who sells Steinways in NYC. Boy, are they expensive! At this point buying a piano (after buying and remodeling a house) is probably not going to happen. The risk of restringing is something I'll have to consider. Meanwhile, I'll take a page from Jim Henson's Fozzie dog in _The Muppet Movie_ : "I just love an out of tune piano!"

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: aussiebloke
Date: 09 May 02 - 12:44 PM

err, at the risk of sounding like a pedant...

Fozzie (played by Frank Oz) is the comedian Bear. It is Rowlf the Dog (played by Jim Henson) that is the piano playing philosopher. Either way - good luck with tuning yer jo-anna...

aussiebloke


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 09 May 02 - 12:59 PM

Yes, I think you're correct. It has been a long time since I watched that movie. My kids are getting big, and except for the occasional nostalgic evening of kid's tapes, we haven't watched the muppets lately. I guess misnaming Rowlf would be considered a Muppet faux paw.

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: pict
Date: 09 May 02 - 09:44 PM

I loved Zoot the archetypical saxophonist with the permanent ready for playing embouchure.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: GUEST
Date: 09 May 10 - 02:20 AM

I've been doing a bit of research on the upright grands ... from wht I see ... there are some very high quality uprights with sound better than baby grands ... but they are still an upright piano ... a grand piano has the sound board horizontal .. and the key action is returned by gravity , instead of a spring .. so no such thing as an upright grand ... just some very high quality uprights out there


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 09 May 10 - 01:45 PM

That's true. Especially the very tall uprights, they can have a very large sounding board.

I still haven't done anything with mine, but I live in hope that one day I'll be able to. I've backed off of the idea of doing any of it myself.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Stewart
Date: 09 May 10 - 03:16 PM

A very interesting book all about the history and art of the piano, told in a wonderful story by the author living in Paris nearby a little piano shop - "The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier" by Thad Carhart, Random House, New York, 2000. I just finished reading it and enjoyed it very much.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 May 10 - 03:25 PM

I have an old upright grand in the basement. The sounding board is cracked.
Very expensive to replace.
I guess I'll salvage the fine old mahogany and ditch the innards- or any advice?


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 09 May 10 - 05:04 PM

Maybe the sounding board can be used for something else. That's a large piece of week. Broken in two, it is still a couple of good-sized pieces of wood.

There's a lot of metal in those things also. Maybe another instance when the parts can be used for repairs on other instruments? You don't get much for things when they're sold that way, though.

Stewart, thanks for that link. It sounds like a really interesting book. As I kid, I disassembled parts of my mother's piano a time or two, curious to see how it worked. They really are very interesting.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Bert
Date: 09 May 10 - 05:36 PM

...The sounding board is cracked....

Glue it. Most guitar tops are glued.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 May 10 - 06:32 PM

Hmmm- Bert, I was told by a piano repair outfit that the soundboard couldn't be repaired, and the piano was toast. But that set me looking up the problem on the internet, and I found this from Steinway-

The soundboard

A new baby grand costs some $25,000 or more new. Other repair needed, of course, are the felts, etc. Maybe it is worth looking for a more knowledgeable repair outfit. I've got a relative who wants a good piano but is low on cash.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 09 May 10 - 07:27 PM

piece of week? Boy, was my hand off on the keyboard. Piece of wood.

Interesting bit about the soundboard. Do get a second opinion, Q.

My sounding board is fine, a beautiful birdseye maple. But the strings need replacing, the felts, the hammers, all sorts of stuff. It was built in about 1889. That's a long time for felt to hang around.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 May 10 - 08:16 PM

I have a grand son who, they told me, needed a better grade piano. We settled on a smaller Kawai grand.

I have a son who had to get his Martin reglued. He says the tone is slightly altered. It worried him, and he has bought a new guitar.


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Subject: RE: Restringing antique upright grand piano
From: Acme
Date: 09 May 10 - 09:51 PM

Any excuse will do when one wants to buy a new guitar. ;-D


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