Author Topic: Old pianos  (Read 8200 times)

Wowbagger

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Re: Old pianos
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2017, 03:11:33 pm »
I have just booked a tuning. New tuner. I haven't heard from our old guy for a while (to be fair, I put him off a year or more ago when the piano was inaccessible because of the contents of Phyllis's bungalow) but I have been given the number of another tuner, courtesy of our local piano shop The Piano Pavilion. Apparently she is the first lady piano tuner ever to be employed by Steinway.

I want a professional opinion about the piano's value. I have just seen this

https://www.robertspianos.com/ldetails.php?RP=2170601&make=Grotrian%20Steinweg-&model=128-Upright-piano

and I think I might be in love.
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Valiant

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Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
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Re: Old pianos
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2017, 11:42:26 pm »
This is a good deal isn't it?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CAN-DELIVER-BECHSTEIN-LIGHT-WOOD-6-BOUD-GRAND-PIANO-The-Little-Piano-Store-/292178353082?hash=item44072fdbba:g:v0YAAOSwfJJZY5PE

I think the finish to that piano is quite ugly. I don't think Bechstein would ever have issued one from the factory like that. I especially don't like the brass straps around each corner - I have never seen that before. The serial number of 24396 would indicate a very old instrument - 1890 according to Roberts' Pianos website. Perhaps the case was so badly marked that was the best they could do.

You would have to play it to decide. Baby grands are not favoured instruments because their sound boards are generally too small for the rich resonance that larger instrument produce. A good upright instrument is often to be preferred to a baby grand. Also, if I were to fork out almost £4k for a refurbished instrument, I would want a lot more than a 12 month guarantee of the work. Roberts of Oxford guarantee all their work for 5 years or more, or so it appears from their website.

My piano (1891 Bechstein upright - I think a model III) was completely refurbished in 1978, when I bought it. I have played it a lot over the years, as have all the children. I'm wondering whether to get it done again but it probably isn't necessary. Some of the ivories have come unstuck and the lacquered finish is chipped/laminated in places, probably due to the ravages of a moderately damp house and central heating. However, the internal workings still seem very good and I reckon once it has been tuned (only one note is obviously "off") I am hoping it will be OK. However, I am acutely aware that the duff note, the E flat below middle C, has been a problem before, and I wonder whether one or more of the pegs has loosened in its hole.

I shall take the advice of the tuner on Thursday. I'm hoping that she will say it's OK for a few more years yet, but if she reckons that note is going to continue to go out of tune I may well be very tempted to trade it in for a refurbishment and replace it. That Grotrian-Steinweg I linked to above is just an absolutely stunning piano. I like the way the guy from Roberts makes a short video about each piano and talks about the refurbishment work the company has done. I would love to have that.

https://www.robertspianos.com/ldetails.php?RP=2170601&make=Grotrian%20Steinweg-&model=128-Upright-piano
You won. Get over it.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
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Re: Old pianos
« Reply #28 on: August 09, 2017, 02:50:41 pm »
I'll add/correct what I said about baby grands.

It's worth looking at a load of https://www.robertspianos.com/ videos: the guy there makes lots, comparing different types of piano. He has a preference for baby grands over uprights because the horizontal action in the grand, compared to the vertical action of the upright, makes it possible to play repeated notes much more quickly on the grand. This is a similar issue when comparing overdamper/underdamper uprights. Underdamper tend to be a lot better.

Action apart, I still think a good, tall upright may well have a better tone than a baby grand, because of the better tone afforded by longer strings and a bigger soundboard. Your technique as a pianist would have to be pretty good to find that the issue of playing fast, repeated notes became important. I reckon I was about grade 5 or 6 before I found that the overdamper piano I had been practising on was inadequate, and I did most of my serious practising at school on some of the lovely old pianos we had in various rooms there.
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Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
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Re: Old pianos
« Reply #29 on: August 10, 2017, 05:21:06 pm »
I have just had the piano tuned by Val Hodgson. That's a pretty impressive CV (time for me to update my "Tenuous claims to fame!)!

Val told me that the duff note has a pin she can't tighten and it needs to be replaced. Otherwise, the piano is in pretty good working order for its age. So no need for me to shell out on a wonderful instrument from Roberts or somewhere! She has also referred me to a technician who can, hopefully, replace the pin in question.
You won. Get over it.

Pedal Castro

  • so talented I can run with scissors - ouch!
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Re: Old pianos
« Reply #30 on: August 10, 2017, 06:08:20 pm »
This is "my" Bechstein, only 1903 though.

https://youtu.be/RJG8J3_N50o

Re: Old pianos
« Reply #31 on: August 10, 2017, 06:17:02 pm »
Did Stradivarius make any pianos?
Sic transit and all that..

Re: Old pianos
« Reply #32 on: August 10, 2017, 07:28:27 pm »
<snip> That's  pretty impressive CV (time for me to update my "Tenuous claims to fame!)!<snip>

I think you may've just won the internet, Wow.

Re: Old pianos
« Reply #33 on: August 10, 2017, 08:10:02 pm »
I want a professional opinion about the piano's value. I have just seen this

https://www.robertspianos.com/ldetails.php?RP=2170601&make=Grotrian%20Steinweg-&model=128-Upright-piano

I have no opinion on this particular piano, but £8000 for a 1921 upright Steiweg seems a bit exagerated!


Baby grands are not favoured instruments because their sound boards are generally too small for the rich resonance that larger instrument produce.

Totally agree with you! If you want a rich sounding piano but cannot afford a 10 foot grand, look for a Bechstein No 8. We have one that we paid €600*, and believe me, when you close your eyes, you can not tell it's an upright.

*: admittedly, it was that cheap because the frenchs have a strong dislike for german things  ;D ;D

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #34 on: August 10, 2017, 10:12:28 pm »
It's not necessarily over-priced at £8000. In effect, you are getting a new instrument for that price, as with the new strings, wrest plank and pins it will probably last about 100 years before it needs to have any other maintenance than tuning. Steinway, Bechstein, Bosendorfer and Bluthner were competing massively for business around the turn of the 20th century and they couldn't afford to allow a lapse in quality. Apparently Bechstein were churning out about 5000 pianos a year about that time. It's incredible to think that they maintained the standards that they did - there are loads and loads of >100-year-old Bechsteins still in daily use. What other area of manufacturing has maintained such widespread longevity, with hardly any significant improvements in that time? I can't think of one. Incidentally, you can buy a new Bosendorfer 130 upright (I think the 130 indicates the height in cm) for a cool £36k.

Bear in mind that my piano (I think it's a Model 3: 88 keys and 1891) still has the original wrest plank and, I think, pins. It's 126 years old. It was given a major overhaul when we bought it in 1978, but the ovalling of the pin holes dates back to its origin, I think. Marcus Roberts, who makes those really lovely geeky piano videos, talks about the later Bechsteins having wrest planks that hold their tuning rather better than the earlier ones. I gain the impression that your Model 8 would be the later, improved version of my Model 3. It's pretty hard to find any firm info on the internet though. I expect a phone call to Roberts themselves (I think I am going to have to have a trip to Oxford just for that purpose - and to play some of their pianos of course!) would clear the matter up in a few seconds.
You won. Get over it.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
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Re: Old pianos
« Reply #35 on: August 10, 2017, 10:13:18 pm »
This is "my" Bechstein, only 1903 though.

https://youtu.be/RJG8J3_N50o

Is that a relative of yours playing it? Very impressive! Lovely clear, even runs!
You won. Get over it.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
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Re: Old pianos
« Reply #36 on: August 10, 2017, 10:22:00 pm »
...
Totally agree with you! If you want a rich sounding piano but cannot afford a 10 foot grand, look for a Bechstein No 8. We have one that we paid €600*, and believe me, when you close your eyes, you can not tell it's an upright.

*: admittedly, it was that cheap because the frenchs have a strong dislike for german things  ;D ;D

A local church has a French Pleyel grand piano which was in use for one of our choir's concerts a year or two ago. I can't remember how old it is, but another choir member, who is a member of that church, told me that they had had to raise quite a bit of cash recently to have it restored. ISTR reading somewhere that the daughter of M. Pleyel was involved in a torrid affair with Hector Berlioz. *googles*

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Pleyel

Bloody hell! I didn't know Mad Hector had planned to kill her mother! Not out of character though, I suppose...
You won. Get over it.

Re: Old pianos
« Reply #37 on: August 10, 2017, 10:31:56 pm »
This is "my" Bechstein, only 1903 though.

https://youtu.be/RJG8J3_N50o

Is that a relative of yours playing it? Very impressive! Lovely clear, even runs!
A hair's breadth too fast/up tempo IMHO opinion.
Otherwise breathtaking.
I sincerely hope I've not put anyone's nose out of joint with this post.
She's reading / turning the score FFS...
Loved listening to it...

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2017, 10:37:34 pm »
Did Stradivarius make any pianos?

Almost certainly not. He died in the early 18th century. Although the invention of the piano allegedly dates back to the 1709 (I think) when someone buggered about with a harpsichord and put in a different action, those instruments were so fragile that they wouldn't be expected to last. The late 19th century piano boom was based upon an incredibly robust and rugged iron frame that causes the instruments to last years. There are still a few "fortepianos" about, early ones of the type that Mozart might have known, but they are museum pieces. Occasionally they are wheeled out to play stuff but their tone is very much lighter.

Beethoven used a Broadwood, I believe, a very old English make which I think is still in existence. They are nice pianos - I used to practise on one at college. It had a very "bright" tone and its keys seemed to be quite light.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Broadwood_%26_Sons

Crikey! They are coming up to 300 years in the same business! The only other company rivalling that that immediately springs to mind is Shepherd Neame.
You won. Get over it.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2017, 10:47:22 pm »
There are some older businesses out there.
http://www.whitechapelbellfoundry.co.uk/history.htm
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #40 on: August 10, 2017, 11:24:15 pm »
Yes, Dez mentioned pipe organ manufacturers as well, but pipe organs and bell foundries don't quite appeal to the mass market the way that quality (and not-so-good quality) pianos did.
You won. Get over it.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #41 on: August 10, 2017, 11:33:59 pm »
Big Ben seems to have popular appeal. Admittedly not one in every living room.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #42 on: August 10, 2017, 11:47:32 pm »
Big Ben seems to have popular appeal. Admittedly not one in every living room.

And a popular peal.

As a matter of interest, how often are the bells changed in bell towers?
You won. Get over it.

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Virtual Alps
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #43 on: August 11, 2017, 12:09:41 am »
Not very often due to general inconvenience and labour costs.  Yer standard bell-shaped bell is tunable both up and down by scraping metal away from strategic places, so unless they are damaged somehow they can last a few hundred years and still be sound as a bell.
"This is a complex subject, with a need for more than one highlighter pen."

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #44 on: August 11, 2017, 10:30:36 am »
Big Ben seems to have popular appeal. Admittedly not one in every living room.

And a popular peal.

I'll set 'em up and...
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Pedal Castro

  • so talented I can run with scissors - ouch!
    • Two beers or not two beers...
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #45 on: August 11, 2017, 05:44:31 pm »
This is "my" Bechstein, only 1903 though.

https://youtu.be/RJG8J3_N50o

Is that a relative of yours playing it? Very impressive! Lovely clear, even runs!

Not a relative, one of my pupils. The piano sits just outside my study and is often played by pupils before registration and/or during break.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
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Re: Old pianos
« Reply #46 on: August 11, 2017, 05:59:46 pm »
I have the piano technician coming tomorrow to have a look at my pins.
You won. Get over it.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #47 on: August 15, 2017, 10:19:01 pm »
I discussed the business of technological longevity with the guy at the piano shop this afternoon. He mad a great contribution instantly: Singer sewing machines. They have been around for many years and lots of the old ones are still in use, many of them (like my mother's) upgraded with an electric motor.

My piano is still injured. The Man came with the new pin, but broke the string whilst trying to fix it. He also identified another loose pin...

This could become a slippery slope. I am on the lookout for a new piano. just in case. I have the space for a grand. I just need to persuade Jan that it's a good idea...

Oh, and the music shop had been given a 1970 harpsichord to restore. Looked in perfect order to me. I fancy that as well. Some of Bach's preludes & fugues would come out very well on one of those.
You won. Get over it.

Re: Old pianos
« Reply #48 on: August 16, 2017, 01:58:52 pm »
I fancy that as well. 

 :thumbsup:  Looks like n+1 applies to pianos (and guitars and classic cars and .. ) as well!
What's this bottom line for anyway?

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Old pianos
« Reply #49 on: August 16, 2017, 02:05:31 pm »
And telescopes and sheds; partner has a grand piano, an upright with silent system, 2 electronic pianos, an electronic keyboard, 6 sheds, n telescopes, x computers and four bicycles...