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#1295192 - 10/28/09 12:37 AM Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano  
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 46
ewaite Offline
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ewaite  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 46
Dayton, Ohio
A couple questions, What is a ball park figure for new strings and labor to have a large upright restrung? also is there a kit or package available that contains all the felt to re-felt a piano or do I have to order each individually?

This piano also has square tuning pins, is that common and what makers used them?

Pictures available at http://www.thewaitegroup.com/piano/piano.html

Thanks,
ewaite

Last edited by ewaite; 10/28/09 12:45 AM.

"Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Taken!"

Ed Waite
http://www.thewaitegroup.com/piano
1909 ? Otto Grau Piano
1909 Apollo Melville Clark
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#1295203 - 10/28/09 01:21 AM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: ewaite]  
Joined: Dec 2006
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Gadzar Offline
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Gadzar  Offline
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Mexico City
1. A lot more than the actual value of this piano.
2. No there is no such a kit.

Last edited by Gadzar; 10/28/09 01:22 AM.

Rafael Melo
Piano Technician
rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

Serving Mexico City and suburbs.

http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx
#1295204 - 10/28/09 01:23 AM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: Gadzar]  
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charleslang Offline
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3. The tuning pins are standard.


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
#1295300 - 10/28/09 08:58 AM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: charleslang]  
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Posts: 498
Randy Karasik Offline
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Randy Karasik  Offline
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Arvada, Colorado, USA, Earth
Why that particular piano?



Registered Piano Technician
Serving Colorado Since 1978
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#1295343 - 10/28/09 10:06 AM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: Randy Karasik]  
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 46
ewaite Offline
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ewaite  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 46
Dayton, Ohio
I rescued this beasts more then 10 years ago (out for trash), I hate to see craftsmanship like this be hauled off to the dump. I am in the process of refinishing the cabinet, and I thought it would really help the appearance to clean up the plate and replace the felt. I don't want to sink a fortune into it, but if I fix it up and give it some TLC it might last another 100 years. Most everything works (2 Keys are bound) I am going to try to figure out why and repair them. Structurally it is sound, it has 1 crack in the bottom board of the back frame, I am going to repair that tonight.

It has been tuned several times while in my possession and seems to hold a tune OK.

Not sure who the manufacturer is, Otto Grau Piano Co. was a dealer out of Cincinnati in the late 1890-1935.


"Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Taken!"

Ed Waite
http://www.thewaitegroup.com/piano
1909 ? Otto Grau Piano
1909 Apollo Melville Clark
#1295359 - 10/28/09 10:41 AM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: Randy Karasik]  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 3,902
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
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Bill Bremmer RPT  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 3,902
Madison, WI USA
Ewaite, there is a whole lot more involved than you may realize. First of all, the piano is about 100 years old. It is an ex-player, so categorically, it would have little value. The case is in very poor condition which immediately diminishes the value of any piano. As it is, it has no market value at all. I seldom use the word, but honestly, it is just junk.

Now, the soundboard and bridges don't look bad. I don't see any cracking or splitting which frankly, surprises me. However, stringing a piano usually involves much more than replacing the strings. We cannot tell from the pictures if the soundboard has sufficient crown. It may because it isn't cracked but if it doesn't, the piano won't have a full, rich sound after restringing. Even though the bridges look good, the piano is so old that restringing may cause the bridges to crack and split. We can't tell the condition of the pinblock. If the tuning pins are loose, putting in oversize pins will cause it to deteriorate further.

The purpose behind restoring an old piano is to create a piano that would have the ability to sound like and be useful as long as a brand new piano would. You could never have that expectation with material that is 100 years old.

The action is in poor condition. You would not want to just cut off the old hammers and put on new ones. The cost of all new action parts and the difficulty of getting them to fit and work properly is far beyond what you would imagine. The keys would also need restoration which would be so expensive that newly manufactured keys may be a better alternative.

The cost to have a competent technician restring a piano will vary widely from technician to technician. If you were able to find someone willing to just put on the new strings, there would be a number of questions raised about why the person would be willing to do that and how well could the person do it?

In summation, the idea you may have to just put on some new strings and perhaps new hammers and do a home style refinishing may yield a piano that would only satisfy you and only for maybe 20 years or so. Then it would be hardly worth more than it is now. If you were planning to do this and sell the piano, you would spend much more money than you could get for the piano if you put it for sale.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
#1295374 - 10/28/09 11:14 AM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: ewaite]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Silverwood Pianos Offline
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Silverwood Pianos  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Originally Posted by ewaite
A couple questions, What is a ball park figure for new strings and labor to have a large upright restrung? also is there a kit or package available that contains all the felt to re-felt a piano or do I have to order each individually?

This piano also has square tuning pins, is that common and what makers used them?

Pictures available at http://www.thewaitegroup.com/piano/piano.html

Thanks,
ewaite


I am not sure about the pricing in your area, but to re-string a full sized upright here in a major city in Canada, the fee would be 3-4k.
I regularly do this type of work,BUT if customers want me to wrestle with a hundred yr. old upright it would have to be a top-of-the-line brand name instrument.....Steinway, Mason Hamlin, Bluthner, Heintzman & Co. etc.etc.
No-one re-strings an ex-player.Once the mechanism for the player has disappeared, the unique value of the instrument is gone. Then it is just another Chevy......


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
#1295519 - 10/28/09 03:29 PM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: Silverwood Pianos]  
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 46
ewaite Offline
Full Member
ewaite  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 46
Dayton, Ohio
I guess, I will just clean it up as best I can, refinish the cabinet and have it tuned.

Thanks all,
ewaite


"Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Taken!"

Ed Waite
http://www.thewaitegroup.com/piano
1909 ? Otto Grau Piano
1909 Apollo Melville Clark
#1295707 - 10/28/09 09:39 PM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: ewaite]  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 3,902
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Bill Bremmer RPT  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 3,902
Madison, WI USA
Ewaite, none of us want to discourage you if you like the idea of fixing up an old piano. There is nothing wrong with that but the professional piano technicians on here do know what we're talking about. Usually, the best idea for a piano such as this one is reconditioning which means that you retain virtually all that is there and only replace broken or missing parts.

Restringing it really is out of the question. However, you can make the strings look better and you can probably improve the sound of the wound strings by polishing them. If you can find a technician in your area who is willing to work with you, I don't see why you could not accomplish basically what you have in mind.

You can polish the plain wire with a block of material that is meant for cleaning type (which is no longer used). It is like an industrial ink eraser. For that matter, you could use an ink eraser but you will wear through two or three of them. You can also use steel wool or a Scotch Brite pad.

For the wound strings, there is a way to clean and polish them which I once wrote about on here. If you search for the post, you will find it. The process involves polishing the tops of the wound strings, loosening the strings and lifting them off of their hitch pins at which time you can polish the plain wire underneath.

If you can find a technician that is willing to work with you on the project, you can have him/her come to do what you need a professional to do and you can do the rest. Arrange for periodic visits as you proceed with the project. That way, your total expense will come out to hundreds rather than thousands which will be more appropriate for this instrument.

Good luck.


Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com
#1295720 - 10/28/09 09:57 PM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]  
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,175
charleslang Offline
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charleslang  Offline
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Why not just re-string the bass section? From what I understand, this used to be much more common than today. I think it's become less common partly because new, decent quality Chinese pianos are available for so cheap -- under 3,000, even under 2,000 dollars.

But as far as 'bang for your buck', replacing the bass strings could improve the sound regardless of the crown etc. A set of Bass strings is less than 500 dollars. Also, to the casual observer, they make a great impression (shiny).

As bass strings age, their sound deteriorates much more drastically, in general, than the sound of the treble strings. This is due to the coils, which fill with dirt and corrosion and which then deliver a characteristic 'sour' sound. This deterioration happens independently of any additional soundboard/bridge problems. Clearly your bass strings are in awful shape, and there is no doubt it is affecting tone.

Personally, I wouldn't do any work on an old piano like that unless I was truly impressed by the sound. Once in a while an old upright will have a great sound; usually not.

But, I think whether the project is worth it for you depends on what you want out of it, and whether that old piano can serve as the foundation for what you want.

Finally, someone mentioned it was probably a stencil brand. To me it seems unlikely that a 'stencil' would be molded into the plate like that. Nevertheless, it might have been contracted to some big company, and so still a 'stencil'.


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
#1295942 - 10/29/09 10:04 AM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: charleslang]  
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,198
Les Koltvedt Offline
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Les Koltvedt  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,198
Canton, MI


Les Koltvedt
LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate
#1296033 - 10/29/09 12:40 PM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: Les Koltvedt]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,266
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
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Little_Blue_Engine  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,266
Ohio, US
If there is enough felt left on the hammers to reshape them instead of replacing them this could improve the sound quite a bit even with the old strings, it made a big difference on mine. I've replaced the felt and leather on a section of my action and I've been happy with the results so far, but it's very long, boring work and regulating afterwards is like trying to solve Rubik's cube with one hand behind your back until you start getting the hang of it. The Piano Servicing, Tuning and Rebuilding book by Arthur Reblitz will give you a good idea of what you're getting yourself into. The piano is never going to be like new, but it can be a lot better than how you found it and since it's not worth anything if it all goes terribly wrong it's no big tragedy.

I'm not a tech, just a glutton for punishment with a 120 year old piano.


I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.
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#1296068 - 10/29/09 01:37 PM Re: Cost for restringing a large Upright Piano [Re: charleslang]  
Joined: Aug 2009
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Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Inlanding  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,935
Colorado
Originally Posted by charleslang
Why not just re-string the bass section? From what I understand, this used to be much more common than today. I think it's become less common partly because new, decent quality Chinese pianos are available for so cheap -- under 3,000, even under 2,000 dollars.

But as far as 'bang for your buck', replacing the bass strings could improve the sound regardless of the crown etc. A set of Bass strings is less than 500 dollars. Also, to the casual observer, they make a great impression (shiny).

As bass strings age, their sound deteriorates much more drastically, in general, than the sound of the treble strings. This is due to the coils, which fill with dirt and corrosion and which then deliver a characteristic 'sour' sound. This deterioration happens independently of any additional soundboard/bridge problems. Clearly your bass strings are in awful shape, and there is no doubt it is affecting tone.

Personally, I wouldn't do any work on an old piano like that unless I was truly impressed by the sound. Once in a while an old upright will have a great sound; usually not.

But, I think whether the project is worth it for you depends on what you want out of it, and whether that old piano can serve as the foundation for what you want.

Finally, someone mentioned it was probably a stencil brand. To me it seems unlikely that a 'stencil' would be molded into the plate like that. Nevertheless, it might have been contracted to some big company, and so still a 'stencil'.


+1

I did replace the wound bass strings on my 92 year-old grand and it made a world of difference! The piano is much more musical and the bass is no longer dull. It's been almost 7 months now and they are pretty stable. I will next have to replace the dampers on the bass and treble (the bass ones were on their way out anyway), then revoice the hammers across the the entire scale.

I replaced one string at a time so as to not grossly affect the strain on the harp and to not knock out of whack the rest of the tuning.

As for your instrument - you will have to decide how much you want to keep it and make such a time and financial investment in it. Not sure how straightforward it is to replace strings on an upright. Swapping the strings on the grand seemed pretty straightforward, needing to ensure the pins/pinblock health is maintained and to wear gloves to not allow skin oil on the strings and to make sure there was no scratching of the soundboard when removing/reinstalling the strings.

Look forward to knowing what you decide to do

Glen


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