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#1371086 - 02/11/10 05:12 PM advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
george35 Offline
Junior Member
george35  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
Dear all,

I would deeply appreciate your advice on this used piano I'm interested in buying. I used to play for many years but I'm an admitted novice when it comes to evaluating the inner guts of a piano. We seek to upgrade from our current upright, a mid-20's that we got for free some time ago and whose action (we later learned) was in quite a bad shape and so we deferred further maintenance. I would like my son to start taking piano lessons, which serves to justify the upgrade.

Now, to the point: the piano I'm considering seems to be a Baldwin Hamilton 45" studio (model 243?) and the serial number indicates that it was built circa 1963-64. It looks a lot like the 1956 model shown here: http://picasaweb.google.com/PianoPlayer88Key/BaldwinHamilton243Sn1677141956 (courtesy of 88Key_PianoPlayer, thanks!) My superficial inspection revealed that it appears to be in good shape (in fact, surprisingly good considering the residence it's currently at), namely all hammers work well, are not worn/torn (pads, bridle straps) and seem to be well aligned; it has kept tune very well despite not being maintained in the last 3-4 years; pinblock appears to be in good condition, and so does the soundboard. I really like the tone it produces and it feels nice to play. Only later I learned about the Baldwin's potential issue with catcher buckskins and pinblock/filler block separation, so did not inspect those specifically. So far for my technical assessment ;-)

It looks like I can buy it from the current owner for about $350, plus hauling and tuning expenses. I'm still debating whether or not I should hire a technician to inspect it before I buy, as expenses will add up... and the piano is about 40 minutes away from where I live. If it wasn't clear, I'm on a very low budget (living off a grad student's salary) and looking for a reasonably playable, durable, beginner-level piano.

What should I do? Would love to hear advice!

Many thanks.

Last edited by george35; 02/11/10 05:14 PM.
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#1371107 - 02/11/10 05:40 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: george35]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 992
Larry Larson Offline
500 Post Club Member
Larry Larson  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 992
Carmel, Indiana
Hi George, and welcome to the forum. For that price, it's hard to go wrong. I'm not sure, but I think the buckskin issues came later, like in the 70's. It never hurts to get a tech to inspect it, but at that price I'd grab it quick.


1995 Baldwin L grand
2001 Baldwin Hamilton upright
Yamaha S90 synthesizer
www.larrylarsonpiano.com
YouTubeChannel www.youtube.com/LarryLarsonPiano
#1371757 - 02/12/10 01:39 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: Larry Larson]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
george35 Offline
Junior Member
george35  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
Thanks, Larry! I've been following this forum for a while and found it immensely helpful.

I talked to a technician whom I know, and he basically told me the same thing. Let's see how it all goes... I will follow up with more detail later.

#1372327 - 02/13/10 01:43 AM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: george35]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
george35 Offline
Junior Member
george35  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
Okay, the piano is here, and I'm really happy that I ended up getting it. It is infinitely better to play than the one we used to have! Let's wait for the first tuning/inspection, hopefully my technician won't kill my enthusiasm... ;-)

Having spent a couple of hours vacuuming and cleaning it inside and out, I'm still wondering if there's a standard way to "whiten" the white keys a bit... and to clean through the greasy layer over the cabinet (or is the finish supposed to feel like that? not sure) It wasn't housed in the ideal environment in recent years, to say the least. I will search through the forums to see if I can find any tips for cleaning.

Will follow up, after its tuned etc. Thanks for your help so far.

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#1372614 - 02/13/10 01:27 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: george35]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 992
Larry Larson Offline
500 Post Club Member
Larry Larson  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 992
Carmel, Indiana
Congratulations George! Post some pictures soon. Murphy's Oil Soap is good for cleaning the cabinet.


1995 Baldwin L grand
2001 Baldwin Hamilton upright
Yamaha S90 synthesizer
www.larrylarsonpiano.com
YouTubeChannel www.youtube.com/LarryLarsonPiano
#1377578 - 02/18/10 07:53 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: Larry Larson]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
george35 Offline
Junior Member
george35  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
Hi again,

While the piano wasn't yet inspected nor tuned by a technician (still trying to beat the nicotine smell out of it), I'm currently a bit confused about its age. My serial number is 199306, and Pierce (1982 edition) indicates it could be one of two things: under the Baldwin Piano Co. section (where it is mentioned that Baldwin manufactured numerous brands, including Hamilton) it says "1972-195485" and "1973-199649", which makes it a late-1972 model. However, under the Hamilton Piano Co. (where it is mentioned that Hamilton's are made by D.H. Baldwin since 1889 or so) it says "1961-194308" and "1962-199523", which makes it a late-1961 model. Now that's more of a decade's gap... ;-)

So, which one is it? I have to say that the inside of the piano does not look like a 45+ year old model, unless I'm totally underestimating the way those things hold over the years... or, unless it had been rebuilt ;-) (highly unlikely)

Thanks again.

#1377643 - 02/18/10 09:45 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: george35]  
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member
88Key_PianoPlayer  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
It's a 1961.

After about 1930, only grand pianos use the Baldwin numbers. All verticals after that generally use the Hamilton numbers for the studio and taller uprights, and Acrosonic for the consoles and spinets, if I understand correctly.
One note about the taller uprights and Hamilton numbers - there may be a few years where the model 6000 (52") and model 248 (48") used their own numbers which were slightly different, especially when those models were first introduced.

Also, in Pierce, under the Baldwin heading it should basically tell you to look under Hamilton for those pianos. My 12th edition Pierce says:
Originally Posted by Pierce Piano Atlas 12th ed.
For Baldwin vertical pianos up to 42" tall and older than 20 years, see Acrosonic. For Baldwin vertical pianos 44" tall and up, see below. For Hamilton see Hamilton. These numbers apply to all grands by Baldwin and only to verticals prior to 1930 and after 1984.


Further on it lists entries for "Baldwin vertical pianos up to 42" tall" and "Baldwin vertical pianos 44" tall and up: 6000, 5050, 248 (after 1993), 243" both starting with 1984. (It also lists "Baldwin 248A Pro for 1990 to 1993 separately.) If you look at the numbers under Acrosonic and compare them to the Baldwin post-1984 verticals up to 42", and also look at the numbers under Hamilton and compare them to Baldwin post-1984 verticals 44" and taller, you should notice the numbers are identical in most years (there is a discrepancy in a few though).

The important thing to note is that the main Baldwin numbers do NOT apply to verticals made after 1930.


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.
#1377660 - 02/18/10 10:33 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 48
Chicago Tuning Offline
Full Member
Chicago Tuning  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 48
take it before sombody else snached it! the price is really low.


piano tuner-technician in chicago and chicagoland
http://www.chicago-piano-tuning.com
#1377820 - 02/19/10 03:22 AM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
george35 Offline
Junior Member
george35  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
Thanks for taking the time to provide this detailed reply! Evidently, the 8th edition of Pierce (the only copy found in my campus library system) mentions none of these subtleties.

#1377867 - 02/19/10 05:02 AM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: george35]  
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member
88Key_PianoPlayer  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
No problem. smile

BTW, does the inside of that piano look anything like this one?

[Linked Image]

That's mine, which is a 1956, and there wasn't much changed between then and 1961.


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.
#1378139 - 02/19/10 01:54 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
george35 Offline
Junior Member
george35  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
Yep, exact same thing, inside and out ;-) I'll post my own pictures once I get a chance to take them. Thanks 88Key_PianoPlayer.

#1392192 - 03/09/10 02:22 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: george35]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
george35 Offline
Junior Member
george35  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
As promised, pictures. Technician visit likely next week...

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

#1392228 - 03/09/10 02:59 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: george35]  
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 2
clark the pianoman Offline
Junior Member
clark the pianoman  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 2
Sarasota, Fl
Smart Move having a piano technician look at it first!


Clark Dawson
Pritchard's Pianos
Sarasota, Fl
Steinway & Sons, Boston, Essex, Kawai, Kohler & Campbell, Roland, Pianodisc
#1392377 - 03/09/10 06:41 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: clark the pianoman]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 992
Larry Larson Offline
500 Post Club Member
Larry Larson  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 992
Carmel, Indiana
Congratulations George! It looks like you got a nice piano for a great price.


1995 Baldwin L grand
2001 Baldwin Hamilton upright
Yamaha S90 synthesizer
www.larrylarsonpiano.com
YouTubeChannel www.youtube.com/LarryLarsonPiano
#1392516 - 03/09/10 11:21 PM Re: advice needed: used Baldwin Hamilton studio [Re: Larry Larson]  
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member
88Key_PianoPlayer  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
I agree w/Larry... that's a really nice looking piano. It's a few years older than mine - yours is a 1961 (I looked up the serial number I could see in one of the pics), mine's a 1956. Other than that the design is pretty much the same between the two. Actually yours is toward the end of 1961 - your # is 199306, and the first one for 1962 is 199523. (First for 1961 is 194308.)

Now that we've seen pics, we want recordings! wink laugh


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.

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