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Uprights: music desks and fallboards #1715168
07/17/11 03:56 PM
07/17/11 03:56 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 4
L
LambertsFireside Offline OP
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LambertsFireside  Offline OP
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L

Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 4
I love my handsome old pre-depression Chas. M Stieff upright. My parents, non-musicians, bought it when I started lessons as a child — and, all these years later, having played all sorts of pianos elsewhere (ranging from the crummy to sublime), I am impressed by how good a choice they made, both with regard to its fine, rich tone and the "feel" of its action. If, heaven forbid, I were ever forced to replace it, I would look for something similar.

But, purely as a thought experiment, what if I had to buy a new upright? Looking at the full-sized uprights available, I am struck by the fact that nearly all of them lack a proper music desk, instead relying on a pathetic little flap which flips down from the inside of the fallboard — which, in turn, doesn't fold cleanly out of the way, but merely leans back awkwardly against the case. Not only is the 'music desk' impossibly small, any sheet music you do manage to balance on it doesn't have a flat surface to lean against, since the lip of the fallboard sticks out uncomfortably halfway up.

So I have two questions:

1) What full-sized uprights DO exist with proper music desks? Having poked around a little bit online, here are the only ones I have been able to find:
*Mason & Hamlin model 50 (50")
*Kawai K-8 (52")
*Yamaha YUS5 (52")

Additionally, there are a few models which seem somewhere in-between, where (if you wish) you can lift the upper case (or part of it) up over the fallboard to stand partway open, creating some sort of a pseudo-music desk:
*Steinway K-52 (52") (assuming that this feature still remains — Steinway's current photos do not illustrate it but google image search turns up some examples only a few years old. Did they redesign the case or just take newer, less informative photos?)
*Petrof P135 K1 (53")

Aside from these examples I've found, are there any others I've overlooked?


2) More generally, why are proper music desks so unpopular on full-sized uprights? No matter how lovely the tone and responsive the action of a fine new upright, how could anybody commit to buying it when its music desk is bound to be a perpetual source of frustration to anybody who doesn't play exclusively from memory? (This question is especially bewildering when it comes to the super-fancy hand-made European companies — if you're spending as much as $40,000 (!!) on an upright, wouldn't you expect something with a little luxury and comfort to it? Why pay so much for something so Spartan and uncomfortable?)

Many thanks for your thoughts on these two questions.

(I realize that this subject has been raised on these boards before; but I thought a new, dedicated thread would be useful, both to spark interesting discussion on 2) and to organize answers to 1) for the possible convenience of new buyers whose interest is less theoretical than mine.)

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Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715170
07/17/11 04:08 PM
07/17/11 04:08 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 363
Utah
christineka Offline
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christineka  Offline
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Utah
I don't know, but have been wondering about this as well. Yesterday I took a few children to check out pianos. Later, while discussing them, my 9 year old said she didn't like the pianos because the music stands were too small. I can also see how not having a proper back to hold the music could be problematic. I am sometimes given music printed onto computer printer paper to play and it needs something behind to hold it up. I am new to shopping for pianos, however, so I don't know what's out there. I suspect someone somewhere has invented an add-on piano music stand, though I don't know that such a thing actually exists.


Christine *mom* to
5 daughters, 2 sons
*1912 Lindman Player-Piano*
1906 Chickering Quarter Grand
Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715199
07/17/11 04:44 PM
07/17/11 04:44 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 3,745
Vancouver B.C. Canada
Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Rod Verhnjak  Offline
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The Charles Walter 1500 and 1520 have plenty of space for music. Almost the entire length of the keyboard.

[Linked Image]

Although there is a music desk there is a lip the entire length to hold music.

[Linked Image]


Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

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Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: Rod Verhnjak] #1715201
07/17/11 04:50 PM
07/17/11 04:50 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 4
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LambertsFireside Offline OP
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LambertsFireside  Offline OP
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Joined: Jul 2011
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Yes, I had noticed the Charles Walter pianos, but I didn't include them in my list because they are only 43" and 45" tall. But perhaps that counts as "full-sized" nowadays!

Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715212
07/17/11 05:10 PM
07/17/11 05:10 PM
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 649
Georgia
C
ChasT Offline
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ChasT  Offline
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C

Joined: May 2009
Posts: 649
Georgia
The Wm. Knabe WKV-131 and the Pramberger JP-131 come to mind. And I agree about the dinky little folding music rest. It may upset some among us, but that was a consideration when I bought my little Kawai UST-9, which I still quite like.

Charles


Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715247
07/17/11 06:17 PM
07/17/11 06:17 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 39
N.J.
L
L.K. Offline
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L.K.  Offline
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N.J.
My Baldwin Hamilton upright has the entire length of the keyboard for music, kind of like the Charles Walters. The only time it is annoying is when dealing with photocopies, because the paper has to be completely flat against the front of the piano, or else it gets severely bent. Fortunately, the piano is tall enough that as long as you can avoid bending the paper, it works fine.


L.K.
serious piano student
1951 Steinway M (rebuilt 2011)
Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715255
07/17/11 06:38 PM
07/17/11 06:38 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 521
Washington, D.C.
Aliwally Offline
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Aliwally  Offline
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Washington, D.C.
Originally Posted by LambertsFireside



2) More generally, why are proper music desks so unpopular on full-sized uprights? No matter how lovely the tone and responsive the action of a fine new upright, how could anybody commit to buying it when its music desk is bound to be a perpetual source of frustration to anybody who doesn't play exclusively from memory? (This question is especially bewildering when it comes to the super-fancy hand-made European companies — if you're spending as much as $40,000 (!!) on an upright, wouldn't you expect something with a little luxury and comfort to it? Why pay so much for something so Spartan and uncomfortable?)





Amen. I agree, not only that they don't even have soft-close fallboards.

The Yamaha P-22 can be added but it is only 45".


Yamaha P-120, Feurich 122

Always look ahead, but never look back. - Miles Davis
Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715312
07/17/11 08:37 PM
07/17/11 08:37 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 3,745
Vancouver B.C. Canada
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Rod Verhnjak  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 3,745
Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted by LambertsFireside
Yes, I had noticed the Charles Walter pianos, but I didn't include them in my list because they are only 43" and 45" tall. But perhaps that counts as "full-sized" nowadays!


The Walter actions are "full-sized"
Just play a Walter beside other 45" pianos.

Better yet pay a Walter beside many other 50" uprights and come to your own conclusion if the extra 5" is needed.


Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook

Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: Rod Verhnjak] #1715345
07/17/11 09:30 PM
07/17/11 09:30 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member
88Key_PianoPlayer  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
What about something like this?
[Linked Image]
I do wish the bass/tenor break part of the scale was reconfigured to be more like that of the Steingraeber 138 or the Steinway K-52, though, or like this piano (taller though so as not to foreshorten the speaking lengths quite so much in the low tenor). Also I liked the bass of my old upright (a couple inches taller, restrung with Arledge bass strings) even though it had the old worn hammers, and I prefer the tone in the middle few octaves of the 1950s Hamiltons.
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]
The last 3 are mine... although, maybe I could use something like this... wink
[Linked Image]


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.
Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715428
07/18/11 12:17 AM
07/18/11 12:17 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,705
USA
G
gnuboi Offline
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gnuboi  Offline
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G

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,705
USA
88Key's last pic is the big old Baldwin 6000. You could buy them new today, same style, but made in China (less $$$$ than an M&H 50 or Kawai K-8 for sure).

Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: gnuboi] #1715451
07/18/11 01:53 AM
07/18/11 01:53 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member
88Key_PianoPlayer  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
Actually it's the first pic that's a Baldwin 6000. The last one is photoshopped to put a Hamilton top on top of the Baldwin, giving twice the music area and a somewhat taller piano. blush grin


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.
Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715617
07/18/11 09:41 AM
07/18/11 09:41 AM
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 67
San Diego, CA
H
hmrnmky Offline
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hmrnmky  Offline
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H

Joined: May 2011
Posts: 67
San Diego, CA
When I was looking for a 50" upright I wanted a proper music desk also but they are not easy to come by. I was very interested in the Baldwin because of the music desk and the grill on the front. I called the only dealer within 100 miles or so of me and they said they never get that model in. I went to Yamaha and inquired at the U5 for the same reason, none in stock, hard to get nobody wants to spend the extra money for the design. I settled for the U3 with the flip down music rest. It worked ok but I never closed the fallboard because it was a hassle to always remove the music and fold up the meager flap. I had to dust the keys alot more often. My suggestion is DO NOT SETTLE for anything less that what you truely want.

Last edited by hmrnmky; 07/18/11 09:43 AM.

2011 Yamaha GC2
Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1715788
07/18/11 02:57 PM
07/18/11 02:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,266
Ohio, US
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
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Little_Blue_Engine  Offline
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Posts: 1,266
Ohio, US
This may be a dumb question and not really related to the music desk I suppose but can anyone tell me why the Charles Walter and two of the Baldwins have uneven cheek blocks?


I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: Little_Blue_Engine] #1716062
07/18/11 11:30 PM
07/18/11 11:30 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 4
L
LambertsFireside Offline OP
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LambertsFireside  Offline OP
Junior Member
L

Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 4

Originally Posted by Little_Blue_Engine
This may be a dumb question and not really related to the music desk I suppose but can anyone tell me why the Charles Walter and two of the Baldwins have uneven cheek blocks?

To give more room for the diagonally-strung bass strings, I suppose?

Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1716071
07/18/11 11:47 PM
07/18/11 11:47 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member
88Key_PianoPlayer  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
Originally Posted by LambertsFireside

Originally Posted by Little_Blue_Engine
This may be a dumb question and not really related to the music desk I suppose but can anyone tell me why the Charles Walter and two of the Baldwins have uneven cheek blocks?

To give more room for the diagonally-strung bass strings, I suppose?

I think there's definitely something to that. The bass strings in the Walter and the Hamilton are a few inches longer than ones in some other similarly-sized pianos.

Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1716091
07/19/11 12:21 AM
07/19/11 12:21 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,705
USA
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gnuboi Offline
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gnuboi  Offline
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USA
Ah look what I found:

http://www.hailun-pianos.com/products/upright-pianos.html

New Hailun uprights with grand-style music desks...

Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: Little_Blue_Engine] #1717272
07/20/11 12:58 PM
07/20/11 12:58 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 793
Westford, MA
the nosy ape Offline
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the nosy ape  Offline
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Westford, MA
Originally Posted by Little_Blue_Engine
This may be a dumb question and not really related to the music desk I suppose but can anyone tell me why the Charles Walter and two of the Baldwins have uneven cheek blocks?

I never noticed that about my Baldwin 6000. If you had asked me before I would have sworn that they were the same size. I guess that says something about my attention to detail.

Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1717398
07/20/11 04:38 PM
07/20/11 04:38 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 616
Monterey, Ca
Zormpas Offline
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Zormpas  Offline
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Monterey, Ca
I share your frustration - I think a lot of it has to do with the one piece fallboards commonly used on modern uprights. Many of them just flop up ungracefully, and you're expected to balance your music on a rail on their underside. A few have the old English style fold down rack attached.

I much prefer the old style two piece, double folding fallboards on uprights. The fallboard gets out of the way so that a decent music desk can be utilized at the correct height...


-Zorba
"The Veiled Male"
http://www.doubleveil.net
1918 Hobart M. Cable "H"
"No-one would knowingly provide Franz Liszt with a mediocre piano." -E. M. Good
Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: Zormpas] #1717622
07/20/11 11:02 PM
07/20/11 11:02 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 4
L
LambertsFireside Offline OP
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LambertsFireside  Offline OP
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L

Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 4
Apparently this double-hinged, fold-away-cleanly mechanism is called a Boston fallboard. My old Chas. M. Stieff has one, and it's lovely*. I am still curious to know if anybody has any idea why they are shunned by the makers of modern uprights.

(*On mine, it's additionally attached to a mechanism which slightly opens the upper front panel of the case, so that when the fallboard is open, ready to play, more sound can escape.)

Re: Uprights: music desks and fallboards [Re: LambertsFireside] #1717692
07/21/11 01:08 AM
07/21/11 01:08 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 387
Wichita, Kansas
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gutenberg Offline
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Wichita, Kansas
The music desk is one of the things I dearly love about my Petrof 131 (P131E1). Not only is it a built-in shelf, it is the approximate height of a grand's desk. Also, the top lid is recessed where the music lays. All in all, a very thoughtful design.

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