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#2048939 - 03/15/13 11:11 PM Wrong Color Felt?  
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DanS Offline
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While piano shopping for my students recently (and keeping an eye open for myself for later in the year) I been seeing a lot of rebuilt pianos with the 'wrong' color felt. I've seen a lot of Bechsteins with red, a Bluthner with red, and even a few with two different colored felts. My initial impression is that if a rebuilder is going to cut corners on the felt, what other corners are being cut.

Thoughts?

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#2048941 - 03/15/13 11:15 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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That's a good point. If they can't even get the felt right, what else did they get wrong?


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#2048945 - 03/15/13 11:33 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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My thoughts are that if they don't know/don't care about those details there are probably tons of other details they also don't know/ don't care about.

Every great piano rebuilder whose work I've enjoyed absolutely paid attention to detail. Yes, they certainly might decide not to refinish a case, etc. becuase they know it might drive the price up too high. But the work they decide to do is absolutely good down to the details.

Of course there's also the possibility some owner along the line told the technician, "No, I want blue felt. I like the color blue better."


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#2048946 - 03/15/13 11:37 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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There have been times when different colors of felt have not been readily available. You can find oddities among pianos where nothing has been changed.


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#2048948 - 03/15/13 11:41 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
There have been times when different colors of felt have not been readily available. You can find oddities among pianos where nothing has been changed.


For the piano manufacturer or the technician?


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#2048962 - 03/16/13 12:47 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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I am a rebuilder/technician. It has not always been easy to acquire a perfect color match between all of the string felts and braid. Each batch can have obvious shade differences so you end up with a lot of cloth you can't use together. If all you do is judge a piano rebuild by the felt color I don't want you as a client.

There are many beautiful looking rebuilds that play and sound poorly. Play and listen to the work and if the piano interests you have the structural integrity evaluated by an independent, qualified Tech to assure quality. Most rebuilders think the true value they are providing is the musical utility of the instrument and the longevity of those qualities.

Most of the new pianos have pretty impressive cosmetics now compared to the standards of 20 to 30 years ago. Most though have a molded look to the cases with all that thick polyester. Some have poorly seasoned wood and things like pedal assemblies and legs dry out and come loose. I would say that is pretty bad thing compared to wrong felt color! I could go on.

But if felt color is your thing I am sure you could find someone who would concentrate on that issue for you.


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#2048969 - 03/16/13 01:30 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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Could it also be that on some rebuilds the customer requested the felt colour? ie. some odd felt colour choices may not have been the choice of the rebuilder.

#2048972 - 03/16/13 01:50 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I am a rebuilder/technician. It has not always been easy to acquire a perfect color match between all of the string felts and braid. Each batch can have obvious shade differences so you end up with a lot of cloth you can't use together. If all you do is judge a piano rebuild by the felt color I don't want you as a client.



Well, I never would have guessed it was that hard. But I think the OP was asking about pianos where the technician didn't care about the colors normally associated with a particular piano.

Color match, for example, between reds isn't something I've evaluated before. I guess now I'll do some looking out of curiousity.


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#2048975 - 03/16/13 01:56 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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I agree with Ed McMorrow. Who gives a ______ about the felt color? High quality felt is high quality felt, and this is independent of what color it is.

#2049006 - 03/16/13 04:54 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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Probably a customer wants it to look nice, and that does not necessarily mean original.

My Grotrian was rebuilt with the original color - brown felt. I did not like the color and asked the rebuilder to replace it with nice red.



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#2049012 - 03/16/13 05:28 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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"If all you do is judge a piano rebuild by the felt color I don't want you as a client."

Well said!

Dammit, my Digital`s got BLACK felt . . I always thought it was red . . . Black Felt! Glad I never noticed that in the shop . . but I have now.


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#2049024 - 03/16/13 06:14 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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The rebuilders say there are more colors called 'black' than you would believe.


Clef

#2049045 - 03/16/13 07:27 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Jeff Clef]  
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
The rebuilders say there are more colors called 'black' than you would believe.


And if you've ever done some interior decorating, you'll know there even more versions of white!

#2049057 - 03/16/13 08:22 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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I wonder what colour felt is on my piano. I've never looked. And if it ever was rebuilt (which will be in a long time!!), I'd want it to play and sound great - and colour of felt would be a trivial issue.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
#2049061 - 03/16/13 08:38 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
If all you do is judge a piano rebuild by the felt color I don't want you as a client.
Nobody said "pianos are X color felt are better than pianos with Y color felt." That would be like saying that black pianos play better than mahogany! wink

#2049077 - 03/16/13 09:31 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Three cheers for what Ed said ! Plus, what makes you think the different felt color is "cutting corners"; chances are just as good that it's MORE expensive. What matters, even if it's paisley, is the sound, the sound, the sound. thumb


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#2049092 - 03/16/13 10:18 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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Yay for Ed! Really? The felt color?

C


I often wonder what could have been.

1917 Baldwin L, Satin Mahogany, #30220
#2049102 - 03/16/13 10:39 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Jim Frazee]  
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Originally Posted by Jim Frazee
what makes you think the different felt color is "cutting corners"; chances are just as good that it's MORE expensive.


Good question. To me, it just seems like taking the easy way out, almost as if the rebuilder doesn't want to take the time to get the original color. They have red felt in the shop, so lets just use that. It makes me wonder what else the rebuilder had laying around the shop that they just used.

Of course I realize that the color doesn't directly effect the quality of the rebuild, or the sound. I was just wondering what everybody's thoughts were.

#2049105 - 03/16/13 10:45 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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Some of what you are calling felt is actually felted cloth. Starting with a weave of cloth, it is then run through a felting process, where fibers are deposited on the mesh, resulting in a strong, thick cloth. It is not something that you can just run out and buy anywhere. We are tied to our sources of supply.


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#2049122 - 03/16/13 11:03 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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With a top level restoration, I feel the felt should be the color of the original issue. It is similar to placing a fallboard logo which is not correct for the period. These sorts of details have varied across a manufacturer's production periods. A 1920 S&S-M is visually very different than a 1970-M. I believe it is important, in a full restoration/rebuild, to match the original visual appeal. It is the same with the brightwork of the pedals, hinges, etc.

However, it is the person with the checkbook who would have the final say.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2049130 - 03/16/13 11:22 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
With a top level restoration, I feel the felt should be the color of the original issue. It is similar to placing a fallboard logo which is not correct for the period. These sorts of details have varied across a manufacturer's production periods. A 1920 S&S-M is visually very different than a 1970-M. I believe it is important, in a full restoration/rebuild, to match the original visual appeal. It is the same with the brightwork of the pedals, hinges, etc.

However, it is the person with the checkbook who would have the final say.



I think this is true to an extent, with certain brands. For example, I think one can get away with less artistic license on a Steinway because it is such an iconic brand (for better or worse). However, some rebuilders do like variation in their work by trying things differently... my mentor thought that red felt looked chintzy, so he occasionally used other colors, all high quality felt, from Germany.

#2049136 - 03/16/13 11:45 AM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: beethoven986]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
I agree with Ed McMorrow. Who gives a ______ about the felt color? High quality felt is high quality felt, and this is independent of what color it is.

Quality is of highest importance, of course, but color matters a great deal as well! Colors are to some extent the hallmark of the brand. A Steinway rebuilt with green or blue felt and cloth has something "wrong" about it. Its resale value will be diminished.

Fortunately, we can have our cake AND eat it too! Sure, if you buy all your rebuilding supplies at the one-stop shopping place for piano parts, your options may be red, red and red. But there are other sources which specialize in high quality felts in cloths in a variety of colors - burgundy, green, blue, browns etc.

Nowadays, there is no real reason for not rebuilding a brand with its traditional color of felt, except perhaps not caring. I would put "Who gives a __________" in that category. Who knows what else such a rebuilder is "not giving a _____" about....?

#2049250 - 03/16/13 04:42 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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"...I agree with Ed McMorrow. Who gives a ______ about the felt color?..."

We get a fair amount of letters here from people who are all but drooling over their felt color. There was a whole thread about purple felt on a white elephant (or, it was so blue it was almost purple) (or, it looked purple in some shots, to some cameras, and to some users' eyes). There was one guy who was dying to change the felt color under his lid; I forget the particulars but remember the steam over the question. Too many threads to count on what color is on what model from what period; what is authentic, and what is morally ambiguous. Even a few regarding the qualities of underfelt on the hammers, and the importance of a properly contrasting color. And when a maker changes color, it excites comment and speculation, without fail.

I suppose they are yearning for the fun that blondes have and they don't. Anyway, "Who gives a ______ " does amount to quite a few people. Horton has heard a Who. And why not, it is harmless enough. Extending felt color as an index of the quality of a rebuild is not very reliable. There are many good questions to ask about the quality of parts, and the philosophy of the rebuilder--- and there are even other things to say about felts--- but these have to be asked one at a time, and with the particulars in mind. And in the end, it comes down to the touch, the tone, the look, and the price tag.

I think my felt is a dark red, but I would have to look to be really sure. I'm pretty sure. The grindstone my nose is on does not have a particular color; it is imaginary, but my nose needs to get back to it. The felt color plays no Bach.


Clef

#2049299 - 03/16/13 06:36 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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Restoring a piano / instrument is like playing a piece of music, all senses must go into understanding the nature of the instrument and been faithful with the intencions it was created understanding that is the unique vehicle between a player and the music-. Not only in the most important part of the restoration (The sonority) but also any small detail including the color of the felt , because in fact , the work done will recover all the sense by wich was created, and it is a respect for the instrument, and the days of better past (musically speaking) wich was created and designed.

Last edited by Lluís; 03/16/13 06:37 PM.

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#2049309 - 03/16/13 06:47 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Lluís]  
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Originally Posted by Lluís
Restoring a piano / instrument is like playing a piece of music, all senses must go into understanding the nature of the instrument and been faithful with the intencions it was created understanding that is the unique vehicle between a player and the music-. Not only in the most important part of the restoration (The sonority) but also any small detail including the color of the felt , because in fact , the work done will recover all the sense by wich was created, and it is a respect for the instrument, and the days of better past (musically speaking) wich was created and designed.


And I think the original manufacturer of the piano would agree. Top tier pianos are perfect (or almost) to every detail.

Also, the Larry Fine book which seems very respected around here, does factor in the finish and appearance of the piano when deciding quality. Interesting how some technicians seem to not agree.

Would a Fazioli still be a Fazioli if the finish of the piano wasn't so breathtaking? I'll conceed that the felt is just a part of the appearance (and maybe even a small part).


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#2049317 - 03/16/13 06:58 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
If all you do is judge a piano rebuild by the felt color I don't want you as a client.


There is a significant difference between judging an entire rebuild by the felt color and thinking it is a detail worth paying attention to.

I don't think anyone is suggesting to judge the whole rebuild by the felt color, or at least I'm not. But I am suggesting that it might reveal the rebuilder's attitude towards details.


Pianist and Piano Teacher
#2049320 - 03/16/13 07:07 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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I am planning to tint wool felt to the exact green color of Pleyels fortepianos. It is question of respect to great masters and artists lost in time by industry and money.

Imagine the Mona Lisa with a modern frame... The importance of a work of art is the picture ofcourse, but every detail makes the opus more rich and powerful in his function of transmitting the right emotion.


1942 Challen Baby Grand Piano

1855 Pleyel Pianino (Restoring -> www.pleyelrestoration.blogspot.com )
#2049352 - 03/16/13 08:22 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: Lluís]  
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Originally Posted by Lluís
I am planning to tint wool felt to the exact green color of Pleyels fortepianos. It is question of respect to great masters and artists lost in time by industry and money.



Wow. I respect that level of dedication. Not every piano rebuild can or should go to that level, but it's laudable when it happens.


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#2049408 - 03/16/13 10:12 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: musicpassion]  
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I think the clear intent of the "Old Masters" of piano technology was to use whatever materials and methods give the best overall result and possibly, also, just maybe, actually make enough money to live reasonably well on. By best overall result I also mean a pianos ability to survive vigorous and regular use without loosing its voice-assuming it has a great voice to begin with.

Until Jurgen set up shop in North America, it was very difficult to get the blue Bluthner and Green Bechstein cloth. Also back in the late 1970's and 1980,s getting firm, deep red cloth that matched for both the Steinway/Mason&Hamlin/Baldwin duplex felt rests and under-string cloth was a challenge. This also goes for the brown cloth Steinway/Mason/Chickering used in the 1960's and 1970's. Cosmetic standards of almost all pianos made from the end of WW2 until the late 1980's were often quite rough.

I think it would be better to look at the quality of the bridge notching/pinning, string spacing, tuning pin angles, agraffes square to string, hammer to string spacing, key-bushing firmness, shift pedal that clears one string at full movement, for a visual indication of attention to musically significant detail. You would also be wise to ascertain that the V-bar has been brought to a true V profile and that the agraffes, even if new, have the string holes chamfered to allow full pivot string termination.

Most pianos become a work of art only if they are used by a musical artist. There are a few "Art Cases" which include masterful decoration beyond the simple elegance of a finely finished surface.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
#2049412 - 03/16/13 10:23 PM Re: Wrong Color Felt? [Re: DanS]  
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Art cases are not at issue and the discussion is about present day rebuilding. All of the colors needed are readily available.

Attention to all of the details; mechanical, sonic, and visual, are the hallmarks of a truly fine rebuilder.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
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