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Dietmann piano
#2070702 04/25/13 01:21 PM
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I went to evaluate a problem in the tenor area of a vertical at a church. It turns out, the hammers are exploding. I can't find this piano listed. Who makes it? The only markings I could see said: Dietmann Original. It might have been brought here from SA.

Last edited by Jon Page; 04/25/13 01:22 PM.

Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com
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Re: Dietmann piano
Jon Page #2070815 04/25/13 04:28 PM
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Yes John, they are from South Africa. I am always a bit confused by Dietmans - the company seemed to go through several large changes, in models and in production quality. I have seen a few which were quite decent. I hope some of our S.A. participants know more and will chime in.

[edit - just so you know - exploding hammers is not a very good sign...]

Last edited by Supply; 04/25/13 04:29 PM.

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Re: Dietmann piano
Supply #2070878 04/25/13 06:06 PM
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It seems like a quality built piano. I have repaired exploded hammers with glue and clamps, then drilling two small holes to insert wire to twist (whole set).


Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com
Re: Dietmann piano
Jon Page #2070887 04/25/13 06:21 PM
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You can also do this using one pair of 7" needle nose vise grips, hide glue, and heavy thread. See this post number below:

#2045509 - 03/09/13 01:44 PM Re: Bridle Strap Band-Aid [Re: Olek]

The entire thread is useful, but you will have to scroll down to read about my thread trick. I did some Baldwin bass hammers that way this week, but sorry, no pictures.


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Re: Dietmann piano
Jon Page #2070963 04/25/13 08:01 PM
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I prefer to use a wire twisted because a thread wrapping does not look professional enough and could get hung up on an adjacent hammer. I use phosphor bronze spring wire because it is easy to with.

Last edited by Jon Page; 04/25/13 08:02 PM.

Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com
Re: Dietmann piano
Jon Page #2071231 04/26/13 03:24 AM
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Disclaimer: I'm no professional piano tech, but I can share what info I have.

To my knowledge, Dietmann was a German piano technician who emigrated to South Africa in the 1920s. His son founded the piano factory in Wellington around 1955. They built pianos at various price and quality points, some of them stencils, some under license (e.g. Ibach - I have one of those). The factory closed in the 80s.

As far as I've been able to determine, most of the factory's brands, Dietmann amongst them, had a good reputation as reliable instruments, and were actually exported worldwide. But it appears they used a wide range of parts and qualities.
* The Ibachs, for example, were their flagship, and were assembled with Renner actions and Ibach soundboards (at least they bear the genuine decal) from Schwelm in Germany. To my knowledge, Rolf Ibach actually worked with (or at?) at the factory for some time. My parents also have one of these (1966), similar to mine (1970). While both sound very good and play well, they show signs of shoddy workmanship, notably sloppy bridge notching and pinning.
* The Otto Bachs were apparently their mid-range and "work horse". Every other household and teacher had one, and still has. I was told by an elderly tech that these were actually stencilled Knight pianos. "Otto Bach" was originally an export range of the big Leipzig manufacturer Gebr. Zimmermann. (I have one of those "originals".) Apparently Dietmann jr. bought the name and stencilled it onto those Knights. They were sold by the thousands and are still very common on the local used piano market. I've worked on one, and saw that it had the stamp of an English keyboard maker on the keyframe - but I've forgotten the name. This would bear out the assertion that they are stenciled English pianos.
* Another brand that I've seen from this factory is Ludwig Meister, but I don't know anything about these. They may have been an entry-level offering.
* Whether the Dietmann range was some stencil or Dietmann's own design and product, I don't know. They are not as common as the Otto Bachs.

The Otto Bach that I worked on also had some exploded hammers.
[Linked Image]

I glued and clamped this with hot hide glue, but didn't fit a (new) staple (yet). I see the piano regularly, and as yet, the repair is holding up. The action has no markings, so I presume it was developed in-house by the Dietmann factory. It has black plastic flanges and jacks, which are holding up well even after 40 years. (The keyframe punchings are another matter...)

The other weak spot on that instrument is a severely cracked bridge in the high treble. This may be an isolated case - I have no others to compare it with. It's still tunable, but I'm envisaging to repair it with epoxy sometime. The pinblock tunes well, but may be separating in the high treble, as the right action bracket is jamming quite severely on its bolt. The soundboard was varnished/painted with a greenish, almost opaque finish, and is crack-free.

I'm just providing these details so that the OP can compare notes.

I still have the original Dietmann factory brochure and invoice that came with my Ibach (the previous owner bought it new). I'll have a look whether they wrote something specific about the various brands they sold.

Sorry, most of this is second-hand information that I've gleaned from local techs, internet searching and partly my own observations. Some local techs may know better, but I haven't seen any such info posted on the 'net, which is why I've summarised my own findings here. I hope it helps the OP nevertheless.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Dietmann piano
Jon Page #2071245 04/26/13 04:16 AM
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See also a previous post in this forum, where the old factory premises were described:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb.../Grand%20Piano%20-%20Otto%20Bach???.html

And I've just found this interview with Dietmann jr., published last year. I'll archive this on my PC, as it's news to me, and I'm not sure how long these articles "live" on the WWW.
http://www.classicsa.co.za/site/fea...ounder_of_piano_factory_in_south_africa/

(It appears the Otto Bach and Dietmann are, once again, available as stencils. But I haven't seen any of them yet, not to mention, played one.)


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Dietmann piano
Jon Page #2071279 04/26/13 06:28 AM
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Mark, thank you for the information and links. As shown in your photo, that is a mere glue joint failure, a minor separation and can be easily glued. The hammers on this piano have a higher tension and have actually sprung widely apart, the felt is blocking against the damper block. This set has at least 30% exploded thru the bass and tenor and will need to have the set replacement.

It's sad actually because the church was reluctant but obligated to accept this donation and now it is an albatross. With any luck, the donors will feel obligated to donate the funds for repair.


Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com

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