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#2129321 - 08/07/13 07:38 AM Is my piano worth regulating?  
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pinkfloydhomer Offline
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Hi everyone!

I was fortunate enough to be given a slightly used Nordiska 120CA upright piano for free a couple of years ago.

The piano is probably from about 2004-2006. I don't know how many times the previous owner had it tuned and/or regulated, if at all.

I've had it tuned a couple of times, but I think it is due for regulation. The action seems heavy, sluggish, uneven, unpredictable. There seem to be unwanted and excessive friction in one or more parts of the action. It is hard to play pianissimo.

I know this is not the best or most expensive piano in the world. But I got it for free so I have kind of a head start, economically. I am willing to spend some money if it makes a big enough difference to be worth it.

1) Is it worth paying to have a cheap Chinese piano regulated? Or will my money be better spend on saving for a better piano?

2) How much of a difference will it make to get this piano regulated? How even and "silky" can the action get?

3) What kind of regulation would typically be needed on a piano such as this (Chinese, cheap)? What would be the technicians main points of focus? What would you as a technician do to such a cheap Chinese piano the make it better? Possibly more than just regulating? Where would I get most bang for the buck?

4) Assuming it makes sense to throw some money at this piano, I have to find a good technician that can do whatever is needed. I live in Denmark, so unfortunately I can't just get the nearest PTG member. Piano tuners and technicians are less "organized" in Denmark (and in most of Europe) than in the US. I suspect there are more "bad" technicians here, but maybe that's just prejudice. How do I go about finding a good technician in my area?


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
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#2129336 - 08/07/13 08:33 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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1,2: Yes, it will be worth it and make a noticeable difference to your enjoyment of playing.

3: Action regulation in this case would also include cleaning and lubrication as well as the mechanical adjustments necessary to assure that the key was properly powering the hammer. The particulars will depend on the exact deficiencies of your piano, but a knowledgeable person will simply deal with whatever it is.

4:Maybe one of the folk from Europe on this forum could offer a suggestion?


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#2129349 - 08/07/13 09:12 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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A heavy and sluggish action might indicate dampness swelling the centre bushings so it may need a strip down and recentre job. On the other hand it may turn out to be tight key bushings if it has not had much use over the years.

It is a pretty young instrument so I personally would seriously consider spending money provided the casework is in good order.


Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
#2129354 - 08/07/13 09:33 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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one cause of sluggish action was also the plastic flanges of the "pianic" actions. but I doubt they where used in Nordiskas as recently.

what brand is the action ? (often written on the hammer rest rail)

120cm, recent piano, of course you may have it better regulated.

those sluggish flanges can be treated with WD40 (the only occurrence I agree its use ;)) CLP does not work enough in that case.


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#2129371 - 08/07/13 10:09 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: Olek]  
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Well, the piano IS in Denmark (Copenhagen, to be exact) which I guess have a rather high relative humidity, from 68% to 88% according to this link http://www.copenhagen.climatemps.com/humidity.php

Not the best environment for a piano, I guess. But still worth throwing money at?





Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
#2129378 - 08/07/13 10:35 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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Yes, the piano can be improved by regulation and a friction treatment. I would NOT spray WD-40 into the flanges (...sorry, Olek), but there are many lubes that would help with sluggish action centers. WD contains too many things I don't near the tuning pins!

Finding a technician to trust in Denmark? Like anywhere else, you might ask those that use tuners and need good ones. Schools, churches with a busy musical schedule, performance venues, piano teachers, music stores/dealerships and find who THEY use for their service. No guarantee, of course, but whoever they are using is getting called back, which is a measure of competence, at least.

Reasonably,
I am,
trying to help!


Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com
#2129386 - 08/07/13 10:52 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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I would strongly advise NOT using WD40 on any part of a piano action ... you may well end up ruining it. Further more I personally would not recommend using any lubricant (although some will disagree) that saturates the bushings as a means of easing tightness. Any tech that knows his/her stuff should be quite capable of stripping the action down and broaching out the centre bushings .. it takes longer but ensures a reliable and permanent fix. The lubricant (CLP) is normally applied to the new pin before re-assembly and is minimal so as to be just enough to lubricate, but not enough to saturate the bushings and contaminate the wood to bushing surface.

Unhook the tape-ends of a few sluggish notes and note whether the hammers and underlevers return when the action is out of the piano. If sluggish they need recentring, if not then you may well find the problem lays in key bushings and should be fixable with a little easing.


Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
#2129404 - 08/07/13 11:29 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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Hi Pinkfloydhomer - Welcome to Piano World!

First off, I am not a tech, I am a pianist.

If I understand your request correctly, you are not asking for instructions on how to rectify a problem, but rather, is it worth having your piano action regulated by a professional?

The answer to this is Yes.

Entry level instruments, such as yours, often do not receive the detailed regulation and voicing that would be accorded to a higher level instrument. No matter the make, it would be time to have these issues addressed. It is amazing what a little TLC can do for any piano. The expense is minimal compared to the cost of a new piano, and yours is relatively young in its expected life span.

As far as finding a good technician, I completely agree with TunerJeff. Asking around is always the best way to get first hand recommendations. He lists some very good sources.

Do keep us posted.

Cheers,


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2129415 - 08/07/13 11:56 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: TunerJeff]  
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Originally Posted by TunerJeff
Yes, the piano can be improved by regulation and a friction treatment. I would NOT spray WD-40 into the flanges (...sorry, Olek), but there are many lubes that would help with sluggish action centers. WD contains too many things I don't near the tuning pins!

Finding a technician to trust in Denmark? Like anywhere else, you might ask those that use tuners and need good ones. Schools, churches with a busy musical schedule, performance venues, piano teachers, music stores/dealerships and find who THEY use for their service. No guarantee, of course, but whoever they are using is getting called back, which is a measure of competence, at least.

Reasonably,
I am,
trying to help!


I will be more specific : of course DONT SPRAY WD40 or any oil on an action.

This is ONLY for the "PIANIC" actions , as can be find on some Polish instruments, (Calisia, Legnica, ) or East German (Hupfeld) I am not even sure they where used on Nordiska

Those actions get very stiff in time, and re pinning doe snot work really.
Possibly the original cloth was contaminated by the glue used but it is yet sort of oily, gummy, the reamers get dirty and the result is not even.

The plastic of the flanges probably "dry" in time and reduce in size, so many centers get stiff and then sticky.
The centers often are also corroded.

The only solution I find is to use WD40 , a drop on each side of the cloth- oil possibly can work.

The acoustical part of the instruments is generally worth having the piano regulated and voiced (not really well done initially)

In the worst case (all hammer centers too stiff, plus all whippen centers, plus all jack centers for instance) , possibly buying a new set of flange of adequate quality is a good solution.

A new set of flanges is not so expensive, and the result would be more definitive.

Changing the cloth on plastic flanges I never did. It is probably possible, but would be more expensive than using new ones.

In the meantime a drop of WD40 make the part work for a decent time.
Or Ballistol oil, as was proposed by Schimmel on problematic centers (but on wooden parts)

The 66-86% air moisiture is for outside, indoors it is probably more accepteable

edit : possibly a petroleum distillate was used originally as a lubricant on those cloth, hence the problems I noticed in time.

Basically I'd say as Jonkie, to never use oil or saturate the cloth with teflon based product, that can make a cloth change difficult and make the cloth spongy .

usually the only product I use is water and alcohol to clean, compress, shrink and adjust the cloth to the center.
A product a little similar to CLP is proposed today by Renner for their flanges, bu we do not have much feedback on its durability.

Last edited by Olek; 08/07/13 12:13 PM.

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#2129429 - 08/07/13 12:28 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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I have found that lubrication is often temporary with these types of instruments. Inconsistent pinning is common, and I suspect the bushing cloth is not the greatest either.

No amount of regulating is going to fix an action with pinning and other friction issues. I would suggest repinning the hammer flanges to 2-4 grams of friction, polishing the keypins and treating with Protek Prolube, applying microfine Teflon to hammer knuckles, make sure the damper timing is not early with the keys, and make sure the repetition springs are not too strong.

The few Nordiska pianos I have seen have been reasonable well regulated. However, once the friction issues are resolved, a refinement of the regulation my bring the performance up another notch.


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
#2129439 - 08/07/13 12:48 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: rysowers]  
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xx

Last edited by Olek; 08/08/13 05:16 AM.

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#2129518 - 08/07/13 05:01 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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Another thing to consider is having a climate control system, such as the Dampp Chaser/ Piano Lifesaver system installed. If the piano is suffering from high humidity and that is the root cause of the sluggishness, controlling the humidity will negate the need to have all of that other work done (which still might not permanently solve the problem(s)).



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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#2129526 - 08/07/13 05:20 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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The lifesaver system is a great suggestion, but unfortunately if dampness has caused flanges to swell they are unlikely to return to their original size by employing it now. Getting the work done first and then installing the system should ensure it never suffers from dampness again. I've recentred countless tight actions and never had a single one not be permanent if dampness has been rectified within its enviroment.


Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
#2129533 - 08/07/13 05:36 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: OperaTenor]  
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Originally Posted by OperaTenor
Another thing to consider is having a climate control system, such as the Dampp Chaser/ Piano Lifesaver system installed. If the piano is suffering from high humidity and that is the root cause of the sluggishness, controlling the humidity will negate the need to have all of that other work done (which still might not permanently solve the problem(s)).


Or, more likely, maintain the condition of the piano once it has been gone through.

Installing a humidity control system is a very good recommendation.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#2129535 - 08/07/13 05:42 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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Yes a humidity control system is ideal. I would use it first for at least a month before repinning or anything. You want to fix problems in the same environment that the piano will be in.


Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca
#2129707 - 08/08/13 04:51 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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all those humidity control recommendation do not take in account that your climate conditions may not be as extreme they look.
the temperature is low , so the RH% is high.

I did not look closely but the temperature is low enough so the outdoor HR is normal but reduce drastically indoors. (you do not live with 12°c inside I suppose)



so I am surprised of those recommendations.





Last edited by Olek; 08/08/13 05:16 AM.

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#2129718 - 08/08/13 05:43 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: Olek]  
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Originally Posted by Olek
all those humidity control recommendation do not take in account that your climate conditions may not be as extreme they look.
The conditions are similar to Paris +- where indoor moisture is about 40% in winter and 55 during summer

Moderate, then.

I did not look closely but the temperature is low enough so the outdoor HR is normal but reduce drastically indoors. (you do not live with 12°c inside I suppose)

so I am surprised of those recommendations.



On those cheap Chinese actions, (I finally understood I was referring to another era of Nordiska pianos) the best way to free the stiff centers is to moisten them if not one time 2 or 3, with an alcohol water mix, then let dry.

Durable and less expensive than reaming & changing the centers.


Last edited by Olek; 08/08/13 06:24 AM.

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#2129776 - 08/08/13 08:18 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: Olek]  
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Originally Posted by Olek
all those humidity control recommendation do not take in account that your climate conditions may not be as extreme they look.
the temperature is low , so the RH% is high.

I did not look closely but the temperature is low enough so the outdoor HR is normal but reduce drastically indoors. (you do not live with 12°c inside I suppose)



so I am surprised of those recommendations.






Hmm. It's not cold all the time in Denmark. In the last months we've had many nights with minimum temperature of 18-20 degrees celcius (appx. 64-68 degrees fahrenheit) and maximum temperatures during the day of 30 or more celcius (86 fahrenheit).

In January a typical day is maybe -10 celcius (14F) minimum and 0 to 5 celcius maximum (32F-41F).
So I would say that the temperature varies quite a lot here. And so does the relative humidity. In the winter, the indoor air gets very dry exactly because it is cold air with relatively low amount of absolute humidity which is then heated to about 21 celcius, resulting in very low relative humidity. In the summer, the indoor humidity probably is the same as outdoors, all our windows are open most of the time smile

Also, it rains a lot here and we're surround by water. Copenhagen is right by the ocean.


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
#2129780 - 08/08/13 08:27 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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I just took a photo of the action. All it says on the hammer rest rail is "Nordiska", as you can see. So I don't know what brand the action is, other than Nordiska.

[img]http://postimg.org/image/sphgxdcur[/img]

I don't know how to insert the image in the post, apparently. But you can click this link, I guess:

Nordiska action

Last edited by pinkfloydhomer; 08/08/13 08:31 AM.

Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
#2129803 - 08/08/13 09:10 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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What I would do is ask a tuner/technician to tune your piano, assess what regulation is needed, and test out a few notes to give you an idea of the potential results.

It may be that loosening stiff centres then adjusting let off, capstans, and, possibly, dampers will make a big difference.


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
#2129907 - 08/08/13 11:50 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: Withindale]  
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Originally Posted by Withindale
What I would do is ask a tuner/technician to tune your piano, assess what regulation is needed, and test out a few notes to give you an idea of the potential results.

It may be that loosening stiff centres then adjusting let off, capstans, and, possibly, dampers will make a big difference.


Yes , first thing is to evaluate and tune the piano (at pitch). the action seem to be well assembled. It is a somewhat standard Chinese action, for the few I worked on I noticed pinning problems, second grade cloths and leathers, but they can be upgraded by just a precise regulating.

Correcting the dry season is probably enough if the instrument is more often in 60% than 40% moisture.



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#2130126 - 08/08/13 10:02 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer

It looks beautiful. Perhaps a action has not yet developed

#2130191 - 08/09/13 04:24 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: Maximillyan]  
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Originally Posted by Maximillyan
Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer

It looks beautiful. Perhaps a action has not yet developed


What do you mean?


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
#2130192 - 08/09/13 04:25 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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Also, to everyone:

How much time and how much money should it take to do what you people are suggesting, re-pinning, lubricating, removing friciton, regulating the action, regulating the dampers, the damper pedal etc. ?

If all the flanges are being repinned and rebushed, doesn't that take a lot of time (and money)?

Last edited by pinkfloydhomer; 08/09/13 04:26 AM.

Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
#2130210 - 08/09/13 05:26 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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From your photo it looks as though it has hardly been used. In which case the regulation shouldn't need a great deal of adjustment. Cleaning and lubrication of keyframe pins takes minutes. It's always difficult to advise regarding the remedial work necessary having not examined the instrument first, but assuming the hammers, underlever flanges, jacks are all needing recentring, then 2 to 3 days should be enough time if the work is undertaken by an experienced tech. Dampers may be affected too but generally they would have to be really tight to cause enough trouble to affect performance.

The cost is something that depends on what they charge per hour in your part of the world, however if you are wondering whether it would be worth the outlay, then I personally would say yes, absolutely.

Your biggest concern should be finding someone with the skill and experience to do the job properly, by which I mean someone who will diagnose the problems correctly and then if found to be tight centres, will then completely strip the action down and re-centre, rather than apply other remedies that would never be acceptable during original manufacture.


Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
#2130213 - 08/09/13 05:37 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer
Originally Posted by Maximillyan
Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer

It looks beautiful. Perhaps a action has not yet developed


What do you mean?

I dare to hope that the intensive exploitation of the piano
will develop a action. Excessive friction in hammers will loose. You will be able to play all kinds pianistic touch

#2130248 - 08/09/13 07:29 AM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: MU51C JP]  
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Originally Posted by Johnkie
From your photo it looks as though it has hardly been used. In which case the regulation shouldn't need a great deal of adjustment. Cleaning and lubrication of keyframe pins takes minutes. It's always difficult to advise regarding the remedial work necessary having not examined the instrument first, but assuming the hammers, underlever flanges, jacks are all needing recentring, then 2 to 3 days should be enough time if the work is undertaken by an experienced tech. Dampers may be affected too but generally they would have to be really tight to cause enough trouble to affect performance.

The cost is something that depends on what they charge per hour in your part of the world, however if you are wondering whether it would be worth the outlay, then I personally would say yes, absolutely.

Your biggest concern should be finding someone with the skill and experience to do the job properly, by which I mean someone who will diagnose the problems correctly and then if found to be tight centres, will then completely strip the action down and re-centre, rather than apply other remedies that would never be acceptable during original manufacture.



Johnkie, you may not dismiss the alcohol/water treatment of centers.

First this is part of the original adjusting method used by Renner for the centers.

Second, it can provide a non expensive method very adapted to that kind of action.

3d it allows to keep centers that are probably good/

4 th the Renner method of adjusting friction imply no reaming with rough reamers, but adjusting the cloth with heat, (needles in a drill press) and alcohol (to shrink the cloth and compress it with the wood expansion)

5th some felt pens are even sold by Renner to do that adjusting job - 2 strenghts 2-4 g and 4-6 grms - another one is a lube for grand hammer flanches.

I have done that once on a Chinese action of a "free piano" for some neighbours of mine, that never would have pay for 2-3 days work.

I took the action (almost totally blocked) to the shop , for 3 days.
Checked the centers and moistened them with a 70/30 mix 3 times (12 hours drying each time)
Changed 3-4 centers that did not react correctly.

That was 3 years ago.
The piano is used dayly by 2 kids, the boy is even gifted, and they are happy to have a playeable instrument.
The keys have to be eased and the pins lubed. piano tuned, fast regulation check.
Fast voicing pass

I was paid for 10 hours , and this was yet a good amount for that family.

That method mean some experimenting as not all bushing cloth are pure wool (many are not, probably) and the wood of the flange differs a lot.

This is not a widely used method. indeed a new center with some burnishing with polished steel needles is eventually better, but the first action is to moisten.

You may ask a few manufacturers using Renner parts, if you dont trust me .

I even have been told to clean and lube the centers every few years, but now it may depend how they have been treated and lubed initially.

ALcohol/water easily can be too strong. some caution is necessary, and testing too.

The budget to make playeable that sort of piano may be about +-500-600 Euros. tuning inclueded. Then experienced techs avoid that sort of job, so this may be a problem.







Last edited by Olek; 08/09/13 07:31 AM.

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#2130433 - 08/09/13 01:08 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: MU51C JP]  
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pinkfloydhomer Offline
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pinkfloydhomer  Offline
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Denmark
Originally Posted by Johnkie
Your biggest concern should be finding someone with the skill and experience to do the job properly, by which I mean someone who will diagnose the problems correctly and then if found to be tight centres, will then completely strip the action down and re-centre, rather than apply other remedies that would never be acceptable during original manufacture.


Yep, that's my concern. Can I find someone who will do a great job and for a fair price? Hard to say, I guess.


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
#2130435 - 08/09/13 01:14 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: Olek]  
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pinkfloydhomer Offline
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pinkfloydhomer  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 621
Denmark
Originally Posted by Olek

The budget to make playeable that sort of piano may be about +-500-600 Euros. tuning inclueded. Then experienced techs avoid that sort of job, so this may be a problem.


I would easily pay 600 euros to make this piano as good as it can be. But it's not so easy to find the right person that will do the right things for the right amount.

There are no Danish techs on this forum, I think smile


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
#2130438 - 08/09/13 01:20 PM Re: Is my piano worth regulating? [Re: pinkfloydhomer]  
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Withindale Offline
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Withindale  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 2,511
Suffolk, England
Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer
Originally Posted by Johnkie
Your biggest concern should be finding someone with the skill and experience to do the job properly, by which I mean someone who will diagnose the problems correctly and then if found to be tight centres, will then completely strip the action down and re-centre, rather than apply other remedies that would never be acceptable during original manufacture.


Yep, that's my concern. Can I find someone who will do a great job and for a fair price? Hard to say, I guess.

I'd suggest you put your question to the people on this page and ask them to suggest one or two suitable members of the association in your area.


Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
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