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#2196189 - 12/11/13 05:04 PM Convert old upright to electric  
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 18
Joeywhat Offline
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Joeywhat  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 18
My Grandmother has an old Starck upright that is currently not playable. It's horribly out of tune, and with a cracked bass bridge. If it's unable to be repaired, I'd like to consider converting it to an electric piano. I had a few ideas about this, and was hoping some here had some experience with it.

First, I really like the action on the keys. It's nice and light, very tactile....just right. Is it possible to keep the action in place, and have the keys still trigger MIDI data? I'm sure I could figure out a custom setup that kept the action, but I'm wondering if it's been done before.

Second, I want to do this cheap. Instead of just squeezing an electric piano into the wood, I'm thinking about either keeping the action like above, or inserting a cheap-ish MIDI controller to replace the keys. I would then set it up to connect to external synth modules, and likely have a basic good sounding general MIDI module in the piano, along with some speakers and a small amp all housed inside so you can get basic sounds without external devices.

I might even incorporate a Raspberry Pi (very small computer for those unaware) and see about making it a sequencer as well.

Any thoughts on this?

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#2196395 - 12/12/13 02:50 AM Re: Convert old upright to electric [Re: Joeywhat]  
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 124
Adypiano Offline
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Adypiano  Offline
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Joined: May 2012
Posts: 124
Surrey, UK
Have a look at the PianoDisk website. I'm pretty sure they sell a non contact (won't affect the action in any way) MIDI transmission rail. As far as muting the strings, maybe a double thickness of celeste felt in front of the hammers would do the trick - you'll probably have to adjust the setoff to accommodate this.

This installation would be very simple, and could be undone in the future if you decided to have the piano fully rebuilt.


Started work at the Blüthner piano re-building workshop in Perivale, UK, in 1989. Self employed since 2000. Learning something new about pianos every day... smile

http://www.hamiltonpianos.com/
#2196455 - 12/12/13 08:51 AM Re: Convert old upright to electric [Re: Joeywhat]  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 3,960
TimR Online content
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TimR  Online Content
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Posts: 3,960
Virginia, USA
Originally Posted by Joeywhat

First, I really like the action on the keys. It's nice and light, very tactile....just right. Is it possible to keep the action in place, and have the keys still trigger MIDI data? I'm sure I could figure out a custom setup that kept the action, but I'm wondering if it's been done before.



I'm skeptical.

The organ hobbyists do this all the time. They use reed switches to trigger a signal and wire them all to a MIDI module.

But they don't need velocity data. Organ keys are on-off. I think it would be a huge undertaking to retrofit a piano that way.

I'd buy a stage piano and insert it.


gotta go practice
#2196495 - 12/12/13 11:14 AM Re: Convert old upright to electric [Re: Joeywhat]  
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beethoven986 Offline
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Originally Posted by Joeywhat

Second, I want to do this cheap.


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#2196539 - 12/12/13 12:39 PM Re: Convert old upright to electric [Re: Joeywhat]  
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musicbased Offline
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musicbased  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 159
UK
I've fitted a few 'pianodisc magicstar' systems, they do exactly what you describe, and work very well actually.
Unfortunately though, i'm just a drone worker bee and don't buy/sell the stuff, so haven't got a clue how much it costs.

#2196560 - 12/12/13 01:35 PM Re: Convert old upright to electric [Re: Joeywhat]  
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 18
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member
Joeywhat  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 18
I've found a few conversion options for MIDI output, cost might be a factor. A real nice system is about $2000, which is good keyboard territory anyways. I'll still look around a bit.

#2196597 - 12/12/13 03:43 PM Re: Convert old upright to electric [Re: Joeywhat]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 539
iLaw Offline
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iLaw  Offline
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Posts: 539
Chicago
Originally Posted by Joeywhat

... Is it possible to keep the action in place, and have the keys still trigger MIDI data? I'm sure I could figure out a custom setup that kept the action, but I'm wondering if it's been done before.


You might see if you can still find a Moog PianoBar around used. It did exactly what you're talking about, using a sensor rail that ran along the fallboard and a pedal sensor.

But hard to find these days.

Larry.

#2196615 - 12/12/13 04:19 PM Re: Convert old upright to electric [Re: Joeywhat]  
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,131
SMHaley Offline
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SMHaley  Offline
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Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,131
Seattle
Originally Posted by Joeywhat
I want to do this cheap. Any thoughts on this?


Many thoughts... doing things "on the cheap" never bodes well. So are you going to leave the plate and strings and so on and so forth? Not very practical having a 500lb. beast just for a fake piano and speakers. And yes, converting the action with velocity sensitive tech isn't going to be like picking up a cheap weighted action Casio an plopping it in.


PTG Associate
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AA Music Arts 2001, BM Organ, Choral 2005


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#2196634 - 12/12/13 04:55 PM Re: Convert old upright to electric [Re: Joeywhat]  
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 126
TheKeysAssassin Offline
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TheKeysAssassin  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 126
Kansas City, MO
What I would do is buy a Yamaha YPG-235 from your local music store (100-300 dollars US), remove the key assembly, exposing the sensors. I would then creat a mount under the keys to hold the sensors into place. Then create a contact point for the key by adding a wooden dowel, so the key only strikes a certain area. Here are some pictures of the inside of the keyboard I mentioned.

http://tecflip.tumblr.com/post/69277531106/yamaha-ypg-235-teardown

Hope that helps!


-Nathon Lee
YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/JleewSongs
Yamaha P-35b

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