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Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 #2203921 12/28/13 08:57 AM
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Has anyone seen a Conover 9 ft 4 concert grand? Mine is going to Reeder Pianos for complete restoration, soundboard, bridges, restringing etc. it has tapered legs identical to a Mason and Hamlin of the same era. It has 39 bass strings, 9 mono, 12 bicord, and 18 tricord. All wood beams, but extra thick white oak rim. Its heavier than a a Yamaha CF III by far. It has a new action, hammers and sounds incredible deep and rich, and after Reeder does their thing, it should rank with others at the top.

Since Conover Cable held an interest in Mason and Hamlin since about 1904 until the Aeolian buy-out, I am wondering what the true blood lines are of this instrument.


David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
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Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2203936 12/28/13 09:23 AM
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The Conover Piano Company was founded by J. Frank and George Conover in 1880 and had their building shop in Kansas City, Missouri. Around 1890 they moved to Chicago and formed a partnership with Cable. In the period in which your piano was built, it was the top of the line of the Conover/Cable brands and the Conover Concert Grand was the jewel in the crown.

In that era, I am unaware of any connection with Mason & Hamlin other than the very loose association of piano builders. To the best of my knowledge, there were no shared parts between the builders. If you have other information, please share it with us.

Also, if you have any photos, especially of the frame and innards, would you be willing to share? It is not often that these instruments are encountered.

Cheers,


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2203951 12/28/13 09:56 AM
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I'd love to hear this instrument after the restoration. Photos and soundclips, please!


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Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2203955 12/28/13 10:03 AM
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I am a huge fan of Conover pianos and have done complete (soundboard et al) on many, I even make a periodic pilgrimage to the factory in Oregon, IL. I would love to see and hear everything you have for this instrument. I have often wondered if there were any concert grands still around. If you piano is built upon the same lines the smaller pianos I have worked on, you will have a dream!

BTW, Reeder is a top shelf rebuilder, you are in good hands.

Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2203963 12/28/13 10:26 AM
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There was a discussion of a similar Conover concert grand some time ago. Does it have their version of the Tension Resonator, which they called Crownstay?


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Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2203982 12/28/13 11:18 AM
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[Linked Image]
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David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2203990 12/28/13 11:33 AM
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[Linked Image]

A picture of my Conover in a church from the South side of Chicago(1930). Hard to see but bottom right conner is the Conover.


http://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1904-38-8/MTR-1904-38-8-23.pdf

Last edited by Davepost; 12/28/13 11:51 AM.

David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: anrpiano] #2203992 12/28/13 11:36 AM
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Friend, i agree with your sentiments. I have a model 66 with Crownstay from 1927. I have also been to Oregon, Ill. This was the old Schiller factory. The best grands were, however, built in Chicago. The Chicago factory building was destroyed in the early 1960's to accommodate the new branch of the University of Illinois. I obtained information from the Chicago Public Library archives. J. Frank Conover, who studied piano design under Weber, lived on Michigan Avenue during those days and later retired to Missouri. He is buried there with his wife. The Cable/conover outlet was on Wabash Avenue, right behind the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, across an alleyway. This 1910 Conover was sold later to a Church further south on Michigan Avenue sometime in the 1920s. I bought it from that church, which had been a "mega church" in that day. The word from the church was that the piano had originally come from the Chicago Symphony. I am a supporter of the CSO and have an invitation to peruse their archives and photos to substantiate this claim. I will do so shortly. When I was at the Mason & Hamlin factory earlier this year, Bruce Clark told me that Mason and Hamlin was under the control of Conover/Cable for roughly 20 years. Now, I know it takes a long time to make a rim press, and is very expensive. Could they have used the M & H rim, and just changed the logo on the plate casting?


David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: BDB] #2204018 12/28/13 12:58 PM
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There are no bars at all under this one. I have a 1927 5-5 with Crownstay and one bar. It is incredible nice.


David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2204025 12/28/13 01:27 PM
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What about the organ in the pic?


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Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: SMHaley] #2204038 12/28/13 02:03 PM
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Shortly after this photo they replaced the organ with an Aeolian Skinner which they still have which no one plays. Four manual. I played it about 7 years ago.


David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2204122 12/28/13 05:01 PM
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David,

Thank-you for your information, none of which I knew.

I have often thought the M&H and Conover had some similarities if in no other terms than the sheer massiveness of their construction. Especially the Conovers from the first two decades had massive rims with the later ones somewhat thinner rims.

Andrew

Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: anrpiano] #2204174 12/28/13 06:46 PM
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If I can find an early Mason and Hamlin concert grand, I may take some measurements or make a template for comparison.


David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2204178 12/28/13 06:51 PM
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Have you really made due diligence in selecting the best rebuilder?

Adequate is one thing, excellence is another

Last edited by Jon Page; 12/28/13 06:52 PM.

Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
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Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Jon Page] #2204199 12/28/13 07:28 PM
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James Reeder has rebuilt an AA for me before. His experience with these pianos is proverbial. I have played some of his rebuilds and literally swooned. Jim is the distributor for Bluethner. You can meet him at the Bluethner booth at the winter NAAM show.


David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Jon Page] #2204213 12/28/13 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Jon Page
Have you really made due diligence in selecting the best rebuilder?

Adequate is one thing, excellence is another

Jim will do a great job. He is an excellent choice.

(He also distributes Bluthner pianos.)

ddf


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Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2204235 12/28/13 09:18 PM
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Dave, I have a 1920's Cable 5-ft and it has the Crownstay bar and logo and everything. I'm in the middle of refinishing it right now and it needs work in other areas. I restrung it about 20 years ago but I should have redone the bridge caps and the pinblock at the time. It's quite well built and very sturdy, built like a brick-shipyard.

There doesn't seem to be much on the internet about Cable other than little snippets and I've never seen another one except a few pictures. But I've heard of their relationship with M&H (my favorite brand) and always wondered about the details.

Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2204277 12/28/13 10:46 PM
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It looks like it has 21 overstrung notes. Is that correct? What is the speaking length of note 88?


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Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Davepost] #2204305 12/29/13 12:23 AM
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A good place for those interested on doing research on the piano industry history is MBSI.org. They have the archives of the Music Trades Review magazine which reported on the piano industry. It takes some time but by researching what was reported in this magazine from the late 1800s and early 1900s you can kind of put together a history of what some of these piano companies were doing.

Here is what I have found which may or may not be completely accurate. Mason and Hamlin really pushed their screw stringer system in the 1890s. When they gave up on it sometime around 1900??? they were not in good financial shape. A Music Trades Review report from 1904 said that the Cable Piano company was behind of a reorganization of Mason and Hamlin to keep them afloat. When it was announced that Mason and Hamlin was sold to the American Piano Co in 1923 the announcement was made jointly by representatives of the American Piano Co of New York and the Cable Piano Co of Chicago.

From a 1924 article on the history of Conover it says that J Frank Conover began making a few pianos in 1881 in St Louis. In 1892 the Cable Piano Co gave Conover the financial backing he lacked and set him up in their Chicago factory to work out his ideas and build the Conover piano. This 1924 article describes the Conover as " the pride of the Cable Piano Co factories".

So it appears that at the time this Conover concert grand was made, Cable controlled Mason and Hamlin in Boston and Conover in Chicago
So maybe they do share some DNA

Larry Hofer
www.hoferpianoworks.com


Larry Hofer
Hofer Piano Works
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Re: Conover 9 ft 4 in grand from 1910 [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2204602 12/29/13 04:40 PM
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Yes. 21. I will measure no. 88 and get back


David Postma, Associate Member, PTG Lansing, Michigan
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