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#2235761 - 02/22/14 01:29 AM Question for the Rebuilders.....  
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Paul678 Offline
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The owner of a M&H that I'm looking at claims this partial rebuild was done for about $8000:

" Piano has had the Soundboard refinished, refinished plate, replaced felt and buffing hardware. Replace strings, replace pinstock, replace tuning pins, replace dampers, replace hammers replaced keytops, check action. Replace caster wheels. Finished November 2005. RESTORED BY RENNER PIANO Service in Houston Texas."

I believe "pinstock" was meant to be "pinblock".

The piano looks and plays like a new one, except for the
cracked, original soundboard.

Does $8000 seem like a correct figure for this amount of work?

Thanks in advance.....

Last edited by Paul678; 02/22/14 01:32 AM.
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#2235765 - 02/22/14 01:36 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Seems about right.


Semipro Tech
#2235778 - 02/22/14 02:53 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Seems about right.


Ok, thanks.

The owner is asking $4,500. So for certain he's
going to take a loss on this one. He already
rejected my offer of $4,000 so he's just trying
to get what he can.

The cracked soundboard doesn't seem to affect the tone,
which was great when I tried the piano, but I will try
it once more to make sure I wasn't imagining things....

#2235835 - 02/22/14 08:04 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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You're asking the wrong people. Contact a qualified tech in the area and have them evaluate the piano.

Last edited by Jon Page; 02/22/14 08:05 AM.

Regards,

Jon Page
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#2235847 - 02/22/14 09:08 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Monaco Offline
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I'd take that job for $8k


Ben Ereddia
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#2235903 - 02/22/14 11:49 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Jon Page]  
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Originally Posted by Jon Page
You're asking the wrong people. Contact a qualified tech in the area and have them evaluate the piano.


+1


Professional of the profession.
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I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
#2235929 - 02/22/14 12:33 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Jon Page]  
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Originally Posted by Jon Page
You're asking the wrong people. Contact a qualified tech in the area and have them evaluate the piano.


That would be the case if he were asking about doing the job, but he is not. He is inquiring about a job done years ago.


Semipro Tech
#2235950 - 02/22/14 01:19 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Unless it's a top-tier grand, anyone will lose money selling a piano they had rebuilt. IMO, that shouldn't matter, because a piano is not a financial instrument. I really wish we would stop looking at them that way.

Monetary return on investment and musical appreciation are not relevant to each other.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
#2235952 - 02/22/14 01:23 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: BDB]  
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The job was done back in 2005.

I just wanted to know if the figure he gave me for the work was
realistic. I've looked at the piano, and it looks like
everything he stated was indeed done.

But I will likely have a tech look at the piano anyways.

If about $8,000 was really what he paid for the partial re-build, then it's truly a buyer's market at the moment, and he's going to lose quite a bit on this deal.

I should buy this piano really.....

Thanks.

#2235956 - 02/22/14 01:33 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Originally Posted by Paul678

I just wanted to know if the figure he gave me for the work was
realistic.


Yeah. That sounds about right.

#2235959 - 02/22/14 01:35 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: OperaTenor]  
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Paul678 Offline
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Originally Posted by OperaTenor
Unless it's a top-tier grand, anyone will lose money selling a piano they had rebuilt. IMO, that shouldn't matter, because a piano is not a financial instrument. I really wish we would stop looking at them that way.

Monetary return on investment and musical appreciation are not relevant to each other.




You're right, Jim. I shouldn't always think
about things in terms of money, but that's very
easy to do.

If a piano speaks to me personally, and I can
reasonably afford it, I should buy it.

But I do want to test the seller's honesty,
because $4,500 plus about $200 to move the piano
is quite a chunk of change for most people.

Not to be taken lightly in my situation.

#2236046 - 02/22/14 05:03 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: beethoven986]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
Originally Posted by Paul678

I just wanted to know if the figure he gave me for the work was
realistic.


Yeah. That sounds about right.


Yes, for what was done, that's correct.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
#2236048 - 02/22/14 05:06 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Originally Posted by Paul678
Originally Posted by OperaTenor
Unless it's a top-tier grand, anyone will lose money selling a piano they had rebuilt. IMO, that shouldn't matter, because a piano is not a financial instrument. I really wish we would stop looking at them that way.

Monetary return on investment and musical appreciation are not relevant to each other.




You're right, Jim. I shouldn't always think
about things in terms of money, but that's very
easy to do.

If a piano speaks to me personally, and I can
reasonably afford it, I should buy it.

But I do want to test the seller's honesty,
because $4,500 plus about $200 to move the piano
is quite a chunk of change for most people.

Not to be taken lightly in my situation.


Thanks. My mini-rant was more broadly directed than the question at hand. It seems like almost every time I see the subject of a rebuild come up, it focuses on the question of return on investment in terms of dollars spent, and I feel that's an obtuse point of reference.

But, I understand you wanting a little backup on whether what you're hearing is accurate. That's a sensible question to ask, IMO.


Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
#2236268 - 02/23/14 10:03 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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If you get the piano for $4000 or $4500, you are the high bidder, and should not assume you can resell for more. In a buyers' market, your purchase establishes the going price. A high quality, fully rebuilt M & H A would sell in the $20,000s, and it should play "like new." That is not what you are buying, and if you like the piano, $4000 is a low price for a piano you will enjoy.


Ed Sutton, RPT
Just a piano tuner!
Durham NC USA
#2236292 - 02/23/14 11:16 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Ed Sutton]  
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Paul - What Ed is saying about the going price is the key to whether you're doing okay with a deal or not. Going by what I've seen, this sounds like a fair deal. A summer ago we sold a Conover grand with a similar amount of work done for $4500 here in rural Iowa. Judging by the fact that I made one phone call to a prospective buyer, offered him the price and had a check for the amount in my hand a half hour later, I'm thinking I could have gone higher. A Mason and Hamlin is (in my experience) a better made piano than a Conover, so I would say if the restoration work was well done (hire a reputable technician to ascertain that), and you really like the piano, you're golden.

Here's the Conover we sold for the price you're talking about:

[img:center][Linked Image][/img]



Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
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"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
#2236324 - 02/23/14 12:12 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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$4500 for that is a steal! Related to another topic, who would recomend a new, low end asian piano over something like that?!?!

Last edited by Monaco; 02/23/14 12:12 PM.

Ben Ereddia
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#2236326 - 02/23/14 12:23 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Yep some see the used Roll Royce or Jaguar as the better drive.


Dan Silverwood
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#2236396 - 02/23/14 03:05 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Chuck Behm, CPT-E]  
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Wow, that Conover even looks like the M&H!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/drslick/sets/72157638568484836/

Same beautiful finish.

Again, this M&H played and felt like a new piano, and even looked new except for the cracked soundboard.

In regards to Rolls Royces and Jags, would the M&H be
considered the Jaguar?

Haha!

#2236407 - 02/23/14 03:29 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Wow. Too bad about those cracks.

Have you gotten under it and knocked on the ribs in the vicinity of the cracks? That's one way of checking for buzzes and rattles from them; it's checking to see if the ribs have come unglued.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
#2236435 - 02/23/14 05:04 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: OperaTenor]  
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Originally Posted by OperaTenor
Wow. Too bad about those cracks.

Have you gotten under it and knocked on the ribs in the vicinity of the cracks? That's one way of checking for buzzes and rattles from them; it's checking to see if the ribs have come unglued.



Yeah, it's a bit too late to replace the soundboard now,
right? It really should have been done during the rebuild (as per the other thread about newer soundboards being better). My guess is that the cracks in the soundboard are quite possibly the main reason the seller has not been able to sell this piano.

However, the tone was still fantastic, so it doesn't seem like this will matter to me. Other people are more concerned about cosmetics, but I'm more about tone and feel.

I didn't notice any buzzes or rattles, but when I look at the piano again, I will definitely check the ribs.

Thanks for the tip....

Last edited by Paul678; 02/23/14 05:06 PM.
#2236572 - 02/23/14 11:26 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Are the cracks wide open or are they just a dark line or two along the grain? It is dry indoors this time of year so they are likely to be open to the maximum for your climate right now.


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#2236605 - 02/24/14 12:58 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Quote
Wow, that Conover even looks like the M&H! - Paul


Hi Paul - It didn't look like much when it was delivered to the shop. It was a freebie, so we had no initial investment in it. Here it was when it was dropped off:

[img:center][Linked Image][/img]

As far as crack in the soundboard, many older pianos have them, oftentimes without noticeable effect on the tone or volume of the piano. If the piano plays and sounds like a dream, figure that the crack is probably saving you several thousands of dollars.

I bought a Jet band saw once that was a floor model. It had a little ding in one corner, and they took off $200. It still is a great saw, and I've never once been bothered by the dented corner! Chuck



Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
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"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
#2236648 - 02/24/14 06:08 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Are the cracks wide open or are they just a dark line or two along the grain? It is dry indoors this time of year so they are likely to be open to the maximum for your climate right now.


The pics were taken around December of last year, which was fairly high humidity for Tucson. It's driest around May and June.

You could not see through the cracks, and they are with the grain, as you see in the pics, and there are more than one of them. Several actually. I will take a second look soon....

#2236650 - 02/24/14 06:22 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Chuck Behm, CPT-E]  
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In response to Chuck: Yes, even true professional or serious semi-pro musicians will be concerned with cosmetics, just for aesthetics, even if it's just for their personal use.

Here's what the seller claims:

"This piano first home was in astabula Ohio from the early 1900 to 1998. Was then moved to southern California, from 1998-2004. Then moved and restored in Houston TX, in 2004. Shipped in early part of 2006 to Tucson AZ to present time."

I'm wondering why the soundboard was either not replaced, or at least the cracks not cosmetically treated, during the re-build. Is it possible the cracks were not there at the time, and only formed here in Tucson, starting in 2006? Is it possible cracks of that nature could form in the 8 years the piano has been in dry Tucson?

I know my Martin guitar did not have significant cracks until I moved from California to Tucson. It's very dry out here in the desert.....

#2236681 - 02/24/14 09:14 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Paul - If the piano was built in 1900, and it still has the original soundboard, it would be very unusual (in my opinion) for there not to be any cracks. The soundboard is in essence a wooden membrane just a little more than 1/4" thick made of spruce planks merely butt-jointed together. When it gets dry, the wood naturally loses some of its moisture content, and cracks open up. These will either be absolutely straight, indicating a butt joint opening, or will follow a grain line. In humid weather, they will become less obvious as the wood swells - sometimes to the point where they can't be seen at all. Then, when a dry season has its effect, they will open up again.

Look and see if you see evidence of shims in the soundboard, which would indicate that the rebuilder attempted to fix any crack which were showing. It is very possible that the when the piano was worked on, it wasn't as dry in the rebuilder's shop as it is in its present home.

Take a look at this picture of the soundboard of a piano which we had in our shop. When I looked at the instrument in the client's home it was summer and the air was hot and humid. I saw a few hairline cracks, but nothing else. When the piano was brought to the shop, and I worked on it over the following winter, the cracks started opening up. And opening up. And opening up! I believe I installed 24 shims:

[img:center]ht[Linked Image]tp://[/img]

My guess is that the rebuilder fixed what he saw, but the piano is now considerably drier than it was. Chuck



Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
#2236710 - 02/24/14 10:56 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Paul, what Chuck said.

Also, since the cracks have that black grit/oxidation in them, I have to think they predate the rebuild.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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#2236734 - 02/24/14 11:54 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Chuck Behm, CPT-E]  
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Paul678 Offline
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Chuck, I assume your technique is similar to this:

http://www.jonespianohouse.com/JPH_Gallery_Soundboard.htm

Although your shims appear to be thinner. So your point is that the cracking can re-occur, even after a shimming repair has been done, right?

I didn't notice any evidence of shimming, and I still don't see any in the pictures. I seems to me that they would still be obvious, even though you attempt to stain blend the woods.

If these cracks did predate the rebuild, perhaps the re-builder decided not to shim them, in order to preserve the original tone as much as possible?

In what way can the shimming process alter the tone? Isn't degradation of the tone a risk?

#2236763 - 02/24/14 12:59 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Originally Posted by Paul678
Chuck, I assume your technique is similar to this:

http://www.jonespianohouse.com/JPH_Gallery_Soundboard.htm

Although your shims appear to be thinner. So your point is that the cracking can re-occur, even after a shimming repair has been done, right?


That's how it's done, yeah.


Originally Posted by Paul678
I didn't notice any evidence of shimming, and I still don't see any in the pictures. I seems to me that they would still be obvious, even though you attempt to stain blend the woods.


Some shops are really good at hiding them, but most of the pianos I see with shims are obviously shimmed.

Originally Posted by Paul678
If these cracks did predate the rebuild, perhaps the re-builder decided not to shim them, in order to preserve the original tone as much as possible?


No. What "original tone"? The stiffness of a soundboard changes over time, which alters the impedence of the soundboard. An 80 year old soundboard, while still possibly useable, is not going to sound the same as it did when it was new.

Originally Posted by Paul678
In what way can the shimming process alter the tone? Isn't degradation of the tone a risk?


No.

#2236976 - 02/24/14 07:56 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Hi Paul - Actually, the techniques used in the link you posted are a bit more advanced than my methods. I'm still using hand tools to fit the shims - not a better method by any means than what you get with someone using power equipment - just what I'm used to and comfortable with. My only tool for cutting out the cracks in preparation for a shim is a hand-drawn gouging tool, as shown here:

[img:center][Linked Image]/[/img]


Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
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515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
#2236990 - 02/24/14 08:23 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Chuck does it 'old school'; the way i was taught. wink


Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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#2237016 - 02/24/14 09:02 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Chuck Behm, CPT-E]  
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Originally Posted by Chuck Behm

Hi Paul - Actually, the techniques used in the link you posted are a bit more advanced than my methods. I'm still using hand tools to fit the shims - not a better method by any means than what you get with someone using power equipment - just what I'm used to and comfortable with. My only tool for cutting out the cracks in preparation for a shim is a hand-drawn gouging tool, as shown here:

[img:center][Linked Image]/[/img]



Ok, but the bottom line is that I assume you don't have
a problem with degrading the tone at all when you shim a sound board, right?

I should probably have used the word "existing" instead of "original" tone.

Maybe the re-builder in the M&H case just didn't think
it was necessary...or perhaps the cracks were a bit less noticeable than they are now...

#2237026 - 02/24/14 09:16 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Quote
"I assume you don't have a problem with degrading the tone at all when you shim a sound board, right?"


Why would you? What you've done is simply added a very narrow plank to the soundboard - a board made up of planks to begin with. I use spruce shims to match the type of wood most soundboards were originally made from. What would cause a degradation of tone from this?

Really, if there's any difference, it should be a positive one. Although vibrations will traverse a crack via the ribs, filling in the void of an open crack should help the sound radiate throughout the entire board, thus giving the piano a fuller tone. Chuck


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"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
#2237038 - 02/24/14 09:35 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Chuck Behm, CPT-E]  
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Paul678 Offline
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Ok, thanks, Chuck.

That's informative to newbies such as myself.

I'll take another look at this M&H and let you all know.

grin

#2237132 - 02/24/14 11:56 PM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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When shimming soundboard cracks technicians would be well advised to dry the soundboard out to about a steady 20% RH for a week to 10 days depending on how high the RH was before starting the drying. Then when you install the shims they will better resist coming unglued in the dry seasons after the rebuild is done. The rebuilders website posted does not describe drying the board prior to shimming.

I have a couple of clients pianos with shimmed soundboards that were done by Jack Caskey in the 1960's here in Seattle that have not opened up yet.

Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 02/24/14 11:56 PM. Reason: grammer correction

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#2237138 - 02/25/14 12:17 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Chuck Behm, CPT-E Offline
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Hi Ed - Before I shim a soundboard (which we most often do in the summer) I close up the shop for a couple of weeks, run both air conditioners, drape heavy blankets over the piano (which is on sawhorses), and use a pair of spotlights under the piano to warm it up, like so:
[img:center][Linked Image][/img]
Then, when I start the shimming work, I leave the lights on to keep the wood warm and dry:

[img:center][Linked Image][/img]

Does this protocol look okay to you, or would you suggest that I make changes? Thanks, Chuck




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515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
#2237141 - 02/25/14 12:22 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Chuck,

That sounds like what I do before shimming but we don't really need the air conditioning in Seattle. Placing your hygrometer inside the piano while drying helps calibrate RH.

Keep up the great work Chuck!


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
#2237156 - 02/25/14 01:09 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]  
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Chuck Behm, CPT-E Offline
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Thanks, Ed. When the corn's growing in Iowa the air conditioners in the shop never stop running. (and my electric meter never stops spinning!)

One thing I don't have in the shop is a hygrometer. I usually watch the cracks and keep drying things out until I start seeing new wood. I'll get one before I do my next job, however, so I can do things more scientifically. Thanks again. Chuck


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www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
#2237220 - 02/25/14 04:43 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Chuck Behm, CPT-E]  
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Olek Offline
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Originally Posted by Chuck Behm

Paul - If the piano was built in 1900, and it still has the original soundboard, it would be very unusual (in my opinion) for there not to be any cracks. The soundboard is in essence a wooden membrane just a little more than 1/4" thick made of spruce planks merely butt-jointed together. When it gets dry, the wood naturally loses some of its moisture content, and cracks open up. These will either be absolutely straight, indicating a butt joint opening, or will follow a grain line. In humid weather, they will become less obvious as the wood swells - sometimes to the point where they can't be seen at all. Then, when a dry season has its effect, they will open up again.

Look and see if you see evidence of shims in the soundboard, which would indicate that the rebuilder attempted to fix any crack which were showing. It is very possible that the when the piano was worked on, it wasn't as dry in the rebuilder's shop as it is in its present home.

Take a look at this picture of the soundboard of a piano which we had in our shop. When I looked at the instrument in the client's home it was summer and the air was hot and humid. I saw a few hairline cracks, but nothing else. When the piano was brought to the shop, and I worked on it over the following winter, the cracks started opening up. And opening up. And opening up! I believe I installed 24 shims:

[img:center]ht[Linked Image]tp://[/img]

My guess is that the rebuilder fixed what he saw, but the piano is now considerably drier than it was. Chuck



The strings and their tension keep the soundboard in a more compressed state , in my opinion. On old pianos it is not rare to have cracks develop after the plate is removed.
The rim also is possibly constraining the soundboard somehow I suppose.

I dry "too much" the soundboard and keep it warm for shimming
Best regards

Last edited by Olek; 02/25/14 04:57 AM.

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#2245690 - 03/13/14 12:14 AM Re: Question for the Rebuilders..... [Re: Paul678]  
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Jorge Andrade Offline
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What was the final outcome, did Paul finally buy the darn piano or not? I just spent 2 hours reading all the posts and accessing all the websites with all the info and when I got to the end, it was like one of them movies where the whole movie was awesome but the ending sucked. I'm dying out of curiousity here and the craigstlist post is no longer available....

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