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Waking Up The Dead #2611824 02/05/17 10:39 AM
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Jolly Offline OP
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When considering equal carcass grands from The Golden Age that are less than 6 feet long, which ones tend to consistently turn out the best when doing a full rebuild? I know "best' is subjective, but which one would you have the most confidence in eventually producing a really good performer, albeit in a smaller package?

Steinway? Chickering? Knabe? M&H? Or maybe something like Baldwin or Ivers & Pond?



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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2611829 02/05/17 10:48 AM
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For rebuilders that respond, I would also like to know if they choose Steinway and/or Mason Hamlin partially/mostly because those pianos can be sold at a higher price although the rebuilding cost for those pianos is not more than Obiwan Knabe, Chickening, etc.

IOW what piano would they choose if(hypothetically) their total profit(sale price- cost of core - cost of rebuilding)was the same?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/05/17 10:50 AM.
Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: pianoloverus] #2611842 02/05/17 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
For rebuilders that respond, I would also like to know if they choose Steinway and/or Mason Hamlin partially/mostly because those pianos can be sold at a higher price although the rebuilding cost for those pianos is not more than Obiwan Knabe, Chickening, etc.

IOW what piano would they choose if(hypothetically) their total profit(sale price- cost of core - cost of rebuilding)was the same?


Or, alternatively, what would a rebuilder hypothetically choose if the piano were for personal use rather than resale?

Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612051 02/06/17 06:48 AM
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Blüthner, C Bechstein, and Grotrian Steinweg are all good candidates.


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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: dogperson] #2612063 02/06/17 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson

Or, alternatively, what would a rebuilder hypothetically choose if the piano were for personal use rather than resale?


Wow,

Great question with lots of answers! The thing is...I think my favorite piano varies with my mood, but I have a few answers.

1) 1890's 7 ft. rosewood Knabe - I have a particular piano in mind. We fully rebuilt it. The final product was spectacular and the cabinetry was beautiful.

2) 1920's Chickering - Again, I have a particular piano in mind. We also rebuilt this piano recently and both the cabinet, tone, and touch were gorgeous.

3) Small Bosendorfer from between WWI and WWII - These pianos have such a beautiful timbre and they offer such an intimate performance. I feel like I am having an intimate conversation when I play these pianos, like I am speaking with a beautiful woman sitting closely together at a coffee shop in Paris (or Vienna).

4) Vintage Mason BB - Simply great pianos.

There is my short list of favorite instruments. Although my #1 favorite might change from day to day, these will always be in my top ten.


Rich Galassini
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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612076 02/06/17 09:00 AM
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There was a rebuilt Bosendorfer (approx 1920) in one of the London shops (Jaques Samuels) many years ago that was one of the nicest pianos I've ever played bar none.

Philip named some of the best value candidates. Old used Bluthners and Bechsteins can be picked up for next to nothing sometimes and restored to immaculate condition. UK piano restoration specialise in Bluthner, for example, and I've been to their workshop. The results are stunning.

Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Rich Galassini] #2612159 02/06/17 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
[1) 1890's 7 ft. rosewood Knabe -


Aren't these early open block instruments more difficult/expensive to rebuild because of the way the case is laminated around the ends of the block? I had a 6'-4" Knabe from 1902 that we chose not to rebuild for that reason.



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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612228 02/06/17 06:59 PM
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Jolly Offline OP
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I'm gonna go back to the original question, because I know I would have more confidence in a larger piano turning out well...But, what about the shorter pianos? I suspect less of them were really good to begin with, than their larger brethren.


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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612232 02/06/17 07:19 PM
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Jolly, depends how short you mean by 'shorter', and who built the piano. have not played any myself, but some of the German usual suspects made highly regarded small grands 5'6 or so and smaller. Mason & Hamlin model A, properly restored, go for very serious $$ now. like the bigger BB, a R.Gertz design. restored vintage A's now go for more than what we paid for our 1919 BB including its refinishing and rebuild about fifteen years ago. there's a fairly steady trade in steinway O's and L's, and the more plentiful M, but the four or five vintage M's in my personal sampling weren't worth their price tags.

Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: JohnSprung] #2612263 02/06/17 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
[1) 1890's 7 ft. rosewood Knabe -


Aren't these early open block instruments more difficult/expensive to rebuild because of the way the case is laminated around the ends of the block? I had a 6'-4" Knabe from 1902 that we chose not to rebuild for that reason.



John,

These blocks do need some extra labor for removal of the block and a few hours of labor to reveneer the area. That is a drop in the bucket of the cost of a rebuild and, in most cases, it would not enter into my decision of whether or not to perform a rebuild.


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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612279 02/06/17 10:50 PM
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It depends where you live. In Europe, there's no shortage of old Bechstein, Bluthner, Bösendorfer and Grotrian. The name recognition means the rebuilt piano is likely to fetch a decent price. Steinway too, but even a clapped out Steinway can be expensive.

Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612287 02/06/17 11:34 PM
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For small grands from early 20th century the Chickering Quarter Grands are great cores to start with. The rebuilder needs to understand how to re-configure the bridges to get a truly great treble tone. And they must realize how precise they must be, because these pianos are designed with no room for error as regards plate position and action position, and the pedal lyres are rather flimsy.



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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612328 02/07/17 05:49 AM
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My choice may be somewhat regional, but the Boston built Steinert grands were an utterly shameless copy of various models of Steinways, and of high quality of materials and workmanship. They can be had for far less money than the Steinways they copied. As such they make a great core for a rebuild, and will deliver an outstanding result tone and touch wise if the work is thorough and good.

For a small grand, a Baldwin M (5'2"). Can be had for a song, and many people consider it a better piano than a Steinway model S. String rescale it with Paulello hybrid wire notes 1 to 88, and you will find that the boundries of what is possible in a small grand have expanded.


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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612383 02/07/17 11:12 AM
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For a sub-6' grand, golden era, I would consistently choose a Mason & Hamlin model A. The cores are moderately priced, but top-notch rebuilding is where the money goes. They are extraordinarily musical, and I even like their cabinets.

There are many other interesting pianos you could pursue, but unless you have a sentimental attachment to a certain piano or brand, you can stay with a few perennial favorites.

An "off-brand" investment like a Steinert makes more sense in a larger size where the savings on the core is substantial. On sub-6' grands, the price for cores becomes increasingly close, even between say a Steinway model M and Mason & Hamlin model A. Between a core Steinway model B and a Steinert copy of a B, the savings on the core would be substantial.


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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2612589 02/08/17 06:04 AM
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Sam, I share your affection for the M & H A. I've rebuilt probably a dozen of them of various iterations and have often made the recommendation of this model to potential buyers whose budget can't quite hit the Steinway mark. Musically, the piano can certainly stand on its own.

Still, I don't think your "off-brand" comment about Steinert entirely hits the mark. You have left out the 5' 10" Steinert C, which is a faithful copy of the Steinway O. Using the same quality of materials and workmanship that you would use in a Steinway or Mason & Hamlin rebuild, you can get a superb and un-compromised musical result, and not that far from the Steinway sound. In today's depressed piano market, this model can be had as a shell for a few hundred dollars or less - well below what you would pay for an A shell, and much below an M shell (at least in my neck of the woods).

If your comment is directed at buying a shell with the intent to sell after rebuilding, then the Mason & Hamlin A would hold more value than the equivalent Steinert because of its greater name recognition. But our customers are not always looking at it from the point of view of resale.



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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Rich Galassini] #2612622 02/08/17 09:19 AM
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Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
[1) 1890's 7 ft. rosewood Knabe -

Aren't these early open block instruments more difficult/expensive to rebuild because of the way the case is laminated around the ends of the block? I had a 6'-4" Knabe from 1902 that we chose not to rebuild for that reason.


John,

These blocks do need some extra labor for removal of the block and a few hours of labor to reveneer the area. That is a drop in the bucket of the cost of a rebuild and, in most cases, it would not enter into my decision of whether or not to perform a rebuild.


Greetings,
There is a technique to replacing the embedded block without opening up the case. It requires some careful measurement, a pair of rounded corners on either end of the block, ( distal corner on the bass end, proximal corner on the treble0, and enough case thickness so that the block can move into the blind hole on the bass end far enough to swing the treble end into place before sliding sideways into final position. There will be a lateral gap on either end of the fit, but when evenly placed, that gap is of minor importance. With 3/4" or so contact between each end of the block on the case ledge and modern adhesives, a very solid construction is possible. This technique has worked on two Knabe pianos I rebuilt some years ago.
Regards .

Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2613755 02/12/17 10:17 AM
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Jolly Offline OP
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My choice would have been the M&H A....but the more I read, the more curious I become about the Chickerings. Don't see them much down here (although I ran into used 9 footer a couple of weeks ago). It just seems that many of the people whose opinions I value, seem to really like them as a project piano.


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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: WilliamTruitt] #2614284 02/14/17 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
If your comment is directed at buying a shell with the intent to sell after rebuilding, then the Mason & Hamlin A would hold more value than the equivalent Steinert because of its greater name recognition. But our customers are not always looking at it from the point of view of resale.
In the first thing, I actually prefer an early Mason & Hamlin A over most Steinway O's and by association a faithful copy. I think they have greater musical potential. But my point was more that, with the initial investment in the core, size plays a huge factor in the relative savings.

On a sub 6' piano, the difference in cost for a pre-Depression era core of different brands might be a few thousand, and relatively small in comparison to the total restoration cost. On a 6' - 7' piano, the difference might be many thousands, enough to really matter in the total cost.


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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Jolly] #2614295 02/14/17 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Jolly
My choice would have been the M&H A....but the more I read, the more curious I become about the Chickerings. Don't see them much down here (although I ran into used 9 footer a couple of weeks ago). It just seems that many of the people whose opinions I value, seem to really like them as a project piano.
When considering an early Chickering, keep in mind that the manufacturer constantly tinkered with their own designs. This means the rebuilder is bound to encounter some surprise (which may become a setback or extra cost) unless the core has been thoroughly gone through prior to estimate. Rebuilding a pre-Depression Steinway, Mason, Baldwin, Conover, Knabe, etc. in the sub-6' size is very predictable for process and costs with fewer variables to affect the final estimate.

They are yet another nice American piano.


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Re: Waking Up The Dead [Re: Ed Foote] #2614699 02/15/17 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote

Greetings,
There is a technique to replacing the embedded block without opening up the case. It requires some careful measurement, a pair of rounded corners on either end of the block, ( distal corner on the bass end, proximal corner on the treble0, and enough case thickness so that the block can move into the blind hole on the bass end far enough to swing the treble end into place before sliding sideways into final position. There will be a lateral gap on either end of the fit, but when evenly placed, that gap is of minor importance. With 3/4" or so contact between each end of the block on the case ledge and modern adhesives, a very solid construction is possible. This technique has worked on two Knabe pianos I rebuilt some years ago.
Regards .


I am aware of this technique Ed. I shy away from it for several reasons, but the most critical to me is that I have seen a few done in our area by an old friend of mine (and yours) and they are failing.

He may have done a number that have been successful as well that I have not seen. I guess when a school or a private client asks for a full restoration, I would rather not use a technique like this one if I can avoid it.

When we see each other in person though I will listen with an open mind. I absolutely respect your opinion.


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