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#2672507 - 09/03/17 11:48 AM If Chickering were reborn  
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Sitting here recovering from some unplanned cardiac surgery with too much time on my hands.

So, f you were a Burgett type willing to do for Chickering what they did for M&H, which Scales/designs would you offer to the public?

I don't even know who owns the rights to the Chickering brand. Is it Gibson/Baldwin?


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#2672544 - 09/03/17 02:44 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Owners of the Chickering name? Baldwin/Gibson, as far as I know.

The community technical college where I work has a small 4'10" Chickering baby grand made by Baldwin in the early/mid 1990s. It has the proprietary Baldwin accu-just hitch pins in the plate. I believe Dell Fandrich had a hand in designing that particular piano for Baldwin. To be a among the smallest baby grands made, it has a nice tone and touch. It was purchased by the student government association from a local Baldwin dealer at the time, and then donated to the college.

I've played it many times over the years for special events and programs at the college. It is poorly maintained and rarely tuned. In fact, I will be playing it for a small graduation ceremony this coming Thursday. I've been practicing "Pomp and circumstance" a lot here lately. In fact, I was practicing it last week and my wife told me I had the tempo to fast. She said the graduates were marching, and not jogging. But I have two basic tempos, fast and faster. smile I hope I can slow it down just a bit for the program.

You are right, Duke, the Chickering name is among the most recognized, as least here in the US.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#2672547 - 09/03/17 03:16 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Chickering would not be my first choice of piano to resurrect, and there are very few old scales by any manufacturer that are worth emulating. Modern computing can improve many of them, but some are beyond redemption.


Semipro Tech
#2672554 - 09/03/17 03:36 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Your Grace:

Sorry to hear about your surgery but hoping you are recovering nicely and feeling stronger.

About your VERY tempting question/speculation: not at all an easy question, as you well know, given the firm's amazing, even restless spirit of innovation and experimentation. The revised/new scales they brought out for the firm's centennial year are admired by many.

The Burgetts & Coy. studiously AVOIDED any reference to the Boston, even the Rochester scales, everything was newly conceived in Haverhill, totally new bellies throughout. Any suggestion to the contrary is false.

In the case of Chickering, I'd personally be interested to hear one of their final straight-strung concert grands from the 19th-century, newly-built.

One wonders if the Chickering tonal qualities would find any customers. I wager that it is possible, just as I think that a modern Mason, built to the original scales, would find an eager fan base, especially with the benefits and possibilities of the fine new W, N&G action. Of course, our premier boutique builders can do the same rebuilding vintage instruments.

I wish Robin Hufford would weigh-in on this one.

Lacking even the very semi-professional credentials of BDB, my perspective is that of a pianist, ONLY.

Best wishes for your speedy recovery -

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY,
kw35@si.rr.com

Last edited by Karl Watson; 09/03/17 03:40 PM.
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#2672557 - 09/03/17 03:45 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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I grew up playing and learning on a Chickering grand. My parents eventually replaced it was another better maintained Chickering that was incredibly similar to the first. I never thought of Chickering as more than an average piano at best. Is there a reason we would want to resurrect it?

#2672560 - 09/03/17 04:04 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: oldpianoboy]  
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Originally Posted by oldpianoboy
I grew up playing and learning on a Chickering grand. My parents eventually replaced it was another better maintained Chickering that was incredibly similar to the first. I never thought of Chickering as more than an average piano at best. Is there a reason we would want to resurrect it?


Which Chickering was this? Was this an original Chickering, a late Aeolian, or a Korean made Baldwin era version? It makes a difference


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#2672564 - 09/03/17 04:18 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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I don't know honestly. I had it through the 60s and 70s and it was used. Maybe made in the 50s.

I just called my parents. They bought it new in 1964. I was mistaken. It cost $1850.

Last edited by oldpianoboy; 09/03/17 04:26 PM.
#2672592 - 09/03/17 06:16 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Karl Watson]  
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Originally Posted by Karl Watson

The Burgetts & Coy. studiously AVOIDED any reference to the Boston, even the Rochester scales, everything was newly conceived in Haverhill, totally new bellies throughout. Any suggestion to the contrary is false.
I've read the opposite, and I think some of their ads claim the new Masons are highly based on older models. I know they're not exactly the same in scale design but I think they are quite similar although some claim the tone of the new Masons is quite different from the Boston era examples. For starters, the overbuilt cases, tension resonator, and the length of most of the grand models are the same as the Boston era models.

#2672593 - 09/03/17 06:17 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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I had a chance to play a 9 ft Chickering last year and it was from the mid to early 1920's (pre-Aeolian). It was at a store located near where I live... Somewhere along the way, someone had rebuilt it within the last couple of decades... When I sat down to play it, I was expecting an old, tired and tinny sound.... But, to my surprise, I was totally blown away by the tone of the piano!


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#2672608 - 09/03/17 08:25 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Since not enough people are interested in sound history, there would not be enough market to keep it alive. I am presently restoring a 1907 Chickering 121 scale quarter grand, still has its original hammers. I very much like the sound, but it is thinner and more delicate than what most people want today. It is a small footprint though. Few people care about history anymore.

They did learn how to make awesome big pianos though.

Some point to the 123 scale quarter grand as being extremely good.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 09/03/17 08:26 PM.

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#2672629 - 09/03/17 10:11 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Dear pianolover:

With respect, and not wishing to start a dispute, argue or haggle about anything, whatever you've read and whatever conclusions you've drawn, I know FOR A FACT, that the Haverhill Mason scale and belly designs are new and were conceived with no reference whatever to the vintage Boston designs - spiders and outside dimensions notwithstanding. Even the most unmusical person can instantly tell that they are RADICALLY different pianos. I'm not debating their merits, just insisting that they are not the same or even based on the former designs.

Their designer brags to all that will listen that they are better in every way because, after all, they are louder, MUCH louder.

Karl

Last edited by Karl Watson; 09/03/17 10:22 PM.
#2672630 - 09/03/17 10:16 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: P W Grey]  
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Dear P W:

VERY interesting about the 121 and 123 scales. I have a 125 that was finished in Rochester, with a Rochester action. It has MANY fine qualities, even in death (extensively cracked soundboard and hard-as-nails hammers). I'm hoping that it will be a fine subject for rebuilding.

Karl

#2672656 - 09/04/17 02:05 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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May it please your Grace, I have nothing to add to the thread but am sorry to hear about your surgery. Of course it is better that the condition has been diagnosed and treated.


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
#2672681 - 09/04/17 08:34 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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I've no idea which Chickerings to resurrect.
Its allure (and marketability) is probably questionable to a majority of pianists in the U.S. and even fewer internationally. I've never heard a European or Asian pianist mention one.

I'm willing to wager those who know what good Chickering grands sounded like are now over 60 years old. Though this demographic may have a bit of disposable income, many are focused on downsizing and retirement planning, and a new grand piano may not fit these visions. Heck, I've had to fight my recently retired parents to even put a portable DIGITAL in one of the spare bedrooms of their condo (and both of their kids have music degrees)!

As a middle-aged person, I can only remember playing one Golden-Age Chickering in good condition. I was 16, the piano was about six feet long, owned by an older piano teacher in the northeast, and my reaction was that it was slightly odd in a way I didn't find charming at the time. Of course, my generation of pianists grew up while the American/Canadian piano industry was (at worst) imploding or (at best) resting on its laurels, the reputation and acceptance of Japanese pianos was solidified, and Korean pianos were just starting to appear in the North American market.


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#2672684 - 09/04/17 08:45 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: terminaldegree]  
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Dear Terminaldegree:

Your last is very perceptive, and on a number of levels.

I'm 67 and Chickering was definitely NOT on my radar scope, at least until I met some Boston pianists who had first-hand knowledge of them. Although some very nice small pianos were made in Rochester, they would certainly not be considered artist instruments. I think that MOST of the interest in the mark, with certain exceptions, covers the period 1875-1925, more or less, give or take. For instance, I'm very interested in their straight-strung concert grands, which mostly pre-date this period.

What we really need here is for Robin Hufford to join this discussion. He KNOWS Chickering pianos.

Karl

Last edited by Karl Watson; 09/04/17 08:46 AM.
#2672716 - 09/04/17 10:47 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Thanks for the good wishes. Everything appears to be going well. I am fortunate to have health coverage allowing me to take advantage of the excellent cardiovascular resources of NorthwesternUniversity Hospital.

I just watched Robin Hufford's YT video regarding the 1850s era straight strung Chickering. Very instructive. I also understand that Bill Shull in CA has a wealth of Chickering knowledge and is amassing an archive. This does not appear to be publicly available at this time.


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#2673055 - 09/05/17 10:35 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: P W Grey]  
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Since not enough people are interested in sound history, there would not be enough market to keep it alive. I am presently restoring a 1907 Chickering 121 scale quarter grand, still has its original hammers. I very much like the sound, but it is thinner and more delicate than what most people want today. It is a small footprint though. Few people care about history anymore.

They did learn how to make awesome big pianos though.

Some point to the 123 scale quarter grand as being extremely good.

Pwg


I've got a Chickering 123 scale from 1928 as mentioned and thought I would post a recording of it.

http://picosong.com/wsV2s

#2673130 - 09/06/17 09:08 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Ed A. Hall]  
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Ed. A Hall:

Not to insult, but could this be a roll playing ? It's absolutely accurate, not even slightly smudged. WOW !
The tone is lovely. You wrote "as mentioned." Well, not in this thread. Can you tell as about the piano, about scale 123, just everything.

Hard not to love the sound. Nothing of the heroic in it, a different way from the American main-stream.

Please do tell us ALL about this piano.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY
kw35@si.rr.com

#2673153 - 09/06/17 10:39 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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I greatly enjoyed the playing and the piano. Very whimsical, joyous, tender and properly showy!


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According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
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#2673320 - 09/06/17 07:30 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Ed,

Marvelous sound! I'm assuming this instrument has been well restored. Yes?

Unfortunately I find too many Chickerings poorly restored and I think that often contributes to their lack of recognition. However, it must be said that Chickering did not build its reputation on huge gutsy sound but rather a more delicate, subdued sound. When Steinway came along to challenge their lead in the market they literally changed the market in preference to a bigger, more robust sound and took the lead.

Chickering was able to produce some pianos with that kind of sound but it really was not their mainstream thing.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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#2673354 - 09/06/17 10:47 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Wow Ed, was that you playing? If it was I hope you were getting paid by the note! Excellent performance. Also, really loved the sound of the piano.


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#2673416 - 09/07/17 06:15 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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That is a beautiful Chickering Ed. Thank you for sharing.

I am quite impressed with the playing. Is that you? As Karl mentioned, it is so accurately played.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
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#2673660 - 09/07/17 11:59 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Nice recording of the Chickering 123 Scale! I looked through my collection of Peter Phillips' MIDI emulations of Ampico, Duo-Art and Welte-Mignon reproducing roll recordings of Chopin's Etude Op.10 No.8, F major, and I believe this performance is that of Nikolai Andreyevich Orlov (1892-1964) via Ampico 67751 - recorded in July, 1927. It's too late for me to play it back and record it on my M&H BB (with our 5 year old twins asleep), but the performance sounds very similar when I hear it played back via PianoTeq 5. For reference, my favorite instruments to hear it on were on the model of the 1899 Bechstein and on their latest emulation of a 'Martha Argerich'-selected Hamburg Model B Steinway.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Orlov was a noted Russian virtuoso pianist who was appreciated especially for his interpretations of Frédéric Chopin. He studied piano at Moscow and graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1910. He also studied privately composition and counterpoint with Sergei Taneyev. His first public concert was held in 1912, and he gave the première of the first piano concerto of Alexander Glazunov in the same year. Orlov worked as teacher in Moscow in 1913–1921 and then moved to West. He made several successful concert tours around the world, and in 1948 he settled in the United Kingdom.

Another intriguing roll recording of this same work is Duo-Art 6414 - recorded in May, 1921 - was that of Ossip Gabrilowitsch (1878-1936), the pianist with the Golden Touch - who was also known as Mark Twain's son-in-law (husband of Clara Clemens) and as the famous duo-pianist partner of the incomparable Harold Bauer (1873-1951). There is also another roll recording (Welte-Licensee 4130 - recorded in February, 1927) by non other than a young Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989). Although I am a big fan of his, I found this particular recording to be the most mechanical and pedestrian as compared to the others.


Jason Solomonides
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#2673661 - 09/08/17 12:26 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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For those who are wondering, yes I used a roll for the recording. I've got a bunch of rolls but this one is the most realistic. Interestingly, the older rolls tend to be more realistic than the newer ones. Yes, this particular piece was played by Nicolas Orloff roll 67751-G. It'll be interesting to hear a comparison of the Mason BB and this Chickering.

I purchased this piano from a an antique collector who didn't know much about pianos and needed to get rid of it. He did say that it was originally owned by some extremely wealthy people. When I got it, the piano was badly out of tune and the Ampico player was not working. I got the player working and brought this piano back up to pitch. The piano has been completely rebuilt including the Ampico player. My guess is that it was done 15 to 20 years ago. It was a decent rebuild but not as refined as some of the top notch rebuilds that are being done today. It has had very little use since the rebuild.

I have quite a few musician friends who have a poor impression of Chickerings. Their complaint is poor tone and terribly heavy actions. They are quite surprised when I send them the recordings. Sadly, these pianos tend to not be maintained liked Steinways so people get the impression that these are terrible pianos.

Here are a few photos of this piano.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]


#2673708 - 09/08/17 07:59 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Chickering would not be my first choice of piano to resurrect, and there are very few old scales by any manufacturer that are worth emulating. Modern computing can improve many of them, but some are beyond redemption.


Could you give us a few examples of old scale designs that ARE worth emulating, BDB?

#2673709 - 09/08/17 08:13 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Originally Posted by Duke of Dunning
Sitting here recovering from some unplanned cardiac surgery with too much time on my hands.

So, f you were a Burgett type willing to do for Chickering what they did for M&H, which Scales/designs would you offer to the public?

I don't even know who owns the rights to the Chickering brand. Is it Gibson/Baldwin?


Your Grace,

I'm sorry to hear about your cardiac surgery. I hope you are recovering nicely. I've had two medical emergences to deal with in the last year, so I know what you are going through.

I was just thinking. If joe80 is our "Bluthner Booster", YOU would be our "Chickering Champion"! smile

#2673717 - 09/08/17 08:50 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Ed A. Hall]  
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Ed A. Hall:

Thank you very much for your last. I'm glad it turned out to be a roll. I didn't want to offend. Just have to say that I think it's the best roll I've ever heard.

The piano is really lovely.

The pictures did NOT come through for me.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY,
kw35@si.rr.com

#2673765 - 09/08/17 11:37 AM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Almaviva]  
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Originally Posted by Almaviva
Originally Posted by BDB
Chickering would not be my first choice of piano to resurrect, and there are very few old scales by any manufacturer that are worth emulating. Modern computing can improve many of them, but some are beyond redemption.


Could you give us a few examples of old scale designs that ARE worth emulating, BDB?


Rather than emulating, I would prefer that modern manufacturers come up with their own. They should avoid having big jumps in tension, especially in the transition from wound strings to plain strings. There should be fewer changes in gauges at the high end, saving them to compensate for foreshortening of the scale that occurs in the tenor. It is not out of the question to use a different gauge for every note or two near the break. As you go into mass production, this is cheaper, since wire is sold by the pound, so thin wire is cheaper than thicker wire by length.


Semipro Tech
#2673818 - 09/08/17 04:05 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Ed A. Hall,

An AMPICO!! Well, that is a really cool instrument. Marc Andre' Hamelin wrote several pieces for such a beast. He hand made the rolls himself!

I hope you are enjoying that system in such a fine piano. Have you learned much about the AMPICOs? I think the most reliable and easily rebuildable of all the reproducers. Is it a style B or A AMPICO system?

(Just curious)


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
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#2673826 - 09/08/17 04:32 PM Re: If Chickering were reborn [Re: Duke of Dunning]  
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Craig Hair  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 390
Chesterfield. MA
Ed,
We found a number of reproducer rolls in a bunch of common rolls. They are not in the greatest shape...poor storage. Would you want them?

Craig


Craig Hair
Hampshire Piano
Chesterfield, MA
Conservative Piano Restoration

Sometimes, all you can hear is the cat snore.
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