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I have been using a 1914 baby grand Boston Mcphail piano. I like it a lot. When I got it (for free just paid to have it moved) the keys had been replaced and it was regularly tuned. It has served me well and the technician said just need to have the tuning pins tightened.

I have been humoring the idea of having it restored. I like the character of the instrument though the pedals feel a bit loud and clunky.

Obviously the instrument wouldn’t have resale value and would only be doing it because I like the instrument. When I did look into it, was told that it was on bar with a Steinway M, but still believe that was just a sales tactic.

Anyway, not posing the question too seriously, just curious what others think.

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Greetings,
This is on a par with restoring a 30 year old VW. These pianos were not top tier pianos to begin with, were never considered to last 100 years, and if you did restore it, you would have a less responsive instrument than you can find for the same money. The world is loaded with fine old pianos that can be had for less than you will have to spend to bring the McPhail up to its potential. And, its potential aint' that great to begin with.

Needing "tuning pins tightened" opens a rather large container of nematoda. You could need a new pin block,which means new strings, which means bridge restoration, which means the soundboard needs to be repaired. And how about them agraffes or capo surfaces? Restoring goes on and on, so your budget and condition of the rest of the piano might dictate a CA treatment on the pins and rebuild the pedals. I would caution you that there are neon "MONEY PIT" signs flashing around pianos like this. Restoring makes sense when there is a winning lottery ticket and at least a soupçon of sentimentality, otherwise, you may find that the money spent was real and the rewarding and expected musical response somewhat elusive.
Regards,

Last edited by Ed Foote; 11/11/17 10:25 AM.
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Greetings,
This is on a par with restoring a 30 year old VW.


Ed is absolutely correct. Interestingly though I was at a car show recently and one of the top prize winners was an early VW Beetle. I do not know how old it was or how authentic the restoration was (this is how the cars were judged). So people do restore VW's and this car beat out two of my favorites, a 1969 Camaro and a 1957 Chevy.

Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Restoring makes sense when there is a winning lottery ticket and at least a soupçon of sentimentality, otherwise, you may find that the money spent was real and the rewarding and expected musical response somewhat elusive.
Regards,


True again. I cannot count how many times I have explained to a family that their piano will be a wonderful musical instrument after we do a restoration (most recently when we rebuilt a Stieff grand) but that if they wanted to sell it they would likely not get what they paid for the restoration. This family told me that they will never sell this piano as it had been played by one of the grand parents for most of their lives and they considered it a part of the family.




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I do see your point. I was curious about the decency of the piano. Any suggestions for maybe lesser known older brands to look out for?

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I think the most important point to establish is WHO will do any rebuilding you hire. I suggest finding a rebuilder you trust first, then find the piano you want to get rebuilt.

There are a few rebuilders who have more experience with knowing what design elements are needed to produce the finest touch and tone than any manufacturer. Some rebuilders produce state of the art pianos that are more advanced in technology than any manufacturer.


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Originally Posted by JdhPiano924
I do see your point. I was curious about the decency of the piano. Any suggestions for maybe lesser known older brands to look out for?
To rebuild?

As Ed said, depends on the rebuilder. Rick Clark used to have a nice Apollo that he had redone, but it's not a brand I would recommend to search for, as that was the skill of the person doing the build. If doing the job right, it costs the same to do a rebuild on a lesser known brand as it does a well-known name, IIRC.

If you want a rebuilt piano, I think the first thing would be to start the search for a good rebuilder. Many times those guys have some good carcasses awaiting a customer.

Last edited by Jolly; 11/11/17 12:42 PM. Reason: clarity

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Beat way to describe what I am looking for is value(not resale value per say). We all want a Steinway and such but that isn’t always possible. Rebuilding is a possibility, I am of course in the long run just trying to find a great piano for myself and my own playing.

There are so many older brands I didn’t know if there was any gems to look out for.

Preference wise I prefer Baldwin and petrof(grew up playing petrof pianos).

With the Mcphail I had been told it was a great piano to have rebuilt. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

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If you like Baldwin pianos, you are in luck with some diligence, you can find a very nice American made Model R, L, or Sf-10 for a reasonable price. These pianos are undervalued in today# market.

This morning, I came across what turned out to be a Baldwin Model F (7’) sitting in the corner of a hall. This was the predecessor to the SF-10, which was introduced in 1969. The piano sounded decent but looked to be in need of work. I could not look inside because both lid hinges had been ripped out (NOTE: always check before attempting to raise the lid). I do know there are many FS out there as well.

All the usual cautions are applicable.


OT, I was given a ride home in a newly rebuilt 1974 VW convertible bug. It was one of the las 300. Built in Germany. Had OT been inside one of thes


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These are on Chicago CL,

This is a restored Model https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/msg/d/baldwin-grand-piano-restored/6374122971.html

There is also an SF-10 from 1989. both are in St Louis.

There are also a couple of Model R and Ls the point here is that there are many of these pianos out there.


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Yeah I can see what you are saying. Thanks for the info!!

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Originally Posted by JdhPiano924
Beat way to describe what I am looking for is value(not resale value per say). We all want a Steinway and such but that isn’t always possible. Rebuilding is a possibility, I am of course in the long run just trying to find a great piano for myself and my own playing.
The first piano brand that comes to my mind when people talk about wanting to rebuild something "Steinwayesque" is Steinert. There aren't that many of them around, but I've played a number of them and in the hands of a great rebuilder there is potential there.

I agree to find the rebuilder first. They'll know what they can work with.

Quote
There are so many older brands I didn’t know if there was any gems to look out for.
There are quite a few really, but the potential seen by the rebuilder is what's important.
Quote
Preference wise I prefer Baldwin and petrof(grew up playing petrof pianos).
You like Baldwin? I think there's your answer. They can often be had on the cheap and are worth rebuilding.
Quote
With the Mcphail I had been told it was a great piano to have rebuilt. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
I think the VW analogy is great. You can rebuild the Mcphail. People rebuild VWs and love them. There just are some things it won't do.


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Originally Posted by Duke of Dunning
These pianos are undervalued in today# market.
I understand what you're saying, your Grace. These pianos can be a really great bargain. However I wanted to post a caution: "undervalued in today's market" opens the mental possibility the price is going to increase. Who know what the future holds, but it seems that when a brand leaves it's country of origin and becomes a Chinese instrument, the price on older instruments doesn't increase.


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I agree, and after some great info, and replies to the thread, I believe that you are right musicpassion. It would be better to spend my money on something that would serve me better professionally, or even a bit more emotionally attached to.

This piano has served me well for what I paid for it. I got it for free, and had it moved down to me across state for 600 dollars. For what it's worth, it has been a great piano, but long term not the one for me. I did not have any specific want for a rebuilt piano other then the hope of getting more bang for my buck.

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Originally Posted by musicpassion
Originally Posted by Duke of Dunning
These pianos are undervalued in today# market.
I understand what you're saying, your Grace. These pianos can be a really great bargain. However I wanted to post a caution: "undervalued in today's market" opens the mental possibility the price is going to increase. Who know what the future holds, but it seems that when a brand leaves it's country of origin and becomes a Chinese instrument, the price on older instruments doesn't increase.


Yeah, most brands will not hold the same value. I am in the position that the piano I do eventually replace my current one with will be one that I hopefully have for a long time.

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Originally Posted by JdhPiano924
I have been using a 1914 baby grand Boston Mcphail piano.... It has served me well and the technician said just need to have the tuning pins tightened.


Ask your tech about a cyanoacrylate treatment for the pin block. The cost is low, and it may get you another 5 - 10 years or more. Then you can take your time and keep your eyes open, which is the best way to find a great deal on a piano.


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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by JdhPiano924
I have been using a 1914 baby grand Boston Mcphail piano.... It has served me well and the technician said just need to have the tuning pins tightened.


Ask your tech about a cyanoacrylate treatment for the pin block. The cost is low, and it may get you another 5 - 10 years or more. Then you can take your time and keep your eyes open, which is the best way to find a great deal on a piano.





Thanks! I will look into that for sure


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