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Time for a change - to restore or replace #2712957
02/09/18 04:41 PM
02/09/18 04:41 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 58
Austin, TX
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sopranojam85 Offline OP
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My 1921 Hardman-Peck 5'3 grand is, to put it lightly, tired. I bought it for a song, have done what I can to repair it so that it looked better and played better. Three and a half years have gone by, and now I have frustrating action problems that are random, and keep cropping up, skipping around from note to note.

For historical context, here is the beast: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/2326006/Searchpage/3/Main/157758/Words/%2Bhardman/Search/true/re-hardman-peck-baby-grand-piano.html#Post2326006

I hired a professional tech and piano restorer to inspect it. He felt it would be a waste of time and money to attempt to regulate my action, because literally everything that could possibly be "wrong" with an action is wrong. Also the amount of wear and tear on the whippens, combined with the fact that someone did a very poor job of replacing the hammers and hammer shanks in the 1970s, means it will always play somewhat sloppily.

I knew it needed a full action workup, new pinblock, new strings, and bridge work. The sound board, though free of cracks, is apparently flat. No crown is left on it. This surprised him a little bit because of how very loud the piano can be. He said it's common that when a soundboard goes flat, the piano decreases in projection (which I assume is an acronym for "volume" or "loudness" but I might be misinterpreting that.)

I'm still waiting on his itemized estimate. I'd like to mull it over, but I also feel pretty strongly that it won't be worth it, in terms of ROI. A significant part of this job would be the sound board, and it seems foolish to do all the other work without replacing the sound board.

He did not mention anything about re-crowning the sound board. I know some people are capable of taking the original wood and re-crowning it, but I have no knowledge of how that is done, or if it's easier to simply build a new soundboard from copying the old one.

I do not have the player system any longer. I removed it and gave it to someone who would use it for parts on their player piano.

Another sticking point is that this piano's sostenuto rail is missing. Completely gone. Maybe it was causing problems and it was removed rather than repaired.

What a mess. I got this piano for very little money. It's given me about what I expected for how much I paid, and I think it's time to move on.

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Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2712960
02/09/18 04:55 PM
02/09/18 04:55 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,034
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline
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So, a 1921 Hardman Peck could have quite a range in quality. I am not sure when they stopped being an independent factory and when they began as a part of Aeolian. Certainly in the early 20th C. they made a very nice piano.

Musically, it may be a good candidate for rebuilding, but it is probably not a good investment if you are thinking about rebuilding it and then selling it.

I suggest that in your area, Bernard Mollberg piano restoration does beautiful work. He is in Blanco, Tx., which is not far from you. If you have never met him, please reach out to him.

Good luck,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
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Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2712962
02/09/18 05:00 PM
02/09/18 05:00 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 23,704
New York City
pianoloverus Online content
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My guess is most posters will suggest replacing the piano. I would suggest that also, even if the cost for a new piano you like is somewhat more than rebuilding the piano. For two reasons:

1. The rebuilding work you mentioned doesn't include refinishing the case which would add at least 5K to the cost.

2. More importantly, you can't really be too sure how much you will like the touch and tone of the rebuilt piano, even if the rebuilding job is excellent. So unless you're not too fussy, you'd be taking a pretty big chance.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: pianoloverus] #2712972
02/09/18 05:13 PM
02/09/18 05:13 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 58
Austin, TX
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sopranojam85 Offline OP
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Austin, TX
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
I suggest that in your area, Bernard Mollberg piano restoration does beautiful work. He is in Blanco, Tx., which is not far from you. If you have never met him, please reach out to him.

Good luck,


Yes, I have met Bernard on a couple of occasions. Actually, the person who I am considering for this job worked for Bernard for several years and honed his trade. So, I trust the skill of the guy I've requested.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
2. More importantly, you can't really be too sure how much you will like the touch and tone of the rebuilt piano, even if the rebuilding job is excellent. So unless you're not too fussy, you'd be taking a pretty big chance.


That's what I was thinking. Granted, most people who restore pianos argue the opposite is true. I find it non-sensical. You really won't know what you're getting til it's done.

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Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2713018
02/09/18 09:00 PM
02/09/18 09:00 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,781
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Seattle, WA USA
I have never seen a Harman-Peck grand that I thought would be worth rebuilding. The design is mediocre and even with a rebuilder who is skilled in improving on original scales would not return much increased musical value compared to the same rebuilder doing an Aeolian era 5'1" Chickering/Knabe scale for example. Or a Baldwin M.


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
Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2713019
02/09/18 09:05 PM
02/09/18 09:05 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,267
Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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Reseda, California

Take your time and look at a lot of pianos. Odds are you'll discover something better than the proposed rebuild could be, for a similar price, and ready to move into your home. The rebuild would leave you without a piano, or on a temp or rental, for several months. See if you can give the Hardman Peck to a spec rebuilder -- or just give it away.


-- J.S.

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Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2713396
02/11/18 10:40 AM
02/11/18 10:40 AM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,580
New York
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LJC Offline
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New York
It seems like an easy choice..Spend the money on a better piano.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2713484
02/11/18 04:08 PM
02/11/18 04:08 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 3,603
Bulgaria
PhilipInChina Offline
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Bulgaria
On a brand like that, you will never get your money back, or even come close.

Replace it!


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2713486
02/11/18 04:15 PM
02/11/18 04:15 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 728
Arvada, CO
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Colin Dunn Offline
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Arvada, CO
The amount of rebuild work the OP described would easily run over $20,000. I hate the idea of sending an old piano to the dump, but replacing the piano is a better use of that kind of budget.


Colin Dunn
2018 Sight-Reading Challenge Longest Winning Streak: 21 days
Organizer, Denver Area Piano Group (https://www.meetup.com/Denver-Area-Piano-Group/)

Starr Artist Grand
Kimball 6750
Schafer & Sons SS-69
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Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2713492
02/11/18 04:29 PM
02/11/18 04:29 PM
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 369
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DiarmuidD Offline
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I agree with the guys here. Spend your money wisely. Replace it.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2713840
02/12/18 10:01 PM
02/12/18 10:01 PM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,580
New York
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LJC Offline
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New York
Make the case into a bookshelf for your music.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2714241
02/14/18 11:59 AM
02/14/18 11:59 AM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 58
Austin, TX
S
sopranojam85 Offline OP
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Austin, TX
The estimate from the rebuilder came. It's well over 25k, not including refinishing the case or obtaining some type of replacement sostenuto rod. It hurts to think that so many sturdy American-made pianos of this era are going to end up as scrap (i.e. a bookshelf, or possibly just in the dump.) But I know my finances will hurt more if I go down the restoration road with this one.

On one hand, I get that properly restoring them is a venture requiring hundreds of hours of highly skilled labor, tools, and specialized parts. On the other hand, it's sad that the only pianos like mine that will get this type of restoration treatment are a lucky few that are both family heirlooms, and in the hands of someone with the financial wherewithal to pay for the job.

I have to look at it like any other worldly possession. It's just material things, and doesn't matter. So I'm going to get this one out of here (hopefully to someone who will continue to play it but I won't be too picky) and continue my search for something newer.

I'm considering Yamaha. A C(x) would be nice, but that is a bit far outside my budget. Looking at some GP or GH series pianos soon, as well as some Kimballs. I'll play a bunch before I make up my mind, for sure.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2714251
02/14/18 12:31 PM
02/14/18 12:31 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 260
Phoenix, AZ
agraffe Offline
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Phoenix, AZ
Hi sopranojam85, I understand the pain involved in letting go of a beloved worldly possession you've outgrown. I don't think a piano is a mere thing to be discarded, so I would counsel you to spend some time and care in placing it in a new home, even as you search for a piano that meets your needs. Be picky in both searches, and you will be rewarded in knowing your old friend is in a better place.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2714255
02/14/18 12:52 PM
02/14/18 12:52 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,332
Florida
dogperson Offline
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dogperson  Offline
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Florida
I replaced an old piano..... and instead of selling it, I donated it to a small elementary school that did not have one at all. Made me happy to think it might encourage a first grader to learn a musical instrument


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2714292
02/14/18 03:50 PM
02/14/18 03:50 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 3,603
Bulgaria
PhilipInChina Offline
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PhilipInChina  Offline
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Bulgaria
It is a fact that if you do have $25,000 to spend, if you wave it under the nose of a dealer, you will get something very nice.

Why not look at pianos available in your area on the pianos for sale section of this site?


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2715680
02/19/18 03:11 PM
02/19/18 03:11 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 58
Austin, TX
S
sopranojam85 Offline OP
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Austin, TX
This search is taking some interesting turns. First of all, I played dozens of pianos over the weekend. A few at private residences, and bunches at some showrooms. The best-sounding used piano I played was a 1978 Kawai KG 3C (6' grand.) Very light use. Sounded absolutely fantastic.

The best sounding new piano - that was hard to decide. The Yamaha C series are outside my budget new, but I like both the C1 and C3. I couldn't find a C2 on any showroom floor. I really did not like any new "G" type Yamaha I played. I liked a used GP1 I played but not as much as I liked the Kawai.

Then I played a new 4'8" Hardman R143 grand. Let me tell you - I was blown away by it, and absolutely dumbfounded at how GOOD it sounded, and how awesome the action felt for being so small. I don't think this is my "dream" piano by ANY stretch, but it was surprisingly affordable, and might be a decent stepping stone to the next one in 10 or so years.

Then there was an assortment of brands I had seldom heard of and never played, most notable, Brodmann. My daughter's favorite was a Brodmann PE-162, but it is fairly outside my budget. The CE-175 is larger, a bit more affordable, but I wasn't too impressed with the sound/action. Anyway, I will need to give Brodmann some more serious thought. As I do more research, I am realizing this might be a very viable option if I go with something new / in warranty.

Still, NONE of this searching matters if I can't sell my current piano. My daughter is throwing me a major guilt trip for even mentioning selling it or giving it away. She wants to keep it. I have talked to a number of piano techs. One of them offered to help me a bit with repairing the action on my current piano, in order to make it more playable for now, and to perhaps help its resale value. I'm down for that. Namely, I have very worn center pin bushings on several of my hammer flanges. He offered to help me re-pin my hammer bushings with slightly larger center pins. Seems like a good idea. The hammers are currently so wobbly, they sometimes bump into their neighbors while playing.

Another thing that I think would help is new backchecks, and retensioning the repetition springs. If I can get a little help from a pro showing me how to do all of these things on a couple of notes, then that could get me started on a slightly-more-reliable and better regulated action on my existing piano. Worth a shot, right? I don't have anything to lose except the cost of the parts. Plus it may just convince me to keep this piano a little bit longer if it can help the playability issues.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2715690
02/19/18 03:33 PM
02/19/18 03:33 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 8,817
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Carey  Offline
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Originally Posted by sopranojam85
Still, NONE of this searching matters if I can't sell my current piano. My daughter is throwing me a major guilt trip for even mentioning selling it or giving it away. She wants to keep it. .

I don't understand your daughter's role in all of this. If it is YOUR piano and only YOU play it, then your daughter should have nothing to say about the matter. If your daughter is grown and doesn't live with you, then perhaps you can simply give her the old family heirloom since she is emotionally attached to it. If she still lives with you, and plays the current piano herself, I would think that a newer, better functioning instrument would be viewed as a positive thing.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
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Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: Carey] #2715692
02/19/18 03:35 PM
02/19/18 03:35 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 58
Austin, TX
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sopranojam85 Offline OP
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Austin, TX
Perhaps I can clarify. She plays it a lot too. She takes lessons. She is still in elementary school.

Of course I am leaning towards a replacement piano for many reasons. I think she's just being overly-sentimental. smile

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2715694
02/19/18 03:40 PM
02/19/18 03:40 PM
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Oakland
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BDB Offline
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One of the most expensive things that you can do is keep something that is worn out or does not suit your needs when it needs to be replaced. Your daughter needs to learn that, as well.


Semipro Tech
Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2715698
02/19/18 03:56 PM
02/19/18 03:56 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 8,817
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by sopranojam85
Perhaps I can clarify. She plays it a lot too. She takes lessons. She is still in elementary school.

Of course I am leaning towards a replacement piano for many reasons. I think she's just being overly-sentimental. smile

Thanks for the clarification. Perhaps your daughter's teacher can get involved too by explaining to your daughter that the current piano may be holding her back.

I recently purchased a new upright. The Everett upright that graced our home for 43 years was given to my 39 year old daughter - who doesn't play anything other than "chopsticks" - but who wanted the family to keep the piano for sentimental reasons. (I was kind of attached to it as well, even though I rarely played it.) It looks terrific in her condo, and everyone is happy.

Good luck with your search !!!!!! .


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2715916
02/20/18 01:28 PM
02/20/18 01:28 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 58
Austin, TX
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sopranojam85 Offline OP
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Austin, TX
I appreciate all the feedback given. Yes, I agree that the sentimental guilt trip is not something I should allow to bend my decision making here.

My current Hardman-Peck has occasional problems with keys sticking, and when this occurs, I notice that the hammers are touching or rubbing against their neighbors. These hammers have a lot of excess play. On some, the center pins are slowly coming out. The "swing" test of these hammers gives about 10 swings before they stop. Clearly too loose. I've gone ahead and ordered a center pin punch, broach kit, an assortment of pin sizes, and will work with a local tech to get started replacing the hammer flange center pins. This will hopefully alleviate the current problems a bit, both for me (in the short term) and for whoever ends up taking this piano (in the long term.)

Plus, I may have other uses for those tools since I do repairs on electric pianos that have acoustic-like actions. (Wurlitzer 200s, and the like) Never hurts to have a center pin punch anyhow.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2721257
03/14/18 10:23 PM
03/14/18 10:23 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 58
Austin, TX
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sopranojam85 Offline OP
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Austin, TX
With the inspiration/advice of a local tech, lots of elbow grease, the Reblitz book, and about 2 and a half weeks of time, this piano's action is now regulated. It's still got imperfections, but it's as close to regulated as it can get, without replacing all the whippens, hammers, etc.

It feels, and plays much, much better than before.

This will be a nice stop-gap for me. I'll play it for a time, and then decide whether to keep it as-is, or move forward with something new. If nothing else, if I do sell it, the next owner will have a more usable instrument than before this was done.

It was a fantastic learning experience, too. My past efforts to regulate it were pitiful. But now, having gone through all 20-something steps in the Reblitz book, I feel a lot better about how the action is supposed to work, and have a better understanding as to why certain things were not working before.

Re: Time for a change - to restore or replace [Re: sopranojam85] #2721280
03/14/18 11:52 PM
03/14/18 11:52 PM
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