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How to inspect the crown without removing plate? #2793583 12/20/18 09:10 PM
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Piano90X Offline OP
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Sorry for the totally amateur-ish question.

What is the best way to inspect the crown without removing the plate?

Yes, yes, I know, I need to hire a tech to inspect the piano if I'm really interested in it. I've been shopping for a piano for quite some time, and I've (happily) hired techs to inspect a few pianos that I was interested in. But how can I tell if there is a glaring problem with the crown in the first place?

I've heard some people say that, if the upper register is short-lived, then it is a crown problem. But then the dealer says it's a "voicing" problem that can be addressed once it's delivered to my home and acclimated. Riiiiiiight. The bottom and middle registers chime like bells, but just the upper register needs special voicing in my home after I buy it to sound good.

I don't know how much longer of this piano shopping stuff I can take. I'm about ready to just start learning how to play Guitar Hero or something as my musical outlet.

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Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793592 12/20/18 09:43 PM
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Chernobieff Piano Offline
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Why is crown important? A piano can have a soundboard with crown and still sound terrible. The only reliable way to know if a soundboard sounds great is to hear it independently of the hammers and strings. When i measure a soundboard, i measure it loaded and then re-measure when its unloaded. Then i start getting an idea of its behavior. As i have said in other posts, its valuable to hear a new soundboard to know the sound as a comparison factor. Deep tap tones and long sustain is what i look for. Here are some soundboard makers that had very good sounding boards that were also well engineered. Baldwin, Pre 1920 Weber, Mason and Hamlin ( although there is a structural flaw that needs to be fixed). When it comes to Spineways, their boards are awful. Under-engineered on purpose with uneven rib scales, so they will fail sooner rather than later. Probably just past the warranty.
-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793604 12/20/18 10:15 PM
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Crown is measured from the bottom, not the top. You stretch a string in between 2 ribs and look for any gap at the center. You can use masking tape to stick it to the ends, but it needs to be tight, no sag.

Next question - how much should you see? A very small gap at the center shows some crown, so don't get too crazy trying to measure it. String pressure on the bridge compresses the soundboard crown some.

You can also lift the dampers and pluck the string! Comparing the tone and sustain plucked and played tells you if it's a voicing issue. But generally, when a dealer says this they are obfuscating - tell them to voice it for good sustain before you buy! It doesn't need to wait until you get it home!

Keep looking, I think.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Chernobieff Piano] #2793611 12/20/18 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
When it comes to Spineways, their boards are awful. Under-engineered on purpose with uneven rib scales, so they will fail sooner rather than later. Probably just past the warranty.
-chris


To whomever wishes to reply:

What exactly is a "Spineway" -- anyone care to elaborate, here?

Spineway -- Steinway -- is this it?

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: gp84] #2793614 12/20/18 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gp84
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
When it comes to Spineways, their boards are awful. Under-engineered on purpose with uneven rib scales, so they will fail sooner rather than later. Probably just past the warranty.
-chris


To whomever wishes to reply:

What exactly is a "Spineway" -- anyone care to elaborate, here?

Spineway -- Steinway -- is this it?

It's a Steinway with Mr. Chernobieff's replacement soundboard.
[Linked Image]

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: jarobi] #2793623 12/20/18 11:03 PM
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gp84 Offline
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Originally Posted by jarobi
It's a Steinway with Mr. Chernobieff's replacement soundboard.
[Linked Image]


Why am I finding no info about "Spineway" when searching for it and there is no mention of anything like the above on Mr. Chernobieff's website?

As I only find this:

http://www.spineway.com/index_2.php?version=desktop#close

Not even close to a piano related product.

Whazzup?

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793625 12/20/18 11:15 PM
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Chernobieff Piano Offline
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It's a spoof.

Steinway recently produced a letter threatening owners , and rebuilders with legal actions. There has ensued much debate which is still pending.
Others have suggested names like Steinwas, Stein way better, Meinway, etc as humorous replacement decals. Mine is Spineway the piano with backbone.
Hope that clears it up.
-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Chernobieff Piano] #2793628 12/20/18 11:23 PM
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Okay, thanks for the reply and clarification -- have a good holiday! grin

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Chernobieff Piano] #2793637 12/20/18 11:55 PM
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Piano90X Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Steinwas, Stein way better, Meinway, etc . . . Spineway the piano with backbone.


My personal contribution is Frankensteinway.

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793639 12/21/18 12:00 AM
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Oh yeah i forgot that one. Good one.
-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Chernobieff Piano] #2793640 12/21/18 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Why is crown important?


I don't know. It's just something I read about when researching pianos here and something that piano dealers talk about.

My understanding is that a bowed soundboard with a nice crown produces better tone or some crap like that?

I can't handle this anymore. I'm almost ready to hire someone to buy a piano for me.

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793667 12/21/18 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Piano90X
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Why is crown important?


I don't know. It's just something I read about when researching pianos here and something that piano dealers talk about.

My understanding is that a bowed soundboard with a nice crown produces better tone or some crap like that?

I can't handle this anymore. I'm almost ready to hire someone to buy a piano for me.

It's easy to over analyze a piano purchase, I know I am guilty. Just find a piano you like and can afford and have it checked out by a competent technician. If it feels and sounds good to you, that's all that matters.

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793683 12/21/18 04:21 AM
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Get an entry to mid level decent digital, a couple of hundred dollars or so, suggestions available on the digital forum, start learning, playing, practising, and take your time about finding the right piano for you. It can be a bit like dating, look too hard and it doesn’t happen, mix in the right circles and it does. But I do think if your purchase attitude carries to your learning piano attitude you’re choosing the wrong instrument.

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Chernobieff Piano] #2793684 12/21/18 04:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Why is crown important?

I think this is an Internet phenomenon. Thirty years ago, did anyone who wasn't a piano technician even know what crown was?

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793687 12/21/18 04:51 AM
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Before the internet who even knew what a 'Piano Technician' was? Here in the UK I'd suggest that 99% of the population have still never heard the term but only know 'Piano Tuner' as a generic term.

As for 'crown' that's what the top snobs wear.

But back on topic, buying a piano should be simple.
a) Play pianos(lots) until you find one you really like (b) get it checked out independently (c) make sure you get a good guarantee (including 30 day no quibble return) when you buy it.

Then go and play instead of wasting time worrying about piano components :-)

Last edited by gwing; 12/21/18 04:54 AM.
Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: spanishbuddha] #2793731 12/21/18 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
Get an entry to mid level decent digital, a couple of hundred dollars or so, suggestions available on the digital forum, start learning, playing, practising, and take your time about finding the right piano for you.


Great suggestions, but I've already checked all those boxes. I've taken lessons since I was a wee lad, and continue to do so as not-so-wee lad. I have a tolerable Yamaha weighted-key digital. I grew up playing on a C3, and currently have pretty easy access to a Baldwin SD-10 and a M&H Model A in the homes of nearby family members.

I just finally have enough money saved to buy a nice piano, and I've found the process maddening. It probably doesn't help that the major dealer in my vicinity went out of business a couple years ago, so it's very difficult to find certain brands without flying to other states. But dealers are so tight-lipped about prices that I effectively have to buy a ticket and fly out there to get much information.

It'd be irresponsible of me to spend money on a plane ticket to try a piano unless I know how much it costs. And I have actually done this with private sellers who list on PianoMart or Craigslist et al (where people actually post their prices) on a few occasions. Those pianos didn't work out for subjective reasons independent of price, but I actually don't regret spending the money on plane tickets in that case because I had much more predictable and transparent information going into the transaction.

Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
It can be a bit like dating, look too hard and it doesn’t happen, mix in the right circles and it does. But I do think if your purchase attitude carries to your learning piano attitude you’re choosing the wrong instrument.


That's a fair criticism and an insightful comment. I might indeed be looking a bit too hard, but I don't really know how to look less hard. And, yes, I wonder if I should just take a break from the search so that the frustration of the experience doesn't taint my love for the instrument.

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793739 12/21/18 08:28 AM
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If you have saved up a long, long time to buy a piano and are looking for the special one that will 100% satisfy you for a lifetime I can understand how much it means. But it might take you a lifetime, or longer, to find that piano.

At some point you need to make a choice between options that are actually available :-)

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: jarobi] #2793803 12/21/18 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by jarobi
It's easy to over analyze a piano purchase, I know I am guilty. Just find a piano you like and can afford and have it checked out by a competent technician. If it feels and sounds good to you, that's all that matters.
I agree about the easy to over analyze part. But I think your last sentence only applies to experienced pianists who have tried or are familiar with many pianos.

Those not fitting that description may like a piano only because it sounds/feels better compared to their old upright or old digital. Or they may not be perceptive about what tonal/touch characteristics are generally desirable and only later on, when they are more experienced/knowledgeable, realize the piano they thought was so nice really isn't so. Getting selection help from knowledgeable and honest dealers, hired techs, or more knowledgeable friends or piano teachers, and reading The Piano Book is often a good idea.

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: pianoloverus] #2793823 12/21/18 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by jarobi
It's easy to over analyze a piano purchase, I know I am guilty. Just find a piano you like and can afford and have it checked out by a competent technician. If it feels and sounds good to you, that's all that matters.
I agree about the easy to over analyze part. But I think your last sentence only applies to experienced pianists who have tried or are familiar with many pianos.

Those not fitting that description may like a piano only because it sounds/feels better compared to their old upright or old digital. Or they may not be perceptive about what tonal/touch characteristics are generally desirable and only later on, when they are more experienced/knowledgeable, realize the piano they thought was so nice really isn't so. Getting selection help from knowledgeable and honest dealers, hired techs, or more knowledgeable friends or piano teachers, and reading The Piano Book is often a good idea.

Fair enough, but the OP has been playing for a long time and regularly plays other quality acoustic pianos. My point was that it's easy to get confused by reading about never ending piano minutiae, here on PW, and lose sight of what really counts. You can drive yourself crazy looking for the technically perfect piano and quite possibly pass over a piano you would be happy with because it might have a defect that you would never know existed, or that it's a brand not routinely praised here on PW.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the expertise shared here and it has saved me from making some piano buying mistakes, but at some point "analysis paralysis" can set in. It seems like that is where the OP is.

Re: How to inspect the crown without removing plate? [Re: Piano90X] #2793851 12/21/18 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Piano90X
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Why is crown important?


I don't know. It's just something I read about when researching pianos here and something that piano dealers talk about.

My understanding is that a bowed soundboard with a nice crown produces better tone or some crap like that?

I can't handle this anymore. I'm almost ready to hire someone to buy a piano for me.


Pick me me me me! I love piano shopping! Especially when I don’t have to pay for the choice. I get to play different pianos! A great way to earn extra Christmas 💰 cash!


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