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Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos #2819348
02/23/19 10:22 PM
02/23/19 10:22 PM
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Posts: 4
TX
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Bangel Offline OP
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I'm looking for more information on Hamilton Baldwin pianos built in the late 1950s. I keep seeing posts that suggests that, historically, there were two different lines of Hamilton pianos. If I'm understanding what I've read on this forum and elsewhere, one line of Hamiltons was actually built by Baldwin and seem to have been considered high quality pianos...i.e. REAL Hamilton Baldwins. The other line of Hamiltons were apparently built by some third party manufacturer - perhaps under a license from Baldwin - but seem to have been considered quite a bit lower in quality than the "real" Hamilton Baldwins.

Assuming there really were/are two separate lines of pianos sold under the name Hamilton (both perhaps given serial numbers by Baldwin) does anybody know if both lines were in existence in the late 1950s? And, if so, can someone please tell me how to distinguish between the two lines with some degree of certainty?

I'm considering purchasing a 1958 studio piano (serial number is between 176707 and 182561) that has the name Hamilton in the center of the fall-board and word Baldwin on the far right side of the fall board in a much smaller font. The words "Built by Baldwin" are cast into the plate itself. Finally, there is also a sticker on the back that says "Manufactured by The Baldwin Piano Co, Cincinnati, Ohio under one or more of the following patents..."

Am I correct in believing that this is one of the "authentic" Hamilton Baldwins? i.e., One of the "high quality" ones actually built by Baldwin?

Thanks,

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Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2819378
02/24/19 12:09 AM
02/24/19 12:09 AM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,963
Georgia, USA
terminaldegree Offline
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Yes, it’s probably a “real” one. However it’s 61 years old. Initial quality aside, it could be rather tired or needy at this point. Many of these studios endured institutional use at some point during their ownership.


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Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2819860
02/25/19 01:13 PM
02/25/19 01:13 PM
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Bangel Offline OP
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Thanks for the response terminaldegree.

I know it's old but then so am I. LOL. I'll be retiring this summer and the piano will be for me. I've always wanted to learn to play but never had a chance before so this will be my retirement present to myself. I'm on a budget tho so can't afford a new piano. I know I COULD just buy a keyboard but there's something about a real piano that calls to me in a way that keyboards simply don't.

But, in preparation for shopping for a used piano, I read Larry Fine's The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New or Used Piano quite literally from cover to cover, studying every diagram carefully. I've also watched a gazillion youtube videos about piano selection and piano repair, and I have been haunting this forum for quite a while now. Admittedly, a lot of the more technical discussions on this forum still go right over my head, but I think I have figured out how to eliminate the more obvious "corpses."

This particular piano is slightly flat overall but generally in tune with itself. When I opened it up, it was clean inside except for a few spiderwebs - which I took to be a good sign since it meant the piano hadn't just been carefully cleaned in preparation for selling. No signs of any water or rodent damage. No missing or broken or spliced strings. No obviously new stings but also no heavily rusted ones, just overall light tarnish that appeared to be pretty uniform on all the strings. No tuning pins hammered in to the point where the coils were down to the plate. All tuning pins were the same size and I saw no evidence of chemical doctoring of the pinblock. All the strings were running nicely parallel. There were a couple of very tiny hairline cracks in the bass bridge - the longest one only1/4 inch long and defintely not bad enough to have allowed the bridge pin to shift. Trapworks were in good condition with all three pedals operating properly and QUIETLY. No cracks in the soundboard and no odd buzzing noises when piano was played. The hammers did show a bit of pitting but actually less than I've seen on much newer (90's era) pianos. The hammer pits lined up nicely with the unison strings. No misaligned hammers or dampers. No missing or broken bridle straps. No missing whippen springs. All the keytops were level with one another and keys are evenly spaced. None of the keys wiggle or rattle and, to the best of my non-piano playing ability to tell, they all seemed to respond properly to my touch. i.e, they go down easily even when I press on a white key up very close to the black key. And the keys come back up again as soon as I release them etc. etc. etc. Finally, when the seller played the piano for me, it sounded rich, full and warm, not brittle or honky-tonkish. Price include delivery and tuning plus 1 year parts and labor warranty.

I DO intend to have a piano tech go out and evaluate the piano for me before buying, but since I can't afford to pay for that service for more than one or two possibilities, I needed to be pretty danged sure that this is the ONE before hiring a piano tech. The question of its manufacturer was the last hitch before hiring a piano tech to go evaluate it.

Last edited by Bangel; 02/25/19 01:13 PM.
Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2819895
02/25/19 02:47 PM
02/25/19 02:47 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
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Indianapolis
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GC13 Offline
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Joined: Jan 2017
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Indianapolis
Originally Posted by Bangel
Thanks for the response terminaldegree.

I know it's old but then so am I. LOL. I'll be retiring this summer and the piano will be for me. I've always wanted to learn to play but never had a chance before so this will be my retirement present to myself. I'm on a budget tho so can't afford a new piano. I know I COULD just buy a keyboard but there's something about a real piano that calls to me in a way that keyboards simply don't.

But, in preparation for shopping for a used piano, I read Larry Fine's The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New or Used Piano quite literally from cover to cover, studying every diagram carefully. I've also watched a gazillion youtube videos about piano selection and piano repair, and I have been haunting this forum for quite a while now. Admittedly, a lot of the more technical discussions on this forum still go right over my head, but I think I have figured out how to eliminate the more obvious "corpses."

This particular piano is slightly flat overall but generally in tune with itself. When I opened it up, it was clean inside except for a few spiderwebs - which I took to be a good sign since it meant the piano hadn't just been carefully cleaned in preparation for selling. No signs of any water or rodent damage. No missing or broken or spliced strings. No obviously new stings but also no heavily rusted ones, just overall light tarnish that appeared to be pretty uniform on all the strings. No tuning pins hammered in to the point where the coils were down to the plate. All tuning pins were the same size and I saw no evidence of chemical doctoring of the pinblock. All the strings were running nicely parallel. There were a couple of very tiny hairline cracks in the bass bridge - the longest one only1/4 inch long and defintely not bad enough to have allowed the bridge pin to shift. Trapworks were in good condition with all three pedals operating properly and QUIETLY. No cracks in the soundboard and no odd buzzing noises when piano was played. The hammers did show a bit of pitting but actually less than I've seen on much newer (90's era) pianos. The hammer pits lined up nicely with the unison strings. No misaligned hammers or dampers. No missing or broken bridle straps. No missing whippen springs. All the keytops were level with one another and keys are evenly spaced. None of the keys wiggle or rattle and, to the best of my non-piano playing ability to tell, they all seemed to respond properly to my touch. i.e, they go down easily even when I press on a white key up very close to the black key. And the keys come back up again as soon as I release them etc. etc. etc. Finally, when the seller played the piano for me, it sounded rich, full and warm, not brittle or honky-tonkish. Price include delivery and tuning plus 1 year parts and labor warranty.

I DO intend to have a piano tech go out and evaluate the piano for me before buying, but since I can't afford to pay for that service for more than one or two possibilities, I needed to be pretty danged sure that this is the ONE before hiring a piano tech. The question of its manufacturer was the last hitch before hiring a piano tech to go evaluate it.


Wow! It sounds like you've really done your homework on what to look for when purchasing a used piano. You definitely know the key things to look for when evaluating a piano. There question becomes, are your assessments correct? Another thought is, are you "smitten" with this piano to the point that you are willing to have it evaluated by a technician. If you do not also have a relationship with a piano technician, you should pick carefully and wisely. I'd pay the extra money for a concert level technician if at all possible.

One question I would have for a technician would be, if there's enough felt on the hammers to do some voicing should the tone on the piano deteriorate over time. I'd also want his opinion on the cracks in the bridge caps. They may not be causing any issues right now, but that might become a problem rather quickly.

Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: GC13] #2819977
02/25/19 05:59 PM
02/25/19 05:59 PM
Joined: Feb 2019
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TX
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Bangel Offline OP
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TX
I live in Austin and half my friends are musicians of one sort or another, mostly guitar and fiddle players but a few piano players as well. They've recommended a couple of guild-member piano techs to me so I think I'll be in good hands.

No, I'm not so smitten with this piano that I won't be able to bear letting it go by if need be. But, thus far, it is the best I've seen that is within my budget.

Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820003
02/25/19 06:43 PM
02/25/19 06:43 PM
Joined: Oct 2012
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Quote
it was clean inside except for a few spiderwebs - which I took to be a good sign since it meant the piano hadn't just been carefully cleaned in preparation for selling.

There are anti-aging kits that include fake spider webs! wink

On a serious note, it sounds like you are well-informed and on the right track. You are wise, though, to have your final choice inspected before purchase.



"If it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
P E R F O R M A N C E over p r o v e n a n c e

Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820529
02/26/19 10:43 PM
02/26/19 10:43 PM
Joined: Feb 2019
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TX
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Bangel Offline OP
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TX
Piano tech just called me with a "high five" on the Baldwin Hamilton I've been considering. Said he could not find a single thing wrong with it that I hadn't already mentioned to him and that with reasonable care, this piano should serve me well for another 50 years. Since I don't really expect to live to 115 years old, that's good enough for me. grin

Called the seller to close the deal. Piano will be delivered to me on Saturday. I am sooo buzzed!

Next stop: Piano World's "Adult Beginners Forum"

Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820537
02/26/19 11:04 PM
02/26/19 11:04 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,623
Georgia, USA
Rickster Offline
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Georgia, USA
Congratulations on your new-to-you Baldwin piano! Sounds like you did your homework and got an "A" on it...

Wishing you all the best with the piano and your journey toward learning to play it! smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820556
02/27/19 12:17 AM
02/27/19 12:17 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 631
Arkansas
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supersport Offline
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Arkansas
Congratulations! Many of us here have spent time in front of a Baldwin Hamilton, glad you are joining the pack!


David



Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820626
02/27/19 08:36 AM
02/27/19 08:36 AM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 2,843
In the Ozarks of Missouri
NobleHouse Offline
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Congratulations on your new piano. Enjoy!!


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Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820631
02/27/19 08:42 AM
02/27/19 08:42 AM
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Congratulations on your new piano! I have long enjoyed most of the Baldwin Hamilton Studio pianos I have played. It sounds like you've come across a great one. Keep us posted!

Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820681
02/27/19 11:06 AM
02/27/19 11:06 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,454
Southwest
j&j Offline
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Congratulations on your new-to-you Baldwin. My first bought for myself was a Baldwin upright. Here’s to many happy hours of enjoyment with your new piano!


J & J
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Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820709
02/27/19 12:15 PM
02/27/19 12:15 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,963
Georgia, USA
terminaldegree Offline
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I'm glad that worked out for you, and that you went to the extra effort of having the piano inspected by a technician prior to sale-- sounds like you found a good one!

Please pardon my initial words of caution, as I go out and service more and more pianos in the field, the majority of instruments I see at that age almost all exhibit age-, climate-, or use-related issues, ranging from minor to severe. There are the occasional "time capsules", but it's much more the exception than the rule.


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Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: terminaldegree] #2820726
02/27/19 12:45 PM
02/27/19 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
I'm glad that worked out for you, and that you went to the extra effort of having the piano inspected by a technician prior to sale-- sounds like you found a good one!

Please pardon my initial words of caution, as I go out and service more and more pianos in the field, the majority of instruments I see at that age almost all exhibit age-, climate-, or use-related issues, ranging from minor to severe. There are the occasional "time capsules", but it's much more the exception than the rule.



It's always good ask the hard questions here on PW, terminaldegree. Bangel's thread has been an unusual one since Bangel had already done so much of the homework on used pianos up front. We don't see that too often from the first time poster wanting to buy an old used piano. thumb

Bangel - I commend you again for knowing your stuff about pianos and not jumping in blindly. We hear of "buyer's regrets" a lot. We have a couple of other active threads going on right now where individuals asked questions about pianos here, and posters here on PW advised caution before proceeding. The pianos were purchased hastily, and now there are issues with the instruments. The buyers are asking for more advice, and they will possibly spend a large sum of money trying to fix the piano or lose substantially by selling it or trading it back in.

Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: Bangel] #2820731
02/27/19 12:57 PM
02/27/19 12:57 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,454
Southwest
j&j Offline
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+1 GC13! Nailed It!


J & J
Yamaha C3 PE
Casio Privia PX-330
Pianos - the reason God made trees!
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Re: Need more info re 1950s era Baldwin Hamilton studio pianos [Re: j&j] #2820872
02/27/19 07:29 PM
02/27/19 07:29 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 2,843
In the Ozarks of Missouri
NobleHouse Offline
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Originally Posted by j&j
+1 GC13! Nailed It!


+2 GC13 certainly did!


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