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Beale Hammers - Australia #2857767 06/12/19 10:23 AM
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amethyst16 Offline OP
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Hi everyone,

We have inherited a Beale-Vader upright. Based on the serial number I'm guessing around 1904, unfortunately unloved for some time and needs a lot of tlc. I'm hoping there might be someone on here from NSW, Australia who has or can maybe point me in the direction of somewhere I can purchase second hand hammers for it? Thank you.

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Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2857789 06/12/19 11:57 AM
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Hi Amethyst, try calling Ron Overs’ store in Concord West on (02) 97362332. He would be able to point you in the right direction.

Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: parnassus] #2857913 06/12/19 06:24 PM
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amethyst16 Offline OP
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Thanks so much :-)

Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2857957 06/12/19 10:06 PM
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I'm not quite in NSW - just south of Brisbane.

Any piano technician will be able to source them - but almost certainly not 2nd hand. 2nd hand hammers would have almost certainly been removed to replace them with good ones - leaving behind old ones with the amount of compliance of a carpenter's hammer - like useless.

Before you spend a lot on the piano, it could be worth having the technician assess the piano - while they were fairly robust, it's worth having it checked - as, at that age, there could be major issues which could render it unfit to repair.

Someone donated a slightly newer Beale to our Church a while back - saying that "it just needs a tune" which the elders believed and accepted the donation. It was almost unplayable, took 3 or 4 tunes to get it "just" playable - the technician said - really it needs about $3000 to get it working as a very average piano - which he recommended that we didn't spend.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: backto_study_piano] #2858098 06/13/19 08:49 AM
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Thanks for your thoughts Alan. I agree regarding the cost and we certainly don't have money to throw away but I needed to find out whether or not it was possible to repair. If the answer was no, or in the thousands, we would have to give it away or at the worst throw it out.

I have had two technicians look at the piano. Most of the hammers are in fairly decent condition but a few are broken. The first technician isn't trained in restorations but said she could swap over some of the broken hammers with functioning hammers from either end of the keyboard. I'd like all keys to be playable not just sacrificing one for another. While both technicians said it won't make concert pitch they both believe it can be tuned to a decent playable level. I don't have concert pianists in the house however my daughter has taught herself to play some pieces on the piano, and even in it's current condition I can generally recognise what she is playing. I was hoping to get her interested in having lessons - hence the repairs.

The technician (who does restorations) can replace the hammers but said because they will be made of different material they will also sound different. 'Second hand' might not have been the best use of words. I was hoping someone might have had spare hammers, in decent condition, from a Beale of similar age (maybe one that wasn't going to be restored or had been used for parts) not hammers that had been removed because of poor condition. I may be overthinking things, the sound difference may not be noticeable to untrained ears.

Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2858388 06/14/19 12:08 AM
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I understand the dilemma. I've worked with a few families back when I taught, and later with friends. Often the story is "this is Grandma's piano, it has sentimental value and we would like it to be playable".

As you said, the hammers will likely make the piano sound uneven, though a degree of voicing (not as successful on old hammers) may even it out.

But the other thing to consider is - what will the piano be like once this has happened. Likely, the strings are well past their use-by date, and then you wouldn't replace strings without doing the dampers - etc etc etc etc etc etc.

Like on our Church piano which I mentioned above. It looks like new - but even if $3000 were spent on it, it would still be an old piano, probably worth $500 at the most.

Sometimes we have to toss old pianos, sorry.

But - if your daughter is enjoying playing on it - maybe keep it till you can replace it with something better.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: backto_study_piano] #2859171 06/16/19 12:18 PM
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You aren't far off the mark there Alan. In this instance the piano is great, great grandmother's and yes it has sentimental value.

The only comment either technician made was that strings can break during tuning. If that happens it would probably be the point where I call it quits.

I'm sure people are going to faint/roll eyes when they read this but what exactly is the difference between 'just playable', 'average' and 'better'? Is it the sound?

Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2859244 06/16/19 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by amethyst16
[...]

I'm sure people are going to faint/roll eyes when they read this but what exactly is the difference between 'just playable', 'average' and 'better'? Is it the sound?


It's more than just the sound, although that is certainly part of it. It's also a number of things mechanical:
- the effectiveness of the damper pedal
- the evenness and effectiveness of the dampers when keys and/or the damper pedal are/is released
- the evenness and consistency of the action throughout the keyboard

In a piano in relatively good condition through regular maintenance, these issues may be easily and economically addressed. In a piano 115 years old, it may no longer be a case of adjustment but of replacement, from small parts to the entire action. That could run into more money than the piano may be worth.

P.S. Neither did I faint nor roll my eyes.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2859327 06/16/19 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by amethyst16
You aren't far off the mark there Alan. In this instance the piano is great, great grandmother's and yes it has sentimental value.

The only comment either technician made was that strings can break during tuning. If that happens it would probably be the point where I call it quits.

I'm sure people are going to faint/roll eyes when they read this but what exactly is the difference between 'just playable', 'average' and 'better'? Is it the sound?

Hi - yes, BruceD summed it up well.

I'll add - the biggest thing is whether it'll be enjoyable to play - and that isn't easy to determine at this stage. A piano which isn't fun to play won't get played.

Having hammers moved from the extremes to the middle probably wouldn't be a problem, as a beginner rarely uses the outer octaves - though the hammers could sound different as the technician indicated (outer hammers have often not been played as much and could be a different size/hardness).

If your daughter becomes a prodigy - a piano which isn't at concert pitch is something you would need to upgrade eventually to one which is - but that could be a few years. Then again - if she doesn't progress, you haven't bought her a newer piano which will also sit unplayed. A dilemma, isn't it.

An example.

In my Mum's Aged Care facility, in her ward is an old English, small piano, looks OK, in tune. Rarely gets played ... because ... it has 2 volumes 1) very loud; or 2) slightly louder. The hammers are so hard you could probably drive nails into timber with them. Besides that, there is no sense of feel to the piano, and having no sense of responsiveness makes it difficult to play. And because of the extreme volume, I have pity on the other poor residents who probably don't enjoy hearing it played - though my half-deaf Mum encourages me to keep playing.

But - some good pianists have learned very well on very bad pianos in the past. Yes, a dilemma.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2859358 06/16/19 08:32 PM
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amethyst16 Offline OP
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Thanks BruceD and Alan, and thank you for the explanations you have both given. As you can tell I have absolutely zero knowledge of the finer workings of a piano.

At the moment we have been quoted $350 - includes replacement of hammers, tuning and replacement of a castor wheel. I guess I've decided that it's a reasonable amount to determine what sort of playable condition it can be repaired to. Having no experience I can only be guided by the knowledge I gain on here and the advice of the technicians. The difficult part is that as someone who doesn't play I have no way of getting a sense myself of the 'playability' of the piano.

To be honest the piano is a nuisance space wise so if it isn't repairable I would probably purchase a keyboard for my daughter before the expense of a newer piano.

BruceD P.S :-D

Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2859371 06/16/19 09:00 PM
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$350 would barely buy a set of hammers around here, let alone installation. Be very cautious! That is not very much money, especially in Australian dollars.


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Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: BDB] #2859425 06/17/19 01:56 AM
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amethyst16 Offline OP
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It's only about six hammers and most of the technicians here quoted around $150 AUD for tuning which included fixing minor problems.

I researched several technicians, the one I've chosen is third generation of a family of piano tuners/restorers and he appears to be reputable; works for the University on the upkeep of their concert pianos, works for local piano stores and restores and sells pianos. He actually also voiced the pros/cons of repairing the piano versus getting something else, he didn't seem like someone who was just trying to earn a quick dollar and didn't charge me for his initial inspection where others wanted $120 just to assess it.

Thanks for the warning though, I'll keep it in mind.

Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2859432 06/17/19 02:58 AM
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I'd go with the $350 and see what it's like!!


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2860633 06/19/19 08:37 PM
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amethyst16 Offline OP
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Happy to report after 2 1/2 hours
One Beale upright now with caster wheel replaced, hammers replaced and tuned $350
One very excited teenage daughter - priceless :-D

Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: amethyst16] #2860640 06/19/19 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by amethyst16
Happy to report after 2 1/2 hours
One Beale upright now with caster wheel replaced, hammers replaced and tuned $350
One very excited teenage daughter - priceless :-D

Wonderful news!!!!


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Beale Hammers - Australia [Re: backto_study_piano] #2860748 06/20/19 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
Originally Posted by amethyst16
Happy to report after 2 1/2 hours
One Beale upright now with caster wheel replaced, hammers replaced and tuned $350
One very excited teenage daughter - priceless :-D

Wonderful news!!!!


That really is great news.



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