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Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning #2889142
09/11/19 12:38 AM
09/11/19 12:38 AM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 451
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Musicdude Offline OP
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This was a circa 1875 Lighte & Ernst, that was restored recently.

This was a 3 pass pitch raise, which took about 2.5 hours.

There is no sitting down, when tuning a square grand! Horrible tuning pin
placement! Also, even after the piano was tuned up, the tonal quality was
lousy, probably due to the small soundboard. I've played spinets that were
better than this!

Thankfully, pianos aren't made like this anymore!

On the positive side, the restoration work was well done, as the new pinblock
was nice and tight, and no strings broke.

If I am asked to tune a square grand again, it will be 50% more than my
regular tuning fee. Not for the squeamish, or those with bad backs!

(it really wasn't too bad, actually!) grin

Last edited by Musicdude; 09/11/19 12:40 AM.

Piano Player
Part-time Professional Piano Tuner/Technician
Piano Voicer In-Training
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Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2889220
09/11/19 09:53 AM
09/11/19 09:53 AM
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 789
Lincoln, NE
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That Guy Offline
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Lincoln, NE
Yes, I've tuned a few (too many) and they are back breakers. The really bad thing is that, as you say, when you're finally done it sounds horrible!! Charging more is a good idea but I'm not sure even then that it's worth it...


"That Tuning Guy"
Scott Kerns
Lincoln, NE
www.thattuningguy.com
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2889254
09/11/19 12:08 PM
09/11/19 12:08 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,542
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
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New Hampshire
I charge 3 times more. Or by the hour. Depends.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 09/11/19 12:09 PM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: That Guy] #2889526
09/12/19 02:22 PM
09/12/19 02:22 PM
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Posts: 451
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Musicdude Offline OP
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Originally Posted by That Guy
Yes, I've tuned a few (too many) and they are back breakers. The really bad thing is that, as you say, when you're finally done it sounds horrible!! Charging more is a good idea but I'm not sure even then that it's worth it...


Agreed. It's quite disappointing to work that hard, and for that long, only to have the tone
of the piano be so awful.

And get this: The owner supposedly had this square grand appraised for over $60,000! Who the heck
is going to fork over that kind of dough, for such a bad instrument? The owner would be lucky to be
able to pay someone $60 to haul it to the landfill!

"I charge 3 times more. Or by the hour. Depends." 3 times more? It wasn't that bad! grin


Piano Player
Part-time Professional Piano Tuner/Technician
Piano Voicer In-Training
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2889547
09/12/19 03:31 PM
09/12/19 03:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,542
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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P W Grey  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
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New Hampshire
Probably looked on Antique Piano Company website and saw some of the "prices" there. Hard to believe some of them.

The "appraiser" better have some pretty strong evidence for his appraisal. It could also be that whoever "restored" it gave him that figure to justify the cost of the restoration: "Oh, it's a no brainer...these things sell for $45k-$75k all the time...well worth it to put $20k into it...you'll make money on it".

Yeah, right.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2889622
09/12/19 06:57 PM
09/12/19 06:57 PM
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Posts: 451
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Musicdude Offline OP
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Probably looked on Antique Piano Company website and saw some of the "prices" there. Hard to believe some of them.

The "appraiser" better have some pretty strong evidence for his appraisal. It could also be that whoever "restored" it gave him that figure to justify the cost of the restoration: "Oh, it's a no brainer...these things sell for $45k-$75k all the time...well worth it to put $20k into it...you'll make money on it".

Yeah, right.


As I said, the restoration seemed to have been done well, as the pinblock was nice and tight, and the strings were
in good condition. But it's a tragedy that someone could sink around $20k into such a poorly designed instrument,
only to have it hold a tune, with such a bad tone!

And then the owner complained that he couldn't find a buyer! At over $60k, you bet you won't find a buyer at that price!

Antique pianos have the severe disadvantage of having to actually be playable, and have good tonal qualities, if they
are to retain any value at all. Just being an old piece of wooden furniture is NOT enough. It has to still be a good
instrument, to be worth anything. The only place for these square grands, is in some piano museum. They are not
worthy instruments, in my opinion. And not only are they more difficult to tune, but it appears they would be more difficult
to move, compared to an upright.

Sentimental value, for an instrument that has been a family heirloom, is about the only reason I could understand
keeping one of these around.


Piano Player
Part-time Professional Piano Tuner/Technician
Piano Voicer In-Training
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2889629
09/12/19 07:17 PM
09/12/19 07:17 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,542
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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P W Grey  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,542
New Hampshire
Musicdude,

Am I mistaken, or did you say that the owner was actually trying to sell this for $60k?

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2889709
09/12/19 10:40 PM
09/12/19 10:40 PM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 451
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Musicdude Offline OP
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Musicdude,

Am I mistaken, or did you say that the owner was actually trying to sell this for $60k?

Pwg


The owner was trying to sell it for significantly MORE than $60k! (I don't want to state the exact number, to protect the
innocent!)

Is it any surprise he couldn't find a buyer? Since he was trying to sell it, it's clearly not a sentimental family heirloom, and
thus is only good for firewood, or a piano museum, in my opinion!

I feel sorry for the person who spent the big bucks to restore this piece of garbage. For the $20k restoration fee, they could
have bought an AWESOME used Yamaha (or Steinway, if they are lucky!) upright or grand, that would have been an infinitely
better instrument!

What a waste of cash! crazy

Last edited by Musicdude; 09/12/19 10:46 PM.

Piano Player
Part-time Professional Piano Tuner/Technician
Piano Voicer In-Training
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2889729
09/12/19 11:46 PM
09/12/19 11:46 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,060
Michigan
K
kpembrook Online content
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kpembrook  Online Content
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K

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,060
Michigan
Originally Posted by Musicdude
Originally Posted by P W Grey
Musicdude,

Am I mistaken, or did you say that the owner was actually trying to sell this for $60k?

Pwg


The owner was trying to sell it for significantly MORE than $60k! (I don't want to state the exact number, to protect the
innocent!)

Is it any surprise he couldn't find a buyer? Since he was trying to sell it, it's clearly not a sentimental family heirloom, and
thus is only good for firewood, or a piano museum, in my opinion!

I feel sorry for the person who spent the big bucks to restore this piece of garbage. For the $20k restoration fee, they could
have bought an AWESOME used Yamaha (or Steinway, if they are lucky!) upright or grand, that would have been an infinitely
better instrument!

What a waste of cash! crazy


I agree it must be a waste of money in this case. But there is one other category of value besides sentiment or collecting...

... and that is as itself-- a representative of a particular era of the development of the piano. I explain to people its status in a similar way to how I explain about digital keyboards: they are legitimate instruments in their own right with their own characteristics and sets of advantages and disadvantages. If one is interested in such an instrument for what it is then it may be appropriate for them to use. But if they are expecting any aspect of response or tone to be like a good modern piano -- they will not be satisfied.

And there is a variation in quality of squares. Some never did work very well. Some are so warped structurally that they will be a huge money-hole even if rebuilt and some can be legitimate useful representations of the place of the square inmusical history. Steinway and a few others might merit rebuilding. But again, only if it is clearly understood that they will be their own thing -- rather than something that is useful as a modern instrument.



Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2889744
09/13/19 12:47 AM
09/13/19 12:47 AM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 167
Washington State
AWilley Online content

Full Member
AWilley  Online Content

Full Member

Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 167
Washington State
Here's a fun clipping from the San Francisco Call, 25 May 1904.
[Linked Image]
If manufacturers were burning piles of square grands in 1904 to make the point that they were obsolete, what does that make square grands today, 115 years later?


Anthony Willey, RPT
PianoMeter
Willey Piano Tuning
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: AWilley] #2889795
09/13/19 06:28 AM
09/13/19 06:28 AM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,643
Strong, Maine
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member
David Jenson  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,643
Strong, Maine
Originally Posted by AWilley
...
If manufacturers were burning piles of square grands in 1904 to make the point that they were obsolete, what does that make square grands today, 115 years later?


It makes 'em obsoleter-er, or something.


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2889803
09/13/19 07:01 AM
09/13/19 07:01 AM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,542
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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P W Grey  Offline
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P

Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,542
New Hampshire
Musicdude,

Do you happen to know if this fellow PAID for the "appraisal" of his piano and actually has paperwork declaring it's "worth", or is it simply a verbal thing?

I just have a queasy feeling that this guy was manipulated by someone to pour money into a relatively worthless object. If so, this would be a serious disservice to him and to the piano service trade. It is the sort of thing that creates distrust. Beyond that there may even be legal issues since the rules governing appraisals were revamped somewhere within the last ten years. I'm not expert on the issue but I believe one must have a license now to perform appraisals, and there are many "hoops" to jump through for this purpose.

Of course if it's all just verbal, and he chose not to do his due diligence, then that's the end of the matter. Wouldn't be the first time.

Whenever I am confronted with the "is it worth it to restore this" question I ALWAYS let them know right up front that, from an economic standpoint, it is NOT worth it and if they are thinking this way they must set that aside. I make sure that they understand that the ONLY reason they should make this decision is because they WANT to, for personal reasons, and that they should never expect to get back the money they have put into it.

It disturbs me to hear that a person may have been manipulated into something by an opportunistic individual. Of course if he can reasonably PROVE that the thing is worth $60k (i.e. corroboration of sales of similar instruments in the area for this kind of money) then that is an entirely different story. This in fact is what licensed appraisers are supposed to do now (I believe).

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: P W Grey] #2890008
09/13/19 02:23 PM
09/13/19 02:23 PM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 451
M
Musicdude Offline OP
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Musicdude  Offline OP
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Posts: 451
Originally Posted by P W Grey
Musicdude,

Do you happen to know if this fellow PAID for the "appraisal" of his piano and actually has paperwork declaring it's "worth", or is it simply a verbal thing?

I just have a queasy feeling that this guy was manipulated by someone to pour money into a relatively worthless object. If so, this would be a serious disservice to him and to the piano service trade. It is the sort of thing that creates distrust. Beyond that there may even be legal issues since the rules governing appraisals were revamped somewhere within the last ten years. I'm not expert on the issue but I believe one must have a license now to perform appraisals, and there are many "hoops" to jump through for this purpose.

Of course if it's all just verbal, and he chose not to do his due diligence, then that's the end of the matter. Wouldn't be the first time.

Whenever I am confronted with the "is it worth it to restore this" question I ALWAYS let them know right up front that, from an economic standpoint, it is NOT worth it and if they are thinking this way they must set that aside. I make sure that they understand that the ONLY reason they should make this decision is because they WANT to, for personal reasons, and that they should never expect to get back the money they have put into it.

It disturbs me to hear that a person may have been manipulated into something by an opportunistic individual. Of course if he can reasonably PROVE that the thing is worth $60k (i.e. corroboration of sales of similar instruments in the area for this kind of money) then that is an entirely different story. This in fact is what licensed appraisers are supposed to do now (I believe).

Pwg


I'm not sure about the details of the "appraisal". It may have been all verbal.

Honestly, I didn't have the heart to tell the owner that this "appraisal" was ridiculous, but since they haven't
been able to find a buyer, I think they already realize that the restoration money is NOT going to be
ever returned. I believe the current owner got the square grand as a gift from a relative, so it was
probably the relative that lost the money.

But is it the ethical responsibility of a piano tuner to tell customers when an "appraisal" is completely inaccurate?

Or is ignorance bliss, and we should keep our mouths shut?

confused


Piano Player
Part-time Professional Piano Tuner/Technician
Piano Voicer In-Training
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2890054
09/13/19 05:40 PM
09/13/19 05:40 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,542
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
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New Hampshire
A piano technician is in a position not unlike that of a doctor. We should always act in the best interests of the client (while still maintaining integrity). If we to get a routine checkup at the doctor and he/she found something that was amiss (in their professional opinion), I think most of us would agree that we should be informed about it. If they're not sure, they should say so. If they need more information to arrive at an accurate diagnosis they should try to determine it.

It is perfectly legitimate to offer a professional opinion (particularly if the client asks for it) without interjecting any personal viewpoint. Especially if something seems WAY out of line (like an outrageous appraisal figure, or work done that is seriously poor quality) this could very well be the tip of the iceberg in that someone is intentionally and systematically manipulating people with false or misleading information for the purpose of personal profit. If they did it to one person they may likely do it to others. Without being nosey I would say something like: "I'd be interested to know where you got that valuation as it seems quite high based on what I've seen and been exposed to...do you mind telling me?" If they don't want to then we drop the matter.

I've had NUMEROUS situations over the years where if I wanted to "make a buck" I could easily massage the client into believing that it is well worth the money to spend $1500, $2500, or much more to fix a piano that really belongs in the dump, but my conscience won't let me. It is my professional duty to give them the real (whole) picture. If they INSIST on doing work on something that's not a great candidate I make doubly sure they know it and that they know they are not ever going to recoup this expense. All the cards should be face up on the table. What they do with them is their decision.

If we are NOT ASKED for our opinion, we don't give it. Usually though when we are hired, there is an implication that our professional opinion is being sought. There is a balance.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2890069
09/13/19 06:37 PM
09/13/19 06:37 PM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,644
Canberra, ACT, Australia
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Chris Leslie Offline
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Like what Peter says, it is a balancing game and depends on the circumstances. That is part of the job as piano tuners to judge these situations and walk that fine line.


Chris Leslie
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
Re: Thoughts on My First Square Grand Tuning [Re: Musicdude] #2890234
09/14/19 10:28 AM
09/14/19 10:28 AM
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Posts: 133
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edferris Offline
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On the technical side, is there any reason the touch is the normal depth in a square piano when the jack is let off so early? You can play trills just fine as long as you don't bottom the keys.


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