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Heintzman & Co. project opinion
#2900530 10/15/19 05:56 PM
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Hello everyone,

I found a old vertical piano on sale locally and wanted some more input before I move on anything. So far, it’s made by Heintzman & Co. of Toronto Canada. I didn’t take the serial number down so I’m guessing it’s at least early 1900s in make. I’m planning on having a local tech slowly bring it back to good working condition, so in the beginning I’m only concerned with getting it playable. All else will come after.

Currently it’s out of tune, but not horrible so. On my pitch tuning app(if it can be trusted)I found most keys to be within -10c flat with the last three keys in the bass at -20c. A few in the treble were either right on still or sharp. A two or so keys were a bit twangy, but not bad. I was also very surprised to hear how deep and clear the base keys are on it was. It’s something I’ve not heard before on a piano like this. No keys got stuck, but they did feel heavy and made playing softly difficult. I didn’t feel confident to take the front panel off so I don’t have pics of the action from the front. I did get pics of the bottom half though.

The local tech so far says he’s never encountered a bad piano from this maker and all of them took well to tuning despite their age. Any experience from other forum members with vertical pianos from this maker?
I’ll add pics as soon as I can figure out how to.

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Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2900561 10/15/19 07:30 PM
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Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2900605 10/15/19 10:10 PM
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Heintzmans were fine pianos in their day, known and respected across Canada, and built here in Toronto. They seldom migrated south of the border, for some reason. But an American might put their pianos in the same league as an older fine US make such as Baldwin or Mason & Hamlin. These beefy old Heintzman uprights will play the pants off nearly all Asian uprights when it comes to sound. Their actions are not great, but ok.

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2900614 10/16/19 12:24 AM
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Thanks for the reply. I think there's some potential there, I just have to work to bring it out. I have the option of a newer Chinese made piano, which I think is decent, but the Heintzman has a much bigger sound to it. Even in its sorry state.

Any experience with pulling these older uprights to pitch? It's been in the current owners family for quite some time, and they don't remember ever having it tuned. Hasn't stopped any of them from playing it it seems.

Last edited by D.P.; 10/16/19 12:26 AM.
Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2904259 10/25/19 01:04 AM
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Hi everyone.

Just an update. I ended up taking a chance and going for it and had it moved to my home. I had a local tech who likes with working on older pianos attempt a tuning and check-over on it. So far it's in need of some work with replacing old key felts and bridle straps. The middle strings will continue to sound somewhat for a little after letting off the keys, so there's that as well. Otherwise, it took very well to the tuning and sounds quite nice. Tuning pins were very tight and the strings are original. Keys haven't yellowed much at all. Overall it's in pretty good shape for it's age.

I think I made out ok with this one. Definitely a upgrade from my old spinet, especially in the sound.

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2904298 10/25/19 04:16 AM
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On the notes that are ringing on, how firm are the damper springs? If they are pushcing the dampers against the strings firmly, then probably you need new damper felts. If the dampers are not very firmly pushed against the strings, there might be weak or broken damper springs. New damper felts would probably be a good idea anyway. A fiddly but not an enormous job.

I think you will end up with a great piano!

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2918909 12/02/19 05:52 AM
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A bit of an update..

I've played the piano for a little bit now and decided to have a technician give it another look over. After talking with him a bit, I decided to have him reshape the hammers and replace bridle straps. More work may have to be done. He took the action with him, so that left just the shell. I took the opportunity to try and remove as much of the dust out of the inside as I could. The dust under they keys was thick enough to look like the lint out of my dryers lint trap. While I was at it, I polished the pins under the keys and cleaned the key tops. I told the tech that I wanted a darker/mellow sound so he's going to try to voice the hammers to my liking. This is a very new experience for me seeing as I now have the option to have my instrument adjusted to my liking rather than just settle for it being how it is. I hope the hammer work and voicing will improve the tone nicely. If not I'll just assume there are other problems and work on saving up for a newer piano. I can't really afford the cost of a full rebuild at the moment. The tech seems to think my piano has good bones to work with, so I hope he's right. If this works out, I'll make a recording of it's sound. That way I'll have a complete set of recordings to compare the time l got it through its first tuning to now.

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2931464 01/08/20 03:05 AM
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The Technician finished work on the action and reshaped the hammers. He did light needling to the hammers after installing the action back in the frame. He also regulated the action and fixed the key dip so they are level. It sounds mellower now to me than it was before, which is what I wanted. There's still a couple more things that need work, but that's it for now.

Heres a link to sound samples of how it sounds now.
https://soundcloud.com/dale-patten-330650943/cromatic-scale-on-a-heintzman-piano

https://soundcloud.com/dale-patten-330650943/sound-check-heintzman

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2931466 01/08/20 03:22 AM
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Really sounding good! I have a love of these vintage pianos, and am so glad you are giving it a new life. Did you ever post a picture of the case? I would like to see it if you could


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2931800 01/09/20 01:45 AM
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Never thought to post a picture of the case. It's very plain looking. The keys have only yellowed a little, so they don't look too bad. Finish is somewhat dull, but smooth. You can actually still see the grain patterns easily. The piano is only 52" tall while the others I've seen are taller.

Picture of the case:
https://ibb.co/nmhcrg6

Managed to play a restored Steinway upright today. It's tone sounded very similar to my piano, just clearer. Makes me wonder just how the manufacturers intended for these old uprights to sound when they made them.

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2931805 01/09/20 03:02 AM
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Thanks D.P.
For the picture. I really enjoy seeing the wood grain on a piano and much prefer it to the current grainless black we have now. Tone? If in good shape? Rich and warm, IMHO


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2932508 01/11/20 05:42 AM
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So now that I've been playing my piano for a little bit I think I've started to notice a few details pop out at me. When comparing recordings of my piano to other rebuilt and newer uprights I've noticed that the notes, while much better now, sound kind of percussive to me. Almost like I hear the hammers bounce off of the strings. Is this just my imagination or an actual thing I'm hearing? Maybe what I'm looking for is the "round" tone if read about? Having the hammers resurfaced and lightly needled solved most of the tone issues I had before at least. I've found reference on the forum to slapping hammers, but I'm not sure if it's the same thing.

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2932590 01/11/20 12:38 PM
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Old felt gets hard, which is why hammers need to be replaced eventually.


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Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2932892 01/12/20 01:58 PM
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Some of the treble hammers in the photographs were practically not striking their outer strings ! Have you checked this since the overhaul?

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2933168 01/13/20 06:17 AM
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@Goof: Yes, the hammers got adjusted to strike the strings better. It seems quite a few hammers were like that and I didn't notice while playing. The tech also mentioned that it will need work done on the dampers to stop the ringing after playing a note.

There's probably a lot left to do still, but so far it needs: Possible tubby base notes fixed, dampers fixed, and maybe more voicing/new hammers(??).

I'm also considering just purchasing a "newer" piano if I reach a point where no more can be done without a total rebuild. I'm hard-headed so I don't want to give up on it just yet. The "thud" I hear is the only thing stopping it from sounding just as nice as most of the newer pianos I've tried up to this point. Either way, I'm enjoying the process. It's dang interesting watching you pro's work.

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2936781 01/21/20 04:18 PM
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From the chromatic run there are on a few "dud" notes - perhaps around C4 and as I noted it is probably hammers not square to strings.
But what a loverly tone .
Bravo !

Re: Heintzman & Co. project opinion
D.P. #2938650 01/26/20 12:57 AM
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I just checked the keys again before going to work. C3 sounds the most percussive to me and stands out the most. The notes around it are somewhat the same but not as severe. As for dead notes, my ear isn't as well developed yet so I still struggle to hear the things a better musician or tech would hear. But when I played around C4 I think I might have heard something different with D#4(?). I'll investigate the hammers again when I get the time to. I play a lot of C and A major/minor scales when I play so those notes get hit the most.


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