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Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
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Joined: Aug 2018
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While I have never actually heard an Estonia piano, I can imagine that they really are
wonderful pianos! I also think that this piano could have a great future......so it
is really important how things develop musically from here.
Apart from that I feel this instrument is a symbol of "freedom".

Last edited by Lady Bird; 12/29/19 05:17 PM. Reason: Missing word
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Gorgeous piano and great work on your part!



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Beautiful job guys! I’m looking forward to how it sounds. The work you have done on it is exceptional given that neither of you have apparently never done this kind of work before.


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Congratulations on an amazing job of piano restoration! You guys (twin?) have turned an ugly duckling into the belle of the ball, Lady Sofia. The painting on the lid is so beautiful and so appropriate for a flugel. It goes really well with the side lettering, which is also lovely. You have so many talents: artists, pianists, piano restorers, story tellers!

My only question for you is this: How did you find time to practice piano during this monumental project?

Again, congratulations and Happy New Year!


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
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Again, congratulations for your fabulous piano. Reading your thread is far better than watching Netflix (I do not have Netflix though, just a figure of speech).
No doubt that Dr. Laul would be pleased to learn about your rebuild.

Really impressive. I - and certainly many here - cannot wait to hear it played.

Go, go!

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If I also may be bold to ask if someone wanted to restore an old Estonia concert grand like you did what would it cost in US dollars?

It looks like you put a lot of sweat equity into yours but what if the regular Joe wanted to do something like this?

Last edited by Jethro; 12/30/19 08:06 AM.

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Hope I wasn’t being rude by asking BTW. Also you seem to have connections with various artisans. Have you done restoration projects in the past in other areas? It seems as if you guys have a lot of experience with a restoration process in general.

Last edited by Jethro; 12/30/19 08:19 AM.

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Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Congratulations on an amazing job of piano restoration! You guys (twin?) have turned an ugly duckling into the belle of the ball, Lady Sofia. The painting on the lid is so beautiful and so appropriate for a flugel. It goes really well with the side lettering, which is also lovely. You have so many talents: artists, pianists, piano restorers, story tellers!

My only question for you is this: How did you find time to practice piano during this monumental project?

Again, congratulations and Happy New Year!

I am enjoying your beautiful restoration work on your Estonia concert grand. You’re taking away the ugly duckling’s mottled feathers (compromised Soviet era fit and finish) and with your painting and painstaking labor are revealing the beautiful swan of true Estonian craftsmanship. I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous New Year.

Last edited by j&j; 12/30/19 10:11 AM.

J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
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My piano’s voice is beautiful!
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Glorious!


"Serena," my Estonia L168.
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Nice to see it is almost finished. Well done!


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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Hello guys! Thanks so much for all the compliments!

It hasn't been easy finding time to sit down and write...and when we do, it's endless! There's just so much to talk about when it comes to pianos! grin grin

Originally Posted by j&j
The Estonia L190 with Bubinga on the inside lid, the music desk, and sides and inner fallboard was on sale for $41,200. I got full trade in for my C3 so it cost me about $11,300 and my 8 year old Yamaha.


That sounds like an excellent deal! New Estonia pianos are quite reasonably priced, as you mentioned. The bubinga finish must look gorgeous! Do you have any pictures of your instrument on the forum? #GoEstonia!

Speaking of Yamahas, we also initially thought of trading/selling our C5 for the Estonia, but didn't go for it for the fact that the Yamaha is such a special instrument for us, having grown pianistically from it for over ten years. The piano itself was from 2001, according to the serial number, so not only is it the same age as ours, but it's already losing resale value (at least for Thai piano market). Most importantly though, the piano has such a very warm, clear, and projecting sound – quite a rare gem among non-concert Yamaha pianos. Plus, the new Abel hammers worked magic! So, with a small negotiation, the Estonia was quite affordable, so we decided to keep both instruments with us, as it's never good to fight over practice times!

Fun fact: this Estonia concert grand actually costed less than our used Yamaha C5!!!! Will get back to this with Jethro's question. cool cool

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Actually even soviet era Estonia's still have "an element of respect here." A while back a rebuilder of pianos said that he even rebuilds soviet era Bluthner pianos. Perhaps it is just the name but there have been members on PW who have bought soviet era pianos and are happy with them.(in their original condition.(perhaps some have been restored)


Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
The Estonia proved itself to be an excellent "core" piano, and how its plain and very “Soviet” quality called for such a crazy makeover.


While I agree with the first part, not sure about the latter. Contrary to what people believe, Estonias had always been special pianos, especially with regards to "sound".
I immediately noticed this some 25 years ago when playing these pianos first. It became obvious to me Estonia's sound is not just the some of the sum of its part, but - like a Spanish Flamenco guitar - something strangely more. IMHO the way these pianos are being made by the Estonian people, almost unconsciously so. Perhaps less so than is today, but this overriding factor had never been completely gone. Let's not forget, Estonia's culture is widely based on "song" with a singing quality of sound anchored in their national language. Something that had always been a major part of Estonian culture. My prediction [again...] is that this piano will not only be be outstanding but SPECTACULAR! It could become a historical cultural icon for Estonia itself. Proving that the spirit of its people may have been oppressed in the past but had never been really broken. Let's see if I'm right with this.

Norbert



Thank you for the comments! In regards to sound, we absolutely agree with you — in fact, the Soviet-made Estonia pianos were regarded as the very best in the entire USSR, demonstrating immense power, projection, and surprising stability and reliability. Nowadays these instruments are very rare (at least outside the former Union), and most of them have never been properly maintained, therefore it's not so fair for some people to simply judge them in that state. The Estonia sound, as you mentioned, is really unique; a warm and ringing sound with a VERY singing treble matched with an explosive, deep bass. These characters are also found in many "Golden age" New York Steinways of the 1930s up to 1950s, among other makers, but they seem to be very rare in pianos made these days.

Also, Norbert, what you said reflects our thoughts exactly!
Just to clarify, the "Soviet" quality we so often mention refers to the build quality, and aesthetic aspects only. In fact, Estonia pianos symbolized the glorious days of Soviet musical culture.

Going back to the history of the maker, the name Estonia didn't come into existence until after WWII, when piano builder Ernst Hiis sent an Estonia piano (likely a concert grand) as a required Soviet republic gift for Stalin's 70th birthday in 1948. Stalin was so impressed with it, he ordered Hiis to be the sole manufacturer of concert grand pianos for the entire Soviet Union, and renamed the company Estonia. Production peaked at around 500 pianos per year, indicating there really was a widespread demand for such instruments. The pianos occupied concert halls, houses of culture (Dom Kultury) and music conservatories all around Russia and Europe.

Perhaps the way they were mass-produced called for lower build standards, and hasty assembly. Doesn't mean that they would intentionally simplify the piano's design though; it might have very well been the style of that era — the post-modern brutalism mixed with art deco that dominated the Eastern Bloc, somewhat reminiscing the preceding Soviet constructivist architecture of the 1920s.

For our piano Sofia, this effect was evident in the build quality and crude craftmanship, most noticeably the pinblock, lid prop, and the whole cabinet surface works. Other areas include the pedal lyre and its mediocre mechanism quality. But the worst part was likely the assembly; it's just so badly done. A few hinge screws were badly drilled (angled), some screw heads had defects and got stuck, and the leg screw holes have particularly bad fitting. It just seemed like they were trying to screw up the piano...pun intended!

However, the main assembly of the vital parts, and the construction of the bridges, soundboard, ribs, etc. are well executed, showing that they really focused on the functionality of the instruments. It's a bit ironic though, as the design is one of the most beautiful we've seen, and they simply didn't do it any justice.

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Do not go too wild with the art now. The wing is perfect by the way ! The piano looks gorgeous!


Thank you! For the artwork, it's pretty close to how we imagined at this stage. Any additional touch would mostly go to the music desk. Since it will be completely replaced, we will do some redesign to match the new piano. And yes, we'll be careful not to overdo it. We're aiming for continuity and harmony within the whole instrument, so the goal is to keep things tidy and uncluttered, as well as preserving the curvaceous lines of the piano. We will likely tone down the leg ornaments, as they might be a bit too striking. The legs themselves need some repairs on split veneers, so we might do some slight redesigning there as well, and perhaps add a bit more elegance by shedding some of the bulky blocks. Still a few things TBD...(to be destroyed!)

One thing we'll do for sure is replacing the casters. We already have some ideas on how this could be done, so we'll cover about this in the next posts.

We'll try our best to keep you all posted! grin grin

Last edited by LovingPianos; 02/02/20 05:41 AM.
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[Linked Image]
Estonia L190
I posted a picture and then the thread with more pictures.

I’m really thrilled with the “hidden beauty aspect”. Closed it looks like a shiny black grand and matches as well as any other gloss black piano. But open the lid, music desk, and fallboard, there’s the beautiful Bubinga. Much like you are doing with Sophia.
My first grand was a polished walnut GB1K. The walnut veneer was to me drop dead gorgeous. Then I traded up for a polished ebony C3. The piano is beautiful and stately but I missed the wonderful walnut wood grain. My Estonia provides both.


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
My piano’s voice is beautiful!
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Looks lovely and I really like the “hidden beauty” trick.

Related to that, had anyone thought to get a piano covered in quarter-cut, straight grain bubinga? I would think that especially for larger surfaces (not this model!), it might have some interest. The same beautiful color but less busyness, if you could find the right stain to highlight the grain just so.

Last edited by Maestro Lennie; 04/22/20 09:24 PM.
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Originally Posted by LovingPianos
Hello guys! Thanks so much for all the compliments!

It hasn't been easy finding time to sit down and write...and when we do, it's endless! There's just so much to talk about when it comes to pianos! grin grin

Originally Posted by j&j
The Estonia L190 with Bubinga on the inside lid, the music desk, and sides and inner fallboard was on sale for $41,200. I got full trade in for my C3 so it cost me about $11,300 and my 8 year old Yamaha.


That sounds like an excellent deal! New Estonia pianos are quite reasonably priced, as you mentioned. The bubinga finish must look gorgeous! Do you have any pictures of your instrument on the forum? #GoEstonia!

Speaking of Yamahas, we also initially thought of trading/selling our C5 for the Estonia, but didn't go for it for the fact that the Yamaha is such a special instrument for us, having grown pianistically from it for over ten years. The piano itself was from 2001, according to the serial number, so not only is it the same age as ours, but it's already losing resale value (at least for Thai piano market). Most importantly though, the piano has such a very warm, clear, and projecting sound – quite a rare gem among non-concert Yamaha pianos. Plus, the new Abel hammers worked magic! So, with a small negotiation, the Estonia was quite affordable, so we decided to keep both instruments with us, as it's never good to fight over practice times!

Fun fact: this Estonia concert grand actually costed less than our used Yamaha C5!!!! Will get back to this with Jethro's question. cool cool

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Actually even soviet era Estonia's still have "an element of respect here." A while back a rebuilder of pianos said that he even rebuilds soviet era Bluthner pianos. Perhaps it is just the name but there have been members on PW who have bought soviet era pianos and are happy with them.(in their original condition.(perhaps some have been restored)


Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
The Estonia proved itself to be an excellent "core" piano, and how its plain and very “Soviet” quality called for such a crazy makeover.

While I agree with the first part, not sure about the latter. Contrary to what people believe, Estonias had always been special pianos, especially with regards to "sound".
I immediately noticed this some 25 years ago when playing these pianos first. It became obvious to me Estonia's sound is not just the some of the sum of its part, but - like a Spanish Flamenco guitar - something strangely more. IMHO the way these pianos are being made by the Estonian people, almost unconsciously so. Perhaps less so than is today, but this overriding factor had never been completely gone. Let's not forget, Estonia's culture is widely based on "song" with a singing quality of sound anchored in their national language. Something that had always been a major part of Estonian culture. My prediction [again...] is that this piano will not only be be outstanding but SPECTACULAR! It could become a historical cultural icon for Estonia itself. Proving that the spirit of its people may have been oppressed in the past but had never been really broken. Let's see if I'm right with this.

Norbert


Thank you for the comments! In regards to sound, we absolutely agree with you — in fact, the Soviet-made Estonia pianos were regarded as the very best in the entire USSR, demonstrating immense power, projection, and surprising stability and reliability. Nowadays these instruments are very rare (at least outside the former Union), and most of them have never been properly maintained, therefore it's not so fair for some people to simply judge them in that state. The Estonia sound, as you mentioned, is really unique; a warm and ringing sound with a VERY singing treble matched with an explosive, deep bass. These characters are also found in many "Golden age" New York Steinways of the 1930s up to 1950s, among other makers, but they seem to be very rare in pianos made these days.

Also, Norbert, what you said reflects our thoughts exactly!
Just to clarify, the "Soviet" quality we so often mention refers to the build quality, and aesthetic aspects only. In fact, Estonia pianos symbolized the glorious days of Soviet musical culture.

Going back to the history of the maker, the name Estonia didn't come into existence until after WWII, when piano builder Ernst Hiis sent an Estonia piano (likely a concert grand) as a required Soviet republic gift for Stalin's 70th birthday in 1948. Stalin was so impressed with it, he ordered Hiis to be the sole manufacturer of concert grand pianos for the entire Soviet Union, and renamed the company Estonia. Production peaked at around 500 pianos per year, indicating there really was a widespread demand for such instruments. The pianos occupied concert halls, houses of culture (Dom Kultury) and music conservatories all around Russia and Europe.

Perhaps the way they were mass-produced called for lower build standards, and hasty assembly. Doesn't mean that they would intentionally simplify the piano's design though; it might have very well been the style of that era — the post-modern brutalism mixed with art deco that dominated the Eastern Bloc, somewhat reminiscing the preceding Soviet constructivist architecture of the 1920s.

For our piano Sofia, this effect was evident in the build quality and crude craftmanship, most noticeably the pinblock, lid prop, and the whole cabinet surface works. Other areas include the pedal lyre and its mediocre mechanism quality. But the worst part was likely the assembly; it's just so badly done. A few hinge screws were badly drilled (angled), some screw heads had defects and got stuck, and the leg screw holes have particularly bad fitting. It just seemed like they were trying to screw up the piano...pun intended!

However, the main assembly of the vital parts, and the construction of the bridges, soundboard, ribs, etc. are well executed, showing that they really focused on the functionality of the instruments. It's a bit ironic though, as the design is one of the most beautiful we've seen, and they simply didn't do it any justice.

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Do not go too wild with the art now. The wing is perfect by the way ! The piano looks gorgeous!

Thank you! For the artwork, it's pretty close to how we imagined at this stage. Any additional touch would mostly go to the music desk. Since it will be completely replaced, we will do some redesign to match the new piano. And yes, we'll be careful not to overdo it. We're aiming for continuity and harmony within the whole instrument, so the goal is to keep things tidy and uncluttered, as well as preserving the curvaceous lines of the piano. We will likely tone down the leg ornaments, as they might be a bit too striking. The legs themselves need some repairs on split veneers, so we might do some slight redesigning there as well, and perhaps add a bit more elegance by shedding some of the bulky blocks. Still a few things TBD...(to be destroyed!)

One thing we'll do for sure is replacing the casters. We already have some ideas on how this could be done, so we'll cover about this in the next posts.

We'll try our best to keep you all posted! grin grin
Just wondering if there is any update on this piano restoration project?


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