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Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2931739 01/08/20 07:48 PM
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noyes Offline
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Wow, the piano has been sold. Did the OP buy it?

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Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932444 01/10/20 07:48 PM
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EricKovalsky Offline OP
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Yes I did smile

So I hired a very well respected piano technician in the LA area (David Andersen, thanks Rich G. for the referral) to go examine it, and Living Pianos was most agreeable to an independent inspection. They were 'very confident' in this piano!

I was expecting to hear "run away" from David, but in fact the assessment confirmed the following:

The good -
  • Original soundboard (correctly restored) was in excellent condition, estimated at >85% of original performance. Apparently this is exceedingly rare in a 145 year old piano, and both David and his colleague were both quite surprised. I also asked Robert to record Clair de Lune for me to better hear the upper registers, which he gladly did - and it sounded quite good to me. The pieces he recorded in his sales video did not really show off the sound of the piano, in my opinion.
  • Pinblock had been replaced and was in excellent condition.
  • Agraffes were replaced
  • High quality strings were installed.
  • Furniture is exceptionally well restored ~ 9.5/10.
  • Action is consistent and playable. Heavier (correct, I think) hammers were apparently installed by Living Pianos after the previous restoration.


The bad -
  • Bridge caps were not replaced but in excellent condition with no cracks under magnification.
  • Underside of the soundboard and piano cosmetics look sloppy but no structural issues.


The ugly (no surprise here based on observations from Sally and others) -
  • Action is out of spec (too heavy) with downweights in 60 gm range; upweights are not so bad, in the 25 gm range. Which I think means there is too much friction. Keys have excessive lead weights, inertia is high.


So... long story short this was not a 'core piano' but action needs work. I made a cash offer on the piano well below the asking price, given these issues with the action, and it was accepted. The technician felt he could significantly improve the action by adjusting the fulcrum points, lubrication, removing some of the lead weights, etc; he is going to spend a full day with it next week before it ships out. It won't be perfect, but if the action needs to be significantly rebuilt in the future, much of that cost is already factored into my purchase price, and I understand there are some local rebuilders who are capable and qualified to do it.

I have been trying to research the provenance of this particular piano #31534 without much success. Apparently Robert bought it 'off the back of a truck' years ago along with some other Steinways. Ron Meyers (RIP) of Vintage Pianos in CO restored the same 1875 Style IV model back in 2012, but I am not sure if it is the identical instrument.




Last edited by EricKovalsky; 01/10/20 07:53 PM.
Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932446 01/10/20 07:57 PM
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Sounds like you got a good deal and a detailed/honest inspection. I'm glad the piano turned out to be in better condition than some posters thought it might be in because it was obvious you loved the piano.

Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932457 01/10/20 08:35 PM
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Congratulations! laugh cool Very happy for you!

Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932458 01/10/20 08:39 PM
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Congratulations!

Sounds like you really did your homework on this one!

Enjoy!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: pianoloverus] #2932466 01/10/20 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Sounds like you got a good deal and a detailed/honest inspection. I'm glad the piano turned out to be in better condition than some posters thought it might be in because it was obvious you loved the piano.


Indeed!

And I have to say Robert and Shon at Living Pianos were fantastic to deal with, and everything I was told about the piano by them was confirmed independently.

Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932470 01/10/20 10:19 PM
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I’m so pleased this worked out so well! I have a weak spot for vintage pianos, having owned a great vintage upright and now a 1903 M& H grand


"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: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932478 01/10/20 11:26 PM
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I'm excited for you as well - and pleased that this beautiful vintage instrument will be in our neighborhood. smile


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
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Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932616 01/11/20 01:27 PM
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Eric,

I am happy this worked out the way it did. Frankly, I was skeptical. I have seen too many pianos that had little to no work done or worse, improper work done on them. I understand that the action will be a challenge, but at least for now, the belly seems to be ok the way it is. I would have bet a good amount of money against that.

Stay in touch and stop by here when you can. I would love to hear more the piano after you have lived with it for a bit.

Yours,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932635 01/11/20 02:29 PM
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The action will be a challenge, but it sounds like your technician knows how to approach the problems.

Please accept two pieces of advice from an old (1886) Steinway owner:

* Have the weight of the hammers reduced by sanding the sides of the hammerheads. 1 gram less in a hammer translates to 5g at the keyboard

* Check the hammer strike line in the treble section. From what I heard in the video, this is a weak point that can make all the difference. In my case it did. With a soundboard this old, geometry and force distribution in the whole acoustic assembly changes. It's really easy to check: Remove the fallboard and the side blocks holding it so you can pull out the action. Strike one note and carefully pull out the action millimeter by millimeter and listen to a change in tone quality - and there will be one, I am confident. You do this over the whole treble section and make note of every single note and you'll end up most likely with a curve that differs from the current straight line by a couple of millimeters. It's easy to remove the hammers from the shanks and glue them to the correct position.

This procedure made all the difference in my old piano, going from thin and tinny to rich and full.

Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: pianoloverus] #2932776 01/11/20 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Sounds like you got a good deal and a detailed/honest inspection. I'm glad the piano turned out to be in better condition than some posters thought it might be in because it was obvious you loved the piano.

thumb

Inspection was the way to go. David Andersen is inspiring.

As Rich said, be sure to keep us informed. It's a great story.



And still I dream she'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2932812 01/12/20 08:15 AM
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Great news, and congratulations!

Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2941552 02/01/20 08:36 PM
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Since my last post, David Andersen and his team spent a couple days with the piano and tweaked the action. Among the work completed:

  • Took action stack off, removed all paper punchings, soaked and scraped off glued on balance rail punchings, changed key height to 64mm, leveled keys
  • Shimmed, stripped action screw holes
  • Lubed keyframe/knuckles, polished and lubed capstans, refined sharp key height, made aftertouch and 10mm key dip, adjusted hammer blow distance, fixed broken jack, set jack position, spring tension, let-off/drop. back checks.
  • Shimmed cheek blocks up to correct sharp keys knocking on the wallboard


The piano was delivered this week by Paco's Piano Moving who did an amazing job with his big, heavy instrument. It sounds absolutely incredible and plays very well. The action is heavier than my previous Weber (which I measured around 50 gm using the coin method), but am already getting used to it, and it is consistent. There is no wonkiness and so far no spurious resonances. The sustain is excellent up into the high registers and the bass is deep and powerful - that's certainly the most obvious difference going from a 6'2" parlor grand to a 8'6" near-concert grand.

The Brazilian rosewood furniture and carvings are absolutely pristine.

I also want to say that, despite being a big online sales company, Robert and Florence Estrin and Shon Levi of Living Pianos were an absolute pleasure to deal with, very accomodating of an independent inspection, and graciously extended their operating hours to allow for David to work on the action before it shipped out, despite being in the process of moving out of state. They were also very honest in describing the piano, and frankly the pieces Robert played in his video did not do it justice.

Here are a few photos in the home:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2941566 02/01/20 09:12 PM
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Wow! It's gorgeous! I've actual see the videos of Robert playing that piano. It is very nice. Congratulations! I've heard good things about Living Pianos, and David Anderson as well. Sounds like you got a real winner!

Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2941581 02/01/20 09:55 PM
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Beautiful piano! Please post some videos if possible - would be interesting to hear the difference - especially on the treble sustain - after David Anderso's work with the action.


Sauter Delta 185, Bosendorfer 225, Ibach F III 215


Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2941619 02/02/20 01:30 AM
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Beautiful piano in a beautiful home!

This is a great ending to a great story!

Or, perhaps it’s just the beginning of another great story.



And still I dream she'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2941666 02/02/20 07:56 AM
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Your piano is wonderfull ,that sound brings back a time that is gone.
I have never heard that piece played like that before ! Yet for different
times ,a different approach. It was dark agitated ,then slower .,yet it
sounded much like Beethoven ?

The sustaining pedal was obviously not as overwhelming as in our modern
pianos .Beethoven died in 1827 .The piece is marked that one should keep
the sustain down throughout because the sustaining affect would be a much
a much lighter affect in the pianos made at that time by before Streicher.
Yet between 1827 to 1875 I wonder what the difference would have been
in the sustaining pedal ?
What I am trying to ask is how much does this piano sound like now to how
it sounded in 1871 ? Just interested in period instruments.
The piano is magnificent no matter the answer ! Thank you for sharing !

I do realise between that time when the Moonlight Sonata was written to 1827
,the piano developed quite a lot .Yet between then to 1875 the development
must have been significant.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 02/02/20 08:05 AM. Reason: Extra word
Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: EricKovalsky] #2941700 02/02/20 09:28 AM
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In addition, an appropriate UT would add to the authenticity. Nice instrument!

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: P W Grey] #2941784 02/02/20 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
In addition, an appropriate UT would add to the authenticity. Nice instrument!

Pwg

Yes of course a very nice instrument ! What does UT mean ?

Re: Considering 1875 (pre-Centennial) Steinway [Re: Lady Bird] #2941803 02/02/20 02:09 PM
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Unequal Temperament



And still I dream she'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
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