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Re: 1916/1917 Chickering Grand - Dump or Rebuild [Re: allent133] #2946763 02/14/20 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by allent133
Thanks everyone for your insights and thoughts on this decision of mine. Were I a piano player the decision would be easy. It would also be easy if I had not grown up listening to my father, sister, grandmother, brothers, and many others play the old Chickering.

I’ve done a lot of reading these recent weeks about piano restoration and rebuilding. One thing that consistently jumps out at me is the prevalence of high praise for Steinway and Sons pianos. Everyone seems to know the name and practically everyone sees them as one of “the best” pianos. By the same token, Chickerings are consistently referenced as the oldest/original American pianos having quality workmanship and unique voicings. They seem never to be referenced as one of the best. As a significant by product of these viewpoints most restorers seem to advertise their skill and experience with Steinways with almost all other brands given a second tier standing in their publications. This all makes me think that Steinways are worth restoring while others maybe not so much. Take my opinion with a grain of salt or a glass of wine...it’s based upon what I’ve seen and read and heard to date.

I am speaking with a restorer later today about restoration/rebuilding options and to discuss/level set my expectations. We will also talk about their experience with Chickerings. I’m leaning towards having the piano redone, putting it my living room, and then learning to play.

Many thanks again for the opinions and good questions you each posted. Keep things coming.

I’ll report later when I’ve decided what to do.


If it were me, I would talk to Peter Grey, who replied to this thread.


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Re: 1916/1917 Chickering Grand - Dump or Rebuild [Re: allent133] #2946781 02/14/20 11:24 AM
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P W Grey Offline
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Allen,

Your assessment of the situation is essentially correct. However it can be argued in today's economy that it is not really "worth it" to restore any piano no matter who built it or when (unless of course you can find someone who will do great work at a cheap rate...have fun). As I said, I routinely advise clients NOT to do this if the cost is a significant issue in the decision (some rare exceptions do exist).

One main reason that a lot of rebuilders shy away from Chickerings is due to some of the novel engineering they encounter in the process. Whereas the SS of today is essentially the SS of 1880, a Chickering can contain numerous "different" and hard to duplicate methods of pinblock construction, plate manufacture, damper design, action design and materials, etc. Add to this the prevalent opinion of bigger, more powerful, more "everything" in tone, etc makes it kind of a losing proposition for most Chickerings which were not designed for this, and really cannot be made to fulfill it. It is a rare thing for a Chickering to "knock your socks off". So...

It is only getting a little easier recently since 3D printed parts are now available for some of the brass pieces Chickering used in their designs. But it doesn't change the fact that it probably takes more time and effort to restore one of these pianos than a comparable SS, and the cost reflects this.

The decision is certainly not cut and dried. This is understood.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: 1916/1917 Chickering Grand - Dump or Rebuild [Re: allent133] #2946825 02/14/20 12:31 PM
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Just love how this rebuilt Chickering sounds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZhkSh_t5Uo

Rich


Retired at the beach

Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"
Re: 1916/1917 Chickering Grand - Dump or Rebuild [Re: allent133] #2946875 02/14/20 03:59 PM
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That's a great spot on you and your work, Peter! I enjoyed it the 1st time I ran across it, so it was really nice to see it again. You've got some really nice Boogie-Woggie going on there!

Re: 1916/1917 Chickering Grand - Dump or Rebuild [Re: allent133] #2946883 02/14/20 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by allent133
I’ve done a lot of reading these recent weeks about piano restoration and rebuilding. One thing that consistently jumps out at me is the prevalence of high praise for Steinway and Sons pianos. Everyone seems to know the name and practically everyone sees them as one of “the best” pianos. By the same token, Chickerings are consistently referenced as the oldest/original American pianos having quality workmanship and unique voicings. They seem never to be referenced as one of the best. As a significant by product of these viewpoints most restorers seem to advertise their skill and experience with Steinways with almost all other brands given a second tier standing in their publications. This all makes me think that Steinways are worth restoring while others maybe not so much. Take my opinion with a grain of salt or a glass of wine...it’s based upon what I’ve seen and read and heard to date.

With respect, I do not agree with your conclusion. Just because Steinways are among "the best" pianos, that does not mean that other pianos are not worth restoring. We do not have Chickerings here in the UK, but I have read good things about them on this Forum.

If you were setting out to buy a piano to restore, and you had no particular inclination towards any particular brand, then you might end up considering a Steinway for the reasons you state. It is perhaps true that a restored Steinway will command a better price than a restored piano of another maker. But you are absolutely not in that position. You have your heirloom already. The question is whether to invest money in it.

The point is that, as I have just said in another thread, you would not be spending this money to create a financial asset. You would spend it for musical enjoyment - and in your case, to increase the enjoyment you gain from owning your family heirloom. As I see it, the question whether Steinways are "better" than Chickerings is irrelevant to your situation.

Re: 1916/1917 Chickering Grand - Dump or Rebuild [Re: allent133] #2946990 02/14/20 10:59 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Allent133, I suggest you talk with Jim Iallegio. He is in Shirely MA. He has much Chickering experience. Phone is 978-425-9026 or 978-305-5692.


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Re: 1916/1917 Chickering Grand - Dump or Rebuild [Re: allent133] #2947244 02/15/20 01:23 PM
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P W Grey Offline
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I agree that Jim is highly knowledgeable in Chickerings.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
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