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An embarrassing question
#2959677 03/22/20 09:02 PM
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I was offered a free 1911 Kohler & Campbell upright. I’ve only seen photos, not in person. It appears to have a door or panel just above the pedals. What is this for?

I told you it was embarrassing.

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Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959681 03/22/20 09:15 PM
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It may have been a player piano. You would open the doors and pull down the pedals to pump the bellows. There should also be a door on the front for the paper roll. If true, the player mechanism may have been removed when it broke.

Old players can be pretty worn out.

And free pianos are never free...

Sam

Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959682 03/22/20 09:15 PM
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The panel is called the foot-board, or toe board. They are typically easy to remove, and have a latch at top of the panel near the center, for easy removal.

Removing this panel allows access to the lower end of the plate, strings, and pedal mechanisms for adjustments. Also, you can check the lower bridges for cracks by removing this panel and looking.

Good luck!

Rick

P.S. just saw Sam's post, and it may well be a former player piano. I didn't think about that. I was thinking about the full lower panel and not a small access opening for a player system.


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959684 03/22/20 09:24 PM
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Thanks for the info. I didn’t think it was a player because the upper panels look “normal”.

I’ll take a look at it in person at some point. I wouldn’t know a good piano if it came up and slapped me but I miss having one around....for me to clunk out a few chords.

Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959690 03/22/20 10:04 PM
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ksdaddy OP-

Welcome to the forum. No need to be embarrassed about posing your question; I hope you found out what you needed to.

You'll remember what Socrates said about questions: "When a wise man is told something he doesn't understand, he says, "I don't understand." And then finds out more.

"When a foolish man hears something he doesn't understand, he says nothing."

So much for the unasked question.

I tend to concur with what Sam and Rick said. It is unlikely this is going to work out for you, if you're looking for something to make music with. Or... occasionally visitors will see the piano and ask, "Oh, do you play?" Depending on my mood, I might say, "Yes, " or I might say, "I needed something else for the maid to dust." Snide, but low grade. Nobody pays money for a good piano, and sacrifices most of the living room, if they don't play.

I'll tell you the quick procedure for considering a used piano. Number One: Condition is everything. It trumps age, make, location, and the seller's opinion (their memories are notoriously faulty). So, after you have considered what you want a piano for, and have put out some feelers about where used pianos might be, the first thing to do is to visit in person and check it out.

Many will not make this first cut, but if it does, the next step is to get a qualified piano technician to check it over. I can suggest https://ptg.org Piano Technicians Guild, which offers listings of its members by zip code.

This person, hired and paid for solely by you, having no financial stake in your transaction, and acting solely in your interest, will examine the piano for condition. She or he will be able to tell you if it's possible to get it in good playing condition, and about what such repairs would cost. They can read the history, and tell you the piano's story: past, present, and future if any. Their fee for this kind of evaluation ranges around the $100 area, but factors such as how far away it is can enter in. In some cases they may want to do things like put on a basic tuning, to see if the pins still hold in the pinblock (this is for a serious inquiry). They will also be able to tell you the approximate value in the local market. You can share this information with the seller, or not.

It seems to me that I paid $50 for my first piano, an old beater. God, I loved that instrument.

Best of luck for you in your search, if that is really what this is. Or if it isn't. A lot of cases of a "free piano" amount to someone who doesn't want to pay for hauling it to the dump. So, it can take some luck. Opportunity favors the prepared mind. Don't stop asking questions. I picture Socrates pounding you on the back and saying, "Way to go, big guy!"


Clef

Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959765 03/23/20 09:02 AM
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Welcome ksdaddy!

You had me at the thread title! As Sam, Rick and Jeff said, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask questions, especially around these parts. wink I thought you were going to ask how to get stilleto heel marks off the top of an old barroom grand where ladies of the evening danced for patrons or something.

Yes, free pianos are never really free. It is nice to have you join us as you’re thinking of getting back into piano. Keep the questions coming. Best Wishes!


J & J
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Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959769 03/23/20 09:18 AM
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Thanks for the advice. I read you loud and clear. I've been a guitar player all my life and have also noodled around with other instruments, repairing, building a few guitars, mandolins, and a banjo. I've given similar advice to someone who might have the chance to be given a hand me down guitar. There are just too many variables for me to say, sure, great idea! Neck set, loose braces, lifting bridges, frets that may need dressing or replacing altogether...I understand.

I am such a hack when it comes to keyboards though. I have no idea what I'm doing and know "just enough" about music theory to be able to construct a major, minor, seventh chord. Cheesy keyboards seem to find me. I have a Casio CT-370 from the 90s, a 1983 Lowery Micro Genie something or other, still in it's puffy silver carrying bag, and I just bought a Yamaha PSR-6(?) for five bucks. Last year I did take advantage of a sale and bought a Casio CDP-S100CS digital piano for $299 shipped. It seems to be a good instrument for the price. Well, let's put it this way: It is legit enough for me to learn on. The weighted keys at least have some semblance of what a real piano might be like.

In 1986 I was swapped a Wurlitzer 200A, which I viewed as a dinosaur. I traded it off and it ended up in a barn or chicken coop. I got it back in 1993 or 1994. Shortly afterwards I sold it to some company in Georgia that rebuilds them for $125. Those days are gone. Looking back, that was one of the two sounds that I hear in my head when I think "piano"....the other being a rattly old church basement upright. We like what we like, I guess.

I owned a 1920 Mendelssohn upright for several years, and like you said, it was just something extra for the maid to dust. It was given to me in 2012 and I walked around it until 2018 when I gave it away. During that time, I would sit down at it once in a while, but in my mind, I didn't "use" (in big quotes) it enough to warrant it taking up so much real estate downstairs. So off it went. Now I've done some massive rearranging in the man cave, and I have one small (7x12) extra room when I have set up a small desk and computer, with no big plans for the remaining space. I think the far wall would be perfect for an old upright. I now have the expendable real estate, it won't be "walked around", and it'll be there if I want it. Which may not be often, but that fact is now known, with no delusions of it being the centerpiece.

I know I'm talking myself right into it.

But point very well taken on condition. I need to wake up in that department. I'm smitten by a crusty old upright that may not even be fully functional.

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Re: An embarrassing question
j&j #2959770 03/23/20 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by j&j
I thought you were going to ask how to get stilleto heel marks off the top of an old barroom grand where ladies of the evening danced for patrons or something.


I would view that as a badge of honor!

Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959779 03/23/20 10:11 AM
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ksdaddy, our own paths sound similar. I too was a stringed instrument guy for most of my life, until a severe finger injury steered me toward the piano. I've wished the finger injury never happened, but I'm so glad I started learning to play the piano, and tinker around with tuning, and some repairs to them. It has been more fun than I could ever have imagined!

I've had a few old uprights, for cheap or free, still have a couple, and still enjoy them a lot, even in their worn-out state. But that is what gives them character, like an old, vintage guitar, (sort of:-).

Although the piano is still my favorite instrument, I've started playing the guitar a bit more here lately. But the way I see it, why not have and play both the guitar and the piano? smile

I will say, however, although the guitar may be a more popular musical instrument overall, you can make more music with two hands on the piano than you can the guitar. smile

Wishing you all the best!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959782 03/23/20 10:34 AM
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This made me laugh:

Originally Posted by ksdaddy
I wouldn’t know a good piano if it came up and slapped me


grin


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959785 03/23/20 10:44 AM
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If that is the picture of your piano, then that is an old player piano. Slide open the doors and see if the player mechanism is still there.

That is probably not good news, unless you are into that kind of thing...

Sam

Re: An embarrassing question
ShiroKuro #2959790 03/23/20 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
This made me laugh:

Originally Posted by ksdaddy
I wouldn’t know a good piano if it came up and slapped me


grin


Perhaps; except that a good piano would not do that!

Cheers!


BruceD
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Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959800 03/23/20 11:48 AM
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That's a player, or ex player. It may not be quite that old, a serial number would confirm it.


David C. Brown RPT
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Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959802 03/23/20 11:54 AM
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Here's another pic that was sent to me. The serial number is 131572. I have the 1961 edition of Michel's Piano Atlas and it's a 1911 according to that.

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Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959818 03/23/20 01:10 PM
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Well, the player mechanism has been removed - at least the top half. The bellows would have been in the bottom.

Sam

Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2959819 03/23/20 01:13 PM
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The thing about old upright pianos, cheap or free, they are extremely heavy and bulky. If you can deal with the bulk and the weight, and have the room, they are a lot of fun tinkering around with, as I mentioned.

The last old upright piano I moved cracked a board on my piano dolly. It can be fixed, but it just goes to show how heavy they are. Newer uprights by comparison are heavy but not as heavy as the older ones. Maybe that is why some of the older ones have lasted through the years. They are pretty much built like tanks.

If you like the old former player K&C, and have room for it, the ball is in your court! Thing is, the older uprights do seem to have an edge on many of the newer ones in terms of a rich, mellow tone, usually; the exception may be some of the newer, more expensive, high-end uprights.

On the other hand, although some of the newer uprights can sound very good, the tone of some of the older uprights just can't be replicated. Again, sort of an analogy to the tone of vintage guitars.

On the other, other hand (:-) the advantage of the newer uprights is the condition and playability of the action, although the action on the older uprights can be rebuilt and refurbished.

Speaking of vintage guitars, I recorded this video about a week ago on a recent vintage guitar I purchased on eBay and did some restoration. None of my other guitars sound this good in terms of tone quality... but tone quality is always subjective, whether talking pianos or guitars. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfa46ZS5AnQ

Also, and not to horn in on your thread, here is a music video on one of my old upright pianos, a Conover from 1910. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj3NatCmuRI

Hope you don't mind me sharing my music videos, but I suppose it is relevant to this thread to some extent... old upright pianos (and vintage guitars?) smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: An embarrassing question
Rickster #2959910 03/23/20 07:10 PM
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Old uprights in the 1911 vintage were built to last through an entire family’s lifetime. The cabinetry is much heavier wood. That is a lot of weight to move in and move out if you tire of the project. Check it out and try it out. If you’re looking for a project, that Koehler & Campbell should keep you busy for quite some time. I’d also suggest a good shop vac, if you don’t already have one. Good Luck!


J & J
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Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2960243 03/25/20 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by ksdaddy
I was offered a free 1911 Kohler & Campbell upright. I’ve only seen photos, not in person. It appears to have a door or panel just above the pedals. What is this for?

I told you it was embarrassing.

Its where the cat lives cool
Ian


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Re: An embarrassing question
ksdaddy #2960352 03/25/20 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by ksdaddy
I was offered a free 1911 Kohler & Campbell upright. I’ve only seen photos, not in person. It appears to have a door or panel just above the pedals. What is this for?

I told you it was embarrassing.


That would have been where the real pedals hung out. You'd fold them down and then pump to make the player... play.


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