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Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
#3011915 08/09/20 01:29 PM
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Hi members- I have a Lester baby grand piano #94980 which was my great grand mothers and appears to be from the late 1920's (they lived in PA). It still plays well and is in pretty good shape. I've had it for a few years and play it from time to time. My mother passed about 5 years ago and she had a Kimball baby grand (model 5100) that is now looking for a home as well. My parents bought the Kimball piano new back in the late 1970's and I played it as a teenager and during visits as an adult. I can't keep them both so I'm having trouble deciding which one to keep and which one to hand off? They both have sentimental value so I'm posting this question to find out if there's anything else I should be considering besides the memories attached to each? I love the fact that the Lester is an antique with ivory keys but the trade off is the Kimball was my moms which obviously means a lot as well. From my limited research it appears both pianos are pretty much "middle of the road" or "average" pianos in build. Is there anything else I should be considering that I'm not aware of? Build quality, value, etc.? I find they both play about the same although the Kimball has a few keys that are a little harder to push in the mid-section (not quite sticky). I'm sure they both need a tech to freshen the key action up (which I really don't know what is involved with all that), but aside from that they're in good shape. Ones almost 100 years old the other is about 45 years old. I have photos of the Lester attached and one shot of the Kimball (against the red wall). I'd appreciate some feedback to see if aside from sentimental value, is there anything else I should be considering. And no, I can't keep both! : ) Thank you all who contribute!
https://www.dropbox.com/s/zb369zryagy83ol/IMG_3778.jpeg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/4bcx33i0bfcdy4t/IMG_3779.jpeg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/niu3qxvf33qkk68/IMG_3780.jpeg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6y7yqspu4d45sup/IMG_3781.jpeg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/mgxqbdn634nfli6/IMG_3782.jpeg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/93p6w7gpf...5843A4E85-3347-000002D538E96EE3.jpg?dl=0

Last edited by tmy2n; 08/09/20 01:33 PM.
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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3011917 08/09/20 01:32 PM
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Hire a piano technician for a tuning and inspection appointment. Have them inspect both briefly, then tune the one that makes more sense to keep, in their opinion.


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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3011918 08/09/20 01:33 PM
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You should get a technician to look at both of them and make a determination. There is nothing that can be discerned from your pictures.


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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3011921 08/09/20 01:37 PM
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Thank you for your feedback @terminaldegree. That's a great idea but the pianos are about 80 miles apart form each other (in So Cal). I'd have to see if I can find a tech that's willing to go to both for a reasonable fee. Thank you! : )

Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
BDB #3011936 08/09/20 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Hire a piano technician for a tuning and inspection appointment. Have them inspect both briefly, then tune the one that makes more sense to keep, in their opinion.

Originally Posted by BDB
You should get a technician to look at both of them and make a determination. There is nothing that can be discerned from your pictures.

Great advice gentlemen.

tmy2n,

Welcome to PianoWorld. I will add that your Lester was built in 1926. Lester built some very fine larger grands around that time, but based on it's age, it is likely a prime candidate for rebuilding.

Good luck having them both examined. Keep us posted.


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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3011969 08/09/20 02:45 PM
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The woodworker in me would take the Kimball, even if it was missing all the strings.


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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3012039 08/09/20 05:54 PM
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Yes its a lovely looking finish although the Lester is also a nice looking piano.

Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3012200 08/10/20 08:06 AM
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I know you said you can't keep both but consider if storing one in a crate or well protected, on its side in a corner of a garage is possible. They don't take much space packed away and you could swap them out every couple of years. Just an alternative suggestion. Good luck with your decision.


-Bill L.
Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
WBLynch #3012207 08/10/20 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by WBLynch
I know you said you can't keep both but consider if storing one in a crate or well protected, on its side in a corner of a garage is possible.
Yes, storage is a good option. When we carpeted and painted our house, the place where I bought my piano stored it for free for a few weeks as a customer courtesy. I remember asking at the time how much they charge to store pianos long term and it wasn't very expensive. If you live near any piano stores you might check to see if they would store it for a fee. That way it's in a piano friendly environment.


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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
MarkL #3012245 08/10/20 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by MarkL
Originally Posted by WBLynch
I know you said you can't keep both but consider if storing one in a crate or well protected, on its side in a corner of a garage is possible.
Yes, storage is a good option. When we carpeted and painted our house, the place where I bought my piano stored it for free for a few weeks as a customer courtesy. I remember asking at the time how much they charge to store pianos long term and it wasn't very expensive. If you live near any piano stores you might check to see if they would store it for a fee. That way it's in a piano friendly environment.

The cost of "crating" and later "uncrating" and moving the piano in and out of the garage may mount up over time. Depending upon your location and climate, I don't think "a corner of a garage" is a good storage option for a piano.

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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3012266 08/10/20 11:51 AM
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Putting a piano into storage with no prospect of removing it from storage is not a good idea.


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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
BDB #3012419 08/10/20 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Putting a piano into storage with no prospect of removing it from storage is not a good idea.
Sometimes people need time to "process" especially in a situation like this so it may be a good idea to store one of the pianos.
I certainly would not store a piano in a garage like ours.The walls are thin ,there are drafts ,its damp and cold.In the winter mice suddenly make an appearance.There have been racoons hibernating
in the ceiling. All this and its a fairly newly built garage . (Even though my husband keeps it neat and tidy ?)
We used to have a garage which was directly connected to the house made of brick as was the house.There were no critters around looking for a home and temperature and humidity never
varied much. So yes storage is a good idea at the moment but you cannot store it in a in a garage that has big ranges in humidty and temperature, "winter mice",racoons etc.

Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3012436 08/10/20 07:44 PM
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My comments are based solely upon the contributions of knowledgable forum members in other threads discussing Kimball.

Generally, Kimball is not highly thought of. However, there has been a line of Kimball’s called the “Viennese” that many have found to be quite pleasing and perhaps, well built. The cabriolle legs and decorative lyre on yours reminds me of their descriptions of the Viennese. Hopefully, some of them will reply and share their knowledge.

In the meantime, you can do your own internet search to see if you can resolve the question. There are many images available, as I recall. Also, look around the piano for any clues.


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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3012457 08/10/20 08:49 PM
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While I agree it would be interesting to find out how good this piano is , the piano belonged to the OP's mother. It would also interesting to find out the true condition of the Kimball of course.
Which of us can say we currently own our great grandmother's piano? So like the Kimbal the Lester is no doubt of great sentimental value to the OP or not ?

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/10/20 08:51 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3012894 08/12/20 02:38 AM
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Hi All! Thanks for your thoughts and feedback. I appreciate it! So I drove out to look a little closer at the Kimball today (my moms piano). Wow, that thing is dirty! My folks had a ranch and a lot of animals so the piano sat in the same spot collecting dust since 1984. It didn't get played much so it got pretty dirty even with the lid down. It is actually much dirtier then the 1926 Lester was when I received that one a few years back! I'm attaching pictures for you to see the condition of the Kimball. I don't know enough about what impact all that dirt can have on the working mechanisms inside but I'm sure it needs a cleaning. I notice the tuning is dropped a full key down so ringing a "C" registers closer to a "D" all the way up and down the board. The most notable thing is that keys around the middle of the board have a slight stick to them right at the top of the stroke when you push down and then they release to hammer the note normally. It's almost like you're breaking through something to get it to release. There's probably about 6 keys that act that way so I'm not sure what goes in to fixing that. The rest of the keys perform fine.
So, as it stands now, the 93 year old Lester plays better overall and I'm also leaning towards keeping the Lester because it has ivory keys and wood black keys that just make the playing experience feel more organic. Please take a look at the pics and let me know if you see anything on the Kimball I should know about. Be warned it's DIRTY! I can't even find a serial number as I believe its hidden somewhere under the dirt. I appreciate your time and the sharing of your knowledge. I'm not looking to store one so I'll be making a decision here in the next few days on which one stays with me and which one I giving away to a friend. Thank you!
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hl1r78s667d8vqj/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21f8.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hmcj0srqcyv98qg/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21d9.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/t382rj5g1x7emh6/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21da.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/0fux2e6c9h63qox/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21e0.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/wm3l40rt586wpnx/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21e1.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/lw1pjic669lfhhg/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21e4.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/nzgt9hyvze9r0kr/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21e4%20copy.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/p1x3hv4016zs2kg/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21e5.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/aq4obw5ee0uxtqp/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21e6.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ghmlanxqkgjdcig/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21e7.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hns34layvtugf0p/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21ea.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/looqz4tc9l8xmnv/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21f0.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/j1z93bwo5zak59h/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21f3.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/jpicso5w7fsauqo/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21f5.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/i4lg658wo85jmwo/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21f6.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/7lmc8qutxckn2pk/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21f7.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hmcj0srqcyv98qg/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21d9.jpg?dl=0

Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
Ralphiano #3012903 08/12/20 03:17 AM
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As a follow-up to my last post, I'm adding some additional photos of the Lester shown in the first post for a better comparison of the two (understanding were not diving in to the nitty gritty that a technician would get in to). These Lester shots were shot with a pro camera, the Kimball shot with an iPhone so keep that in mind. I'm curious to know which one is the overall favorite from the photos?http://https://www.dropbox.com/s/sx6a34jyqs4mw5z/F00A6224.JPG?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/kv1ohhinsq3b0d8/F00A6231.JPG?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/cfh1pkjmju2egyx/F00A6233.JPG?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/u7298nw9u16hdg7/F00A6239.JPG?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/e83n5f6iw0gy10m/F00A6242.JPG?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ys70x8qcy3hcnx3/F00A6244.JPG?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6wrltvlbqwxsh5g/F00A6246.JPG?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6nx756k3t45inb0/F00A6247.JPG?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/btl6p0oq7cwbdzv/F00A6252.JPG?dl=0

Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3012947 08/12/20 07:45 AM
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It seems you have your answer. The Lester from the golden age is beautiful. The Kimball is not so terrible but definitely needs some serious TLC. Your friend will be very happy with it once it’s been attended to.


-Bill L.
Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3013215 08/12/20 08:26 PM
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Only a technician can really tell you the true condition of both pianos.
Just because you have the "Sahara Desert" inside the Kimball ,does not mean it is ruined.
Have you considered what Ralphiano suggested that the Kimbell could be a "Viennese" model.The Lester is obviously a good brand but it is certainly really old.Has it been restored. Which piano will
last the longest do you think ?

Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3013218 08/12/20 08:35 PM
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The Kimball is not a Viennese model.


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Re: Lester vs Kimball? Which one to keep?
tmy2n #3013248 08/12/20 11:00 PM
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Based on the photos, both pianos look dirty - the Lester less so - but still......


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