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Worth restoring a 19th century Weber?

Posted By: Broqueville

Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 08/26/18 05:42 PM

Hello,

Delighted to have found this online resource.

I recently inherited a Weber Berlin upright piano and the expert (from a highly reputable company) who came to assess its condition told me it has damp and rust! In addition, seven of the ivory keys need replacing. Even if restored, he said he wouldn't recommend learning to play on it. I'm keen to start lessons as a complete adult beginner.

I haven't received his written assessment yet but he wasn't encouraging!

It is a beautiful object (walnut) and I'm tempted to have it restored to its former glory.

Is this a crazy notion? Is it even feasible?

Any advice/tips most welcome.

Thanks!

Broqueville
Posted By: BDB

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 08/26/18 06:12 PM

It would probably be cheaper to replace it with a newer piano in good condition than to restore this one.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 08/26/18 11:31 PM


It can be rebuilt, but if rebuilt, it won't be worth the cost of the rebuild. Such pianos sometimes get rebuilt when the emotional attachment to the person you inherited it from is worth several extra thousands of dollars to you.

It wouldn't be a good choice for learning to play the piano, but it would be a good piano to use for learning to rebuild pianos.
Posted By: BDB

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 08/26/18 11:43 PM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung
It wouldn't be a good choice for learning to play the piano, but it would be a good piano to use for learning to rebuild pianos.


Well, maybe. If it is a birdcage action, it is not a good candidate for that.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 08/27/18 12:01 AM


Oy, right. I forgot about the birdcage action....
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 08/27/18 03:47 PM

Only if it's worth it to you.

Pwg
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 08/27/18 07:49 PM

No.
Posted By: joe80

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 08/28/18 07:36 AM

Who did you inherit the piano from? How much is the piano worth to you? Where is the damp and rust?

Of course any piano can be restored, but the further away you get from a modern design, the more laborious the task can be. By modern design I simply mean overstrung and under-damper.

I've seen some companies replace 'birdcage' (or over-damper) actions with modern under-damper actions, regardless of whether the piano is overstrung or straight strung. To be honest, musically speaking, if the upright is good, well designed, fairly tall, it doesn't really matter whether it is over-strung or straight-strung.

Next question, how much money do you have? To fully restore the piano to its former glory will cost you a minimum of 5000 Euros, and these days thats a conservative estimate. It's probably going to be more like 10,000 Euros to do the job properly. After the restoration, in theory the piano will be as good as it can be.

Keep in mind that for 10,000 Euros you can buy a new Yamaha U3, or a Kawai K800, both of which are excellent pianos and I'm they would be superior, musically, to your restored Weber Berlin.

Does the piano have an interesting case? If it has a particularly beautiful case that you would love to have in your home, AND the sentimental value is too high for you to not restore the piano, AND you feel it would be an instrument which meets your needs AND you're willing to spend the money, then yes go ahead and have the piano restored. Realise in doing so that you'll never be able to sell the piano for what you pay for the restoration, and enjoy the instrument.

If it were me, I wouldn't have this piano restored.
Posted By: steinwayman18

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 09/03/18 03:29 PM

Not worth restoring any piano other than a Steinway (from a dollars and sense perspective).
Posted By: joe80

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 09/03/18 08:39 PM

Originally Posted by steinwayman18
Not worth restoring any piano other than a Steinway (from a dollars and sense perspective).


Respectfully, this is an opinion I do not share:

Bösendorfer, C. Bechstein, Blüthner, Grotrian Steinweg, Ibach, are all pianos which I have seen rebuilt into exceptional musical instruments at a fraction of the cost of buying an equivalent new piano.

I don't know what the market is like in New York, but here in Britain it is true that a rebuilt Steinway (and I mean rebuilt by Steinways or another reputable firm who can do the same job) is more valuable on the open market than a rebuilt other brand. However, once you take into account how much one spends on the restoration of that Steinway - which due to the cost of parts is always more than the other brands - one isn't really making more money after the sale of the piano.

Of course it's a different scenario at dealers where a rebuilt Steinway may cost twice as much as a rebuilt Blüthner, and still only be two thirds of the cost of the same new Steinway, but at the end of the day, if the customer who bought that rebuilt Steinway from the dealer wants to sell it on, they're almost certainly not, in the UK, going to get back more than they paid for it in the first 10 years after buying it.

In my opinion, Steinways ARE worth restoring, they can be very beautiful pianos, but they're not necessarily the best piano musically or financially. Musically it depends on the taste of the pianist, and financially it depends on the circumstances of the buyer.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 09/03/18 08:54 PM

Originally Posted by joe80
Originally Posted by steinwayman18
Not worth restoring any piano other than a Steinway (from a dollars and sense perspective).


Respectfully, this is an opinion I do not share:

Bösendorfer, C. Bechstein, Blüthner, Grotrian Steinweg, Ibach, .....



+1. Here in the States, these same high quality makes merit rebuilding, too.
Posted By: BDB

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 09/03/18 08:58 PM

It would not necessarily be a bad thing to restore an American Weber of the time when they were a good brand. I did that once.
Posted By: RealPlayer

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 09/04/18 03:50 AM

BDB, how did it turn out?

I used to have a 7' Weber from around 1917. I pretty much beat the heck out of it. I gave it away to someone here on Piano World who promised to restore it. I liked that piano!

It was from the Aeolian period. I imagine a pre-Aeolian Weber could be quite nice, more authentic to Weber's intent.
Posted By: BDB

Re: Worth restoring a 19th century Weber? - 09/04/18 04:00 AM

It was a decent piano. I cannot remember the details too well, but I think it was from just before the non-competition agreement with Steinway. It was just hammers and strings, but it lasted the owner for quite a while. I think she sold it when she got a better piano.
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