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To rebuild or not to rebuild
Posted By: cht
To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 05:51 PM
I have a 1923 Baldwin (6'3"). I also am cursed with limited funds. My action needs to be re-built. It is playable enough for my ability (what ability?). The hammers kinda make a sound like the gong show on tv, they are that compacted. I have enough saved to replace the hammers and shanks (about $1500), but can't afford the total action rebuild (about $3500). My techie says not to do it part way, wait until you can do it all. I want to do what I can afford, to help making the piano more fun to play. Looking for imput, here. Anybody been down this road before ???
Posted By: Eric F
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 07:03 PM
Why wouldn't he be willing to replace the hammers first, do a regulation check, and then go from there? You always could redo the felts later on, when you've saved up the extra money. Does the piano action play acceptably for your needs? I'm sure there are some techs that will disagree, but I'm sure they'll have good reasons for that.
Posted By: Piano Guy
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 09:01 PM
Prioritize...1..2..3.. decide what you can afford first that will have the most impact. There is nothing wrong with doing things overtime. Its your piano and your money. Of course the "techie" wants it all done. How do you think we make our living. Do want you can when you can and enjoy your piano. I disagree that all pianos have to play like they will be used at a concert.
Posted By: Steve Cohen
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 09:29 PM
Posted By: Niles Duncan
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 09:38 PM
There's no problem about doing this in stages. You will have a more enjoyable piano to play during the time you are saving up for the rest of the job if you do hammers and shanks now, and you won't spend the money on something else in the meantime.
Piano rebuilder, Pasadena, CA www.pianosource.com
Posted By: Rich Galassini
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 10:50 PM
The only thought I have might be the fact that your wippen is also worn and simply replacing hammers, shanks, and flanges won't give the best result. I would rather do nothing than the wrong thing, personally.
Call your techie and ask him\her for the reasoning behind the recommendation. You may also try a second opinion. Nothing is universal and a different perspective might be helpful.
Keep us posted,
Posted By: Paulo
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 11:02 PM
It's amazing what regulation will do to improve performance with old parts!! Decrease blow distance and regulate in accordance.
I'm a techie and hate doing jobs halfway. I'd rather work with what I have until the customer is willing to have the proper work done.
CHT, your techie seems to have the right attitude, TALK to him/her.
If you put a new engine in a car that does not have proper tires, what's the point.
Posted By: ChickGrand
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 11:08 PM
If the tech is suggesting holding off or the "all or nothing" approach, isn't he likely concerned with weighting issues and the preference to even that and friction issues and the preference to make a pass at evening that? I can understand that he may feel it is most useful to do the whole job and do it right once, but I'm thinking doing it in stages presents issues you could live with with a little regulating until you can get to the rest of it. You may just end up paying for time to regulate now and more later, adding up to a bit more by doing over that bit of work that would have been done only once in the full rebuild. If it buys you a year or two, I'd think it worth it.
Posted By: Paulo
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/11/04 11:30 PM
Rich said it really well "Call your techie and ask him\her for the reasoning behind the recommendation. You may also try a second opinion. Nothing is universal and a different perspective might be helpful."
Posted By: Bob
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/12/04 09:29 AM
Perhaps the whippens and key bushings are in very bad shape. Like Rick, I'd rather do the whole job. A partial job always seems to be labled by the customer as a "complete rebuild", and of course, it's not. Along comes Joe Good Player, who is told by the customer the action (or worse the piano) was "rebuilt" by Joe Tech. Joe Good Player sees the action still plays badly (because only the hammers and shanks were replaced), and Joe tech's reputation suffers.
The customer should take out a loan and have the job done right. The prices are reasonable. In my experience, when 1/2 the job is done first, the other 1/2 never gets done later.
Posted By: Rick Clark
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/12/04 11:09 AM
There is no black & white here especially when I can't see the piano for myself, but I would say hold off until you can do the job right. Although it's possible to replace just the hammers and shanks now, it's going to cost you more in the long run in extra regulations and extra trips to the shop if you do it in stages.
In some scenarios it might even be a regulation nightmare mixing old and new parts if the old parts are so problematic you can't make decent regulation adjustments.
In your situation, I would first look toward filing/ reshaping/voicing your existing hammers and a quickie touch up gross regulation. If they are totally worn out it won't be as good as new hammers and the upper octave may be hopeless but should be an improvement for a few hundred dollars and could tide you over and it can be done without taking the action into the shop.
BTW, if the $3500 is to include all new parts, I find this price rather unusually cheap for a truly total rebuilding of an action. However in many pianos it's quite possible to get an excellent result without replacing all parts. But I'm just wondering what the $3500 includes.
Posted By: cht
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/12/04 12:29 PM
Many thanks to all that have responded to my posting. I probably should not have used the term "techie". Actually, I have known this fellow for years and he has a local reputation for doing excellent work. His reasoning for not wanting to piecemeal the job is that it will cost more in the long run because of additional regulations needed, and it really won't be right until it is all completed. I can accept that reasoning.
Rick, in answer to your question. The price includes new hammers (Renner or Able), new shanks, flanges, whippens, let off buttons, keyframe felt, keybushings, and new keytops. It also includes leveling strings to hammers and voicing, and follow up regulation and tuning in 3 months. I am going to forgo the new keytops and save about $200. I can live with old keytops on an old piano. They are not cracked, just yellowed out a bit.
My decision is that I am going to "bite the bullet" and head for the bank and come up with the balance of the cost and do it all one time. When I get that paid off, I will fix somethng else. I have had some work done on the woodwork and it really looks wonderful. I have had a damp chaser installed.
Posted By: Chris W1
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/12/04 05:39 PM
All I can think about reading this thread is what I went through. I did go the incremental route and the improvements were large after the wippens were done (by me), but then large again when the full blown Touch Design was implemented.
Original parts can be in pretty rough shape. They might be moth eaten, or the wool might be simply worn down to almost nothing. 88 (er 90) new wippens, if you obtain them yourself, are about $250-$400. You could quite possibly go out and buy Arthur Reblitz's book and tackle them on your own. Only thing I'd recomend is possibly paying the labor to have your tech properly bend the rep springs. I know this is not the "right" fix but the steps of that aspect of the job seemed pretty rudementary to me.
You haven't given much of an indication of what you are willing to do yourself, so I'll stop there on DIY.
My bet is that this $3,500 job comes without a reweigh (may not be needed, anyhow).
Posted By: Del
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/13/04 12:36 PM
Originally posted by cht:
Rick, in answer to your question. The price includes new hammers (Renner or Able), new shanks, flanges, wippens, let off buttons, keyframe felt, keybushings, and new keytops. It also includes leveling strings to hammers and voicing, and follow up regulation and tuning in 3 months. I am going to forgo the new keytops and save about $200. I can live with old keytops on an old piano. They are not cracked, just yellowed out a bit.
I agree with Rick, that price also strikes me as being quite low. Assuming you're getting a good quality of workmanship, it sounds like you're getting a real deal.
I would add only that the Baldwin L is not a Yamaha. Never was, never will be. It was designed to be a chamber piano and yours is old enough to still be relatively close to the original concept. That is, unchanged by later “design creep.” Whatever hammers your technician puts on they should not be overly hard and both Abel and Renner can be just that. You might ask your technician to consider something a little closer to the original size, shape and density. The Wurzen-felted Ronsen hammers come to mind.
Posted By: cht
Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - 08/14/04 06:16 PM
Would you please provide a little more discussion on the Rosen hammers ? I understand from what you said that Rosen hammers would produce a sound more in line with the original sound of the piano, and not as bright as some of today's?? Brighter sound mean a harder hammer ??