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#2049233 03/16/13 05:07 PM
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Hello,

I've been looking for a piano for a while, and I came across a 9' Baldwin concert grand built in 1917.

I played it, and I thought it had a nice sound. Very powerful but still capable of subtlety.

The soundboard has a crack in it, of which I have a picture here.

[Linked Image]

It appears to be about 4-5 inches long, and runs with the grain of the soundboard. What impact will a crack like this have on the sound of a piano? Is this something that will get progressively worse over time? If I decide I'm serious about it, I will definitely hire a tech to give the piano a full once-over.

They are asking $13,600 for the piano. I would probably offer something around $10k to start.Does this seem in line for this piano?

Thanks for your help.

Steve


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Steve - Welcome to Piano World!

Some cracks are of no concern and others can be a major problem. With the age of the piano, the bigger concern is if the soundboard has retained its crown and if the ribs are solid. You might want to use the search function in the forum as there have been many discussions about this.

Any piano from that era will need a very thorough inspection by a qualified and experienced technician. The piano could be a great deal, with only minor work needed, or a money pit. The inspection is the first step in finding out which one it is.


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I bought a 1917 Baldwin L with a similar crack in the soundboard. The soundboard still had its crown and the crack has never been a problem. I paid $500 for my L and sent it directly to a refinishing shop. My Baldwin now sits in my LR in showroom condition, with the original soundboard still intact. It plays and sounds wonderful.

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It's weird how soundboard cracks are the main focus of attention. Take a look underneath: there are ribs glued across the grain, holding the whole unit together. The biggest fatal flaw in most pianos is if the tuning pins don't have enough grip left to tune to pitch.

Concert instruments tend to get played more heavily than others, and any century-old piano will have substantial wear. The hammers are probably rock-hard and substantially worn, and much of the felt in the action may need to be replaced.

I just spent three full days regulating a 1950's Baldwin concert grand, and it's much more controllable now than before.

All that said, you begin a piano evaluation by looking at what it was like when it was new, because it's hard to improve much beyond that. Concert grands are the top of the line.

Find out what repairs have been made over the years, and get a technician to check out the pinblock and action. It could be a great piano again. $10K seems high for its age.

--Cy--


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An original condition 9' Baldwin from 1917? $13,600 is a non-starter. IMO, half that is even a non-starter. If the price were $2,000 then I might take the seller seriously.

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Original condition? Where was that stated? Have you examined the instrument?


Marty in Minnesota

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If the piano has a very nice case, ivory on the keys, sounds good and is not worn much because for whatever reason it didn't get used much-and its pinblock/strings/soundboard/overall structure and case parts check out well-I don't know why $10K wouldn't be a fair price. If it fits my description you could use it vigorously for at least 20 more years with normal maintenance. Hard to find that much piano for $10K. Have a tech who is a skilled tone-regulater inspect it.

$2K is getting into the core rebuild value for an old Baldwin concert grand. I don't know where Beethoven is getting his pricing info from.


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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Original condition? Where was that stated? Have you examined the instrument?


This is such an obnoxious and patronizing line of questioning. I don't know if it's in original condition or not, which is why I asked. See that down there? It's a QUESTION! Hypothetically, even if this was a 1950s 9' Baldwin, $13,600 would be too high, unless the piano had been rebuilt.


Originally Posted by beethoven986
An original condition 9' Baldwin from 1917?



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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT


$2K is getting into the core rebuild value for an old Baldwin concert grand. I don't know where Beethoven is getting his pricing info from.


If it's in original condition, at that age, it's a core. Since the OP hasn't specified, I'm assuming it is unless more info is given.

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A question mark has other uses, as you have illustrated. In this case, it indicated that you were either scoffing or taken aback. "If it is in ..." would have worked

If it were a question, you would have started with; "Is it in ...."

Mr. McMorrow gave a very good answer - IMO.


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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
A question mark has other uses, as you have illustrated. In this case, it indicated that you were either scoffing or taken aback. "If it is in ..." would have worked. If it were a question, you would have started with; "Is it in ...."


I'm impressed that you know what I would have done. Regardless, it was intended to be an actual question. I apologize if that was somehow unclear. I stand behind my reasoning... if it is in original condition, or has not seen major rebuilding within the last 50 years, it is a core, and worth maybe $2,000. If this is not the case, then there is not enough info to determine value.

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Clarity of usage is important to be understood. 'What I meant to say' is an after-the-fact fall back.

Please take you price dispute to Mr. McMorrow, not to me.


Marty in Minnesota

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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Clarity of usage is important to be understood. 'What I meant to say' is an after-the-fact fall back.


I asked a question and your impression of me likely influenced your interpretation. This is an inherent problem with communicating via text.

Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Please take you price dispute to Mr. McMorrow, not to me.


There is no dispute. If it's a core, we agree that $2,000 is reasonable for that condition. If the condition is as he laid out, $10,000 may not be unreasonable. The difference is that Ed may be more optimistic than I am. Indeed, it wouldn't take much for that to be the case.

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I have a Baldwin (Hamilton) upright that's four years younger than OP's piano, and it's hardly a "core." It has all of the original action parts except for bridle straps, the hammers have been resurfaced once in 92 years, the pins are tight like new, and the strings are clean; it plays really well, sounds great, and it's a gem to tune.

What Ed McMorrow said is spot on.


Last edited by OperaTenor; 03/17/13 03:04 AM.

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Hi Steve-
Any chance you can post pictures of the entire piano? I'd love to see what it looks like from different angles.

C


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All,

Thanks those who posted helpful comments. It's given me a lot to think about. As for its level of restoration, I hope to find out more soon. I've asked the store's tech to respond to questions about the crown on the soundboard, rib condition, a list of known work done to it, as well as more history about its history.

They indicated the piano has been used for a piano competition a couple of years ago. The tech made a few adjustments there to resolve some issues I saw. The action is still a bit heavy to my taste, but I imagine that can be adjusted. The piano still sounds strong, with a nice treble. The keys are original ivory, with the expected yellowing and small cracks, but no chips. From my non-expert feel, the piano plays and sounds better than a core. IT is out of tune, but not horribly so. I checked the pitch, and it was just over standard A440, so It hasn't slipped. The bass strings were recently replaced, but the treble strings haven't, and look a bit ratty.

When I have the tech look at it, these are the things I would want him to look at:

- Soundboard crown and ribs
- Tuning pins - ensure it can be tuned
- Treble strings - Do they need to be replaced?
- hammer condition
- Soundboard crack
- action

Is it correct to assume that a good tech would know to check these items, or should I specify? Also, what other things should I have the tech look at?

Steve


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Welcome to the forum!

To answer your question about the soundboard crack, it might not have any impact on the sound of the piano. I've played pianos with soundboard cracks where the sound didn't suffer at all.

However, it could be a visual indication of overall degredation. It requires a complete analysis by a good tech to determine it's real condition.

My concerns with a concert grand is that they are usually worked very hard. They live a hard life.

About price - unfortunately price is completely dependant on condition, and I'm not a tech so I'd need a good tech's evaluation before I knew anything for sure even if I was looking at the piano first hand.


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Originally Posted by Steve Peterson


Is it correct to assume that a good tech would know to check these items, or should I specify? Also, what other things should I have the tech look at?

Steve


Bridges - they are real important. Also bridge pins.


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Also, no I wouldn't get just any tech.

For this I would want one with extensive experience in bellywork. No you can't just expect they'll know. Lots of techs out there basically just tune. Nothing wrong with that as long as they're clear about what they can't do.


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The soundboard still had its crown and the crack has never been a problem.

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