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Hi,

I've been lurking (reading and learning) for some time, but this is my first post.

I have a little Baldwin console piano from I believe 1979. Here it is:

[img]https://photos.app.goo.gl/DM9bKArehVMF9F268[/img]

It is 40" tall, but it has a spinet style drop action. It sounds decent in my living room, but the action is old and needs some help. The rubber grommets that attach the keys to the drop links are all ozone crazed and hard and need to be replaced. They make noise and I even noticed a couple have deeper cracks in them. The hammers are grooved and could use some attention. Sometimes I'll hit a key and get nothing. (I think the action may not be re-setting consistently on a few keys).

[img]https://photos.app.goo.gl/ECNkXwLotJjpKFrU6[/img]


After its last tuning, the piano technician quoted me $900 to pull the action, do all the work, and regulate and voice it. I have no issue spending the money, but I do worry about throwing good money after bad. At the end of the day, its still a drop action piano and I'm hitting the point that I notice things about it that I don't like. My other piano is a Yamaha P515 digital, and it feels completely different (much heavier, better repetition speed, etc). I'm concerned about spending $900 on a piano and being disappointed with the results, or completely outgrowing it in the next year or two as my lesson pieces get more complex. My kids love the piano too, and as soon as things get back to some level or "normal" we will start them in lessons (my lessons moved from in-person to Facetime in March, its better than nothing but just not the same).

Anyway... I have the opportunity to pick up a similar vintage Baldwin Hamilton 243 upright studio piano for next to nothing. I have a truck and the dolly I built to move my current upright, so I can get it home safely.

I don't have the space for a grand at this time, so an upright it is. Is the 243 a decent upgrade over the little Baldwin spinet, or am I just wasting effort? I am assuming that the 243 is going to need a similar amount of work as the spinet, so I'm probably spending $900-$1000 on technician work either way. I'd like to ensure that work sets me up with a decent piano for the next several years.

Thanks!

Matt

Last edited by Mwieczorek223; 08/28/20 11:09 AM.

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The Hamilton would be a significant upgrade.


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I would buy the Hamilton and forget putting $900 into your current piano


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Have you played the 243 yet? If it plays better than your current piano, I would say take it. Is it possible you could get it and do no work on it, just play it for a few years before another, more significant upgrade?

I had a Baldwin Hamilton 243 for a while, they are good pianos. Mine was from 1967. When I became its caretaker, it hadn't been tuned in a long time, so I had it tuned and it tuned up very well. I bet I have a video of it somewhere....

Anyway, that piano was an in-between instrument for me (we had moved, and the piano came with our rental house, I hadn't had an acoustic piano for a few years and had only had a digital).

That Baldwin probably needed a ton of work done on it, but I spent zero money on it beyond tuning. So it certainly wasn't at its full potential as an instrument, but it was great for my needs, which were basically to have an acoustic instrument and be able to play on it until I could get something better. I played the Baldwin for about a year and a half. After that I upgraded to a Petrof upright, and then to my current Yamaha grand after we bought our house.

Oh, whoops, I forgot the other part of your question. No, don't spend $900 on your current console piano. But also, don't spend $900 on that Baldwin either. Just keep what ever instrument you have playable (even if it's barely playable) and save for a future upgrade.

When I upgraded from the rental-house Baldwin, I bought the Petrof upright. The seller was asking $1200 for it but I ended up getting it for $700 (long story). If a tech were to evaluate that Petrof, I'm sure they would have given me a shopping list of things it needed, and had I done such repairs, it probably would have been a much better instrument. But I didn't need to do all that to have a playable instrument, and that allowed me to keep putting money away for the piano I have now.

Hope some of my rambling post is helpful! whome

Last edited by ShiroKuro; 08/28/20 12:04 PM.

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I think it would be an upgrade, but before doing so I'd have that same technician (who seems honest and reasonable) go and check it out before you commit to anything.


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Originally Posted by BDB
The Hamilton would be a significant upgrade.
True - but at 40 years old, it can either be in great or poor condition requiring little or a lot of work. We don't know if the OP has actually seen and played the Hamilton. I would recommend that the OP pay his tech to evaluate the piano and assess its potential before any final decision is made.


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by BDB
The Hamilton would be a significant upgrade.
True - but at 40 years old, it can either be in great or poor condition requiring little or a lot of work. We don't know if the OP has actually seen and played the Hamilton. I would recommend that the OP pay his tech to evaluate the piano and assess its potential before any final decision is made.

Yeah, that line in my original post about "next to nothing"... It will cost more to have a tech look at it than the asking price, so I guess if I make the trip its coming home with me. The guy just wants it gone.

The piano looks ok in the pictures. As far as inspecting it goes, I know enough to be dangerous... Basically look for water damage, cracks in the sound board, cracks in the pin block, loose tuning pins, signs of pin dope around the tuning pins, misaligned hammers, obvious issues with the action, check to make sure the pedals all work without binding, etc... I guess if it passes the basic smell test its coming home. I know I've spent half a day and $50 on dumber things before.

I think I looked at like 10 pianos before I bought the current one. They ranged from awful to decent, this one was actually in tune and sounded ok to my untrained ear. It still sounds decent and has given me good service. I just know that it is going to need a bunch of work soon and having read up on spinets it seems like a poor investment.

As a side note, I *could* go buy a proper piano from a dealer and that is probably the smart thing to do, but I have 2 sons and they tend to be rough on things. I love 'em, but they are hard on the furnishings! I know if I blow a decent chunk of change on a nice new piano I'll cry a little inside every time the little guy beats on it or knocks something over on it. They already scratched this one up in a couple spots and my older son took a chunk out of the finish while showing off his "light saber skills". Once they get older and calm down a bit, I'll probably upgrade to something nice. In the meantime I'll just keep pointing at them and saying "you two are why we can't have nice things". (in jest of course...)

Thanks for the input!

Matt


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Having owned old pianos (as I wrote above somewhere) I don’t see any reason for you not to get that Baldwin — assuming it checks out to your satisfaction.

And really, you’re smart to wait till your boys are a little older before you spend a bunch of money on a piano that you want to not get damaged.


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Originally Posted by Mwieczorek223
As a side note, I *could* go buy a proper piano from a dealer and that is probably the smart thing to do, but I have 2 sons and they tend to be rough on things. I love 'em, but they are hard on the furnishings! I know if I blow a decent chunk of change on a nice new piano I'll cry a little inside every time the little guy beats on it or knocks something over on it. They already scratched this one up in a couple spots and my older son took a chunk out of the finish while showing off his "light saber skills". Once they get older and calm down a bit, I'll probably upgrade to something nice. In the meantime I'll just keep pointing at them and saying "you two are why we can't have nice things". (in jest of course...)
I feel your pain. I have two terrific young grandsons (3 and 5) and I always get nervous when they start "playing" on or near my two home acoustics, one of which will probably be theirs in the future. Not so much a problem with our 45 year old Everett upright that now sits at their aunt's house which they get to bang on once per week. That piano has survived the Boar Wars. grin

You are being very realistic. thumb


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You have boars, or javelinas? I guess you could have both in Phoenix. smile


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Originally Posted by BDB
You have boars, or javelinas? I guess you could have both in Phoenix. smile

It’s the Chupacabra You need to worry about


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Originally Posted by BDB
You have boars, or javelinas? I guess you could have both in Phoenix. smile
In our immediate neighborhood all we need to worry about are coyotes - but even so I've only seen one in 20 years. smile


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Maybe the coyotes are winning the war against the boars.

People have said they have seen foxes in our neighborhood, but the only threat has been from Gerald the turkey. I understand he has eluded all attempts to control him. Frankly, most of the time he behaves reasonably, unlike many people. I have seen him, but I keep my distance.


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Go check out the Hamilton studio. If it costs really next to nothing even with the moving AND if all the keys and the pedals work AND it sounds ok as is, it seems like a decently good bet. Assuming that it’s in good condition for the age, that would be a worthwhile upgrade from your current spinet, and I’d call it a spinet due to its drop action. If you need to check out the studio without the piano technician, here is a very helpful article from Piano Buyer’s Guide: [url=https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/how-to-inspect-a-used-piano-before-buying/][/url]
In my area, Hamilton studio occasionally pops up on Craigslist for a few hundred dollars and they always fly off the shelf.

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Originally Posted by BDB
Maybe the coyotes are winning the war against the boars.
I think you're correct! The bigger threat is scorpions. We had them in our first house here - and I actually got stung once (very painful and debilitating). When we adopted a couple of outside cats - who ate crickets - the scorpions eventually disappeared.

Quote
People have said they have seen foxes in our neighborhood, but the only threat has been from Gerald the turkey. I understand he has eluded all attempts to control him. Frankly, most of the time he behaves reasonably, unlike many people. I have seen him, but I keep my distance.
Wise man. If Gerald has survived many Thanksgivings in Oakland he must be one a tough old bird not to be messed with. ha

Of course, none of this has anything to do with Baldwin Hamiltons.


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OP here... Well folks, today is the day. I'm picking up a trailer after work and heading out. I was just going to take the cap off my dually and winch it up into the bed on some long ramps, but my wife talked some sense in to me so I rented an enclosed trailer from U-Haul. Should be a relatively straightforward process. smile


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Awesome! -- Don't you love having spouses who talk sense! grin

Let us know what you think when you get the piano home!


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Originally Posted by Mwieczorek223
...but my wife talked some sense in to me so I rented an enclosed trailer from U-Haul. Should be a relatively straightforward process. smile

Smart wife!


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Hope the u haul trailer has a ramp to make it easy for loading. Good luck!

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Success!

I brought it home last night. I got home pretty late, so I brought it into the garage and went straight to bed.

Unfortunately it is still in the garage. I need to get into the house soon so the humidity doesn't screw with it.

So the price of the piano was $50, but when I got there the owner said "since you drove all this way just take it". I tried to pay him but he wouldn't take the money, so at this point I'm in it less than $100 between trailer rental and fuel for the truck. I gave a table saw away to a guy in a similar fashion a couple weeks back, so maybe its Karma (or what goes around comes around or whatever).

I think I did ok. I can't find any cracks in the bridges or soundboard. The tuning pins all look decent and I don't see any signs of pin dope on them. It needs to be tuned, but it's not horribly out of tune (sounds a bit like an old saloon piano), so I'm hopeful.

The action needs some attention. It has a few sluggish keys and one sticking hammer. It looks like the jack isn't re-setting but the spring is intact, so maybe the jack flange needs attention. A couple of hammers are a little off so that needs to be adjusted too. The hammers are grooved and according to the service notes on the piano they were filed in 1998. I don't know how many times they can be re-shaped, hopefully at least one more!
The records also indicate that the keys were re-bushed and then in 2003 the jack springs were replaced and some flanges were re-pinned, I can't tell which because the writing is illegible. According to the owner's records, it was last tuned in 2015.

The only real downside is that the cabinet is not as nice as the piano we have now. I'm going to have to try to spruce it up a bit before I bring it in. Do any of you know what these were finished with so I can try to touch it up? I can't tell it its just stain and a french polish or if there was a lacquer or something sprayed over the stain?

Here's the pics...

https://photos.app.goo.gl/wRHpKitLqjAonH3j7

https://photos.app.goo.gl/UXLWWVw1D4xwn5Ar5

https://photos.app.goo.gl/EkZf9DNJJjBXcxgZA

https://photos.app.goo.gl/XL2s5LxeE5KLe42T9

https://photos.app.goo.gl/MHz2vE7dG9tSghDh6

https://photos.app.goo.gl/ETjdq2Nw9ZrRXy4n8

https://photos.app.goo.gl/FQtuwux4uwzzsB9e8


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