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I got my hands on an old Ferd. Thürmer upright for free. It was build in 1903. I wasn't really searching for a piano but the owner was going to throw it away. The last time someone played this piano was over 20 years ago and wasn't tuned for even a longer period of time.
The overall tone dropped about a half note but it was not out of tune. That surprised me. No cracks in the soundboard, tuning pins and block are okay, so I took it home. I tried if the strings would break if I raised te tone but they didn't. I like the sound a lot, it's full and warm. Hammers are not worn but the felt is a bit hard.

That were the positive things. I thought I had to replace some things but I see now that I have to replace all felt in the whole piano, all leather and all springs. Everything.

Would you do that if you fell in love with the piano but isn't a brand like bösendorfer or blüthner for instance?

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Josephine83,

Technically and economically it is not "worth it" to sink lots of money into something like that. However, if money is not an issue and you really like the thing, then it may be worth it to YOU. That is what matters. If you are thinking of ever trying to get that back though...forget it.

Hope that helps.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Thanks Peter,

I think I only know afterwards if it was worth it. I'm guessing it will be, the sound was beautiful.
I'm a bit afraid that older piano's from brands like this will dissappear in the future and I'm also very curious what it will sound and feel like.

But it will be a lot of work. I started with replacing hammer butt springs but they are placed on the hammer butt itself. There are round pieces of wood on both sides with holes in it and through the holes goes a wooden pin. The spring comes between the pieces of wood and the pin also goes through the spiral part of the spring. Then the spring is bended backwards and hooks into a piece of rope.

I thought I couldn't get the wooden pins out without breaking them but it went well. There are however some pins replaced with rope that is glued inside the holes and those are impossible to remove. I already broke two of those round pieces of wood of the hammer butt. I glued them back on with woodglue and made a new pin from sanded bamboo toothpicks for now, till I find something better to replace it with. I think I need a drill to get those pieces of rope and glue out or does someone have a better idea?

Then below the hammerbutt felt, there is another piece of rope (placed in a loop). On the jack is a piece of metal wire attached and goes upwards over the length of the jack with a hook on the end and that's hooked to the wire on the hammer butt. Does someone know what the name of that metal wire thing is?

Bye the way, I'm sorry for my English. I hope you can understand what I wrote.

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By, not bye... smile

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First, I hope you have fully raised pitch and tuned, and are sure the piano is structurally sound.
Then I would proceed very slowly, doing lots of research and not quickly removing parts. The location of parts is important information, and once you move them you've lost that information.
YouTube videos can be educational (especially German Klavierbaumeister), but realize that the best restoration may be careful work with existing parts, and that videos tend to show dramatic replacements. "Look what I did!"
Thuermer was a fairly productive factory, so there is some chance you may find a technician in the North who is familiar with them.
If you can post photos, it would be nice to see the action details.
Do this for your personal enjoyment, not for fiscal profit.


Ed Sutton, RPT
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Thurmer is still listed as being current production FWIW in Bocham, Germany. Highly respected. You might contact them and discuss it.

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Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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I did raise the pitch, but not tuned to perfection yet. I don't want to replace wooden parts. If something is broken I will fix it. There are cracks in some of the damper blocks. I'm a bit worried about those. For the felts I look at the least used parts and measure it in order to keep everything as it's supposed to be because I want to know how it's supposed to sound. I also send an email to Thürmer if there is some technical information about the upright pianos from 1903 and I want to visit their museum this year. The piano is very decorated on both the inside and outside. It's painted a few times on the outside. I already sanded the name board. Underneath the layers of paint a light pink wood appeared whit a dark wooden inlay with the name Thürmer in a golden color, it looks like the name is an inlay of some kind of metal, brass maybe.

I'm going to find out how to post images here smile

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I’m not sure why someone would “fall in love” with a piano this quickly. However, I do have many clients who were seduced by old pianos for some reason: nostalgia for a brand they grew up with, the look of old wood (instead of bland, shiny polyurethane).

I have had customers who were determined to save old pianos as if it were some sort of moral imperative.

“I wasn't really searching for a piano but the owner was going to throw it away.”
This doesn’t sound like a good justification to lug an old piano home. At least, it wouldn’t be for me.

The reality is that these old pianos only have value as musical instruments if they have been extensively rehabilitated within a few decades, especially new bass strings. Often such work was not well done. In this case, the fact that the owner neglected it for so long does not bode well.

However, in spite of having ranted thus far (justifiably—these old clunkers are generally, with spinets, the bane of my life as a technician), I’ll admit that this piano may be useful for the OP, who is either a technician or someone interested in being a technician. Their profile doesn’t say. This is the kind of piano that might be useful to learn on. Practice replacing, regulating, restringing, repairing.

“Would you do that if you fell in love with the piano but isn't a brand like bösendorfer or blüthner for instance?”

To answer this question: as a technician, absolutely not.

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As mentioned, it would be very helpful to see photos, especially of the hammer butt and butt spring arrangement that you mention.

Generally the springs were held in place with spring cord, available from supply houses. TO r emove the old cord, you could cut through either side with a single-edge razor plade, and pull the spring (or broken-off spring coil) away. Then push out the remaining cord from the sides with a de-centreing tool, or a thin drill in a pin vise. Repair with cocktail sticks or matchsticks is sometimes considered inferior, as there is the chance that the coil of the spring could make a clicking noise against the wood of the stick.

Are many of the springs broken? If they are not, why replace them?

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Haha yes I think I could be such a client. I also live in an old house and replaced the good and not so old doors for very old doors with Stained glass.
I'm not a technician, it's just a hobby. I love fixing old furniture, doors, our house. Maybe an old piano feels a bit more like a personality, a character.

I play the piano and what you are saying is also what I'm thinking sometimes. I only have a digital piano and not much space. I found a place for the Thürmer in my home but for the money I will spend on it I can buy a piano that is in a better shape maybe.

I fell in love with the sound. It surprised me. I think this piano can sound better than other pianos that will cost as much as what I'm going to spend on this one. Or at least I hope so.

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Hello David. I replace them because they are weak and they break easily. I'm going to try a razorblade, that might work.

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Josephine, the parts you show look to be in rather good condition.
They aren't covered with soot, and don't seem to be dry rotted.
Rotted bridle tapes are no big deal. You can glue replacements to the dowels, you don't need to duplicate the originals.
The extra jack spring indicates they were making a piano with fast repetition. It takes longer to assemble, so few makers bothered.
The contact with Thürmer and the museum may be incredibly helpful.
If you decide to restring, visit the Paulello site and consider doing a fine rescale; this could make a tremendous improvement.
I think you'll find real joy in this piano. Grieg was still alive when this piano was built.


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Wow! I just saw the second group of photos!
What's under that white paint?
The action is direct key capstan to wippen heel, that's very good.
Before you replace the hammers, I wonder if they can be shaped and voiced?


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These are the damper blocks, I hope I can fix those.

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Originally Posted by Ed Sutton
Wow! I just saw the second group of photos!
What's under that white paint?
The action is direct key capstan to wippen heel, that's very good.
Before you replace the hammers, I wonder if they can be shaped and voiced?

Thank you Ed for all the information! I don't know what sort of wood it is, it's a light pink color. It's still a surprise what's under the rest of the white paint.

I think the hammers don't need to be replaced but I have to ask a technician if the felt is to hard. The sound was good so I think they are okay.

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You could try fixing the cracked damper blocks, but you're better off replacing the blocks and felt. Probably couple hundred in parts.

The big issue is that if they are working and timed correctly now, they won't be if you replace them. You'll have to adjust them.


It will be great practice, but you'll need the right tools and an understanding of how to bend the wires.

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Two conditions to make a piano worth saving:
1. You love its sound as it is right now.
2. You are willing to spend as much as it takes to bring it back to excellent condition, which could be much more than the cost of a new piano.


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And now that I'm thinking more about this, perhaps a good question to ask is whether it will still have a sound that you love after all the restorations/rebuild. Considering the bad condition it is in right now, this is far from certain. Many of the restoration steps can alter the sound, and not necessarily in a direction that you will love.


Soli Chopin gloria
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