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Let me know you thoughts. Is it worth keeping an antique playable piano or buy a new one?

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Originally Posted by Linc
Let me know you thoughts. Is it worth keeping an antique playable piano or buy a new one?
That might depend on what you mean by "playable."


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In most cases, for most uses, the short answer is no. There are many exceptions that apply to some situations that require a long answer.

Expand your question and you'll get a better answer here from members.


Sam Bennett
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I think old pianos are cool as long as they are in good condition. 🙂

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I bought an 1895 Rich, Lipp & Sohn for a few hundreds. It plays but has a hollow sound like hitting an empty tin can. I was told it could be the soundboard, strings or hammers. It has no sentimental value to me except that I like it being an antique and it is built well from my research. I am debating if I should put in a few thousands or minimally a few hundreds or leave as it is. Thank you.


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It would probably need A LOT of work.

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Originally Posted by Linc
I bought an 1895 Rich, Lipp & Sohn for a few hundreds. It plays but has a hollow sound like hitting an empty tin can. I was told it could be the soundboard, strings or hammers. It has no sentimental value to me except that I like it being an antique and it is built well from my research. I am debating if I should put in a few thousands or minimally a few hundreds or leave as it is. Thank you.


I believe only you can answer the question about whether you want to spend any money, and if so, how much, to have the piano playable. I’m surprised you didn’t decide that before you bought it. And no one can answer how much the cost would be, because we don’t know what work it needs. —- and only you can determine the ‘cool’ factor.


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With a piano of that age, it is very challenging to pick a starting and stopping point for repairs. Everything needs attention, but to varying degrees, and yet at the same time, all of the systems are connected to produce the overall performance. When the sound is good but the mechanics are failing, there is a chance that inexpensive fixes will patch over or extend the life. When the sound is poor, the only relatively cheap fix that could improve tone is voicing.

Step one would be to test the pinblock for torque and, hopefully, tuning stability. If it's not holding pitch, then you're automatically into higher costs. Step two would be so see if the action is normal by modern standards. At that age, some were and some weren't. If it isn't modern, then you could have added headaches and down time. Pianos benefit from continuous, gentle use. If the piano sat unused then becomes used daily, its not unusual for more problems to develop in a short amount of time.

They are cool, but there isn't a lot of monetary justification.


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Thank you Sam and all. Much appreciate the feedbacks. I was told it is holding the tune very well even after the transportation and moving. I don't plan to spend too much on it but a few easy adjustments to make it sound better is the goal.


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Originally Posted by Linc
Let me know you thoughts. Is it worth keeping an antique playable piano or buy a new one?

GReetings,
Well, you have a 120 year old piece of equipment with approx 3,000 parts made of untreated wood, leather, felt, and metal. There will be 20,000 lbs. of tension in there, so, what could go wrong?

Nine out of ten 100. year old uprights are money pits if you want them to play well enough so that when you are playing you are not thinking about the shortcomings of the instrument. If you just want a banger, none of the above matters.
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Originally Posted by Linc
I bought an 1895 Rich, Lipp & Sohn for a few hundreds. It plays but has a hollow sound like hitting an empty tin can. I was told it could be the soundboard, strings or hammers. It has no sentimental value to me except that I like it being an antique and it is built well from my research. I am debating if I should put in a few thousands or minimally a few hundreds or leave as it is. Thank you.

It could cost a lot of money (ie more than a few thousands) to put it back in shape and it all depends what your expectations would be. Only a thorough examination by an expert can tell you that . If the soundboard has lost its crown for example, you will have to change it which means a lot of hours of work. The end result is difficult to predict though.


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I compare old pianos to old houses. Both can be quite beautiful if maintained, but.....both would have some quirks due to their age and both are often not worth repairing if they have been left unattended for many years.

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My answer to your question is - "Yes, it can be, provided that..."

My own piano is 144 years old. I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Some of that enjoyment is because of its age and its non-modern design. I have spent money on maintenance - and I shall need to spend more.

The big questions are - what is the state of your piano? What work needs doing? What is essential, and what could be put off? Only an inspection by a technician can answer these questions.

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I have no interest in a piano only because it's very old unless it has a beautiful case in reasonably good condition. Then, if I could afford it, I might buy it just for its furniture appeal but not plan to use it for playing unless I could also afford to have it rebuilt.

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Originally Posted by Linc
Thank you Sam and all. Much appreciate the feedbacks. I was told it is holding the tune very well even after the transportation and moving. I don't plan to spend too much on it but a few easy adjustments to make it sound better is the goal.

ROFL! (no smiley?)

The problem is that the "few easy adjustments" would likely need to be done to _each key_. And they'd need to be done _differently_ to each key.

When people who make their living from doing the work, warn you about:

. . . "This can easily become a money pit"

you should listen carefully to what they say.

PS -- I admit to a bias in favor of DP's.


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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Originally Posted by Linc
Thank you Sam and all. Much appreciate the feedbacks. I was told it is holding the tune very well even after the transportation and moving. I don't plan to spend too much on it but a few easy adjustments to make it sound better is the goal.

ROFL! (no smiley?)

The problem is that the "few easy adjustments" would likely need to be done to _each key_. And they'd need to be done _differently_ to each key.

When people who make their living from doing the work, warn you about:

. . . "This can easily become a money pit"

you should listen carefully to what they say.

PS -- I admit to a bias in favor of DP's.


Vintage pianos are not always a money pit— but it is imperative to know their condition, what work that it will need snd a cost estimate BEFORE you buy. I bought a 1900 upright under exactly those conditions, snd never regretted the purchase. If I could not have afforded, or did not want to spend the $$ for it to be good musical condition, I would not have bought it.

I followed the same process with my 1907 grand.
It is not necessary to buy a money pit if you plan.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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As has been alluded to (and ultimately is always the case in the final analysis), if money is not an object IOW "I can easily afford it with no ramifications", then it can be totally cool to have and restore and old instrument.

If though, money must be part if the decision making process, then it's not cool so forget it.

That's my opinion.

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Officially, the only piano that I have which is antique is our 1920 Steinway. The 1923 Mason & Hamlin will become antique in a year. The 1926 Mason & Hamlin will get there in four more years. They all work okay, equal to new ones in most respects. But they have all been restrung, have new hammers and damper felts, and other felts have been replaced. They have been refinished.

The problem is that a lot of this work is more expensive these days. Whether it is worthwhile or not depends on the initial condition of the piano, the quality of the work that is done, and the amount of work that is done.

I work on a lot of older pianos. Things last longer in the Bay Area, which has a lot more houses more than 75 years old than most areas, including mine. But a lot of them need a lot of work. I had my house updated, and the contractor said it would have cost about what we paid if we had to build new. It is a similar story for pianos.


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Being a money pit is ok. Just as long as it doesn't have sounds/music coming out of it in the middle of the night (or day!) when 'nobody' is playing it. Otherwise, keep the lights on at night. But jokes aside ------ if money is not an issue, then just go for it. It's also possible have both - antique and new.

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It's cool only if you think it's cool.

Regards,


BruceD
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